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The Hamster Who Ruled The World: A Conversation With 'Top Gear's' Richard Hammond

April 16th, 2012 2:00pm EDT
Richard Hammond
When I get word that Richard Hammond wants to speak with me, I'm stunned. I'm to be on the phone with one of Britain's most loved TV personalities, one of my idols...and I've just seen film of him crushing a Porsche with a tank.

Calling Hammond just a TV presenter would be like calling Cal Ripken Jr. just a ballplayer. He has hosted enough television programs that he should probably have his own channel. He's best known for a decade of co-hosting Top Gear, but has also been seen on shows like Brainiac, Total Wipeout, and multiple series that bear his name, including Richard Hammond's Fiv...
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'Top Gear' (US) Recap: 'Rut's Show' Lands Him In The Hospital

March 27th, 2012 10:06pm EDT
Top Gear
Let's accurately re-title this episode: "The One Where Rutledge Lands Himself In The Hospital." That's what we're all going to remember about this installment of Top Gear.

After a previous outing where it was all about beating Tanner at his own game, the team celebrates their 25th show by giving Rutledge creative control. This starts with Adam and Rutledge heading out to California for truck-race training. Only one of them can win the open spot in a race the next day. The guys are competitive if not exactly graceful, and Rutledge pulls out the victory. He thinks being a pro truck...
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'Top Gear' (US) Recap: Building (And Destroying) Limos

March 20th, 2012 10:02pm EDT
Top Gear
This week on History's Top Gear, Adam, Tanner and Rutledge try to go high-class when they build limos for the Emmy Awards, and fail miserably while we laugh at their pain. Yes, it's another week on Top Gear.

Tanner's limo is based on a 1987 Corvette, because he wants his creation to be "all about performance" and "able to do a burnout." Yep, that's Tanner. Unsurprisingly, it's bright red and only slightly less of an eyesore than Jeremy Clarkson's attempt at a limo. Rutledge calls it "a rolling sauna of exhaust fumes."

Rutledge picks a 1981 VW Rabbit pickup, which he calls "one of ...
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'Top Gear' (US) Recap: Donald Trump Goes Shopping For 'Supercars'

March 13th, 2012 10:02pm EDT
Top Gear
On this week's Top Gear, the boys are borrowed by a mysterious celebrity to test high-end convertibles in order to find the perfect one. Sounds easy, right? Not on this show.

Rutledge brings the Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster, even if he has some difficulty getting out of it and calls it "the most impractical car in the world." Backed by some violins, Adam drives up in the Bentley Continental GTC. Hearing the two of them talk about rappers and Kim Kardashian is hilarious in and of itself. But then Tanner rolls up in a Porsche Turbo S Cabriolet. All of them are tasked with getting to New...
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Slash Falters In 'Top Gear' Challenge

March 12th, 2012 8:24am EDT
Slash
Rock legend Slash turned the air blue as he tested his driving skills in a celebrity racetrack challenge on British TV show Top Gear.

The former Guns N' Roses guitarist cursed up a storm while behind the wheel of a Kia hatchback for the show's Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment.

Producers were forced to bleep out his expletives as Slash shouted, "Alright, let's not f**k this up!" while speeding along the course.

However, Slash admits the wet track was difficult to navigate following heavy showers in Britain last week.

He tells host Jeremy Clarkson, "It was actually pretty trick...
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'Top Gear' (US) Recap: 'Dangerous Cars' (3.03)

February 28th, 2012 10:05pm EST
Top Gear
In this week's Top Gear, Adam, Tanner and Rutledge take their lives in their own hands again, driving three allegedly dangerous cars: the Ford Pinto, Suzuki Samurai, and Chevy Corvair.

Rutledge gets the potentially flaming Corvair, while Adam gets a chance to blow himself up in the Pinto, and Tanner has to drive the unturnable Samurai, all of them en route to (what else?) a demolition derby. "I don't feel like there's a huge amount of inherent danger in the car," Rutledge says, while Adam agrees "There's good and bad in everything in life." At least our guys are optimistic in the ...
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'Top Gear' (US) Recap: 'Muscle Cars' (3.02)

February 22nd, 2012 12:37am EST
Top Gear
One thing that's universal with Top Gear: its willingness to exploit the suffering of its hosts for entertainment. This week's American edition is one of those episodes.

In this week's episode, the guys are breaking out a trio of muscle cars to test their mettle. Rutledge has the Dodge Challenger SRT-8, Adam brings a Ford Mustang GT, and Tanner drives up in a Chevy Camaro SS Auto. After a little good-natured ribbing of each other's cars (and Tanner's choice of shirt), it's challenge time!

