By MATTHEW BLAIR
BBC America recently premiered the 17th season of its hit automotive series “Top Gear,” and if you haven’t been faithfully viewing the past 16 seasons it’s high time you got started.
The bitingly hilarious show is hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, who do all sorts of spectacular things with automobiles. They’ve turned a pick-up truck into a motorboat, motorcycles into paddle boats, and have even attempted to launch a car into orbit after turning a hatchback into a space shuttle.
Top Gear isn’t simply a show about three British chaps who cut and weld various bits and pieces onto a car in order to create some Franken-mobile. If it were, it’d be on TLC. By combining the dry, quick-witted humors of its hosts against flashy and often breath-taking vehicular feats, “Top Gear” manages to pull off a clever blend of insight and laughs, all while showcasing some of the most exotic cars in the world.
“Top Gear” is filmed at an airfield outside of Surrey, England, giving the hosts an ideal location to be able to push various supercars to their limits. Jeremy Clarkson regularly slides Aston Martins around the Top Gear test track, while making humorously insightful similes and metaphors to convey his impressions of the vehicle. James May, nicknamed “Captain Slow,” has driven a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport on the show, climbing to a top speed of 259.5 miles per hour.
“Top Gear” doesn’t limit itself to testing cars only at their studio. Clarkson and May were two of the first people to reach the magnetic North Pole in a car. The three hosts have purchased cars for less than $3,000, and then proceeded to drive them across the Makgadikgadi Pan desert in Botswana to the Namibian border. They’ve test driven cars all over the globe, often incorporating absurd races into their travels.
Perhaps the best characteristic of “Top Gear,” however, is that viewers needn’t be a petrol-head to enjoy the show, nor do viewers need to have an infatuation with British humor to enjoy the jokes. It’s smart without being haughty, impressive without being overbearing and informative without being too technical for casual viewers.
Image courtesy of lowblow.com