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When I first saw that Top Gear was on Netflix, I picked a random episode to watch to see what the flavor of the show was. That episode was fairly plain, and had three witty but otherwise average car reviews in it. So I thought, okay, witty car reviews. Guess I can use it as filler when there's nothing else to watch.

I've now caught up to that episode. It is right after the episode where they drive at night on the most deadly road in the world (in Bolivia) with non-working headlights, using flashlights taped to the front of the car as the only light to see the unguarded thousand foot drops, and right before the episode where James May drives up an erupting volcano in Iceland to collect lava. You know the volcano--it's the one that explodiated shortly after they filmed the episode.

So basically, I randomly picked the only episode in the later series of Top Gear that was completely boring. Good thing I gave the show another chance anyway, eh?

Top Gear

Oct. 13th, 2011 01:50 pm
ivyfic: (Default)
I have been watching a lot of Top Gear lately. (I can't help it--it's perfect television. It's entertaining and doesn't require you to use your brain at all. And sometimes things catch fire.) What has been interesting is to see the evolution of the show, as I've been watching it in order from series 2. In the first few series, it is mostly reviews of cars. Witty, sardonic reviews, but reviews nonetheless. About the only time the presenters got into arguments was when they were evaluating three different cars in the same class, but even these segments were more car reviews than arguments, and the arguments usually ended with a drag race.

As the show wears on, though, they clearly develop stage personas. Jeremy Clarkson becomes the uber-macho idiot, who never thinks things through or plans ahead and faces all problems by yelling or smashing things with hammers. James May becomes the stuffy one, who overthinks everything and bores people with his explanations, then still fails. Richard Hammond becomes the scrappy one, the butt of continual jokes about his vanity and his stature. And these personality traits were always evident, but they become notably more pronounced. All three have clearly made the decision to play into the archetypes and always, always come into conflict with each other (because that's entertaining).

More discussion of Top Gear than you ever wanted )

I don't know, though, if I'd rather believe that it's all fake (like the laughing on Car Talk) or that it's all real. If it's fake, that takes away a lot of the humor, because you want to believe in the earnestness of their efforts. But, like with Garrison Keillor, it's hard to believe such succesful amateurishness could be anything but deliberate. But if it's all real--than they really are being remarkably, dangerously stupid much of the time.

One last note--as I discussed with [livejournal.com profile] jethrien, these guys really are dicks. I mean, look at the episode where they drive from Miami to New Orleans, where they paint each other's cars in slogans to try to get them beaten up. And someone does try to beat them up. Not because the slogans are offensive, per se, but because the idea that these three British fops have made a bet over getting locals to beat them up is offensive. (And going back to the earlier point--I don't know if I believe that encounter. Or, if it was real, how many gas stations did they go to without incident before that one?)

But they are foreign dicks. Their douchebaggery is of a different sort that I meet on the subway or that hits on me. So I can be amused by them where I don't think I'd be at all amused watching Americans pull similar stunts. Occasionally they do cross that line into familiar douchebaggery, though, and very suddenly stop being funny. Like, in that same episode, when they are so moved by the destruction of New Orleans that they donate the piece of shit cars they've been sabotaging and putting rotting cow in for a few hundreds of miles to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Yes, thank you so much for being so generous to the deserving poor of New Orleans. And when the people you're making a donation to get pissed at the quality of it, that's all good fun, right? *glares*

Top Gear

Sep. 12th, 2011 01:07 pm
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I have been watching the British Top Gear--eight seasons of which are very helpfully on Netflix. I should point out that I have no actual interest in cars. I don't own one and haven't in a few years, both cars I owned were purchased from or by family, and I rather intensely dislike driving. In addition, I know only as much about them as I could glean from Car Talk, and it's a British show, so one out of four of their pop culture references go straight over my head. And, I've started at the beginning of what Netflix has, which is 2003.

So I am watching a show about eight-year-old foreign cars that I don't care about.

However, the presenters are terribly entertaining, and sometimes I just need to watch something that I have no emotional stake in and don't really need to pay attention to, and this has been fitting the bill, especially as a break from the horrid, horrid freelance gig I was working on this weekend.

As I've been watching, I've been paying attention to the differences between British and American television, though.

stuff )

I think I'm picking up some knowledge about cars by osmosis listening to this, but since most of it is very specific to Britain, it's not very useful. I think the best comment I've heard so far on the show is when Patrick Stewart was on and Jeremy Clarkson asked him if the driving was at all enjoyable in America. Stewart said, well, if you like to practice defensive driving all the time.

Apparently, if I want to learn to enjoy driving, I need to move to the UK.


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