Whether it's building and testing amphibious/electric/police cars, buying second-hand cars and putting them through the most notorious trials imaginable, going on races, doing labours etc, the result of the Challenges that befall the Top Gear are always the same; instant, hilarious entertainment. I think it's safe to say that the Challenges are the highlight of the show's success.
Top Gear Challenges DVDs have long gotten to the stage now where they have a life of their own. Given the sheer quality of past collections, the special features and the memories to relive on your DVD player, it's no surprise that fans will buy these instantly upon release. Quality presentation backed up by fabulous extras? Instant seller!
And it's the same with volume 5. There's little to no reason NOT to purchase this latest collection, and it's worth noting that every release seems to be more determined to be bigger than the previous compilation. This time round, Top Gear: The Challenges 5 has a stonking TWELVE challenges collected on one disc (as opposed to Challenges 4 which featured eleven challenges spread across two discs), with special features devoted to Disc 2.
You can expect to revisit:
- Jezza, Hamster & Captain Slow build their own motorhomes (one of the most BRILLIANT challenges in recent years).
- Jeremy and James attempt to make a car advert for the Volkswagen Scirocco Diesel TDI - and FAIL spectacularly!
- A somewhat touching look at the fallen British Sports Car industry.
- Buying Cheap Saloons in Germany.
- Richard (driving the Dakar) racing a couple of Snowmobiles.
- JAMES (of ALL people!) driving the BUGATTI VEYRON (of ALL cars!)
- Richard testing the concept of Airport Vehicle Racing.
- James piloting the first-ever Caravan Airship.
- Jeremy providing essential consumer information about the new Renault Twingo (big enough to fit Ross Kemp in the boot!).
- James using one of the old North Pole pick-up trucks to brave the unstable fury of an Icelandic volcano.
- And a Gravity Drop Race pitting a VW Beetle suspended up high...against a Porsche 911 on the ground.
So with such an exciting line-up, fans are going to purchase (and with good reason). The antics of Clarkson, Hammond and May, the bickering, the emotion, the elation of success, the depression of failure, the sheer boldness and variety; these are the things Top Gear and fans have thrived on for years with great success. And as always, the content on Challenges 5 will entertain tremendously in typical fashion.
But with this release, I must nitpick. It doesn't feel as fresh as the last Challenges DVD and it's here where the lads are showing signs of repeating themselves a little. For instance, the Dakar vs. Snowmobiles challenge. Although thrilling, it feels too familiar to James racing against Parkour experts/BMX cyclists. It's the same with Richard racing Airport vehicles. He's done that before with Motorhomes and Buses, and much better I might add.
But this repetition can be excused due to the originality of the other challenges. The Motorhomes, Car Advert, Topsy Turvy Reliant Robins, Caravan Airship and The Twingo in Belfast Challenges (featuring Ross Kemp in a funny surprise appearance) all feature classic material and will have viewers completely in stitches. On a lighter note, the British Sports Cars feature and May's Volcanic Adventures focus more (respectively) on history and edge-of-your-seat discovery. Another welcome aspect of Top Gear that makes it the best thing on BBC2 today.
If I'm honest, I must question why there are certain challenges missing. I'm keen to relive things like Top Gear against The Australians, converting the Combine Harvester into a Snow Plow and 17-Year-Olds Buying A Car. These were still recent before this DVD's release, so they deserved inclusion. And I strongly feel that maybe 2Entertain focuses on releasing some of the challenges from yesteryear, such as the Top Gear Courier Van and Tractor Challenges. Brilliant, classic antics that seem to have been criminally forgotten.
Criticisms aside, Top Gear: The Challenges 5 is still a must-have, particularly for the excellent assortment of extras. The best of these is the extended interview with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, when they were the Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car. Like all uncut features, the new footage is noticeable, and Jeremy clearly relishes in interviewing them, and both Cameron and Tom appear equally honoured to be on the show. The result is a highly-entertaining feature, with the Hollywood stars driving in amazing fashion and setting (at the time) new records.
There's another extended interview with Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, featuring his views on the late Ayrton Senna and the opportunity to drive the legend's own original MP4/4 racing car. Again, this makes for captivating viewing, and the alternative angle videos featuring the new Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Arial Atom V8 and Zonda R provide great interaction. A wealth of Deleted Scenes are the icing on the cake for Challenges 5, the highlights being more of Jeremy rolling over the Reliant Robin, the Fuel Economy run between the lads during Cheap Saloon challenge in Germany, and James' additional exploits during his Volcano Adventure.
How many more Challenges releases (and Great Adventures box sets, for that matter) BBC and 2Entertain can produce, I do not know. But for the foreseeable future, Top Gear DVDs will continue to sell and sell well. And with the quality remaining so high, we'll just have no choice but to keep buying.
So until next time..."How hard can it be?"