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February 16, 2009 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Top Gear Challenges: Some highlights include Bugatti Veyron vs. Eurofighter, Range Rover vs Challenger 2, and Nissan GTR vs. Bullet train (part 2)

Top Gear previously on mefi.
posted by jourman2 (41 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is nothing compared to the Earth vs. Conspicuous Consumption.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:36 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


You have to suspend disbelief somewhat to enjoy the challenges.

Jeremy Clarkson races across Europe in a Veyron and beats the dynamic duo flying? It must be one helluva quick car.
- Did he kip? Not in the video, but only a moron would drive 18 hours straight in a Veyron.
- Did he break the speed limit? Pretty carefully, when he drove through France (some speed traps are automated off inter-toll both average speed data, and French police have the power to seize your car for speeding), and certainly not quick enough to outrun his decidedly non-Veyron camera car.
- Did he win? Of course.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:48 AM on February 16, 2009


The in-studio banter in Top Gear is an acquired taste - or rather, you have to learn to ignore the scripted bits. Once you do, the programme trips along pleasantly enough. Until then, it's kind of uncomfortable.

(See also McNulty's accent in The Wire.)

Also - something must be done about their hair.
posted by Jofus at 8:52 AM on February 16, 2009


The Ford Fiesta review is the finest Top Gear I have ever watched.

"Is it green?"
"Very."
posted by plexi at 9:00 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whatever point they may have been trying to make with in the race with the Bullet Train was weak, at best. The driver got to take a shorter route than the train, cheat whatever speed limits he could, and in the end the race was a draw largely because of the absence of their often-threatened Tokyo vicinity traffic jams. For me it looked like a demonstration of the superiority of public transit in Japan, buffoonish skits about missing connections aside. Would I opt for pounding beers in a cabin with its own lavatory while letting somebody else drive on a cross-country trip? Why yes, I would.
posted by ardgedee at 9:01 AM on February 16, 2009


Aston Martin V8 Vantage vs Man on Jet Powered Rollerskates!
posted by chillmost at 9:21 AM on February 16, 2009


Whatever point they may have been trying to make with in the race with the Bullet Train was weak, at best.

I don't know that they are ever really trying to prove a point, other than, "Yay for motor cars!"

That said, I love everything about Top Gear - the banter, the scripted bits and yes - even the hair.
posted by bristolcat at 9:22 AM on February 16, 2009


They cheat, you know. It's all about producing a good film package, and not about actually proving a point. The challenges are all engineered so that the car will win.

Plus, Jeremy Clarkson clearly isn't real.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 9:28 AM on February 16, 2009


Car nuts with a big budget having fun noodling around. I must be the target market, for I enjoy it on many levels.
posted by cairnish at 9:30 AM on February 16, 2009


I don't even like cars, and I love Top Gear. Especially their hair.

(Also, I named my netbook Hamster, after Richard Hammond. It's tiny, cute, and has a SSD drive so it can be dropped and abused, and won't suffer damage...)
posted by kalimac at 9:34 AM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The cyclist won the car/boat/train/bicycle race across London. It isn't always engineered so the car will win.
posted by yhbc at 9:34 AM on February 16, 2009


> The cyclist won the car/boat/train/bicycle race across London. It isn't always engineered so the car will win.

That was when they were racing against a third party, and I'll bet that some third parties won't take part unless they at least have a chance at winning (or it might even be fixed so that they will automatically win).

Thinking about it, when the long-haired one raced those cyclists, they won too. And when Hammond raced some "parkour" types around Liverpool, I believe they won too.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 9:41 AM on February 16, 2009


The races and challenges are usually planned to have a close outcome. The presenter in the car usually (but not always) defeats the presenter in another form of transportation in the race, but the outside person with odd skill or mode of transport will usually defeat the presenter in the car in that type of challenge.
posted by andrewraff at 9:47 AM on February 16, 2009


MuffinMan : Jeremy Clarkson races across Europe in a Veyron and beats the dynamic duo flying? It must be one helluva quick car.

It is. But that's not how he won. Supposedly James May couldn't fly after dark and thus, they couldn't actually use the plane for the whole trip.

There is a rarely deviated from set of rules with regard to their races: if it's a person (climbing, running, etc) or an animal versus a car, the car will lose. If it's a car versus anything else (plane, boat, train, etc) the car will win.

Even knowing this, and having seen it repeated over and over again, I will still watch Top Gear obsessively because there are few shows that are as brutally honest in their reviews, while still being as funny and astonishingly well filmed and edited.

