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'Top Gear' (US) 1.04 'HALO Vs. Velociraptor' Review

Brittany Frederick Brittany Frederick
December 13th, 2010 2:04am EST

Top Gear US

In this episode of Top Gear US, Tanner drives a Ford Velociraptor truck against a HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) jumper. It evokes memories of when Richard Hammond raced a Porsche Turbo against a Red Devil; not exactly the same thing, but close enough that hardcore fans may feel some deja vu. I really wish the show would stop semi-cribbing segments from the British version, and come up with some of their own; I know the UK series had some fabulous ideas, but the similarities make it seem like the US team can't come up with original ideas, and they don't need to be giving ammunition to an already cynical viewing audience. If they have to copy challenges, I'd love to see them tackle some of the more ambitious ones, like letting the hosts try to build amphibious vehicles or forcing them to go caravaning. Those would be sights to see, for sure.

Meanwhile, Adam is playing around with the Mercedes SLS AMG, and comparing it to the Mercedes 300 SL of old. It's a serious car segment, for serious car buffs; about the only thing that caught my attention was that there is such a thing as magnesium seat frames. I'm sure a Mercedes fan enjoyed it, but I found myself tuning out. This segment highlights something else about this show that I've often wondered about; it seems like History wants to make a more straightforward, serious car series - or at least, thinks that's what we want to see - compared to the BBC version which is less serious and more about what you can do with cars. In my eyes, that sucks a lot of the fun out of it.

Kid Rock is the celebrity guest. All I learn from this is that he hates Priuses.

The most interesting part of the show comes in the last eight minutes, when Adam and Rutledge (poor Tanner, not getting to have any fun!) set out to look for a new vehicle for the Army. They turn up at a paintball course in cheap cars that they've decked out for the kill. Unfortunately, since they're limited to a very specific and small path, this fight requires little strategy and is mostly about just shooting constantly. The exchange lasts a grand total of four minutes, if that. If this were on the original Top Gear, James would be lost and Jeremy would be producing an AK-47 from somewhere. Instead, we learn that neither Rutledge nor Adam can speak Spanish.

Unfortunately, this week's a weak outing for Top Gear. If you saw last week's preview, you pretty much saw the best of the episode. I'm worried about this show hanging on; every time I find a good point, something else makes me hesitate. The comments I've received on my reviews so far have shown me that the series was playing to a tough crowd from the beginning, and it can't really afford to have a lot of bad episodes, especially when people can turn over to BBC America and watch the original. Here's hoping the series picks up in the near future.

Need to catch up with Top Gear (US)? Full show coverage is available in the Top Gear (US) category on my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.

Photo Credits: History


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