First, they've got to drive to the Los Angeles River, which happens to be 20 miles away. Thi...
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'Top Gear' (US) Recap: 'Big Rigs' (3.01)

February 14th, 2012 10:03pm EST
Top Gear
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm doing an American Top Gear blog again. Join me as the property destruction commences.

Before we get started, a note: It's true that I've been on the fence about this show for awhile. Something about it didn't always click with me, and I said so when I used to write these reviews back in the first season. So why come back? Well, to borrow an old dating cliche: it wasn't them, it was me. I had the opportunity to spend a day on the Top Gear set a few months ago, and I got to see first-hand how well suited for this show these presenters are and what it re...
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Behind The Wheel Of History's 'Top Gear'

February 14th, 2012 1:00pm EST
Top Gear
"American Top Gear."

It's a phrase that's struck dread in the hearts of many for years. Fans of the hit BBC series - those of us sitting at home with our Jeremy Clarkson books and 'I Am The Stig' T-shirts, and yes, I am one - have heard rumblings about a US import and almost immediately worried one would go south (see: the American adaptation of Coupling, etc.) Yet after a false start (a busted NBC pilot hosted by Adam Carolla), History Channel made the concept a reality two years ago.

And guess what? It's not a nightmare. In fact, it's pretty good.

The cynics - and yes, I was one - are ...
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'Top Gear' 17.05 'Bob Geldof' Review

September 19th, 2011 10:24pm EDT
Top Gear
Tonight on Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson talks to a man in sunglasses, James May draws a square on a wall, and Richard Hammond plays with a soldier's chopper.

Firstly, our blustery leader wants to talk about the Jensen Interceptor, which he tells us was "built very badly by people who didn't seem to care what they were doing." It's back now with an updated version, and he seems much happier with the new one, minus some period features that he doesn't care for. The steering system, he says, might be from a lawnmower and requires a lot of "flailing at the wheel." That doesn't sound enco...
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'Top Gear' 17.04 'Rowan Atkinson' Review

September 12th, 2011 10:21pm EDT
Top Gear
It's time for more Top Gear. Tonight, Jeremy uses a machine, James writes on a blackboard, and Richard throws fruit into a caravan. Sounds thrilling, doesn't it?

We open the show with Jeremy discussing the reputation of the Jaguar name, before he tells us that the new Jaguar XKR-S is the most powerful road car they've ever made, "on the edge of Ferrari territory." He goes on to say that the car's sacrificed a whole shopping list of stuff for speed. Yet it might be for naught, as he suggests that the speed-obsessed might be better off with a Nissan GTR instead.

How do we solve th...
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'Top Gear' 17.03 'Sebastian Vettel' Review

September 5th, 2011 10:22pm EDT
Top Gear
Just because it's a holiday doesn't stop Top Gear! Tonight, Jeremy Clarkson talks to two old ladies, Richard Hammond makes a phone call, and James May sniffs his own armpit.

Jeremy quips that the new McLaren MP4-12C was named "after a fax machine" before he pits it against a Ferrari 458, and tells us that it's much better in many categories. He enjoys the McLaren's traction control, which "won't let you kill yourself," and a spoiler that raises when you do any hard braking "so you can't see what's about to crash into the back of you." Yet he also admits there's a "lack of joy" in t...
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Brittany's 'The Voice' Blog: EP's, VMA's and...Snapple?!

August 30th, 2011 8:00am EDT
The Voice
Here's the latest on and around NBC's The Voice: Curtis Grimes drops a new EP, Adam Levine talks frankly about the MTV Video Music Awards, and some chat about beverages...

Team Cee Lo's country singer Curtis Grimes - at the far right in this picture from the show's June wrap party - has just released a new seven-song EP entitled Doin' My Time, and so far it's been met with some pretty great user reviews on iTunes. You can download the EP for $6.93 there by using this link.

Season one winner Javier Colon is still writing for his upcoming album, tentatively scheduled for a November releas...
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'Top Gear USA' 2.06 'The Five Hundred Dollar Challenge' Review

August 28th, 2011 11:10pm EDT
Top Gear
You'll recall that I wasn't sold on Top Gear USA after reviewing its freshman season. Yet since tonight's episode featured Adam Levine as the celebrity guest, I thought I'd give it another look.

I'm still not a fan, but the show's definitely making improvements.

This week, hosts Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust take on a challenge familiar to fans of the original Top Gear - taking a cheap car on a road trip up the California coast. It doesn't take them long to find the flaws in their discount vehicles. (Adam remarks that Tanner, in his rattling Mercedes, looks like "an amb...
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'Top Gear' 17.01 'Alice Cooper' Review

August 22nd, 2011 10:21pm EDT
Top Gear
The greatest car show the world has ever seen is back. Tonight, Richard Hammond buys a cup of coffee, James May slips on some snow, and we show a picture of Steve McQueen.

