Saturday, January 03, 2004

Denis Boyles on EuroPress 2003 on National Review Online:

"If you wish to get good, informed information from the BBC, the only reasonable place to go is BBC2's Top Gear, just ending it's third season on the air. O.K., it's a car show, and, true, Americans may not get much from the program's test drives of automobiles known only to readers of Hemming's Motor News. But it is the best informational program on the BBC — better than all the science shows; flashier than the prize-less, often clueless quiz programs; shorter than all the historical drivel; smart, funny, well-written, and subversively un-P.C. Recently, when the program was bumped back a bit on the Sunday night lineup without much notice, presenter Jeremy Clarkson tried to regain the BBC's favor by offering to rename the show The Nelson Mandela Car Show while series regulars James May and Richard Hammond ostentatiously read copies of the leftwing Guardian and flashed their New Age sandals. One recent program had British scientists doing tire burns — 'the smartest men in Britain doing the dumbest thing known to man' or something similar — and another was devoted to testing the durability of a Toyota pickup — the sort of trucks that, fitted with a set of wooden grates, serve as public transport in much of Africa. The Toyota was bought used for a song, and looked it. It was then driven into a tree, down a set of concrete steps, tied to a boat ramp, washed out to sea, left on the sandy beach when the tide went out, and set afire. After each event, the truck started up and ran. Finally, the thing was parked atop a high-rise building, which was then demolished. When the dust cleared, the Toyota drove off into legend. Fantastic. Just watching it all happen made me want to rush out and catch a third-world bus. To Paris."

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