Top Gear

I’d like to introduce the readers to the greatest show on television. This is of course predominantly a film website, but even veteran filmmakers could do worse than work a few seasons of Top Gear. I don’t actually watch much television, but I don’t have to in order to be certain that the BBC has created the top show.

And I’m not even a car guy. That is, I wasn’t until I started watching this program. It’s pretty standard format for a motor program, with the three main hosts test driving various cars around the countryside or on their very own track (formerly an airfield) and then returning to discuss their results together with a live audience on the show’s set (formerly one of the airfield’s hangers). If you are a car guy, and I mean, a REAL car guy, you’ll get a kick out of the rather special wheels that they get given to test. If you are a media person, you’ll be blown away by the show itself.

The editing: perfect. All camera work: perfect. Sound design: perfect. Music: nearly always flawless. Post processing: rarely ever overdone. Directing: consistently awe-inspiring. It is a thing of great beauty, much like the vehicles often featured. In fact, there are very few top-dollar car commercials shot and edited as well as most of the segments on this show. Whether they’re speed testing the latest multi-engine supercar or grinding a custom-built Baja truck down cliffs, the end result combines substance with style.

Almost as exemplary as the lighting and lenses and the superb driving (both on the part of the hosts, experts, and camera car team), is the writing (both the scripted narration and off-the-cuff reviewer reactions). The creators of this program know how to tell a compelling story, even if they’re only discussing the differences between a 2wd and a 4wd Porsche chassis. Generally though, they take on more interesting stories by setting up races between cars, or cars and various other forms of transport. Recommended study material for anyone currently working in any area of video production.

I’m not sure how long Google Video files stay fresh, but at the moment you can watch the Bugatti Veyron episode (warning: mild language and extreme British humour), and if it vanishes you can always search for more clips. You might look out for the team using a pneumatic cannon to play darts with old junkers, racing rally cars against bobsleds, testing aerodynamics by driving behind a 747‘s engines, and so forth.