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Case Number 26887: Small Claims Court

Buy Top Gear: The Complete Season 20 at Amazon

Top Gear: The Complete Season 20

BBC Video // 2013 // 360 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 23rd, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is a star in his reasonably priced car.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Top Gear: The Complete Season 13 (published October 16th, 2010), Top Gear: The Complete Season 10 (published April 23rd, 2009), Top Gear: The Complete Season 11 (published January 25th, 2010), Top Gear: The Complete Season 12 (published January 25th, 2010), Top Gear: The Complete Season 14 (Blu-ray) (published February 19th, 2011), Top Gear: The Complete Season 15 (Blu-ray) (published February 19th, 2011), Top Gear: The Complete Season 16 (Blu-ray) (published August 8th, 2011), Top Gear: The Complete Season 17 (Blu-ray) (published February 20th, 2012), Top Gear: The Complete Season 18 (published July 14th, 2012), Top Gear: The Worst Car in the History of the World (published September 26th, 2013), Top Gear US: Season One (published August 5th, 2011), and Top Gear US: Season Three (published September 1st, 2013) are also available.

The Charge

Stig it to the man.

The Case

The twentieth installment of Britain's iconic car series—the number one motoring program in the world—features all the lunacy and impromptu explosions you've come to expect from this crew. Each of the six episodes unfolds in the textbook Top Gear way: reviews and special films buttressed by offbeat "news" segments and the venerable "star in a reasonably priced car." Alas, no Specials this season.

Top Gear remains a favorite of mine—brash, witty, gorgeously photographed and filthy with so much car pornography I feel tempted to change the channel when my wife walks into the room. James, Jeremy and Richard once again show why they are at the top of the "reality show" game, honing their chemistry and back-and-forth witticisms to perfection. These three could star in a Jersey Shore spin-off and I'd watch it every night.

A rundown of some standout moments from this particular season:

• "Hovervan"
A trademark Top Gear science project. In response to recent flooding worries in the UK, the trio unveils their solution: a bastardized van, outfitted with a giant rear-mounted fan and a skirt to turn it into an amphibious hovercraft. The results are predictably catastrophic.

• "Budget Supercars"
Each presenter takes an "affordable" supercar (read: not very affordable) onto a mega road trip through Spain. The cars are superb of course, but what stood out was the staggeringly depressed country they were tooling around in: brand new neighborhoods abandoned, airports shuttered and lifeless; it was like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.

• "Tow Cars"
In their semi-regular nod to the legions of caravan enthusiasts, James and Jeremy test-drive small SUVs for their towing capacity. The final test: a cross country race hauling a camper. The results are predictably catastrophic.

• "Sailboat Race"
The race itself isn't as tense as past showdowns, but this bout gets a thumbs-up because of two reasons: 1) Jeremy driving a rental car with zero restraint, and 2) James's utterly horrific experience strapped to the fasting catamaran in the world.

What's missing is a memorable challenge, particularly a "cheap car challenge." In fact, the above highlights, while lots of fun, don't quite measure up to the highest highs the series has reached in the past. On the other hand, this installment features arguably the best "stars in reasonably priced cars" lineup ever: Ron Howard, Hugh Jackman, Steven Tyler, Warwick Davis and Benedict Cumberbatch headline the list.

BBC delivers Top Gear: The Complete Season 20 with good content, but a mediocre release: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 2.0 Stereo, some Stig cam power lap footage, and a few bits of recollection from James May about some of the show's finest moments. This last one was a disappointment: Give me the actual segments in their entirety, then let James riff! What am I going to do with 90 seconds worth of highlights?!

The Verdict

Not guilty. Still the best in the business.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: BBC Video
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 360 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Foreign
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette
• Bonus Footage


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