[14x06] December 27th, 2009 [South America Special]

[14x06] December 27th, 2009 [South America Special]


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02122

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9/10
Looking forward to watching it again in HD (couldn't wait for the torrent to come out!) Would have been interesting to get a little more information about Bolivia and interaction with the locals like they did in Vietnam, but overall still a great episode.
 

Goob

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it was good, a solid 7/10
Not the best special that they have had, but worth a second look. as far as specials go it ranks 5th on my list.

1. North Pole
2. Africa
3. Vietnam
4. U.S.
5. Bolivia
6. Romania

It was obviously very heavily scripted and and very heavily edited, I rolled my eyes a few times, however I still enjoyed the special thoroughly a solid 7/10 which puts it in the good/very good category.
 

Blindi

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Whow... In case someone from the TG crew, or indeed anyone involved in the making of this film is reading this, I would like to say: THANK YOU!

It was the best piece of tv I have ever seen. :blink:
 

jedd_kenobi

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if they were going to fake that death road bit, they might as well have gone all Michael Bay on it. camera mounted helicopters to get those shots from above to give greater load of scale, instead of the one car trying to get past. instead make it a truck driven by a bunch of bikini clad girls. when Clarkson got past it they could have gone for a slow motion hero shot of him walking away from the car along with fireworks in the distance as the truck explodes.
Also they could have cable mounted the car so that it slips further to the edge and also have a few camera's on the side as well. If they couldn't have done it all in one shot, just set it up again and do the same sequence but again and again from different angles.
i can't see how they faked that road. people and the daily mail may call him pig-headed and stupid but i doubt he's truly stupid enough just to push something that far, knowing full well of the consequences and come out of it thinking "well that'll look really good on tv"
 

Burlz

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im sorry, have you ever watched top gear before? im going to assume your not that smart when it comes to production. first of all, Mr Wilmon has made it pretty clear in the past that, after a shoot like this, they go back and get passing shots and view shots and close ups of things to make the film work better in post-production. second, they have one of the best crews in the world just so they can make sure they get all that they need to make a film like this so epic, third, they have 3 of the best presenters in the whole of TV that are NOT afraid to take the challenge they are given seriously. Jezza DID drive that car on the edge, and, if you look at some of the shots taken during that incident its clear that the crew was at an angle that gave them the ability to zoom in on his wheel. the falling rock shot may have been filmed later for effect, but, YES Jezza was hanging on the edge. yes, the Toyota thing looked staged, but, it was funny!

WTF. You don't have to patronise me with the ins and outs of tv production. All I said was that one scene was staged, mainly to illustrate the peril they could be in - a danger that everyone who uses that road is in everyday. They took it to the extreme, but in a controlled manner. You even agree it looked staged, so what's your problem, I even said it worked well, I certainly didn't say it was a negative aspect of the film.
And as well as being "3 of the best presenters in the whole of TV" (swoon) they're also bloody good actors. Or do you think James was really upset when they trashed his Dacia.
I don't think with this one they had time to go back and shoot all the fill in they normally would. This was shot as they went, hence much more material available and used from the beginning than the end.
 

essentialatom

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The thing is with the Jezza-on-the-cliff bit:

Staged it may have been, but as others pointed out, it no doubt happened several times during the trip. And no matter how protected Jezza might actually have been, whether he had some harness, or the car was tethered, or whatever theory you might come up with, as far as I'm concerned you can't see the join, and Clarkson is in genuine peril there.

Much of Top Gear reminds of Derren Brown's russian roulette stunt being done haphazardly - the cliff scene was an example of it being done expertly. When Derren Brown did the gun thing, people were talking about how it wasn't a bullet but a blank, he might have known for definite which chamber it was in, maybe there wasn't a bullet anyway, all this sort of stuff - we're in the same ballpark as Clarkson and co's caravan fire taking place somewhere other than advertised, under controlled circumstances. But no matter what Brown was 'lying' about, ultimately he created a solid illusion of a man potentially about to kill himself, and that's what we had with Jezza's cliff bit. In both cases, enormous tension was created, and fantastic television was the result. You can go back and point out where production cars are the same, but whatever - there's a point at which you have to just accept that Jezza is on the very edge of a cliff in a car which could slip down it at any minute, and that's something that's truly been caught on camera. The result is profound.

However, you get into murky waters with Top Gear, waters that Brown didn't have to contend with. Derren Brown is an illusionist - the job title tells you that you're going to be lied to, and you sign the viewer-programme contract in that understanding. Top Gear is a programme that purports to present real life events in a fundamentally documentary form, and so being lied to - even if it's in the same way as Derren Brown does - takes on a far greater significance. Things like pickups of cars driving past the camera, you don't even think about, but they are technically misleading - you're not watching Jezza drive that Bugatti across France, it's some other bloke who you just can't see, so you believe it's Jezza. That stuff's always been acceptable because it doesn't create events from nothing - the car drove fast, you know that. When it comes to the caravan fire, you're seeing something not only created deliberately but done so with the intention of being passed off to the viewer as spontaneous and unplanned, and in a programme that, by its format, tells you it's showing genuinely spontaneous events, it has a catastrophic effect on the viewer-programme contract.

