Tonight, on Top Gear: Maserati brings some thunder, Mercedes brings some smoke, and we wave goodbye to Saab. This is a decidedly not that funny introduction, isn’t it?
But wait! We begin with a letter. Those usually don’t go well. This one is from a Swiss gentleman who wants to see a race between a car and something that isn’t a car – so it’s back to Wales for Richard Hammond to pit a Finnish rally champion in a Skoda against a jet-powered flying man. With the latter jumping out of a helicopter, it’s a bit reminiscent of the “car versus parachutist” challenge from series eight, except now with jet power.
The flying man – who really does look like a human airplane – closes on the Skoda while Richard screams. “How the hell did I get mixed up in this?” he wonders out loud just moments before he realizes they’re losing the race. Despite their best effort, they can’t catch up and the flying man beats the car, much to Richard’s frustration.
Jeremy asks “What is the worst thing in the world?” to start the news, and he declares that it’s unplanned stops on a road trip. This turns into some unflattering comments about Little Chef. Moving on, we get a look at a concept Mini that he doesn’t like either, and somewhere in the middle of that part, which becomes about the Germans, he gives the middle finger (unfortunately pixelated). Oh, and then Jeremy and Richard call out James for his poor choice of parking space outside their offices at the BBC.
The news segment also involves some footage hinted at earlier in the series: the results of the hosts’ “do while you drive” challenge. Can Jeremy sew while driving? “I’ve got too many chins and I can’t really see what I’m doing,” he moans, but he gets it done without stabbing himself with the sewing needle. But can James drive while in a sleeping bag? Yes, even though Richard pranked him by turning the heater up to full blast beforehand. So you can do other things and drive…but not well.
We cut to the Maserati Gran Turismo, or a “very enormous barge for people who can’t drive” according to Jeremy, who introduces another model. He likes this new version because it has a “race” mode. Yet it has competition for his affection: the Mercedes C63 Black (amusingly given to the TG crew in bright yellow), which is also fun but delivers a seriously uncomfortable ride. Both cars get taken out by The Stig, whose favorite boxing venue is Munich Airport. The Maserati clocks 1:23.1, while the Mercedes does its lap in 1:21.0.
This week’s Star In A Reasonably Priced Car is Doctor Who himself, Matt Smith, who informs us that next fall it’ll be 50 years of the sci-fi show, and tells us about his strange encounter with a small child. His 1:43.7 makes him the fastest incarnation of The Doctor to have appeared on the show.
Following his appearance, James introduces a piece he and Jeremy put together, prompted by the demise of Saab. The two of them take us through the history of the company, but what I’ll remember most from this feature is the old footage of an absolutely hilarious looking Jeremy from some time ago, back when he had more hair and an even worse taste in wardrobe – so horrible that it prompts an apology at the bottom of the screen.
There are a lot more older clips, and there’s some somber piano, and James and Jeremy driving the last Saab there will ever be, plus an upside-down crash test for our usual share of destruction. I’m not an expert on the brand, but for its length, this is a pretty thorough review and it gets the point across about how sad it is when we lose an automaker. I love these segments, because they remind us that under all the explosions, politically incorrect jokes, et cetera, Top Gear is a car show by people who know and love cars. For all the crazy things they do for our entertainment, they know their subject and you get the idea they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
So what can’t you do while you drive? You can’t flip the finger or the censors will pixelate you, you shouldn’t do it while sewing or in a sleeping bag, and you definitely can’t drive a new Saab anymore.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my BuddyTV writer page, and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Image courtesy of BBC America