Calling Top Gear
"a car show" is like describing the Titanic as "a big boat" or Dom Perignon as "sparkling wine"--not inaccurate, just inadequate. Oh, motorheads (especially those fixated on fantastically fast, expensive autos) will surely get their fix from the episodes collected here from the programme’s tenth series. But Top Gear
’s reach is much broader than that; more than merely informative, it’s funny, thrilling, smart, and just plain entertaining enough to appeal to viewers of all persuasions. That’s due to a variety of factors. The three hosts, James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson, are knowledgeable and witty--especially Clarkson, who, although a bit of a snob, has a gift for droll turns of phrase (driving the Audi R8 "supercar," he says, "is like smearing honey into Keira Knightley," while the more humble Honda Civic is "eager, urgent… like a penshioner’s terrier"). From a technical standpoint, it’s excellent; the camera work and production values are first-rate, and the show is filled with beautiful shots and judiciously chosen effects work. Most important, the actual content is compulsively watchable. A typical 50-minute episode will include a hands-on review of an automobile, be it some fabulous rich man’s toy (an Aston-Martin roadster, say, or a self-parking Lexus) or an oddity like the minuscule Peel P50, which is all of 54 inches long and 40 inches wide. Most episodes also include a segment entitled "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car," in which a celebrity drives a lap around a racetrack in some ordinary sedan (this season’s guests include actress Helen Mirren, Rolling Stone Ron Wood, singer James Blunt, and a very smug and catty Simon Cowell). And then there is the weekly challenge, in which May, Hammond, and Clarkson are given some kind of daunting task. These range from finding "the best driving road in the world" (turns out it’s in Italy) to concocting an amphibious car capable of crossing the English Channel; there’s also a race across London by auto, bicycle, boat, and public transportation, a drag race between the Aston-Martin and a roller skater with a rocket pack, and a two-mile sprint matching the extraordinary Bugatti Veyron against one of the Royal Air Force’s state-of-the-art Typhoon jet fighters. Great stuff. --Sam Graham
If you thought Top Gear
would calm down a bit and the presenters would start to act their age. Well you're wrong. Series 10 is one of the most ambitious, featuring some challenges that only the very brave or the very stupid would dare to undertake. For example, who in their right mind would attempt to drive through the Kalahari Desert in three twenty-year-old bangers? Or try to cross the treacherous English Channel in a fleet of amphibious cars that are less seaworthy than the average church? You guessed it - Top Gear
's three intrepid presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Of course Top Gear
is much more than just three grown men who should know better larking about. There'll be some serious car journalism in there too with exhaustive road tests of the latest models; looks back at the history of motoring; man versus machine experiments and weekly power tests featuring the worlds most exotic super cars. And, of course all the tried and tested Top Gear
favourites will make a welcome return including the news; the cool wall and The Stig who'll be putting the rich and famous through their paces in the regular Star in the Reasonably Priced Car feature.