I'll continue to watch and re-watch those dubious things, but my favourite parts of Top Gear will always be segments like the early cheap car challenges, such as the one with the Volvo, Rover and Audi. In those days the things that were set up (unless I've missed something that ruins my argument!), you were told we set up: i.e. the challenges. We were told they'd have to drive into brick walls, so we felt on the same side as the presenters and programme-makers, with the same information - essentially, we were collectively going, "I wonder what'll happen next". (I also felt the same way about the drive-time show episode - I much prefer listening to the show as it was broadcast, as can be found on FinalGear no doubt, than I do the edited version on Top Gear, because it has that element of rawness, that this really was live and anything could have happened.) Later episodes have been diluted with things that are more suspicious and thus damaging to our trust in and enjoyment of the programme, such as the car wash carnage - we're constantly asking, was it really an accident or a set-up? That's a question I didn't ask when Jezza was on the cliff edge, so gripped was I by the action and so clear was it that, no matter what behind-the-scenes chicanery there might have been, Jezza was on the edge of that cliff in that enormous vehicle.

What's my point? I don't know. Most of me really hates the clear involvement of production staff in the preparation and staging of events that are presented as spontaneous; the part of me that studies TV form academically understands that in TV-land, this is just the way it's done sometimes. I find it very hard to reconcile that - Top Gear's far from the only culprit but as a programme I love, it's the one I have the most trouble with intellectually.

And Mr Wilman, you can quote me on that. ;)
 
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GM_IV

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There is no doubt that this is my favourite episode of this season, the other 5 episodes were mostly average. I genuinely really liked this episode, one of the best.
 

DanRoM

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It was easily the best Top Gear episode in this series or even longer. However, there were better eps, namely the specials in Vietnam, the US, Africa and in the Arctic. The London race episode was also better in my opinion. So, I certainly can't rate this ep a 10, and I'm even struggling to rate it a 9. Yet "only" an 8 seems inappropiate for the probably most dangerous special yet (jungle with insects and snakes, going halfway up the atmosphere (joking ;)), the Highway of Death... and all that in cars that are close to falling apart (this is what sets this one apart from the Polar special where they had proper equipment).

What baffles me is that they passed through these amazing landscapes, yet the camera didn't catch that greatness, that vastness. It kind of disappointed me.

And all the talk about how scripted the show is probably ruined Top Gear for me, at least a bit. The "forgotten" handbrake on the dune wasn't the worst, I'm not even sure it wasn't a simple malfunction. Clarkson setting Hammonds car on fire with his careless handling of the grinder (or the help of a lighter) felt more forced.
And regarding the indeed epicly couragous passing maneuver on the Highway of Death: Did we actually see Clarkson himself do that? Did we actually see the Range Rover that close to the abyss without any ropes to secure it? No, we didn't. I don't even care if the other car was ordered there or not (it could have been a crew vehicle...). But I know maneuvers like that are - have to be - common on that road, and everybody driving (or being a passenger) there has my deepest respect.

What I did like was that the interaction between them seemed completely natural for a change. And the driving itself, pretty great stuff there. In fact, I liked most of the ep, hence me giving it such a high rating. :)
 

tone76

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A very solid 9/10. Absolutely spectacular cinematography, and plenty of the genuine cocking about that we love about TG. It's not my favourite special, as it feels a little too polished and there were a few things that were too obviously scripted (i.e. Hammond's Land Cruiser, Hammond's car catching fire, the fish in the boat etc). The fact there was so much stuff that was genuinely scary where the guys were clearly being themselves (the Death Road, the three guys struggling to breathe at 17,000ft) made the scripted stuff stick out even more.

Bear in mind that these were very minor niggles, the episode was superb. Easily as good as Vietnam, but still not quite as good as Botswana, which is still my favourite of the specials. Having said that, there's not a lot in it between Botswana, Vietnam and Bolivia. Great stuff. :thumbup:

As for the high proportion of 10s ... I'm guessing it's because the rest of Series 14 was so bad, a lot of TG faithful are excited and relieved that the boys still have it, even though it hasn't shown much as of late.
 
