|Top Gear Great Adventures: Patagonia Special (includes Australia Roadtrip)|
|© 2015, BBC Roadshow|
The intrepid Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May embarked on their final – and most controversial – road trip special in what is now officially their last season at the helm of the world’s biggest car show.
Having performed similar treks over the years through the likes of the Amazon, the United States, India, Botswana and Vietnam, the formula is pretty familiar: each host has to buy three cars of a certain criteria on the cheap and then get them to hold together through a succession of long drives, challenges and stunts that are a gruelling test of man and machine.
This special – broadcast over two episodes to start Season 22 – centres around a tribute to the V8 engine, and so the cars selected are a Porsche 928 (Clarkson), Lotus Esprit (May) and Ford Mustang (Hammond), which will undertake the seemingly impossible task of a 1,600-mile trek through the Patagonian deserts to the southernmost city in the world for a game of car football against Argentina.
There’s a fairly predictable mix of challenges, stunts, pranks and silliness you would come love (or loathe), but the special also throws in a number of surprises long before its climactic and much-publicised finish.
For starters, there’s a surprisingly candid and heartfelt admission from Clarkson on why he made the seemingly unlikely choice of a Porsche 928. He recounts having been loaned it for a weekend test drive and being informed – while buying a chicken for dinner – that his father had been rushed to hospital in a critical condition. Such was the speed and power of the car, he made it to the hospital (a lengthy journey in itself) in time to farewell his father before he died. Added to that, the chicken was still warm by the time he made it to the hospital.
It was a genuinely touching, personal anecdote from the big man that actually brought him to tears at the time he was telling it. As oafish, racist and shockingly homophobic as he may be, the man does occasionally reveal a more human ‘soft’ side.
The other major standout of this special is the entire production. Every shot and frame is absolutely breathtaking; visually this is one of the most stunning pieces of work from a highly accomplished editing and cinematography team, and they are more than helped by some amazing scenery along the way.
The special ends with the much publicised – and incredibly tense – evacuation to the border to escape an ever-growing riot over offence caused by the number plate fitted to Clarkson’s Porsche that made a clear reference to the Falklands War.
The editing and live action footage of the chase and the riot is mighty tense viewing, but the fallout – where, after repeatedly thin denials, the producers finally admitted that the license plate was deliberately selected as an inside joke that spectacularly backfired – just served to underscore the structural and cultural problems at the heart of the show.
It was only a matter of time before it all came crumbling down…
The Top Gear Great Adventures: Patagonia Special also features the Australian road trip through the Northern Territory that was broadcast in the same series.
Top Gear Great Adventures: Patagonia Special is available at all major DVD retailers from today. Our review copy was kindly supplied to us by Roadshow Australia.