Britain's Greatest Machines Series 2
Rodent-faced (see cover) British thesp
Chris Barrie of Red Dwarf fame is back, taking a look at some of
the engineering marvels that shaped the 20th century, usually
whilst clad in tweed and blanching every time he is required to climb
into an apparatus capable of attaining speeds of greater than 15 km/h.
As with the previous season, each of the
first three hour-long episodes focuses on a particular decade and the
most important inventions and engineering feats for which it was
responsible. Episode four is simply entitled ‘Trains.’
The decade which served to bridge the
fledgling industrialism, rampant Brylcreem sales and lively facial hair
of the 19th century, and the technological marvels of the 20th,
was an era of hugely important advances. The 1910s saw the birth of
widespread radio communications, several new electric machines and the
birth of mass motoring, not to mention a number of leaps in war
machinery and aviation. Barrie get into the midst of it all, tinkering
around with the equipment used to save 700 lives on the Titanic and
staring gobsmacked at the Edwardian 'cyclecar.'
Pleasingly for fans of both sequentiality
and old-timey motor vehicles, this episode features some of the
engineering highlights of the ‘Roaring 20s’ such as the De Havilland
Moth, a light aircraft which helped pioneer the commercial routes still
in use today. Barrie does plenty of roaring himself in a period
Bentley, then takes part in a race between a 1925 Brough Superior
motorcycle and a plane. Spoiler alert: the plane wins.
This one, of course, focuses mainly on
wartime technology, most notably by exploring the vehicles of the
Auxiliary Fire Service and High Speed Launch 102, England’s first high
speed rescue boat. He also races around the English countryside,
something of a staple of the series, this time in a strikingly named
contraption known as the Daimler Dingo, and dabbles with the steampunk
version of the minigun.
The title of this episode pretty much sums
it up. In this episode ‘TV icon and vintage machine enthusiast’ Barrie
delves into the rail’s history, looks at some steam engines, and the
like. By this point I was so sick of the witless twit I wanted to leap
off the Trevithick Puffing Devil, take a ride aboard it.
Look, the series is alright. It’s a
harmless, occasionally insightful bit of British mutual backslapping and
a chance to put on anorak and hanker for the ‘good old days.’ But I
used up all my politeness in my review of season one and can no longer
feign interest, so I’m going to stop here.
Audio & Video
Once again the series has been expertly
shot and edited and comes across strong in an anamorphically enhanced
16:9 widescreen presentation. Audio is in the usual documentary format,
ie. a perfectly respectable DD 2.0. Once more there are no bonus