- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
- Subtitles: English
- Rating: Not Rated
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Discs: 3
- Blu-ray Release Date: February 15, 2011
- List Price: $29.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
The BBC’s popular automotive series, Top Gear, finally arrives on Blu-ray finally bringing its hour-long episodes of cool cars, dangerous challenges and, most of all, lots of humour home.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it reviews mostly the most expensive and lust worthy automobiles, like Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and, of course, Mercedes, BMW, and Audi, along with Lexus, Porche, and Volkswagen. The cars are given a rundown by the series’ three hosts and put to the test on Top Gear’s own test track by the iconic, anonymous driver known merely as The Stig.
The hosts are also usually given challenges in each episode. For instance, they might be challenged to build their own electric car. In Season 14, in particular, there are two hour-long challenge specials. In one, the hosts take on the challenge of driving an SUV to the North Pole while racing a sled of Huskies. In another, they are challenged to buy used SUV’s on the internet from a site in Bolivia then they must drive them across South America until they reach the Pacific Ocean. It is all great fun watching their dangerous treks, both across the arctic and through the South American rainforest. I think the two specials in season 14 are the best episodes I have yet seen of the series.
Of course, one is not to forget the series’ segment, “Put a Star in a Reasonably Priced Car,” in which celebrities are put in an economy car to race around the track and then they get their lap time put up on the board.
The native HD source for Top Gear is encoded in AVC/MPEG-4 at 1080i/60. The overall image is quite good, particularly the in-studio segments, which are clean and clear with lots of detail and natural flesh tones. The other segments, including test track footage and some of the challenges show some aliasing, video noise, and obvious inclusion of some standard definition sources.
The soundtrack is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo at the lowest bitrate, which doesn’t provide the greatest sound. High frequencies sound very jagged and stereo separation is a bit narrow. Otherwise, the dialogue is intelligible.
All the supplements on Top Gear: The Complete Season 14 are provided in standard definition only, but they do allow you to see more complete versions of the celebrity laps and some extended scenes from throughout the season.
- Celebrity Laps (1.78:1; 480i/60):
- Eric Bana
- Michael Sheen
- Chris Evans
- Guy Ritchie
- Jensen Button
- Seasick Steve
- Featurettes (1.78:1; 480i/60):
- Behind the Scenes
- Electric Wind Tunnel
- James’ Jumpers
- James on Caravans
- Lancia Breakdown
The Definitive Word
Because of its humorous atmosphere and celebrity guests, Top Gear is appealing even to those who might not be petrol-heads. Season 14 may well be one of the best seasons to date, with its two hour-long expedition specials making this well worth an addition to anyone’s Blu-ray catalogue.
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