Top Gear has been in the news quite a bit these past few months yet, not many people are aware of the show or have given it a chance. Hoping to do my part and introduce the show to a different audience of friends, family and anyone within earshot, I’ve described it as “quirky, insulting, visually stunning, borderline childish, yet delightfully entertaining“.
At its heart, this is a show on the history of the automobile. The good, the bad and, for most, the unobtainable – captured in a wide array of angles, palettes and gradients that personally, take me back to my early high school video endeavors where I tried to capture my dad’s 88 black Caprice Classic in angles deemed too aggressive for their time. But to appreciate the production, you need to put aside any notions of political correctness you’ve developed. The show might insult you, make you laugh or make you cringe. There are punches aplenty and no apologies, the pain slightly eased through that unique delivery format that can only come from England.
I first learned of the show in early 2004. I was rummaging about the Pirate Bay, for research purposes, of course, when I noticed a link to Top Gear season 3 – episode 5, the description included a blurb about an indestructible Toyota pickup and the rest, as they say, was history. Eventually, the show made its way across the pond through legal channels to be broadcast on BBC America and eventually on Netflix, where you’ll find several seasons ready for streaming. In no other show will you find a challenge pitting fighter jet v.s. supercar, car-soccer or “epic races” through Africa, South America, Vietnam and Antartica to name just a few.
A couple of years ago, The History Channel introduced an American version of the show and while I have enjoyed a few episodes of Top Gear America, more could have been done to make it unique instead of the clone that it sometimes feels like. But this post isn’t about Top Gear America which was rumored cancelled so, let’s move on.
Across the world Top Gear fans, myself included, were disappointed with host Jeremy Clarkson’s off-air verbal and physical assault of a producer leading to a drastic change in the show’s format. As of June 2015, the show’s three hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, parted ways with the BBC leaving the show in limbo. Was this to be the end of Top Gear as we know it? The BBC announced that it would continue the show with new hosts. Enter Amazon.
In a surprising move, Amazon, the internet giant, has signed on Clarkson, Hammond and May to host an “online motoring show” that will air in 2016. The deal, rumored to be in the neighborhood of $250 Million is jaw-dropping but, I wonder if they also factored the Stig, the show’s tamed race car driver that pushes cars to their limits on the Top Gear track, into the budget. As an existing Amazon Prime subscriber, I’m hoping that I don’t see a raise in membership pricing.
This thought just struck me, imagine the fun that would ensue if Jeff B. turned over the Amazon delivery drone controls to Jeremy for a day.
For your enjoyment, below are a few of my favorite Top Gear clips. We begin with the sequence that hooked me in.
In a later episode, the truck was put through another test which you can also see on You Tube.
Next, Jeremy Clarkson takes the Reliant Rover out for a roll. Fans of Mr. Bean will recognize the Rover, such a unique car.
Next up, James may rides shotgun with Ken Block during his practice loop. Ken Block is a professional rally racer, check out Hoonigan Racing for more information.
Next up is Jeremy Clarkson driving the Smallest Car in the world to the office. Literally.
The video was never aired but, Richard Hammond crashed a rocket car at 288 MPH in 2011 – he was lucky to survive.
He pulled through and returned to the show in spectacular fashion….