Shift into TOP GEAR


Here is what I know about cars: Some of them have thingies that stick up on the back and some don’t. Some have automatic transmission and some have standard, which I’ll have to practice on again if I ever go on The Amazing Race. Almost all of them have wheels. I’m…not very into cars.

Which is why I’m shocked at how excited I am that the new season of BBC export Top Gear premieres tonight on BBC America. It’s ostensibly a show that reviews the latest cars (with gorgeous cinematography, to boot), but what it really is is a Sorkinesque exploration of guys doing something they love while taking the piss out of each other as a way of expressing affection. Co-hosts Jeremy Clarkson (The Tall One), James May (The Floppy One), and Richard Hammond (The Hamster) like cars, but one gets the feeling they like laughing and each other more. And I like them an awful lot, too, especially when they are engaged in general wackiness:

replicating the space shuttle with a Reliant Robin

–holding competitions to see who can choose the best tractor (task: plow furrows for the Top Gear biofuel field) or build the longest limousine (task: slalom!)

building an amphibious vehicle and trying to cross the English Channel

purchasing $1000 cars in Miami and driving to New Orleans (their conclusion, after a task that required letting the other guys paint phrases on their cars and being chased by rural residents who didn’t take kindly to such legends as “Manlove Rules OK”, was succinct: “Don’t go to America!”)

All of this plus a show dog (Top Gear Dog!), a tame race car driver known only as The Stig, and Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, a celebrity interview segment capped with said celebrity taking a timed lap in a cheap car (the times being posted for all posterity). Tonight’s star? Helen Mirren. Let me impress this upon you: tune in to Top Gear, and you’ll get to see Dame Helen Mirren–in a helmet–racing around a track in the equivalent of a Ford Focus trying to beat out competition like Ewan MacGregor and Hugh Grant. And that won’t even be the funniest part of the show.

Season premiere tonight on BBC America at 8pm EST with a replay later that night at 11.


3 thoughts on “Shift into TOP GEAR

  1. I got in trouble for not sharing this show with the husband. “You watched that with M and didn’t tell me?” He, apparently, likes cars. Thanks for introducing us to Top Gear!

  2. Are you forgiven yet? I would hope the sight of James nekkid in his sooper-fancy, bad-choice race car would buy you forgiveness. 🙂

  3. SQUEEEE! I LOVE TOP GEAR!! Man this show is awesome. We actually have the DVR set to record all episodes of Top Gear whether new or not – we’ll rewatch them all the time! The best part of the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car is the stars swearing. Hilarious!

    My favorite part about the limo bit was driving the “famous” people to the awards show. When Jeremy got out of his limo and opened the door for his “star”, you can hear all the fans screaming “Jeremy!!!” hahahaah

    Get on youtube and check out the bloopers. There are some brilliant bits.

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