Thursday, 14 July 2011

Top Gear Madness

Let's face it, I've been an avid fan of Top Gear for many years now.  Of all the motoring programmes that I watch it is, by far, the most entertaining.  Some critics have argued that it isn't really a motoring programme but just an entertainment show.  In the past I didn't always agree, but recently the show has gone a little weird.

For starters, it does tend to review the most expensive cars money can buy.  Not that I don't like looking at beautiful supercars and, occasionally, the odd hypercar.  I bet that every single one of the viewers dream of owning one of the cars that are reviewed, I know I do.  Who wouldn't?  It's only a dream, though.  There is no way, unless I win the national lottery, that I will ever have the money to waste on one of the above mentioned cars.  Notice I said 'waste'.  To spend that kind of money on a car that just goes fast and looks good is an extravagance.  They are, at best, impractical and totally unsuitable for daily use - unless all you want is to show off!

Let's not get distracted by petty details.  Top Gear is there to entertain us.  The antics of the three presenters is one of the key points of the show; their interaction with each other and the differences in their personalities is what makes the show entertaining.  Jeremy Clarkeson is the older, brash (typical for someone from Yorkshire!) and somewhat dim-witted of the trio.  James May is the usual butt of their jokes and is supposed to be the more sensible one.  Finally, Richard Hammond is supposed to be the anchor to the current generation with his dress sense (?) and his understanding of current technology.  In the real world, these three would never be together.  Their disparate personalities would constantly clash and cause instant fallout!  In fact, during several episodes it looks as if exactly that has happened!

That clash of personalities is what makes the show funny.  As individuals, they each have their unique sense of humour.  Clarkeson has always had a dry and sarcastic wit.  He was at his peak several years ago; he could identify with situations and come up with a hilarious parallel.  Unfortunately it seems as if his reservoir of sarcastic wit is running dry and he is digging deep just to come up with something that we cringe at.

Hammond, once the cool, collective member of the trio has become the fool.  Although not quite as mad as Clarkeson, he doesn't fall far short (no pun intended).  Between the two of them they manage to lower the tone of any conversation and, to be honest, that's exactly what most of the viewers want.  Maybe because I am older and wiser I no longer appreciate it as much as I used to.

James May.  He is the outsider of this trio.  Considered a little extravagant by the other two, he doesn't live for pure speed and power, although technically he has driven at the fastest speed in a normal road car.  He is Captain Slow due to his naturally cautious nature and his healthy respect for living!

Together, these three make the show what it is.  It's not a car show although it does feature cars.  It's Sunday night entertainment featuring cars.  It has comedy, impressive visuals and a star guest who has to be questioned by Clarkeson.  Not too bad if the guest happens to be male, but if it is a good looking female, the disgusting visage of Clarkeson trying to flirt is enough to make anyone feel sick!  That notwithstanding, it's popularity has continued to grow as it's entertainment value is appreciated by more and more people.  Even Sony has included the 'Top Gear Track' in it's latest incarnation of Gran Tourismo.

There is another unique member of the Top Gear team; the Stig.  A sexless (although usually male), unidentifiable figure dressed in a white racing suit and helmet.  The Stig is intentionally surrounded by mystery and this caused an outrage last year when the former Stig identified himself, breaching his contract and instantly becoming a pariah to the many Top Gear fans.  Fortunately, a new Stig was born during the making of the Top Gear Christmas Special 2010.  In true Top Gear fashion they threw tradition and religion to the winds and rewrote the nativity.  It was well made and entertaining.

That sums Top Gear up.  It's entertaining even if, sometimes, the presenters themselves are completely idiotic.  It has already gathered large following and the mysterious Stig even has a cult following.  It does show us some pretty cars and the reviews are completely biased, so pay them no attention and just enjoy the car on display.  As a motoring show it is rubbish, but we already knew that.  I think the original intention was a motoring show, but along the way it got sidetracked into what it has become today.  It's obviously a success as it is shown around the world and enjoyed by millions of people.  It's not a serious show and it doesn't take itself seriously.  Neither should the viewer.  Just enjoy it as a bit of fun.