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.
"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.
In the News, Jeremy reveals the Mini Countryman, calling it "the biggest car in the world" while everyone laughs at him. "It's a Mini in the same way that you're a midget," Hammond shoots back. Jeremy later misspeaks, accusing it of giving him crabs before he realizes what he's said. We also meet the new Zonda Huayra. No, I don't know how to pronounce it either.
The boys debate who exactly buys a Ford Focus, during which Jeremy declares that murderers drive Land Rover Discoveries and James argues that they prefer the Renault Espace. I sense more potential complaints coming. And if you somehow thought that was too nice for your taste, they then discuss a gentleman who got the "Mini" brand name tattooed on a very sensitive part of his anatomy. I wish I was kidding about that, but I am not. No wonder why Top Gear delights in poking fun at people when there are people who will do insane things like that.
After that, we're treated to a film about the new Ferrari 599 GTO. "They've used the GTO name on a road car," Jeremy says. "That's like calling your infant son Jesus." Testing it out on the wet track, he proceeds to shout at it a lot, complete with a few bleeped expletives in case you aren't sure how he really feels. When he turns the traction control back on, however, he changes his tune and just squeals "speed" a few times. "I don't feel like I'm driving this car," he admits. "It's not my sort of car."
Some say that the Stig doesn't understand the word "envelope." However, he does get the 599 around the track in 1:19:8, which is actually slower than the much cheaper 458.
The British Top Gear team takes on the Australian Top Gear team (much like when they tangled with the Germans some time ago). The brawl gets off to an awkward start when Jeremy may have booked the guests in a prison lorry instead of a taxi. At least the Aussies take it on the chin.
Event number one is a one kilometer drag race between an Australian V8 pickup and the ever-present white Ford Transit van (you know, like they used in that white van challenge). The Transit completely smokes the pickup, leading everyone to assume that the van is somehow rigged. Of course, it is - it's got a turbocharged engine in it. Except no one told Hammond that when he started driving it. Whoops.
Part two was used in the German competition: double-decker racing, which consists of welding two cars together so the car on the bottom controls the pedals and the car on top controls the steering. Complete mayhem ensues, as if you expected anything else. James is trying to "bottom seat drive" Hammond, much to Richard's annoyance. It doesn't matter much, though, because the Australians are almost totally disoriented. Eventually, after much bickering and banging about (so in other words, like every other Top Gear race), the British team pulls this one out as well.
The third event is synchronized drifting, which the team rigs by saying the judging has to be done by "residents of the UK" (also known as Richard and James) for "health and safety reasons." Unfortunately, they let Jeremy do the driving, and he isn't very good at it. If Tanner Foust was watching this episode, he'd be falling over laughing. However, this event does let us meet Australian Stig, who is basically like British Stig except packed upside-down. The Australian production team has finally had enough and accuses the British hosts of cheating, leading the UK team to lose 10 points to the Aussies.
This proves to be somewhat of a turning point, as the visiting team turns in a great performance in the next challenge, motorized sheepherding, while the home squad basically just embarrass themselves. They're so bad that the sheep manage to escape into the woods, costing them 20 points and putting them behind for the first time all day.
There's only one more event: a rally car race. Jeremy decides they'll pull a fast one on the Australians by doing the same thing they did to the Germans: claim James is driving but not-so-secretly replace him with the Stig. But "James" has work to do as the visitors get a fifteen-second head start due to their points lead, and have their own racing driver behind the wheel. It comes down to the wire, with the British team coming in first by just moments. The Australians, however, only confirm their suspicions that they've been had when "James" won't get out of the car while Richard is gloating. The real James May is hiding behind a nearby tree.
For all those who say our Top Gear hosts are uncouth: they do take a moment immediately following this segment to send their best to the victims of the Australian flooding.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car
Tennis champ Boris Becker is this week's guest, and Jeremy tells him he's the most popular German in Britain. They discuss German racing stars, including Michael Schumacher (AKA Pretend Stig), before Boris takes to the track proclaiming himself "a hidden Formula One driver." This is good for a chuckle, particularly as he spends part of said track time backwards and admits that he had problems figuring out where everything was in the car. That being said, the first German to take on the challenge clocks in at 1:45:9. Not bad at all, especially for a wet lap.
This episode is charmingly funny, with plenty of good-natured ribbing, not unlike the episode in which the UK team squared off against the Germans. It's not one of those I'll be quoting for days on end, but it's still a fun watch all the way through. Now if only we could get the UK hosts to challenge the American ones to a similar competition; I have a feeling that would be the most interesting of all. At least, then we'd know if our US hosts can really hang with the true Top Gear team.
For more Top Gear, check out the show category at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.