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Archive for December 27th, 2009

Lets not beat around the bush, Christmas television has been crap at best this year. There have been a few football matches and some decent movies but the quality of new programming has been appalling. But today, two days after Christmas there has finally been something worth watching on TV. Following the final “James May’s Toy Stories” (an excellent series that has been hidden away on BBC2 at varying times for the last couple of months) was a special edition of Top Gear.

There has actually always been something special about the top gear specials, we have had the American Cheap Car Roadtrip, Botswana in crappy old cars, Vietnam on motorbikes and the amazing Polar Challenge. If not topping what has gone before the Bolivia special at least matches it and taking all the elements that have worked before. Coming in at an almost feature length 75 minutes, the episodes sees presenters James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond travelling 1,000 miles from Bolivia to Chile’s Pacific coast. Going through Rainforests in the Amazonian jungle to La Paz, The highest capital city in the world and according to Clarkson, the worst! They arrive via the Yungas Road, known as the ‘Death Road’ for obvious reasons when you see the program. From there they cross the Altiplano. More desolate than death valley and at an altitude of 17,200 feet before reaching the coast.

The catch, and there is always a catch with Top Gear, they do all this in 4×4’s purchased blind, online and on a tight budget. Richard Hammond went for the most reliable car in the world, the Toyota Land Cruiser that unfortunately turned out to be rather less reliable than he had hoped. The ever sensible Jeremy Clarkson purchased an on paper less reliable series one Range Rover with a 3.9 V8 that turned out to be somewhat older and smaller than expected! It also turned out to be somewhat more reliable than expected. Always coming from leftfield James May chose a Suzuki SJ with a diminutive 1.3 litre 66 bhp engine.

The ever reliable Clarkson, Hammond and May are on great form and even allowing for the obviously scripted parts the program is genuinely funny. As the trio get out of their depth the program offers some genuine laugh out loud moments as always.

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