Top Gear is all about suspension of disbelief for the joy of watching some stuff that you can't believe you just saw.
posted by quin at 9:49 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


That was when they were racing against a third party, and I'll bet that some third parties won't take part unless they at least have a chance at winning (or it might even be fixed so that they will automatically win).

Actually, that particular one was just the three of them plus the Stig.
posted by shoebox at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2009


If you don't like Top Gear then here is the man to blame (apparently). Historian AJP Taylor is best known in the UK for his history programs - erudite affairs which were done live, unscripted and direct to camera. He was also a passionate defender of driving like an arse however and was thus a sort of protean Jeremy Clarkson.
posted by rongorongo at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2009


All you have to do is play the first little guitar riff of "Jessica" by The Allman Brothers Band and my 3 year old son comes running in... "Top Gear??"

Yes, it over the top, but damn its entertaining.
posted by ShawnString at 10:25 AM on February 16, 2009


Weirdly though I can't fucking stand Jeremy Clarkeson and his hateful simian ilk when I'm back in the UK, all you have to do while I'm stuck over here is put on Top Gear or show me a copy of The Sun and I'm weeping wth nostalgia. It's a very disturbing phenomena. I'll start giving a shit about football next.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The in-studio banter in Top Gear is an acquired taste

Their interaction, in the filmed reports as well, kind of reminds me of early seasons of Last of the Summer Wine.
posted by carter at 10:36 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like it when it's stagey as fuck.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on February 16, 2009


> Their interaction, in the filmed reports as well, kind of reminds me of early seasons of Last of the Summer Wine.

I spotted this quite a while ago. There's a posh/officious one (James/Foggy), a commoner who's almost out of control (Clarkson/Compo), and a sensible one who holds the other two apart (Hammond/Clegg).

Put three of those types together and it works on TV.

When you look into it, however, there are lots of patterns like this within British comedy, especially older sitcoms (think about On the Buses, for example). It's partially because the British are secretly obsessed with class.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 10:42 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


> It's a very disturbing phenomena. I'll start giving a shit about football next.

It's akin the Irish disease. The best examples of 100% Irishness can be found in Irish people who aren't actually in Ireland at the time (some of whom have never even been to Ireland, and whose genes are so diluted of Irish ancestry that they have as much claim to be descended from chimps, especially in America).
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 10:45 AM on February 16, 2009


Even knowing this, and having seen it repeated over and over again, I will still watch Top Gear obsessively because there are few shows that are as brutally honest in their reviews, while still being as funny and astonishingly well filmed and edited.

The super-saturated, super vignette-y post processing they do on those videos gets old after a while.
posted by delmoi at 10:48 AM on February 16, 2009


> certainly not quick enough to outrun his decidedly non-Veyron camera car

They go back and film those sequences later. Hard work, but on the other hand, some lucky researcher of approximately Clarkson's build gets to drive a Veyron.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 10:48 AM on February 16, 2009


The super-saturated, super vignette-y post processing they do on those videos gets old after a while.

True, but I think it's just a natural reaction to having grey skies so often. Bring up the colors you do have, and use a vignette effect to break up the monotone in the sky. Also explains their use of colored filters.

At least, that's the reason to do it on the test track, and then it spills over into the rest.
posted by smackfu at 11:14 AM on February 16, 2009


some lucky researcher of approximately Clarkson's build

Being "of approximately Clarkson's build" is far from lucky, even if it does open the door to driving a Veyron across France.
posted by The World Famous at 11:42 AM on February 16, 2009


There's exactly one phrase that sums up Top Gear, in all the good and bad ways.

"Driven by cocks!"
posted by eriko at 12:02 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or my favorite "Ambitious but rubbish".

It has sort of become a personal mantra of mine...
posted by quin at 12:32 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This one was great, too: Ferrari Daytona vs diesel powerboat

These segments on Top Gear resonate with their viewers for a reason. Lets just say, out of some total blast of providence, you end up with Veyron in your garage. Its yours for a week. Your two close friends, one of which has a recently acquired pilot's license, and have rented themselves a Cessna. You've got radios and cellphones to taunt communicate with each other. What are you going to do? You're to going to challenge each other to a race. That supercar is super fast, and if you're trying to beat an airplane, you get to crack open the throttle trying to beat it.

