Sunday, June 27, 2010
Top Gear Revs Back Onto Our Screens
Good News! Top Gear is back! Everyone’s favourite car magazine show, hosted by three bickering children in the guise of middle aged men. This time we are faced with a new dawn as Top Gear becomes ‘more serious.’ A fact that the presenters repeated – probably to remind themselves, let alone us – that they have toned down the excessive sillyness that’s been seen in the recent series.
Now don’t get me wrong as there is a lot to love about the OTT antics of Hammond, May and Clarkson, such as:
· A chance to see men live out their craziest fantasies involving cars – like for instance car darts, racing a car against a train, build-your-own- stretch limos and, of course, the Reliant Robin Space Shuttle.
· It’s like what Heston Blumenthal’s trying to do to food, but a lot more fun!
· The director get’s to indulge in videographic opulence, as he throws about every artistic visual trick in presenting the actual car reviews, resulting in stylish and atmospheric little featurettes.
· We get a neo-mythical beast/ racing driver (aka the Stig) testing the reviewed cars to see how fast they can get around the Top Gear track.
· We get to see who the fastest celebrity is in a reasonably priced car.
· The three main presenters make the perfect foils for each other, as Clarkson spouts un-PC grumblings and constantly insane similes, Hammond (who is becoming more and more like Jeremy’s side-kick) preens himself and bounces around like a psychotic imp, and May engages with the others with the wit and temperament of a hermit-like crackpot scientist, who lives in a shed.
Anyway, it’s back! And it’s now more ‘serious’ than ever. Or at least that’s a fact that the hosts are trying to convince themselves to believe in. True enough, the show began with a relatively serious look a new Bentley sports car, but as soon as they sat the Stig in the car to test it all delusions of seriousness were shattered; as they cut away from the lap to show Japanese superminis ‘playing football,’ while Clarkson reeled off ridiculous commentary of what we were ‘supposedly’ missing. From there we witnessed James driving a Toyota Hilux up a volcano, Hammond giving the old Chevy reasonably price car a “Viking funeral” by dropping a large chimney on it, and Clarkson reaffirming the dangers of the Robin Reliant’s single front wheel. It was pretty much as crazy and silly as usual in short. But at least we learned that: Volcanoes are hot and shouldn’t be driven up, the new Bentley is good - although not as good as an Aston Martin DBS - cars and chimneys do not mix and you should never EVER accept a lift from Jeremy Clarkson if he’s driving in a Robin Reliant.
Basically the “serious” brand is an empty threat, and is banded about as sincerely as Corporal Jones waving his arms and screaming “Don’t panic” continuously. Now I don’t see it as a bad thing that the show is continuing as it was, as for the most part it was fine and they do seem to have toned down the scripted laughs, which were becoming more and more frequent in the previous series. Thankfully in doing so they haven’t cut down on the “ambitious but rubbish” prattling around that has endeared fans to the series.