Now that we know when Top Gear is going to be blasting back onto History (in just under a month!), BBC Worldwide can release Top Gear: The Complete Season 3 onto DVD. If Season 2 was the show coming into its own, Season 3 is the show going full speed ahead. With Season 3, The Powers That Be have finally noticed that Top Gear USA's secret to success is the same as the UK version: just let the crazy people drive the cars and get out of the way.
Some of the best episodes of the series are in this season, including "Taxis," where hosts Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood are unleashed on Las Vegas, as well as "College Cars" where they get in trouble in Mexico, and Adam finally getting to exert some measure of authority in "Adam's Show." One must also make mention of "Doomsday Drive," which having personally witnessed parts of it, is one of the more destructive adventures.
There are still some challenges here that have been seen in the UK version, but those are fewer now, and the boys have some moments here that Clarkson, Hammond and May would applaud (keep your eyes open for a flying Mustang). For more details on the episodes, you can check out more reviews here.
The truth is, though, the best of Top Gear has less to do with the challenges and more to do with the constant, consistently hilarious and often inappropriate banter between the hosts. They never stop, and they never should, because they're great together. It really becomes obvious in this season why these three gentlemen were picked to host Top Gear.
If you need proof of this, listen to the two audio commentaries in this set (for "Monument to Moab" and "College Cars"). Be sure you've watched the episodes without commentary first, because these three talk straight over almost everything, dishing on moments that didn't make the cut, good-naturedly taking every available shot at each other, and generally having a great time. In fact, there are shenanigans going on during the recording of these commentaries. As far as commentary tracks go, these are possibly some of the most entertaining ever made.
Add those into solid audio and video, and a fair mix of special features that also includes a reasonable selection of deleted scenes and host interview snippets, and this set is a bonafide winner for anyone who loves Top Gear, cars, or just laughing so hard that you may have trouble breathing.
There's a 'but' coming here, unfortunately: Season 3 hasn't corrected some of the cosmetic issues that existed on the Season 2 DVD release. The menus still look badly pixelated. There's no booklet included and the menus don't provide any additional info, so you're on your own when it comes to episode descriptions or which deleted scenes are from which installment.
And the special features are still lacking in basics - for example, in the bonus footage where Tanner drives Carl Edwards' NASCAR racer, there's no context to the footage - no introduction or explanation of how he got there or why he's doing it. Then here's a question: why does the Allman Brothers' "Jessica" play over the title menu when it hasn't been the theme song to Top Gear USA in two seasons?
However frustrating those things are, they shouldn't dissuade you from checking out the best season of a TV show that hasn't yet quite gotten its due. Top Gear fans and curious TV viewers alike will enjoy this inexpensive ($20) and laugh-out-loud set. Just don't be drinking while you're listening to the commentaries.
To get your own copy of Top Gear: The Complete Season 3 on DVD, click here. You can also click here to read my feature with co-host Tanner Foust. Season 4 begins on History on September 3.