Top Gear's seventeenth-season premiere opens with Richard introducing us to a new car called the "Marauder" which makes the Hummer look infantile. It weighs ten tons, is nine feet tall and looks like a tank as it trudges through the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa - and it can be yours if you pony up 300,000 GBP and pass a background check(?!). What to do with this insane vehicle? The Hamster crashes throu...
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'Top Gear' Hosts Cleared In TV Watchdog Investigation

April 4th, 2011 3:28pm EDT
Top Gear
The presenters of hit British motoring show Top Gear have been cleared by TV watchdog officials of breaching program rules after taking aim at Mexicans during a controversial episode broadcast earlier this year.

Hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May came under fire from London's Mexican ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora after they mocked his countrymen during a discussion about a Mexican sports car.

In the segment, which aired on the BBC in January, Hammond told viewers, "Why would you want a Mexican car? Because cars reflect national characteristics, don't they? Mexican car...
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'Top Gear' 16.08 'John Prescott' Review

March 14th, 2011 10:25pm EDT
Top Gear
The end of Top Gear's Season 16 is here already. So how are the boys going to go out? Well, as usual, with a unique brand of insanity and automotive nerdiness.

The Introduction

"Tonight, a Spaniel in a moon buggy, a fat man in a Kia, and a race against the Lord God Almighty." Let's just hope Jeremy didn't offend anyone with that...

The Features

Richard is playing with a Porsche 959 and a Ferrari F40, reliving the 1980's. He's smitten with both cars, although they are quite different. So which is better? He calls choosing between the two "pointless," finding them both equally import...
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'Top Gear' 16.07 'Amber Heard' Review

March 7th, 2011 10:19pm EST
Top_Gear
Whenever the boys from Top Gear try to build something, it's always a fantastic episode. After all, remember the show's motto: "Ambitious, but rubbish." And so it is as they try to turn a combine harvester into a snow plow.

The Introduction

"Tonight, Richard wears a blue hat, James wears a different hat, and I wear a hat with things on it." Yes, that is officially the second most useless intro in Top Gear history (at least this time the hats had descriptions).

The Features

The News begins with Jeremy reading the biography of a fictional Nissan electric car buyer that has James wo...
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TV on DVD: 'Top Gear: The Complete Season 15'

March 4th, 2011 2:30pm EST
Top Gear
On the same day that BBC Home Entertainment released the complete Season 14, they're also giving us Top Gear: The Complete Season 15 (catching viewers up with what's currently airing on BBC America). Here's a look at what's inside the two-disc, six-episode set.

The Show

There isn't much more that I can say about Top Gear that I haven't already said in the previous review of season 14. It's a uniquely awesome show that is unlike anything else on TV, and there are reasons that it's now become a global phenomenon with several copies (including the US version aired by History).

Season 15...
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TV on DVD: 'Top Gear: The Complete Season 14'

March 3rd, 2011 2:10pm EST
Top Gear
The boys are back. BBC Home Entertainment has released Top Gear Seasons 14 and 15, just as Season 16 begins airing on BBC America. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May return to show us how great cars are - and how much trouble they can get in with them - in the seven-episode, three-disc set for Season 14. I've got the rundown on what's inside.

The Show

Top Gear is one of the best things to ever have come out of the United Kingdom. Even if you don't know anything about cars, you should watch this series, because it is so much more than a motoring show: it's a wild and cra...
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'Top Gear' 16.06 'Simon Pegg & Nick Frost' Review

March 1st, 2011 10:23am EST
Top Gear
Just in time for the release of their new film Paul, Top Gear brings us Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on the track. We also learn what's really lurking inside your used BMW. Plus, there's that favorite thing ever to be had on Top Gear: a caravan!

The Introduction

"Tonight, our track's a bit foggy, a man eats a snack, and we move about in a caravan." Uh-oh. If it involves caravans, this cannot be good (see: caravan racing, caravan holiday - either of them).

The Features

In the News segment, Jeremy digs up statistics that say speed cameras make no difference in preventing accidents. Fr...
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People Who Are Awesome: Richard Hammond

March 1st, 2011 10:15am EST
Top Gear
Richard Hammond is February's member of People Who Are Awesome, because if you live in the United Kingdom, he has taken over half your television. And he's done it all with a good attitude and even better hair.

The Hamster - as he's affectionately nicknamed - is best known as one-third of the hosting trio for the BBC's unmatched motoring show Top Gear, a job he's held for almost a decade (since 2002). Alongside Jeremy Clarkson and James May, Richard has reinvigorated car appreciation for a worldwide audience, and made what they can do interesting even to those of us who aren't nece...
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'Top Gear' 16.05 'Jonathan Ross' Review

February 21st, 2011 10:25pm EST
Top-Gear-bbc-tv-71.jpg
The infamous presenter Jonathan Ross has his own spot in Top Gear history: he appeared in the first series of the show as we know it in 2002 (episode 1.05), and now he's back almost ten years and exactly fifteen series later (episode 16.05). He's not without wit and plenty of controversy, not unlike our three hosts. This ought to be interesting.

