‘Top Gear’ stays true to form, excites audience through controversy

Season 21, episode 3 of British show “Top Gear” was as entertaining as ever, with the cast traveling to the former Soviet country Ukraine to take part in challenges.

“Top Gear” began as a British television show in 1977 about motor vehicles, primarily cars, usually presented by three people.

The show consists of the presenters reviewing cars and traveling to different parts of the world to take part in challenges.

In another show segment, celebrities talk with one of the presenters and a video is shown of the celebrities driving around the “Top Gear” test track in a reasonably priced vehicle to see how fast they can finish a lap.

Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond and a test driver with an unknown identity, “The Stig,” are the show’s current presenters.

Since its relaunch in 2002, the show has become humorous and sometimes controversial. On a few occasions, the presenters will “die,” coming back onto the show several minutes later.

One of the more hilarious “Top Gear” episodes was season 15, episode one, when Clarkson drove a 1994 Reliant Robin.

Because the car has two rear wheels and one front wheel, Clarkson managed to roll the car several times. Each time he rolled the car it became more hilarious, with him ending up in a pond right before the episode cut back to the studio.

“Top Gear” has an estimated 350 million viewers in 170 countries. Because of this worldwide popularity, versions of the show have been made in four other countries – the U.S., Russia, Australia and South Korea.

Season 21, episode 3 of “Top Gear” opens with Clarkson reviewing the Danish made 1,086-horsepower Zenvo STI, which turns out to be slower than a Ford Fiesta on the Top Gear test track.

The car caught on fire during the test run, but Clarkson was able to get out of the vehicle before it became too dangerous.

After this, Clarkson met with singer/songwriter James Blunt to talk about Blunt’s military service, the cars he has driven and his music. The video of Blunt’s lap time was shown following the talk.

Blunt’s time was posted and Clarkson, May and Hammond traveled to Ukraine to take part in various challenges.

Clarkson arrived first with a Volkswagen Up, followed by Hammond in a Ford Fiesta. May arrived last in a Dacia Sandero.

The trip’s biggest challenge was for the guys to drive from Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula to the border of Belarus.

“Top Gear” is filmed a few weeks prior so none of the crew on the show was in danger from the current events in Ukraine.

Because the cars were so small, the hosts were able to drive through an abandoned Soviet submarine base.

Another one of the episode’s challenges was for the presenters to drive 100 miles on 23 liters of fuel to Chernobyl.

The goal was to run out before reaching Chernobyl because of the 1986 nuclear disaster that made the area uninhabitable for 20,000 years.

Clarkson, May and Hammond modified their cars in a way they would not make it to Chernobyl.

May released 30 percent of his tire pressure and turned off his engine management system, Clarkson opened his trunk and driver side door and Hammond sealed the openings of his car with duct tape, which made his car more aerodynamic. Hammond then swerved back and forth, which used enough gas to keep him from reaching Chernobyl.

New episodes of “Top Gear” air at 7:30 p.m. Monday nights on BBC America and the series is available on Netflix.


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