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Top Gear: The Complete Season 16 Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Discs: 3 (3 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: BBC/2-Entertain
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 9, 2011
  • List Price: $29.99

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BestBuy.com:
Top Gear: Complete Season 16 (3 Disc) - Widescreen Subtitle

Purchase Top Gear: The Complete Season 16 on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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 Series

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is one of the longest-running – and still the best — shows around for car geeks, or what the Brits might call “Petrol heads.” After 16 seasons in, hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May are still thoroughly entertaining, still passionate about what they do, and, most of all, still don’t take themselves too seriously. See, unlike most automotive shows on television that get all bogged down in all the particulars of automobiles, these three have always approached telling their audience about the cars with the same awe and glee that you had when you’d drool over the latest dream machines in the car magazines you thumbed through when you were a teenager. And merely testing these awesome cars for a boring spin around the test track isn’t enough for these guys. No, they always have to mix it up with some of the most insane tests and journeys one could possibly imagine. You don’t think so? How about taking a Škoda Yeti out for a spin and landing a helicopter on top of it or racing it against a Ferrari on a race track that’s having some construction done on its track, just to give the reasonably-priced Czech SUV a bit of an advantage.

Season 16 of the original UK series finds the lads making their way over the USA for a road trip (and why not, there’s a UD version of the series running here now) where they make their way into NASCAR country with three very nice sports cars before going for a race through the street of Manhattan to find a morning chat show studio. Other oddball antics include a showdown with the Australian Top Gear, a race in a Jaguar XJ against the rotation of the Earth, and James May takes a drive in NASA’s latest Space Exploration Vehicle. There’s a new Stig this season, and new celebrity guests to take a lap in a reasonably-priced car, including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and John Bishop. Great stuff; still.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Some moments of this high definition production look a little rough and show a lot of video noise and stairstepping, but those are mostly necessary byproducts of the high speed photography used to capture some of the cars in action and lower-quality cameras placed inside the cabins to capture drivers behind the wheel. Otherwise, this 1080i/60 AVC/MPEG-4 encodement offers many rather strong, and occasionally stunning images of these beautiful pieces of automotive design and strong, life-like reproduction of the folks presenting them as well.

Audio Quality

[Rating:2/5]

Sadly, nothing really good can be said about this low-bitrate lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. There’s a lot of noticeable crackle in dialogue and dynamic range is fairly limited. It’s a shame that, with all those roaring engines and screeching tires no one could see fit to, at the very least, put a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack on here, even better a lossless 5.1 mix. But, alas, we shall never no just how good all those Ferrari, Bugati, and Maclaren engines might have sounded.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The supplemental package is pretty good here. There are two special episodes, which are actually expanded from segments of episodes during the regular season, including the first episode’s road trip to the USA. After that, we get a behind-the-scenes look at couple of celebrity “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” laps, pre and post series chats with the Top Gear lads and some more humorous segments.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Special Episodes:
    • USA Road Trip
    • Middle East Special
  • Pre Series Chat (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:03:20)
  • John Bishop Lap (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:04:34)
  • Clarkson & Hammond Joking About James’ Death (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:02:32)
  • Nick Frost & Simon Pegg Laps (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:06:23)
  • John Prescott – Jezza Vs. Prezza (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:00:59)
  • End of Series 16 Chat (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:02:43)
  • Behind the Scenes – Top gear Production Office & Studio (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:09:43)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

A great automotive series maintains its gusto 16 seasons in with Top Gear 16. On Blu-ray, the series is even more fun to watch, even if the audio is somewhat disappointing.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right”]B004QOB8SE[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Top Gear: Complete Season 16 (3 Disc) - Widescreen Subtitle

Purchase Top Gear: The Complete Season 16 on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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