The Introduction

"Tonight, a fat man gets murdered, a donkey gets overtaken, and James wears ladies' underwear on his head." I told you this was going to be interesting. Suppose it's too late to hope for a Law & Order: UK crossover to help wi...
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'Top Gear' 16.04 'Middle East Road Trip' Review

February 15th, 2011 12:00am EST
Top-Gear-bbc-tv-61.jpg
Now that we've met Boris Becker and been introduced to some sheep besides, it's time for the second of tonight's Top Gear episodes: another road trip, this time to follow the path of the three wise men to Bethlehem. I'm pretty sure someone will find something to be offended about here, and that doesn't bother me one bit.

For this Nativity-themed journey, Richard chooses a Fiat, Jeremy gets a Mazda MX-5, and James arrives in a BMW Z3 (but over his budget, so he's cheating from moment one). Their bickering is short-lived, because they're too busy screaming when they believe that their c...
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'Top Gear' 16.03 'Boris Becker' Review

February 14th, 2011 10:20pm EST
topgear11910-0003.jpg
After making a smashing return last week, Top Gear continues its run with another night of back-to-back premieres, starting with this episode in which the hosts of the Australian version of the show take on our British boys in various challenges. Now if only they would do that with the American version and smack some sense into us...but I digress.

The Introduction

"Tonight, a sausage gets burnt, a sheep falls over, and our track is all wet." In other words, here are two things you probably don't care about unless you're camping.

The Features

In the News, Jeremy reveals the Mini ...
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History Renews American 'Top Gear' For Season 2

February 11th, 2011 4:51pm EST
Top Gear
Well, we didn't need to speculate long: History announced today that they are renewing the US version of hit car show Top Gear for Season 2.

An issued press release says that "the critically-acclaimed and popular series attracted the youngest viewers of any series on History ever" and that Season 2 will begin production this spring (so pretty much, anytime now).

That quote makes me stop for a second. I can only speak for myself, but I've read all the comments left to my reviews of the US episodes, and they were mostly negative, so at least from what I've been privy to, I'm not sure h...
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'Top Gear' Cuts Mexican Jokes From U.S. Version

February 11th, 2011 11:56am EST
Top Gear
Bosses of British motoring TV show Top Gear have decided to cut a scene of the hosts mocking Mexicans before it is aired in America.

Presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May came under fire from London's Mexican ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora after making jibes about his countrymen during a program broadcast in the U.K. last month.

In the section of the show, the presenters discussed a Mexican sports car and Hammond told viewers, "Why would you want a Mexican car? Because cars reflect national characteristics, don't they? Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless...
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'Top Gear' 16.02 'USA Road Trip' Review

February 7th, 2011 11:58pm EST
Top Gear
Uh-oh. Top Gear is coming to America again. The last time that happened, Jeremy flipped off a cop and the time before that, the whole team was nearly killed by rednecks, so this ought to be interesting.

This time, James (in a Ferrari 458 Italia), Jeremy (Mercedes SLS), and Richard (Porsche 911 GT3-RS, duh) are starting out on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. After some usual savaging of each other's cars, they're horrified to discover they're restricted by a 35 MPH speed limit...and getting slower. This, of course, won't do, so they set off for faster territory. James has ...
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'Top Gear' 16.01 'John Bishop' Review

February 7th, 2011 10:20pm EST
Top Gear
The boys are back! After spending the winter months with the struggling American version of Top Gear, it's great to see the original series come back and show us how it's done. No offense to the US team, but the combination of Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May is simply perfect, and there's no one else like them.

The Intro

"Tonight, a dog won't get in a car, a flip chart falls over, and a man from Liverpool drives a car." Jeremy Clarkson, vaguing it up for you.

The Features

James gets to test-drive the V8 Ariel Atom, gold paint job and all. He tells us that it mak...
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BBC Producers Apologize Over 'Top Gear' Mexico Remarks

February 4th, 2011 8:04am EST
Top Gear
BBC bosses have issued an apology for comments made on British motoring show Top Gear, after Mexico's ambassador in London wrote a scathing letter of complaint about jokes aimed at his fellow countrymen.

Ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora was riled by quips made by hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May during an installment which was broadcast in the U.K. on Sunday.

During a section of the show, Hammond called Mexicans "lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight" while Clarkson added, "That's why we won't get any complaints about this, because at the Mexican embassy the ambassador'...
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