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nouseferaname90

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I gave it a 10. some of the scripting was understandable. Hammond's car wouldn't have made it down the hill at all with fwd, so there just needed to be a reason not to use it, and thats why it was rolled (i think). it was better than just saying "that car can't do it, ect"
 

DubyaStep

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WTF. You don't have to patronise me with the ins and outs of tv production. All I said was that one scene was staged, mainly to illustrate the peril they could be in - a danger that everyone who uses that road is in everyday. They took it to the extreme, but in a controlled manner. You even agree it looked staged, so what's your problem, I even said it worked well, I certainly didn't say it was a negative aspect of the film.
And as well as being "3 of the best presenters in the whole of TV" (swoon) they're also bloody good actors. Or do you think James was really upset when they trashed his Dacia.
I don't think with this one they had time to go back and shoot all the fill in they normally would. This was shot as they went, hence much more material available and used from the beginning than the end.

look, im very sure that it was a genuine event and it was not staged in any way. yes, there may have been rescue crew on standby but thats about it. that is a pretty busy road and them stopping to take the time to set up the safety equipment needed would just have been unrealistic and in some cases maybe even unsafe. those trucks dont like to stop and those people dont like to be held up. based on the "good acting" by jezza, well, i have seen pure fear in someones eyes on a few occasions and his wasnt far off. go back and look at that video of him in that car and you will see genuine fear. if there was safety equipment, seems sure to me that he didnt know about it, trust me, i feel he would have told us.

as far as you being offended, well, thats the nature of these discussions. we all present our oppinions and then we hear the arguments of everybody else. if we dont agree with something, then we respond, if we think someone is being stupid or ignorant then we give out neg rep as we each see fit. if we agree we give out positive rep. i personlly sign my neg and positive with my user name because i want those people to know who and why. so, welcome to a discussion. its just part of the game. if i misunderstod you, well, my bad. i dont patronize, i inform.
 

kurthest

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Yeah, finally a proper trip.
Without a doubt the best episode this season.

However, I thought it was a bit toned down.
No deliberate sabotage of either James' or Hamsters car. -1
Throughout the episode, I got the feeling they held back for some reason. -1

I also think some of the scripting and editing was unnecessary for a trip like this.

So I scored it 8/10.
 
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Loomy

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(...) obviously scripted...the fish in the boat...
Say what? I fail to see the scripted-ness of that :S

But scripted or not. This was a truly epic episode. One of my all time favourites. Even better than the US- and Vietnam specials, which mean it's right up there with the North Pole and the Africa trip.

More of this! Australia next? Or maybe Siberia/Russia (like Long Way Round but with less bikes).
 
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Thank you Top Gear. This episode was seriously amazing, and i honestly believe it was better than the Polar Special. I laughed more times, gasped in amazement more times, and felt more suspense in this special than in all the other specials combined.

Seriously great work guys.

10 10 10 10 10
 

kurthest

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As for the high proportion of 10s ... I'm guessing it's because the rest of Series 14 was so bad, a lot of TG faithful are excited and relieved that the boys still have it, even though it hasn't shown much as of late.

That has always been something I never understood about this site.
Most people will score an episode 7 or 8 if its a bad episode, and 9 or 10 if its not bad.

I'm trying to use the whole scale, however I think my lowest score has been 4/10.
 

That American Girl

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The bit on death road was completely set-up and the other Toyota was almost certainly a production car. This is TV, there's no way theyed get all those shots on something that happened spontaneously. But it worked, great dramatic effect.
.

I agree that it was probably a crew car, as they go back and forth...going in front of the guys, then behind to get the shots.

That scene struck me as,

"Yeah, I'll just pass him really close and we'll film it to show how close you can get, to um...close to..HOLY *** THAT'S THE DAMN EDGE!!!"


A setup maybe. One that scared the Hell out of me just watching...yeah. :)
 

Toshik

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This episode is really worth watching.
By the way, does anybody have their route on Google Maps or Earth? It would be nice to see.
 

DubyaStep

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That has always been something I never understood about this site.
Most people will score an episode 7 or 8 if its a bad episode, and 9 or 10 if its not bad.

I'm trying to use the whole scale, however I think my lowest score has been 4/10.

i see your point, but, i know IMO a 6 or 7 in the top gear world IS terrible. a bad eppisode deserves a 6 or 7 simply because even a bad epp is still better than anything out there. look back at like season 1 of TG Aus and youll see some 4 or 5's. so, i tend to rate around 7 to 10 for the TG UK because they are still better than anything else, even on a bad day. IMO :)
 

Bartg.pl

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For the moaners about foreing specials "oh no its scripted and therefore it sucks i give it -20" I always say this - send in 3 middle aged blokes, give em 3 cars/bikes and tell to drive around an exotic country while doing Tv show without any plan whatsoever and it just wouldnt work, just throw away all the thoughts "oh dear, that car couldnt break down here, bad script" and just enjoy the Top Gear as it was 2002 again.
The moment that made me laugh most was when Hammond crashed for the first time into Suzuki and James went "Honestly It wasnt very funny 3 series ago, and It really isnt funny now" :lol:
 
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