But if you end up with a Veyron in your garage and you've got nowhere to go except to Safeway to get some eggs.. you'll take the long way to the store but ultimately you'll get bored driving a million-dollar car around with no place to go.

So it's an escapist fantasy. The fact that it's well-filmed and humorously played-out makes it fun for the rest of us to watch, and also try to imagine ourselves being there.

on preview: I also loved "Top Gear: At the cutting edge of cocking about", from the Winter Olympics Special.
posted by ninjew at 1:00 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


> The super-saturated, super vignette-y post processing they do on those videos gets old after a while.

Actually, I love it. Really, can you think of something more monotonous than having to film cars all day. These guys are able to have fun doing it and make something boring look interesting and sexy (and sometimes they really don't need to do much, for the occasional actually awesome car).

I just finished watching the series, up through season 12, because their film making style, and how insane the whole premise is.

I suggest everyone take a look at their recent vietnam special.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:06 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suggest everyone take a look at their recent vietnam special.

Like most sensible people, I loathe Clarkson, don't give a shit about cars, but absolutely love Top Gear. Whoever came up with the 'Last of the Summer Wine' comparison was completely inspired. (Though I'm not seeing the On the Buses analogy at all. Clarkson as Reg Varney, Captain Slow as the Inspector, and Hammond as Olive?)

The Vietnam special was wonderful. I don't know if they'd planned to do it on cheap, shitty motorbikes, and I don't know if they realized it couldn't be done in the timescale they'd planned on doing it in, and I've no idea if they really lost their way and ended up on the other side of the country, but it was such good television.

It was everything that that shit programme with the actor and the director's son whizzing around the world on motorbikes should be but isn't.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:41 PM on February 16, 2009


Their interaction ... kind of reminds me of early seasons of Last of the Summer Wine.

I began to enjoy it (and I don't even have a driving license. I have no idea what they're talking about, technically), when I realised that it was essentially The Goodies (Clarkson => Bill, May => Graeme, Hammond => Tim. The Stig doesn't really have a Goodies analog, unless it's the Trandem).

Except Top Gear is actually more politically correct than a lot of episodes of The Goodies.
posted by Grangousier at 3:45 PM on February 16, 2009


Top Gear has shown me David Tennant swearing at a car and Simon Pegg expounding on how STAR WARS could be viewed from a Marxist perspective. For this, I can forgive them anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:55 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never seen this show before, but it looks like a lot of fun. The review of the Ford Fiesta linked above by plexi was very entertaining. Almost made me want to by a Ford. Almost.

There is a rarely deviated from set of rules with regard to their races: if it's a person (climbing, running, etc) or an animal versus a car, the car will lose. If it's a car versus anything else (plane, boat, train, etc) the car will win.

Actually, the Eurofighter won in Bugatti Veyron vs. Eurofighter, no?
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:35 PM on February 16, 2009


> Bugatti Veyron vs. Eurofighter, Range Rover vs Challenger 2, and Nissan GTR vs. Bullet train

So, we don't have anything that can take on optimus prime?
posted by jfuller at 7:08 PM on February 16, 2009


Not strictly a challenge, but still one of the best TG segments ever: Killing a Toyota (1, 2, 3). Silly, scripted, ultimately pointless - and really fucking awesome.
posted by googly at 7:20 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Killing a Toyota (1, 2, 3). Silly, scripted, ultimately pointless - and really fucking awesome.

Plus extra points for them actually using the word "Plinth" in part 3!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 PM on February 16, 2009


One of very few justifiably popular shows on British TV. It's entertainment - not documentary. They're NEVER trying to be serious, please don't view it thinking that they are.

And like all good comedy, the presenters are exaggerating their own personality traits for fun and profit. Clarkson in particular utterly adores his disproportionate infamy.
posted by dickasso at 2:58 AM on February 17, 2009


I may love nothing as much as I love Top Gear and all of its delightful flaws. It is terrifically great television.
posted by Super Hans at 4:34 AM on February 17, 2009


So it's based on three men larking about a la Last of the Summer Wine or The Goodies.

It's. still. fab. television. Something that seems superficially easy to transfer to other countries, but yet I don't think they've managed it.

And I hate driving, am environmentally-friendly and hate what Clarkson says. But I LOVE the way he says it.
posted by almostwitty at 9:40 AM on February 17, 2009


Top Gear in the American South.

I'm split on whether the bit in Alabama is fake, but having lived TOO LONG in rural America, I can completely believe it happened.
posted by fiercekitten at 11:26 AM on February 17, 2009


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