Reviews: Top Gear

I can't tell a boot from a bonnet and I love this show

So here's the thing. Cars? I like em' all right. They move and stuff. I don't need to know that much more about em'.

This show? About cars? It's about so much more than cars.

I mean yea, most of the stuff involves cars. But rather than automotive enthusiast stuff, for the most part, the prime focus is on breaking cars, racing cars, bizarre challenges involved cars, and really just watching these three guys fart around for awhile. Yes, there are cars. But it's not about cars.

For a good idea of how amazingly entertaining this show is, picture a lovely day on a French beach across the English channel. Beautiful sun, children playing...and a patched-up car with a motor tacked on driving out of the water and onto the surf.

THIS is Top Gear. This is why I watch.

I'm not really sure how much more to say than that. Cock.

Three English blokes faff about with cars once a week. Brilliant.

There are three things you must know about Top Gear. These are: it is (1) BBC TV (2) entertainment (3) about automobiles. If your only interest in cars is getting from Point A to Point B in a reasonable period of time ... well, you can try it, but bear in mind that it's not for you. If you have a severe allergy to Britishness, you might want to apply an antihistamine. And if you want factual information ... well, some might happen to sneak in while the producers' backs were turned, but that's not really the point. (And the producers aren't above leaving a ... misleading impression, you might say. Kayfabe is, in fact, in effect.)

What is the point, you ask?

It's fun, that's what.

Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond crack jokes, fool around, take up ridiculous challenges (amphibious cars! ski-jumping rocket-powered Cooper Mini! extreme motorhome racing!), and if a car should need reviewing at some point, don't doubt that they'll try to do all three before they're through with it. Like every comedy show, you grow to love the personas the performers adopt: the Largeness of "Jezza" Clarkson's Ham, Richard "Hamster"'s wild enthusiasm, and "Captain Slow" May naming his spanners and getting continually lost — and when they introduce their "tame racing driver", the Stig, to thrash a car around the track, it puts you on the edge of your seat as you await its time. And no less when they bring out a Star to put in a Reasonably Priced Car — whether you recognize the target or not, Clarkson's interviewing chops are first-rate, and the sheer variation in their performances out on the track is an education, not to mention fun. (Do watch Hugh Grant's interview in particular — it's classic! ...although probably Not Safe For Work.)

To sum up: if automobile-themed entertainment from The Beeb sounds like your cup of tea, do give it a look — and if it doesn't, give it a look anyway. It's one of the best TV series ... in the world.

10 Oct addendum to 30 Aug review: I forgot to mention Top Gear's astonishing camera and special effects work. It goes overboard at times — by which I mean constantly — but technically, it is magnificent.