Top Gear Apocalypse
reported global audience of over 350 million people, Top Gear is one of
the most watched television shows in the world. Itís a recipe that has
been added to and tweaked over time, finally finding the ultimate
success in the last decade due to its perfect blend of information,
humour and outlandish driving stunts.
Apocalypse is the BBCís Christmas DVD release, and is hosted by
stalwarts James May and Richard Hammond. There is no Jeremy Clarkson, no
Stig and no studio audience, just a series of stunts and challenges
neatly packaged under a common (if depressingly un-Christmassy) theme:
the end of the world. Expect lots of quips about fallout, nuclear winter
and zombified Mini drivers within.
challenge puts James and Richard behind the wheel of a car that has had
its windows blocked out- ostensibly to simulate the total darkness that
would succeed a nuclear war- and forces them to drive across an
abandoned cityscape, using only their onboard GPS to navigate. The
results are fairly predictable, and somewhat contrived, as the two smash
into every solid object conceivable (and eventually each other). This
sequence plods on for a bit too long, and starts to outstay its welcome
towards the end.
And so do
the Ďfillerí segments that have been inserted between challenges. They
consist of James and Richard playing a game, where one will look away
while the other tries to guess what instruments have been tampered with
on the dashboard. The segments are aimed squarely at getting cheap
laughs, but they fall short of the mark- even becoming cringe-worthy
feature only shifts up a notch when the hosts take part in a two-car
raceÖ with a twist. Suffice to say that there are remote-control
shenanigans involved, and the results are hilarious. Likewise, the scene
in which the boys take to an arena with remote-controlled cars equipped
with giant axes and blades, is grossly entertaining for the 14-year old
boy in all of us.
As we have
come to expect from this series, Apocalypse looks and sounds brilliant.
trademark lens filters, quick editing and super-stylish shots capture
the cars and the stunts in all their glory. The soundtrack is well
designed, even if it does sound oddly vacant when Hammond and James are
speaking to us from the confines of a nuclear bunker. But I suppose
thatís the point.
humour: it sounds like a winning recipe for entertainment, and it is.
But this show isnít just about silly stunts, or grown men flinging
supercars around a test track for thrills. Top Gear is so successful
because at the heart of it, itís all about the common love of motoring.
love and enjoyment these people have of cars and driving is obvious the
moment they get behind the wheel.
Richard explains why the world is a better place for loud and obnoxious
American muscle cars, you believe him.
expounds the reasons why he would choose a Ferrari F40 as his last ever
drive, you are moved. And when the pair finally run out of fuel while
sliding around the Top Gear test track, and are forced to leave their
silent steeds behind, it is a genuinely sombre moment.
the fact that it looks and feels cobbled together at times, and despite
the fact that the boys often go over the top with their jokes, this
release exemplifies the traits that have made Top Gear such an enjoyable
show to watch for so long.