Tonight, on Top Gear: the hosts get very cold and wet, Jeremy Clarkson reenacts the Battle of Britain, and there’s a member of Blur in the Reasonably Priced Car. If you feel old after watching this episode, I don’t blame you.
The show begins with Jeremy explaining what a “track day” is, for the five of you who still don’t know. He, James May and Richard Hammond have picked out three cars for a “track day” and (what else?) a series of challenges.
James rolls up in a Caterham Seven R500 Superlight, just before Jeremy comes tearing in driving a KTM Crossbow (after his first choice allegedly “broke down in the factory”). Richard arrives in a Morgan Three Wheeler, and I don’t know why James is laughing at it when he’s wearing that hideous pink-and-purple sweater that he keeps insisting upon.
There’s the usual spot of arguing, this time about wood, before the first challenge is issued: the usual race, this time to see who can get to 100 MPH and back again first. Much to Jeremy’s surprise, Richard is quick off the line while he and James have issues. Jeremy can’t get started and James’ steering wheel breaks off. “We’re here to test the cars, not to find out who’s the fattest,” James remarks as Richard takes pity on his fellow presenters and turns back around.
Take two, and Jeremy takes the lead but ends up confusing speed with fuel pressure, so there’s a third attempt, in which James starts too early. On the fourth go, James reads his speedometer wrong and Richard is still trying to get his car up to the proper speed halfway around the track.
Realizing that their current testing leaves something to be desired, Jeremy pitches the idea of seeing which car is fastest through a hairpin corner, which is again burdened by flawed technology. Determined to find something that will screw up Richard’s car, his next thought is a donut contest, which fails to do anything to the Morgan. (Meanwhile, I become amused that the following commercial break consists of a Bridgestone tire commercial, a warning not to drink and drive from the Patron Racing team, and then a Mercedes ad.)
The presenters finally decide to just drive the track, with James bemoaning his lack of a windscreen, Jeremy calling the Crossbow “a bit soft” and Richard enjoying himself immensely, particularly when Jeremy ends up off the course. As the film breaks, James is thrown to hear Jeremy say the Caterham is the best, but lest you think Mr. Clarkson has mellowed, he proceeds to mock the Morgan as The Stig takes it out for a lap that ends with the car crossing the finish line backwards.
Moving on to the news, Jeremy shows us the replacement for the Ferrari 599, and admits that he was wrong “for the first time since 1974.” He and James rib Richard for thinking that red brake calipers are cool, which is followed by a series of pictures of obvious Audi product placement (both real and obviously fake).
They then digress into how James should not be the arbiter of anything because he cheats at Monopoly. “You robbed the bank!” Richard insists, with James protesting that he thought it would make the board game “more authentic.” Sadly, he’s not the first person I’ve known who has robbed the bank in Monopoly. That’s why I don’t play Monopoly with my friends anymore.
Jeremy takes us back to the Battle of Britain, with black-and-white footage and another one of his wants-to-be-epic narrations. He introduces us to a car named Brutus, which is powered by an airplane engine. Its competition is a Bentley with a World War Two-era tank engine. The cars are set against each other in a race, with Jeremy making all kinds of sound effects as his Bentley beats the German Brutus if only because his car can get around corners, even though it does a paltry two miles to the gallon and limps around the test track at 1:50.3, during which we’re reminded that The Stig can “see through walls, and clothes.” Freaky…but not all that surprising.
This week’s Star In A Reasonably Priced Car is Blur bassist and cheese farmer Alex James, who practically blends into his seat on the stage as he tells Jeremy how Blur will be playing with The Specials and New Order at a post-Olympics concert, before Jeremy asks him about fans giving him cheese in hotel lobbies. Alex retorts that he had it thrown at him in Japan, where cheese comes in tins. Ouch. Anyway, his lap time is 1:45.2.
We wrap up the show by going back to the film from the beginning (with a hilariously obvious Audi product placement thrown in for good measure). Our heroes’ final challenge is to drive their “track day” cars to work. Richard gets stared at, but no one says anything about the pink car parked on the street behind him. Jeremy shows everyone that the KTM is ridiculously difficult to start (part of the far-too-long process is pushing the stop button). And then it starts raining, and no one has a roof…
The inclement weather leads to one of the best Richard Hammond one-liners of all time: “None of these things are good news for my genitalia, which has run away.”
The trio eventually surrender to the situation and duck into a shop to buy some more appropriate outfits, getting mocked by bystanders, which in turn incites a fresh round of Jeremy’s moaning. The film ends as they arrive at Dunsfold Park, and afterward they all admit that this whole thing was probably not a good idea to begin with.
Next week is the Top Gear season finale! Yes, we’ve already come to the end of another series. And on that bombshell, it’s time to end…
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my BuddyTV writer page, and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Image courtesy of BBC America