(Just so you know, I’m not going to review every Top Gear episode, but I had strong enough opinions of this episode to warrant a My Thoughts blog.)
The first episode of this new, eighteenth series of Top Gear was to be, for many once-loyal fans (myself included), a make-or-break episode. Cock it up, and we’d lose interest and leave it to suffer a plunge in ratings.
The producers (to whom the TG brand is worth millions) and presenters knew this very real threat. Though part of a joke, Jeremy Clarkson made no secret of the controversy that’s followed the disastrous Christmas India special, opening the show in simple terms: “Now, even though this programme has taken a terrible battering in the newspapers in recent weeks, we have made every effort we possibly can to make sure this series is unaffected.”
Indeed, the preview tape looked similar to those of the old series, with beautiful photography, great co-presenter chemistry, and a wide range of upcoming films included. But as the first episode progressed, it became obvious that it was not all ‘same old same old’. In addition to the addition of a plinth in the studio for the Hammerhead-i Eagle Thrust from Series 14, there were far greater changes in programme feel.
In recent series (and most noticeably in that Christmas 2011 episode), the style of the main films has felt hideously patronising, where it seemed we were meant to fall for the blatantly-staged, unfunny ‘accidents’ (many of which, like the crude ‘Eat English Muff‘ and ‘Sh IT For Your Company‘ train stunts, were merely repeats of virtually identical stunts from previous series).
That Was The Week That Was
Week Two of 2012, and perhaps the most reported news story is only just beginning. On Friday (13 January) night, the Costa Concordia ran aground, suffering a gash in her hull and causing the cruise ship to partially sink. It’s not yet known how many people have died or what caused such a new ship to end up at a 70° angle, but it seems the vast majority of people on board managed to get to safety. You can read the Wikipedia article I started on the disaster here.
One of the most horrific stories of the week took place in South Africa, where an elderly couple were burned to death for “being witches” in front of their seven-year-old grandson, in Jacobean-style. Closer to home, Edinburgh Zoo’s male giant panda has been taken off public display, Ernst & Young were named the top gay-friendly employer in the UK, and TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson apologised for shoplifting from a Tesco store in Henley. The theft itself inspired a wealth of online jokes, including “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it was shoved up AWT’s top”, and “There’s no such thing as a free lunch, unless you’re using AWT’s latest cookbook”.
That Was The Week That Was
So here we are at the end of the first full week of 2012. This Review of the Week idea is to become a weekly feature, incorporating but replacing the Photo of the Week style of blogs that ran during the middle of last year.
The nation and the world has been gripped by the verdict of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which has found Gary Dobson and David Norris guilty of the racist murder of the black teenager 18 years ago, thanks to the presence of new evidence. Other news this week includes the discovery of a murdered woman on the Sandringham estate; FrankTwitchy’s video of his dancing granny going viral; and the London 2012 Olympics ticket website breaking – again.
For me, it’s been a pretty quiet week, returning to school on Tuesday after the festive period, but with a fairly pointless school trip to the Science Museum on Thursday. Due to my attendance of Taplow Youth Choir, I was only able to swim once at the Lions Club’s 27th annual Swimarathon yesterday (Saturday), contributing towards the 56 50-metre laps my Explorer Scout unit racked up. I managed to raise some decent funds, which will be split jointly between the Lions Club’s charities and the Unit.