Top Gear Series 18
Cast - Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond
Country of Origin - U.K.
Discs - 3
MSRP - $24.98
Distributor - BBC Home Video
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Series (4.5/5)
FULL DISCLOSURE, I am not a car guy. If tomorrow they invented a perfect teleportation system that enabled me to never have to drive again, I would be the first in line to buy it (in the unlikely scenario it was affordable). I kept hearing from friends, and people whose opinion that I trusted that considering my sense of humor I should check out Top Gear, I never listened. That is until last year when I caught my first episode, and became instantly addicted.
Top Gear isn't just a typical by the books, under the hood, for car geeks only sort of show. It's a show that mixes elements of travelogue, British comedy, news, fast cars, and on top of that it's simply fun. It is also lucky enough to have 3 hosts in Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond who combine their passion, with knowledge, and an on-screen chemistry that simply cannot be faked.
Top Gear Series 18 has all 7 episodes from Series 7, and the Top Gear India Special totally 8 episodes of some of the best auto-related programming one is likely to see this year. The India Special sees the trio take a typical Top Gear premise, buying a used car and racing it between 2 locations, in this case Mumbai to Delhi. Of course it is not a typical he who goes fastest wins, that would be pretty dull, there are a number of events they must participate in along the way.
The rest of the 7 episodes are equally interesting as they trio race around Italy, help to create a chase sequence for an action movie, race NASCAR vehicles, and much much more. They also get some interesting celebrities to drive their reasonable priced car, included former Friends star Matt Le Blanc, the Black Eyed Peas Will.i.am, and the Eleventh Doctor Who Matt Smith!
Overall, it's another great season of Top Gear, with a fantastic special. The chemistry that these 3 possess, mixed with the comedy (even though at times it is predictable), and the sheer fun of the episodes make this a impossible to miss DVD set.
Top Gear series 18 is presented with a gorgeous 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen image, that preserves the original broadcast ratio. The colors look fantastic, detail is excellent, and black levels are deep.
The audio is presented in a 2 channel stereo channel mix, that is completely solid. The dialogue is completely audible throughout, and the rip roaring sound of the cars comes out very well, and is mixed nicely with the music. Overall, everything is well-balanced, and sounds fantastic.
BBC Home Video have put together a decent slate of extras for the DVD release of Top Gear Series 18. The disc kicks off the Episode 1 of Series 2 of the U.S. version of Top Gear, this version of the show has improved since season 1, but it's still a pale imitation of the original, and not really worth the time. We then have 2 promos, one for Season 18, and one solely for episode 2 hosted by Richard Hammond. We then have promo reels of Michael Fassbender and Matt LeBlanc driving a McLaren, and some extra footage of James and Richard driving a Bentley.
Top Gear Series 18 is another great Series of Top Gear. The only negative is the lack of extras, and the fact that it was NOT released on Blu-ray. The Blu-ray editions of Top Gear have thus far have been stunners, and I hope BBC Home Video releases more of them stateside. Aside from that minor caveat, this release is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.