Top Gear - Apocalypse

Sunday, 21 November 2010 12:55

Brand new and never seen on TV, “Top Gear Apocalypse” features the usual vehicular mayhem and hilariously irresponsible antics you would expect from the Top Gear team, minus Jeremy Clarkson and The Stig (presumably cowering somewhere with his tail between his legs!). Richard Hammond and James May take us into the world of motoring after a nuclear war, where petrol is sparse and sensible behaviour non-existent.

Breaking this feature-length episode into half a dozen chunks, Hammond and May take us through topics such as how to commute to work in zero-visibility conditions, MOT tests for the apocalyptic age and which cars they would drive if they had the last barrel of petrol... in the world. Our intrepid duo presents the DVD in traditional dead-pan style from the safety of a nuclear bunker, sporting comedy smutty faces and dishevelled hair.

Top Gear Apocalypse comes to DVD and Blu-ray minus ClarksonFirst up is the post-judgement day commute to work, which the team enacts by driving blacked-out cars, steered with the assistance of a Sat-Nav device. This relatively gentle introduction to end-of-the-world life generates a fair few chuckles as the presenters find their driving skills deserting them without the aid of vision. Suffice to say that their cars venture off road and gather a few knocks and scratches by the end of the first trial.

The second segment reveals Hammond and May’s ‘final drive’ choices, which are spread throughout the programme. Do they go for practical, economic vehicles that eke out the fuel for as long as possible, or say “To hell with it” and floor their favourite petrol guzzlers in one last, brief hoorah?

Well, it is a bit of both, but you will need to see the show to find out what they pick! Footage of their choices typically goes beyond the standard video of them driving cars at crazy speeds, and involves such drama as evading a very tenacious (and mobile) paparazzi photographer, and pirouetting through an abandoned underground car park pursued by automotive zombies.

The third part of the feature sees the duo playing mindless travel games as they sit in a traffic jam full of cars supposedly fleeing a catastrophe. As they calmly play “Dashboard Spot-the-Difference” and “Longest Finger in the World” (which involves haphazardly prodding car controls with an aerial), screaming, panicky people sprint past. The contrast in behaviour is vaguely funny but this is by far the weakest element of “Apocalypse”.

Part four is ‘Radioactive Racing’, which supposes that Hammond and May are the last two racing drivers alive. In order to make the ensuing race entertaining, they come up with the wholly absurd but genuinely amusing idea of making both cars remote-controlled. However, rather than controlling the cars they are sitting in, they control each other’s cars.

This mind-bending concept provides them with plenty of mileage for ‘bonkers’ dialogue along the lines of “Now you’re leading but I’m winning the race because I’m behind but in front of you”. It might sound banal but it really is quite intriguing and a lot of fun.

Chapter five is the ultra-tough MOT test, which again utilises radio-controlled vehicles, only this time their drivers control them from a safe distance, the reason being the cars have been turned into up scaled Robot Wars contraptions, with mounted flame throwers, swinging axes and revolving blades.

If those weapons were not dangerous enough, the arena is littered with explosive-laden vehicles which the participants can detonate by shunting if they dare, to earn extra points. The spectacle does not quite live up to its billing, but it is still quite diverting.

Ultimately, this disc earns its place as an entertaining post-Christmas dinner option (if you have seen all of the Bond films a dozen times, and want something brainless to keep you amused). The absence of Jeremy Clarkson is definitely a negative point, but Hammond and May do a fair job of propping up the show.

The lack of studio audience is also noticeable, and the programme does feel a little flat as a result. After a while it becomes less marked, however. The complete lack of special features is a shame; surely there were some accidents and mistakes during its production that might have provided some added value to an otherwise relatively sparse package?

“Top Gear Apocalypse” (2010) is out now, courtesy of 2|Entertain. The feature running time is 75 minutes approx, certificate ‘PG’ and the release retails for £19.99 on DVD (version reviewed), £24.99 on Blu-ray, or get either or both for less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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