[16x00] December 26th, 2010 [Middle East Special]

[16x00] December 26th, 2010 [Middle East Special]


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agreen182

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Fan freaking tastic. I loved it. Not quite a 10 (not sure there ever has been a "perfect" episode) but close enough. Just so great.

And as an aside, I certainly wouldn't be against this model for the show- shorter series runs but with 1 or 2 specials in between so it's not a 6 month break between series. Excellent!!! Can't wait for S16!
 

Emarline

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I saw the Stig intro coming from a mile away, but there were some awesome jokes in there. I especially liked James' bit about "Many are called, but few shall be chosen" when describing the BMW's gearbox, as well as Jeremy pretending to be Jesus. The cinematography was incredible. I can't wait for the HD version to finish downloading so that I can see it even better (I torrent the SD so I can actually see it while waiting for the HD one to finish).

I'm eager for series 16's proper start and for new episodes weekly.
 

wuud

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Rewatching it in HD now.
It was a quite special, but not an epic one. Of course the countries are well a bit diffrent, but still I think they could have made it better.
Had some good lines and jokes this one. Right at the beginning in the plane, when the back thingy is open and James screams "Put your handbreak on" :D
James injury was unexpected but he luckely got away with it.
 

That American Girl

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JC: "Follow me!!"

*crash*

JC: "Don't follow me!"

Awesome! I flinched when James got hurt, the poor fella, and when Richard got the um...'trots'.

And I'm pretty sure I'm going to Hell for laughing at the end! It's okay, it's worth it. :p
 

idkak

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Has to be the worst Top Gear episode that I have ever watched to date!! The only part that I liked was the cargo plane and the view outside when the bay doors opened in air, and maybe the 'little' Stig in the end.

Part that, what is it with such 2-year-old one sided political propaganda leaking its way through anything BBC these days?
 

Mike Nassour

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Disappointing and ... predictable. Easily the worst episode since Series 1.

Did anyone really think they were going to drive through Iran?

Sand in the doors...how obvious can it be that this won't work? No one is that stupid.

Southern Turkey is a pit. What a surprise.

What the heck do you expect to happen when you run three two-seaters across the desert?

Clarkson mimicking Christ at Galilee? Bad taste at best.

The boys babbling about "bonding" with the cars -- Bulls***. Unlike Africa, these were three excellent vehicles that were simply sacrificed for an attempt at a laugh. That's simply not funny. It's not entertaining. It's not ... good TV.

And an ending to offend at least the most Christian among us.

The only reason I gave it as much as a three was the photography and the editing...brilliant as usual. As for the boys, they just bumbled through the entire thing. With all respect to James, who could have been seriously injured, it's the Three Stooges do Top Gear. When you've got border guards laughing at you (when you're trying to look scared) you know it's not gone well.

The writers mailed this one in, going for the obvious joke. It's on the level of the first series of Aussie shows. Andy Wilman, Jeremy Clarkson, and the entire Top Gear crew have given us many, many hours of excellent entertainment and...dare I say it...enlightenment. But this was as big a fail as I have seen in many, many months. I certainly hope this is not what we can expect in January. If it's all at this level, Top Gear has indeed run its course.
 
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awdrifter

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The played up the danger in Iraq way too much. I can understand the border crossings and checkpoints could be tense, but in town there's really no need to make it seem so dramatic. This is not as good as some of the previous specials, but still, it's not too bad. I loved the Nascar race and when Jeremy said he's JC.
 

codespyder

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Giving it a 8. Two things didn't work for me this episode.

1) The whole "hey Top Gear is so popular in Syria that we should avoid the roads" was a stupid (and scripted) excuse to kill themselves going through the desert.

2) Not enough focus on the cars - but I guess it was due to the cars themselves. The Fiat had some character, but the other two were just not very good choices. Also, unlike the Bolivia or African episodes where they were trying to prove a point with the type of cars they picked, this one never really reasoned why they chose convertibles. A 30-second monologue near the end doesn't really cut it.

