BBC Video // 2013 // 704 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 1st, 2013
The colonies step up.
I'm going to fess up. I have been entirely unfair in previous reviews of the U.S. version of the hugely popular Top Gear brand. I've repeatedly hammered it for being less witty and entertaining as the British original and while that is true, it's not a worthwhile argument. These are different shows. The generally playbook might be the same, but Top Gear, I've found, is mainly about the presenters and less about the cars. The cars are great, but how many sterile road tests of the latest BMW could you really sit through, were it not for the personalities behind the wheel.
But they're different shows and should be judged within that context. So please consider this my official admittance of less-than-good criticism. I'm big enough of a man to admit that.
Which brings us back to Top Gear USA. The show features pro driver Tanner Faust, auto-enthusiast Rutledge Wood, and comedian Adam Ferrara as the presenters. Three seasons in, and it's obvious the guys like each other. Ferrara brings the most wit to the program, with his compatriots offering earnestness, but fairly lukewarm comic timing. But I'll take their chemistry and general fondness for playful ribbing each other. They strike me as likable dudes.
The first hurdle cleared, how about the car stuff? The good news: The petrolhead shenanigans are the highlight of the show. While the presenters won't wow you with their zingers, they supplement the inventive car-porn dreamed up by the producers.
Top Gear, regardless of the continent it dwells upon, is known for its inventive car challenges. To its credit, the U.S. version goes all in with these. Episodes are made up primarily of challenges. There are no star interviews or news segments or giant hangar full of people standing and only a handful of road tests. The show is essentially these three guys embarking on 16 episodes' worth of car challenges. They're pretty inventive too: a road trip in the types of cars they drove in college, a competition to find the most "unkillable" car, a stress test on the three possible American police car heirs and a Scandinavian Viking trip in gigantic 4x4s. It's a good season and a decent TV show, worthy of your time
The four disc set brings episodes in standard 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and 2.0 stereo treatments. Bonuses features include deleted scenes, audio commentaries, interviews and a batch of behind-the-scenes cuts.
It's not better or worse: it's different! Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 704 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Scenes
* Official Site