Tonight, on Top Gear: Jeremy Clarkson wears a hat, James May wears a hat, and Richard Hammond is behind a low wall.
After last week’s questionable Vauxhall review, James is sent to Florida to talk up the new Fisker Karma (that’s an interesting car name for you). For a hybrid car, though, the Karma isn’t half bad looking, and it has something called “stealth mode,” which just sounds cool. The best part of this segment is that it gives us an excuse to re-air footage of the hapless “Hammerhead Eagle I-Thrust,” aka “Geoff,” that the boys designed awhile back.
While he’s in town, James pays a visit to AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, a previous guest on the show back in 2009. James ends up driving Brian’s classic Bentley, while Brian is not having a great time in the Karma. Richard and Jeremy take James to task again for somehow involving another car he wasn’t supposed to be talking about in his review for the second straight episode.
On to the news! Jeremy complains about the fact that recently licensed drivers have to be accompanied by experienced ones for so long afterward, which turns into a rant about teenagers, which in itself ends when James states that everyone else is just “old and bitter.” Richard talks about the “long and lean” Cadillac CL, which James calls “a plinth.”
Jeremy goes to Sweden, to a city named something that sounds like he’s got a mouthful of marbles when he says it. Apparently it’s a hot spot for car engineers. He brought the new Ferrari FF with him, to drive on the city’s test track, which happens to be on a frozen lake. After speeding around with it for a bit, the joy wears off and he calls it “twitchy,” saying he’s having to do a lot of steering and throttle adjustment just to keep the car going straight.
So he hauls out a Bentley Continental GT, which he seems to enjoy quite a bit more. Of course, this sets the stage for a car comparison, this one on an icy replica of the famed Silverstone racetrack. The Stig arrives for driving duties, and promptly gets the Ferrari stuck when he tries to take it into fifth gear. The Bentley handily beats it, doing its lap 13 seconds quicker with an easier drive.
This week’s Star In A Reasonably Priced Car is Michael Fassbender (Haywire, X-Men: First Class), whom Jeremy grills over his full-frontal nude scene in Shame and unintentionally stalking Formula 1 champ Michael Schumacher. Unfortunately, when he came to do his lap, the track was covered in ice, but even so he delivers a 1:42.8. One wonders what he’d have done on a dry track…
Now we come to a challenge somewhat dear to my heart: the guys are sent to Wales in order to see if they can design cheap off-road mobility scooters for the disabled. Jeremy being Jeremy, his has two engines and a giant tent to put over the top so he can sneak up on birds. James shows up looking a lot like Stephen Hawking, having brought a wheelchair instead of a scooter, and it comes with a coffeemaker. Richard’s scooter sounds like a lawnmower and it looks like one too.
As you can guess, this is a well-intentioned disaster. During city testing, all sorts of property damage is caused, and they don’t fare any better out in the country. They’re pitted in a team off-road race against three disabled veterans, and it ends with Jeremy pushing his scooter down a hill in anger, James giving up on the competition only to be stuck outside a pub, and Hammond being the only one to arrive…far too late. For those of us in need of mobility scooters, there’s no real solution here (but did you really expect there to be?) However, if you want to watch Jeremy Clarkson making a fool of himself, there’s plenty of that.
Therein lies one of the great joys of being a Top Gear fan, for me anyway. Every time they’re asked to design something, you know going into it that it’s probably not going to go well. The only such thing I can recall that was half a success was the “Snowbine Harvester” from last series…and even then, they still set a man on fire, ran into a parked car and broke at least one window. We’re not watching Top Gear to see the great idea that’s going to address a motoring-related need. We’re watching it to see what crazy concept will absolutely not work and then to laugh at it…because really, if we were put in the same circumstances, could we do much better? The important thing is the effort.
With this episode we’re now halfway through the current series of Top Gear. How time flies when you’re having fun…see you next week!
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my BuddyTV writer page, and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Image courtesy of BBC America