On the other hand, the cinematography was brilliant and the banter was top notch as always. Lots of classic bits to remember, especially this:




Dunno what the TG crew will try for their next adventure to top the ambition of this one. Maybe they'll drive some minivans on Mars or something.
 

Chupacabras

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It has to be the goofiest, and at the same time, most well made thing on tv. Perfect for a boxing day special when everyone is recovering from crimble comas. Loved it, 10.
 

Tygur

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Just gotta say for some reason this just didn't work for me. Probably the most boring Top Gear I've ever seen. Saw the Stig at the end coming a mile away and honestly, I enjoyed this weeks Top Gear US more than the special, sadly. No real challenges, just messing about. Only reason it didn't get a 1/10 was there was a time or 2 where it looked like something funny happened that wasn't scripted, and sympathy for James and his injury. Also May's gearbox rant. But on time spent for entertainment, this was the ONLY Top Gear I found myself wanting to watch something else instead. Several times. But pushed through thinking it would certainly get better. So 3/10.
 

LoadStar

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Not all that impressed with this special. Not horrible, but definitely one of the weakest specials they've done in a while.

As others have mentioned, the danger was much overblown, and in the process, they managed to make themselves and the BBC look like a bunch of asses. It was frankly rather embarrassing... I know if I were an Iraqi living in that region, in an area which has clearly managed to keep the peace, if I saw a bunch of westerners racing around town, cameras in tow, wearing flak jackets and helmets, I'd be a bit offended... it was a giant flashing neon sign saying "we don't trust you guys to keep things safe here." Yes, they took them off, but long after they should have.

There were several other parts of the episode that I particularly disliked:
- The ending was obvious, somewhat offensive, and not at all well done. The whole "light from above" bit was just the capstone bit of cheesiness.
- Disguising the cars was second worst. It felt like a bit they were obligated to do, so they put in the absolute least amount of effort possible.
- Everyone recognizing them in Syria, then supposedly having Top Gear running on the television in the cafe where they were. This bit was extremely staged.

Seeing James' accident was rather shocking to me, as I've never seen someone with a concussion or other brain injury first hand. It was eerie seeing him asking where they were, then not being able to come up with a response when he was asked if he knew where they were going. (I wonder how Hammond felt about this, keeping in mind that he too recovered from a traumatic brain injury. Granted, his was much, much worse, but I would still think that it had to be a bit disturbing.) Glad to see James bounce back so quickly.

I rather wish they would have spent more time inside Iraq.... or waited a little bit until they were able to do so. I would have liked to see more of the country, to help give a different perspective on a place that is mostly known for the war. I'd like to see them really showcasing more of the people who call that part of the world their homes, who just try and go about their daily work without thoughts of the armed conflict that admittedly still goes on in other parts of the country. Additionally, I've heard of the sheer number of vehicles pouring into the country, which would have been another interesting fact to highlight on what is at least partially still a car show.
 

warren

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- Everyone recognizing them in Syria, then supposedly having Top Gear running on the television in the cafe where they were. This bit was extremely staged.
Yeah, so what? Basically all of television is "staged" -- including 100% of the reality TV shows. Top Gear isn't a serious documentary series; it's light entertainment with a car theme.

And anyways, chances are pretty good that the whole "three wise men followed a star" thing is a fable, too.... all we've got are books (which could've been rewritten) and theories (which've gone through two thousand years of Chinese Whispers).
 

LoadStar

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Yeah, so what? Basically all of television is "staged" -- including 100% of the reality TV shows. Top Gear isn't a serious documentary series; it's light entertainment with a car theme.
Of course it's staged. The trick is making it feel like it isn't. They can and have done this in the past... they just didn't do a very good job of it this week.
 

mpicco

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Just done watching this, I'm sleepy, but I wanted to see it to the end cos, to me, it was very interesting to watch.
I've never been a fan of the middle east and it's one of the last places on earth I'd go if I made a list, but the guys made it interesting and enjoyable to watch, and that's why they deserve my 10.

But then I come here to read what other people thought about it, and obviously I wasn't expecting universal acclaim, but to read some of the shit (pardon the language) that some are writing about this episode, what the hell?

