Well, we're here again. Another Top Gear: Challenges DVD. With each new series, we get fresh ideas and new tests for Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Certainly, the last two series (11 and 12) of Top Gear produced some really classic stuff, and because the challenges are the best part of the show, one should naturally expect to nab the latest compilation as soon as possible, and with good reason.
This third volume, like the previous ones, has plenty of hilarious material to satisfy viewers. The challenges collected here are the Cheap Alfas, the British Leyland Challenge (where the lads are determined to prove that BL actually made a good car), the fantastic Race Across Japan where Jeremy in a Nissan takes on Richard and James in the Bullet Train, the UTTERLY brilliant Top Gear vs. The Germans (where the lads face their German counterparts in fantastic challenges), the Lorrying Challenge, Hamster's attempt at F1 driving, the hilarious Fox Hunting episode where Jezza is on the drive from the hounds and finally...Bus Racing.
As always, entertainment value is first-rate. All these challenges are typically exciting, roaringly funny and will have you either on the edge of your seat, or falling about with laughter. Particularly Top Gear vs. The Germans, which features foul-play from the lads, and the great German Presenters Carston Von Ryssen, Tim Schrick and Sabine Schmitz, all of whom have bags of personality and great chemistry with Jezza, Hamster and Captain Slow, thus making for a fun and outstanding, friendly battle. The Lorrying Challenge is also one of the best, as the lads are somewhat out of their depth here trying to get the hang of mastering the HGVs. Watch out for the return of "Oliver" and the arrival of Rig Stig, the Stig's lorry driving cousin!
Unfortunately, I do have a major issue with this DVD that I think really takes points away, and stops it from being perfect. Please forgive this rather fan-boy reaction, but...WHERE IS THE POLICE CAR CHALLENGE??!! I mean, COME ON! That was one of the most classic challenges EVER! One of the finest in a LONG time! To see Jeremy with his Italian-style Fiat Coupe with the wheel spikes, Richard with his "Officer Barbie" 4x4 complete with stinger and James with the British Police livery paint job on his Lexus (armed with brilliant paint-gun spray), as they cleared the accident scenes, performed lap-times and tried to arrest the Stig...was simply a masterpiece of a challenge. So why isn't it included here when it SHOULD have been?! Frankly, that's a real rip-off and it's absence is both criminal and inexcusable. From a marketing standpoint, it's also really daft, as it's inclusion would've been a certain positive boon for the customer and really would've helped make this DVD a true money-maker. It doesn't make sense at all.
Nevertheless, all the other challenges collected here provide decent enough compensation. And the extras are first-class, as well. They're on a separate disc for a change, allowing for some real-beefy special features. First-up is an uncut edition of The Cool Wall, notable for Jeremy and Richard's bickering, a look at the latest cars and Jezza's interactions with the audience. There are also extended versions of the 2008 Top Gear Awards (featuring Jay Kay) and an excellent interview with Boris Johnson when he was The Star In A Reasonably Priced Car. The new cuts on these features are noticeable and provide bags more entertainment. The Spitfire Magic is a nice little DVD-exclusive that shows the lads' reactions as they become Spitfire passengers on their way to battle the Germans (Jeremy's reactions are priceless). And finally, their's a cracking little compilation of Rides With The Stig around the Top Gear test track. The only thing I could criticise about this feature is that it could've done with an interactive camera-angle option like on the last Challenges DVD, but it's nevertheless good stuff.
Finally, you can expect typical high-quality presentation values once again. The menu designs are great, complete with numerous animations and the Top Gear theme. The compilation is very well structured, the picture and sound quality are flawless and the subtitles always come in handy when necessary. BBC and 2Entertain continue to deliver.
So aside from the Police Car Challenge (CRIMINALLY!) not being included, there's still plenty of reason to buy Top Gear: The Challenges 3. Fans will get their money's worth from this and will doubtless continue to do so from all Top Gear DVDs for the foreseeable future.