The 20th series of the world's most popular car show sees Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May on typically explosive form.
In the course of six packed programmes, they set out to race a car against an America's Cup yacht up the coast of New Zealand, launch a highly scientific process to find the world's fastest taxi, and do their bit for European economic turmoil by blasting across Spain in three 'affordable' supercars. Also in this series, Top Gear tackles the growing problem of flooding by designing a car that can turn into a hovercraft, investigates the popularity of 'soft-roader' cars by making the presenters into caravan enthusiasts, and tests the Jaguar F-type, the Range Rover Sport and the new double decker Bus For London as part of an epic celebration of the many brilliant machines currently made in Britain. There are also track tests of the BAC Mono, Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTI, Renault Sport Clio 200 and Mercedes SLS Black, and the show welcomes a brand new Reasonably Priced Car in which celebrity guests will perform their fast laps.
I'm bummed that season 16 was the last season BBC released on Blu-ray, but if the show isn't selling on the format, it's hard to make a case to keep releasing it. I'm still excited to watch the series, even though I'm not a car guy (mine works, and gets me from point A to B). Though they can get really technical in the information they present, it's always done in a way that's fun, and accessible (plus the show is shot extremely well).
This 2-disc set includes all 6 episodes from the 20th season; unfortunately there wasn't a fun special this year:
Shot on video, and film Top Gear's Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) looks pretty good on DVD. I found some scenes slightly soft, probably due to the PAL->NTSC conversion. There aren't chapters after the opening theme song, instead BBC has placed chapters throughout the episode, with scene selection for each episode. Each disc contains a "play all" option.
The show features an English stereo track, encoded as ProLogic II. That means the stereo track contains information for the rear speakers as well, and it's very noticeable. I felt surrounded by the audio, with good use of the rear speakers for music. Can't understand what's being said (trust me, it'll happen)? Just flip on the English subtitles.
Stig Cams (8:08)
Views of "The Stig" driving through courses; almost one from each episode.:
Ford Fiesta (1:38)
BAC Mono (1:19)
Jaguar Convertible (1:06)
Mercedes SLS - Black (1:24)
Mercedes SLS - Electric (1:27)
Lamborghini Sesto Elemento (1:14)
Great Moments in Top Gear History (7:48)
9 clips featuring some "great moments" in the series.
I love that this show is so interesting, even for someone that isn't obsessed about cars. I think a lot of it has to do with the excellent hosts, and the stylish way the show is shot. They pick awesome camera angles to accentuate the cars they're showing; the whole production is just beautiful, which makes me sad that they couldn't continue releasing it on Blu-ray. DVD, or BD, I'm still hooked on the show.