Disappointing and ... predictable. Easily the worst episode since Series 1.

Did anyone really think they were going to drive through Iran?
The worst episode ever since series 1?? Have you even seen series 1?! Hyperboles are useful sometimes but this is not the case, in this case they make you look like an ignorant, pedantic ass. And since other documentaries have been shot in Iran, yes, perhaps they could have. I wouldn't want to, honestly.
The boys babbling about "bonding" with the cars -- Bulls***. Unlike Africa, these were three excellent vehicles that were simply sacrificed for an attempt at a laugh. That's simply not funny. It's not entertaining. It's not ... good TV.
Yes, having the 3 of them using proper off-road 4x4s adapted to desert environments would have been a lot more entertaining, and a lot better in every way conceivable. [/sarcasm]

The cinematography did HD justice (a complaint I have had in the past with Series 14, especially) (...) so I gave it a 6.
Since when is making HD justice a complaint?! That's a compliment if anything. And no, I don't think you made a typo, you're just looking for things to complain about.

It was a great episode, but I did have a couple problems with it. The whole "crossing the desert" part. At first I thought they might actually be serious about it, but when they presented their modified cars I pretty much lost hope. I couldn't shake the feeling that throughout that entire portion of the show, if the camera turned around, you'd see a highway and support vehicles.
Yes. Obviously:


Lots of people complaining about, in the end, it was a baby Stig. What did you expect, the second coming of Christ?! From the moment they set off to get the Baby Jesus some gifts, you knew they were not really for Jesus, didn't you? At least when Jeremy got the Nintendo DS (which was unexpected and funny since it has absolutely nothing to do with myrrh), then you knew it was a joke?

- Everyone recognizing them in Syria, then supposedly having Top Gear running on the television in the cafe where they were. This bit was extremely staged.


Seeing James' accident was rather shocking to me,
Oh good, I thought you were gonna tell me James falling on his back and cracking his head open was scripted too...
I did cringe a lot when this happened because I have fallen in such a way, I have a 10 cm long scar on the back of my head to prove it, and when you hit the ground like that you feel just a current of coldness travel through your body and then every limb stops obeying you. It's genuinely scary and after a second of trying to move, you decide you rather not even. And that's the look on James' face right there. :|

Anyway, I hope TG keeps up this enthusiasm. I know the chaps are getting old and doing the same things gets tiring, even if they're awesome things, but I hope they can keep their spirits and carry on producing this great entertainment until there's no more countries in the world to visit. And then I'd want them in Mars racing against robotized rovers :D
 
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abczyx

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A pretty good special. Some great sights, such as the Iraqi theme park, the "disguises" and the hippodrome race, with all of the sand kicked up. Baby Stig, and of course the appearance of Jesus himself. All in all though, I preferred the last two specials, in Vietnam and South America, because the scenery was better and those two films portrayed the feeling of adventure more effectively. 8/10.

And I don't get the whole "danger" bit. Yes, there are support/camera vehicles, but there are for every film. I bet there weren't the same complaints about the Botswana special.
 

hughJ

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It felt like the weakest of the adventure-specials to me. Considering the modern stigma and epic history attached to the areas they were driving through, the phony silliness (like the desert drive and modified cars for some made up reason) kind of dissolved a lot of what could/should have been a more sobering and thoughtful travelogue of the journey. The Iraq segment made some nice commentary on the beauty of the area and lifestyle of the Iraqi's there. I just can't help but feel though that when the cameras were turned off and the boys were out and about visiting these cities as tourists/people (rather than performers), it would have been vastly more interesting and entertaining to watch.

Overall, for what was 1.25 hours of uninterrupted segment, it felt really thin. Every other special, after having watched it, I felt like I had been through a journey of sorts. After just skimming through the video again, I can see where a lot of time was eaten up. They spent 10 minutes before actually beginning. They blew off another 10 or so driving off-road for no reason (other than to have the necessary 'oh no i'm stuck' moment). The killer though for me was when they finally arrived in Israel, and the journey sort of ended abruptly within 5 minutes with a voice over recap, and then tacked on an oddly toned nativity scene.
 
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