In season 18 of the world's most extreme car show, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May visit India as they attempt to promote British trade armed only with three old cars, a badly behaved lawnmower and a trouser press. They also drive supercars across Italy, make a movie car chase, re-invent the mobility scooter, get soaking wet in track day cars, go motor racing for less than the cost of playing golf, investigate the Chinese car industry, immerse themselves in the world of NASCAR, and drive a brand new Ferrari through a snow field. Plus, The Stig hits the test track in the Mercedes SLS Roadster, BMW M5, Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, and an insane pre-war Bentley powered by a 27-litre Spitfire engine, and the Reasonably Priced Car feels the raw driving power of stars including will.i.am, Ryan Reynolds, Slash, Matt LeBlanc, Michael Fassbender and Matt Smith.
What makes Top Gear such fantastically entertaining television is that it is only in the loosest sense a show about cars. In truth, it's a forum for three delightful Brits to bicker, snipe, and compete with each other as they drive cars hither and yon. Jeremy Clarkson (tall, hefty, urbane, and witheringly witty), James May (understated and sturdy, referred to as "Eeyore" by the others at one point), and Richard Hammond (short and wiry, packed with irrepressible energy) are just about the perfect guys to hang out with--they combine enthusiasm for cars with a gleeful desire to poke fun at each other using dry but infectious humor. Each episode follows a regular pattern: a test drive of a snazzy new vehicle (a Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, a Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring, a Fisker Karma, a KTM X-Bow, and many more), a spot of car news (which is really just an excuse for them to toss out competing hyperbole), and having a celebrity drive a reasonably priced car (including will.i.am, Michael Fassbender, Dr. Who's Matt Smith, Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, Ryan Reynolds, and Matt LeBlanc, who proves himself a pretty good driver). Then the rest of each show is filled out with a bit of variety, which could be launching a car with an air cannon, racing wheelchairs, exploring the obsessiveness of Saab engineers, critiquing the Chinese car industry, and having AC/DC's lead singer Brian Johnson drive an electric car. But perhaps the most enjoyable episode is the special in which they take three British-made cars--a Jaguar, a Rolls-Royce, and a Mini Cooper--to India to improve Anglo-Indian relations… and generally demonstrate that, while they know everything about cars, they know almost nothing about anything else. Top Gear combines the glossy cinematography and razzle-dazzle editing of a car commercial with the rapid-fire dialogue of clever Brits… and really, what more can you want? This is entertainment in its purest form. Sheer delight. --Bret Fetzer