When one considers how long the automobile has been around, and how it has become the pinnacle of some nations’ accomplishments whether it’s through the very invention of it, or through inventions which have refined it, one would think that car-related TV programming is easy to find. While there are various automotive centered TV shows out there, they’re often equivalent of the worst thing you’d want to hear about a car; slow, poor quality, predictable styling, and simply boring in its entirety. Well, thanks to three quirky Brits, the world has at least one car show that is as exciting as a lead-foot in a Dodge Viper.
Accessible to everyone and full of stunts, challenges and special segments, it’s irreverent, witty, self-deprecating, inclusive and passionate. The charisma and enthusiasm of the show’s presenters have helped make Top Gear a worldwide megabrand attracting a global audience over 500 million in more than 20 countries. This season’s highlights include a car chase in presenter-chosen old bangers for traffic cops, a race in the French Alps against extreme skiers, a race across Japan (a Nissan car versus public transport), a cross-country fox hunt (with Jeremy as the prey), and a Brits versus German Top Gear challenge. Of course, this season includes serious car journalism too, with exhaustive road tests of the latest models, man versus machine experiments, weekly power-tests featuring the world’s most exotic supercars and all the tried-and-tested Top Gear favorites also return.
Top Gear is one of those rare shows out there that not only handles it’s topical substance with a heart that is not easily rivaled, but it does it in a variety of entertaining manners that makes it competition to shows that aren’t even close to its genre. The hosts, Jeremy “Jezza” Clarkson, Richard “Hamster” Hammond and James “Captain Slow” May return for an 11th season, or series if you’re UK-ish, of non-stop entertainment as they review various new, and sometimes old, cars in their uniquely unpredictable ways. Granted, the vast majority of these cars many of us, such as myself, could only dream of knowing someone with the wealth to own one, but that doesn’t stop this trio from letting you enjoy them vicariously.
Throughout this season, or series, I found nearly non-stop laughter from the various challenges set upon the host by the producers, to the international car trips, and even the subtle wit placed throughout the extensive reviews. If one host is not befitting to your personal style of entertainment, the show offers quite the treat in that each host is far different from the other, making it quite possible for anyone to get pulled into watching – and find it of significant difficulty to stop at just one. However, the one most significant drawback that keeps most from watching it, and will most likely be never dialed back, is the wicked tongue of Jeremy “Jezza” Clarkson. His no-holds-barred opinions may take some getting used to, but he means well. Occasionally.
Ever wondered what is missing from European Police chases, or how well professional skiers could race against a car, or what is the best Alfa Romeo, or if a car could replace the innocent little fox in a classic foxhunt? Neither did I, but the results will absolutely astound you, or at least humor you, making this season Highly Recommended for a viewing.
Season 11 wasn’t an overly long affair (the whole thing is smashed onto two discs, tallying 364 minutes), so those picking up this set will no doubt find it a bit lighter than normal. With just six episodes, this set does clock in as one of the smallest seasons, but thankfully the season arrives here in unadulterated form (I think there may have been some edits in season 10, as the episodes weren’t the full hour long expeditions that the show usually is. But I could be wrong about that…) so even though it’s only six episodes…that’s still six hours.
The set itself arrives in a standard Amaray two-disc Eco-DVD case. No fancy slipcase or anything of the sort is included and the discs themselves are all alone in the vast, black case. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and video and audio is solid. Although there is interlacing, which isn’t surprising since this was a PAL show and it had to be converted to NTSC for this R1 release. Still, it’s a solid set all around and well worth it if you’re remotely into cars. Audio is stereo, but the show is mostly talking, so there’s no need for surrounds. Although I could’ve done with some more bass for some of the cars.
So with the tech specs down, let’s get into the extras! Wait, we can’t…there are none. That, too, sadly follows suit when it comes to the DVD releases, but thankfully season 12 breaks that up a bit with quite a few extras.
Overall a Recommended set but only for those really in love with Clarkson and Co. It’s easy for the show to become a bit tiresome as it seems to be the same supercars over and over again…but then when they switch to the more affordable ones; it becomes a great deal less entertaining. So it’s a bit of a conundrum…but this season was full of great little expeditions for the gents to go on and as such you’d be hard pressed to not enjoy it. Unless you don’t like cars…in which case, you should just go away now.
Top Gear – Season 11 is now available on DVD.