Judge David Johnson is a star in a reasonably priced car. Well, not so much a "star" as a "tall man with glasses."
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 18 (published July 14th, 2012), and Top Gear US: Season One (published August 5th, 2011) are also available.
The top Top Gear.
This three-disc Blu-ray set includes an episode of the American version of Top Gear, and while that show isn't terrible, it's a shadow of the original British version's brilliance. Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond have this series down to a sweet science in which high-quality motoring-themed entertainment is assured. The segments vary in quality from episode-to-episode and season-to-season—Season 12 currently ranks as my favorite—but you can bank on seeing something new every time.
Here Richard tools around in the mammoth successor to the Hummer, then attempts to blow it up with some C4; Jeremy nearly gets decapitated in a Lotus Formula-1 race car; and James May rally-races a British Olympian skeleton specialist (which is the most insane Olympic event ever devised). The guys also test hot hatchbacks, pit the ridiculous Nissan GTR against he Jaguar's answer to the Aston Martin, road test two electric cars, utilize surplus military equipment to demolish a dilapidated city block, and throw an over-the-top birthday party for the S-type.
That's a good lineup of petrol-head fun, marred only by a series of relatively uninteresting (and unknown) "stars in a reasonable priced car" (save for Alice Cooper, who was awesome) and the lack of any truly memorable challenges that have defined the series. Jeremy and Richard embark on a cheap-car challenge, when they see what they can buy for the price of the cheapest new car on the market, but that has them spending seven grand on two used 12-cylinder luxury cars.
Actually, now that I think about it, the build-a-train challenge—where our heroes construct affordable transit by converting cars to run on rails—is pretty legendary.
With only six episodes, Top Gear: The Complete Season 17 is a little briefer than I would have liked, but I'll take whatever I can get and like it. The Blu-ray release is mixed, offering a very good-looking 1.78:1:/1080i transfer, but a no-frills 2.0 stereo mix that short-changes the epic exhaust and engine noises. Extras: The aforementioned episode of Top Gear U.S. and a boat-load of bonus segments (interviews with Amy Williams and Ross Noble, series intro from Jeremy and James, an intro to Sebastian Vettel's power lap, James's cockpit reaction to the GTR, and behind-the-scenes footage of the celebrity laps) all of which was previously available online.
Top Gear is as good as it gets for lovers of cars and tomfoolery. Not
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
• Bonus Episode
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.