Another day, another Top Gear DVD release. And this time, it's the THIRD box set of the Great Adventures of Jezza, Hamster and Captain Slow. So how do you follow epics like their trips to the U.S., the North Pole, Botswana and Vietnam? How does the following sound? A return to the USA, and brand new trips to Romania and South America.
Now, normally with these Great Adventures, the BBC and 2Entertain collect two hour-long specials with bonus features. But because the only recent special was the lads' trip to South America last Christmas, the other disc features extended highlights from their trips to the U.S. and Romania, as shown in episodes from the last series.
So what are Jeremy, Richard and James doing in Romania? Searching for another of the world's best driving roads, each armed with convertible supercars. This is a quality adventure, featuring many remarkable things such as a noise test in the amazing secret race track underneath the Romanian Parliament building, Jeremy in a stupid hat, James finding tragic love with a Dacia Sandero, tests of sat-navs and roofs, spending the night in the worst possible place and finally reaching the Holy Grail, the Transfagarasan Highway.
The lad's much-anticipated return to the U.S. doesn't quite match up to the classic spectacle of their road trip in $1000 wrecks (but that was always going to be a difficult one to surpass), but it's nevertheless a very good one. The boys have come back to America to journey from San Francisco to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah for a drag race. Of course, due to the wild antics of their last trip, the US immigration authorities will only let the boys film if they don't do anything `entertaining'. Like that's gonna happen!
Nevertheless, the lads DO try to make a `factual' documentary, but boys will always boys and it's not long before James is monologue his disappointment with his new Cadillac, Jeremy and Richard are racing on the streets of Reno, revving engines, setting off car alarms, being nicked by rozzers etc. And then of course, there's Jezza parking Hamster's Challenger right in the middle of the road when he's not looking.
Both of these `mini-adventures' receive the director's cut treatment, each with about ten minutes of new unseen footage, all of which is noticeable, helps fill out the disc more and makes things more special. Compared to things like the Polar and original U.S. specials, this volume feels somewhat lacking, but the new footage and the photo galleries still make it all worthy viewing.
But the real highlight of this latest collection is undoubtedly the lads' trek through South America, where they must embark on a thousand mile journey through lethal jungles, mountains, deserts and roads of death in second-hand 4x4s. Where the quality of Top Gear overall has started to slip a little (due to their struggling to find new ideas), the South America Special is truly a return to form. The humour and antics are absolutely hilarious, the lads' teamwork and ingenuity to see them through obstacles is absolutely remarkable and the VERY real dangers will have you on the edge of your seat. The sights are remarkable, the struggles are evocative...basically, everything you could expect from classic Top Gear is right here.
The extras here consist of another nice little photo gallery and a fabulous commentary headed by James May with Andy Williams and film crew in tow. Like the commentary on the previous Great Adventures release, it's a really enlightening experience, learning about the complications of filming, anecdotes and opinions of this, that and the other. James being on hand to provide a first-hand recap of the experience is truly excellent, with his great intellect and humour coming into play.
Top Gear: The Great Adventures 3 is yet another essential release for fans, but it does make one wonder what else Jeremy, Richard and James can possibly do. Let's hope they can still produce such terrific entertainment, because it's clearly gonna get even harder to surpass all that they've done.