BUY SEASON 11 AT
AMAZON: CLICK
HERE

STUDIO: BBC Warner
MSRP: $29.98
RATED:
Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 364 Minutes
NUMBER OF DISCS: 2
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: January 12, 2010
SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • None. You must find happiness on two discs and in six episodes alone.
  • Isn’t this enough for you?






BUY
SEASON 12 AT
AMAZON: CLICK

HERE
STUDIO: BBC Warner
MSRP: $39.98
RATED:
Unrated
RUNNING TIME:502  Minutes
NUMBER OF DISCS: 4
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: January 12, 2010
SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Commentary for Vietnam special (Executive Producer Andy Wilman and Crew)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Photo Gallery
  • Botswana Special – Director’s Cut
  • Boris Johnson Extended Interview
  • Commentary for Botswana Special (Executive Producer Andy Wilman and Crew)
  • Top Gear Awards Extended Version

Top Gear, if you know nothing of it, is a British car show. Yet knowing that, you still know nothing of it. I first watched it at my local cigar bar. The place, normally filled with idle chatter and small talk became silent and still, only the smoke we exhaled filling the air at intervals and floating around our heads as we experienced together what was probably the most entertaining and immersing television show most of us had seen in a long time. I’m no car enthusiast, and yet there is not a portion of the hour long show that turns me away–even when one of the three hosts, Jeremy Hammond, James May, and Richard Hammond, pour on about traction control and horse power, for instance.



“I just wish that at road speeds it would occasionally put its hand down the front of my trousers and have a little rummage.”
-Jeremy Clarkson


The Pitch:

More than a show for car enthusiasts, Top Gear Seasons 11 and 12 seems to reinvent the medium, infecting a broad audience with a love for all things with wheels. Hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond take you to the test track, through one hilarious challenge after another, and across the world, lacing a passion for engineering and design, with contagious love for adventure and exploration that will have you both laughing at their misfortunes and envious of their experiences.



“No, they stop for icecream and then they’re nicked!”
-James May


The Humans:

  • Jeremy Clarkson, presenter. Top Gear veteran since 1988, he will make you laugh and awe you with his insights.
  • Richard Hammond, presenter. This diminutive funny-man carries a lot of the energy of the show and is often the victim of misfortune on the track.
  • James May, presenter. An asset to Top Gear, James might become your favorite over time, winning you over with his subtle sense of humor (see Season 12 Episode 7 for his pork sword, least subtle of all.)




“You see? If I’d had a Hum-V there I’d have just gotten wedged inside a dog’s tummy.”
-Jeremy Clarkson


The Nutshell:

The show’s format consists roughly of a few segments where they compare the performance of similar cars according to some feature like the fuel economy in a couple of different supercars. Then they move on to news–what’s new in cars–where they use that opportunity to make fun of manufacturers, each other, the country the car originates from… Then it moves to a challenge where usually all three are involved in either racing or modifying in some silly way the cars they are given or told to purchase. The chemistry among the three is infectious.



“Some say it’s impossible for him to wear socks… and that he can open a beer bottle with his testes.”
-Richard Hammond


One of the best features is that in every episode they feature a “star in a reasonably priced car.” After a short interview, we see the star on the test track in a helmet driving as fast as they possibly can and cursing if we’re lucky. Their scores are kept on a large scoreboard throughout the season juxtaposing the times of guest drivers such as Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon.

Every episode also features a test lap by professional driver… we never know his name. The joke is on us. He is simply referred to as “The Stig” and he is only showed in a white racing suit and helmet. This segment, designed for the true car enthusiast, fairly accurately tests cars among their wheeled peers. If you are a nerd, see here for the official power lap times of the cars featured in Season 11.



“If your theory
is correct, that means you’re either going to murder millions of people
or you’re going to die on the pot trying to get five hundred cheese
burgers out of your poo chute.”

-James May


The Lowdown:

At its best, the show is able to make you laugh until you cry when something blows up, burns up, crashes, or is redesigned according to one of the hosts’ imaginations. The same show can also prick your heart a little bit when you see the three hosts, for instance, stop dead in their tracks on an otherwise hilarious cross-country bike race in Vietnam and take in the history of the country in one poignant view. The hosts, although constantly humorous, are able to provide depth and be affected by what they do and where they go.


“Yeah. The gear lever’s gone up my ass.”
-Jeremy Clarkson

Cars, more than a sum of their often fantastically engineered parts, become a metaphor for adventure and exploration. Objects of recreation. A way to see the world. A cause for friendly competition. Opportunities for experimentation and imagination. The most spectacular episodes are when the three travel. They take us to Japan. They travel eight days across Vietnam, and drag race across the Bonneville Salt Flats.



“You simultaneously headbutted me in the gentleman’s region and snapped the dowel off the gallion!”
-James May


One of the finest compliments to this show ever is that I sent my
employer home with a copy of Top Gear Season 11, and he shared it with
his kids. His ten year old girl was immersed. This show is for just
about anyone.

Another thing worth mentioning is the re-watchability factor. You can rewatch episodes over and over and over again and still find them funny. I’ve heard multiple people say this. Top Gear was a fixture at the cigar bar and we’d turn to watch our favorite parts and laugh even though we knew what was coming. You can’t say that for many shows, and this is a true compliment. It’s worth your bucks for that factor if you weren’t already convinced it’s great.


“I’ve driven on my
own bonnet!”
-Richard Hammond.


Here’s another thing. The people that film this show love what they do. They make it so beautiful. They juxtapose nature and cars in a way that isn’t artsy-fartsy. They know that the environment and film style compliment a car and compliment the experience. I want to shake every one of their hands. Some of their stuff is truly visionary and breathtaking. They are artists, not just car enthusiasts.


The Package:

Season 12  extras aren’t so special, other than the fact that they’re simply included. As for Season 11, the BBC decided that in addition to shortening the season to six episodes, that they would also withhold extra joy and not give us anything more than the bare bones.




“Keen to mask my scent, I made for a patch of hyacinths.”
-Jeremy Clarkson


Best random feature: “Cock,” (as it should be in life), is
interjected throughout the show whenever anything goes wrong, and I hate
saying it, but it’s still funny even when it’s grown on you as
something they say in lieu of our “crap.” I wish more Americans used
“cock” in every day life, but perhaps it’s just been a while for me…



“We all think they’re good looking because they’re Ferarris, but they’re not good looking enough. It’s like that girl from Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker. She looks like a boiled horse!”

-Jeremy Clarkson


More than any show I’ve ever reviewed, this one hits the broadest base for an audience without betraying itself or compromising its quality. It’s so highly recommended that I hope you get run over by a lorry if you don’t pick up a copy.

10.0 out of 10