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Top Gear Season 18 DVD Review

Season 18 of “Top Gear” is hit-and-miss.

Throughout the 7 episode season 18 (which also includes the India Special), “Top Gear” fans get the usual variety of segments. First off, the hosts (Jeremy, Richard, and James) review the Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster, the Vauxhall Corsa Nurburgring, the Fiat Panda, the Fisker Karma, the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Edition, the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stadale, the BMW M5 F10, the BMW M1, a 1920s Bentley with a tank engine and a German car with an airplane engine.

Next up are the challenges which include: A challenge to see which supercar is better than a Ferrari 458 Italia, Richard and Jeremy directing a chase scene for “The Sweeney” movie, creating off road scooters, a race between the KTM X-Bow, Morgan Three Wheeler and the Caterham 7, a price comparison between golf and Rallycross motor racing and multiple challenges on the India trip in Mumbai, Jaipur, and Delhi.

Also included are: trips to the AAA Texas 500 race, a trip to Beijing to learn about China’s car indsutry, a test drive of the Ferrari 250 GT California, races between a Ferrari FF and a Bentley Continental GT, and Richard and rally driver Toni Gardemeister race a jet propelled man.

The chat and news segments pop up here and there which feature discussions about 2012 cars, the 2013 Dodge Viper, electric cars, the Saab Automobile, the Bentley 4×4, the Lamborghini Aventador J, and a multi-task drive segment.

Last, but not least, there are the celebrity races featuring will.i.am, Matt LeBlanc, Ryan Reynolds, Michael Fassbender, Matt Smith, Slash, Alex James and Kimi Raikkonen.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a car guy, but I find that “Top Gear” can be an appealing show for non-vehicle loving folks (despite its flaws). It’s true that the show is formulaic and hasn’t really changed much over the years. It’s also true that the car chats and reviews seem like a bit of a chore if you don’t care about getting the lowdown on car specs and new models. Thankfully, however, there is more to the show than that.

When it comes to “Top Gear,” the two things that grab my interest are the trips/challenges and some of the celeb chats. Naturally then, the two highlights of this season for me personally are the interview with Matt Smith and the India Trip. As a big“Doctor Who” fan, I found the interview with Matt Smith to be rather riveting. It didn’t feel like a normal chat show interview and, in fact, was a bit raunchy in parts. It’s very laidback and humorous which makes it a must watch (especially if you are a Whovian who wants to hear more about Matt Smith).

Of all the challenges here, the real standout is the India special which looks and feels epic and cinematic. While some of the clearly scripted bits are a bit groan worthy, it’s the trio’s witty banter and adventures that keep you interested.

Summary: With 18 seasons under their belt, “Top Gear” is starting to show signs of wear. Still, the show can be fun at times and it’s still worth a watch even if might not be as fresh or exciting as it once was.

Video/Audio:

Not to take anything away from the DVD quality (which is actually quite sharp), but where is the Blu-ray release? This show looks absolutely stunning on Blu-ray and it seems odd that there isn’t a simultaneous Blu-ray release with the DVD set.

The Dolby Digital Stereo does the job. The audio really comes alive during the race sequences.

Extras:
* Trailers for “Zen,” “Doctor Who” series 6, “Being Human,”
* Footage of Matt LeBlanc and Michael Fassbender Driving a McLaren.
* The complete lap races by celebs Matt LeBlanc, Ryan Reynolds, Michael Fassbender, Matt Smith, Alex James and Kimi Raikkonen.
* “Richard Does NASCAR”- Richard Hammond chats about NASCAR.
* “JC- Antelope”- Jeremy randomly talk about groups of people.
* “Richard And James And The Classic Bentley”- Title says it all.
* “Series 18 Welcome”- A basic introduction about what to expect in season 18.
* The first episode of season 2 of the U.S. version of “Top Gear.” Make of that as you will.

July 27, 2012 - Posted by | DVD review |

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