I think most people who watch much television have those few escapist shows… ones that have absolutely nothing to do with reality but are addictive despite (or more likely because of) that fact. My best example for a long time was pretty much any show written by Aaron Sorkin. The West Wing and especially Sports Night were favorites of mine. The way I put it was that no one talks that way in real life, but it’s such fun to watch.
My latest escapist TV comes courtesy of BBC America. It’s a British car show called Top Gear. It stars three hosts who basically all play different aspects of the fool. They get to drive some of the most exotic cars on the face of the earth and then snark about them. Jeremy Clarkson, especially, is just notorious for chewing on the upholstery. Honestly, he comes across as a bit of an asshole, but when he’s not making fun of something I care about, he’s fun to watch and listen to.
Anyway, I’ve started quite looking forward to the show popping up on the TiVo each week. Part of the fun is that they drive not only really brilliant cars but also really insane cars. According to Clarkson on the show, VW got caught a bit flat-footed and ended up with only 8 weeks to build a concept car to show at “GTI Treffen” (the big annual Golf/GTI convention in Austria) last year. Just to give you a starting place… the GTI is VW’s sporty version of their bottom-end compact front-wheel drive hatchback, the Golf. Several key words there: “compact”, “front-wheel drive”, and “hatchback”. Well, they decided to go for full-out insanity last year. They stole a 12 cylinder dual-turbo 650 horsepower engine from the Bentley Continental GT, shoehorned it where the back seat normally is in a GTI and made it rear-wheel drive. Here’s a hint: the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (the really fast version) has an engine that makes 505 horsepower.
Needless to say, the car was a handful. Here’s what Jeremy said:
Listen to that! In the Bentley that engine is as quiet as a startled deer. Here, it’s like being chased by an imploding star… and about as scary.
Unfortunately, there is a small problem… This car will not go ’round corners.
So, Top Gear top tip: If you want a slow car that looks like a Golf… get a Golf.
Here are a few more choice Clarkson quotes from another episode:
Audis are mainly built for German cement salesmen.
It’s not powered by some V17 quad turbo that gets half a mile per gallon and runs on diced lions.
I am now doing 100 miles per hour, and it sounds like I’m in church… only I’ve got more headroom.
This is like smearing honey into Keira Knightley.
Referring to his co-host, who was driving a Porsche 911:
Ah, Richard Hammond appears to have joined us in his Volkswagen Beetle.