Imagine the pitch: we're
going to make an hour long show where
three guys test outrageously expensive cars, some of which even the 1%
have trouble buying, and critique them.
Then we'll have them travel across exotic countries in Ferraris
Lamborghinis and make a lot of comments about the quality of the roads. It's sounds like a daft idea, but that's
pretty much what Top Gear is, and it's incredibly entertaining. Season 19 is no exception, and while it's
much too short (only 5 episodes and a two-part special) it's still a
and well worth picking up.
those who haven't heard of the program, Top Gear is
one of the most popular (if
not the most popular) shows in the
world, syndicated in 170 countries and earning an estimated 350 million
per episode. That's 5% of the entire
population of planet Earth. Pretty
impressive. Yet the show is so simple: three hosts review very high end sports cars
and then purchase a used automobile and compete in a challenge; some
silly trials where they test the capabilities of the car they've chosen.
Why is the show so popular? It
is because of the personalities of the
three hosts. They're all a bit
different, Clarkson is what we in the US think of as a typical Brit: tall, politically conservative, stiff upper
lip and all that, while James May is the refined intellectual willing
discuss the why the overhead cam was such an important innovation
never gets the chance) and Hammond is the young, short, hip guy. But they all have a common love for cars, and
what's more important, they play well off of each other and filling
with hilarious banter.
In season they showcase some great cars and take part in
some fun challenges. One of the most
entertaining was an American trip from Las Vegas
to Palm Springs
(and beyond) in three sports cars, a Lexus LFA, a SRT Viper, and an
Martin Vanquish. (If none of those cars
sound familiar to you, don't worryâ€¦ they'll tell you all about them.) At the end of the feature they're given a
challenge: they have to race to the
Mexican border and the last one there has to cross over and test drive
MXT which was designed and built in Mexico.
The reason that this is a punishment is
because in a previous season the team made some surprisingly racist
about the Mastretta and Mexicans in general and they're sure everyone
country hates them. The fact that the
other two hosts disabled Hammond's
car so made the race even more amusing.
They also test a car that people can actually afford to buy,
a Kia Cee'd. This is the car that they
have famous people race around their track in the "Stars in a
Car" segment, and they thought it only fair to see how the newest model
up. In true Top Gear style they drive
around a bit, demonstrate the very cool self parallel parking feature,
illustrate how a "local guitarist" is able to hook a guitar up to the
system. They show a cable plugged into
port inside the car while the beginning cords of Layla
start playing. The
camera zooms out and it's Eric Clapton playing a Strat.
They also wonder if Officer John McClane
could use the horn, and show Bruce Willis, covered in cuts and blood,
in the front seat. He toots the horn
The season is capped off with a two-part special where the
trio buy a used "estate car" and take it to Africa where they're
find the source of the Nile. They quickly drive to Lake
Victoria where they're informed that they need to find the
source of the mighty river. It's a fun
two-parter that involves a lot of mud, some interesting modifications
cars, and a few wrong turns.
Unfortunately this season of Top Gear is only
available on DVD.
Apparently the BBC is not going to release a Blu-ray in region A
The stereo sound is very good, with a fair amount of
separation between the two channels, but I would have enjoyed a
subwoofer channel to get more of the growl from some of the more
engines that they test.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image looks very good. The
colors are sharp, the lines are tight,
and the blacks are nice and inky. It's
an excellent looking disc.
Nothing this time around.
This was another fun and entertaining season. While
it's pretty short, a scant seven
episodes in all, the content was hilarious and the cars were exciting. If you've seen the show, you'll know what to
expect. Pick this one up.