- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
- Subtitles: English
- Rating: Not Rated
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Discs: 2
- Blu-ray Release Date: February 15, 2011
- List Price: $29.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Top Gear: The Complete Season 15 arrives on Blu-ray simultaneously with Season 14 of the BBC’s popular automotive series. Finally, its hour-long episodes of cool cars, dangerous challenges and, most of all, lots of humour come home.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it reviews mostly the most expensive and lust worthy automobiles, like Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and, of course, Mercedes, BMW, and Audi, along with Lexus, Porche, Volkswagen and Aston Martin. The cars are given a rundown by the series’ three hosts and put to the test on Top Gear’s own test track by the iconic, anonymous driver known merely as The Stig.
The hosts are also usually given challenges in each episode. For instance, in Season 15, they are each challenged to purchase a used car they consider a classic touring sedan and to take their cars on a drive across Romania. Season 15 does not include the two hour-long challenge specials that included driving a specially modified Toyota pickup truck to the North Pole and driving used SUVs across South America through the rainforest, but each challenge in Season 15 is uniquely interesting in its own way. My favorite is when the hosts are challenged to build their own, better versions of a caravan/RV, and then go on a camping trip.
Of course, one is not to forget the series’ segment, “Put a Star in a Reasonably Priced Car,” in which celebrities are put in an economy car to race around the track and then they get their lap time put up on the board to compare to other celebrities’ times. Season 15 gets some pretty top Hollywood celebs like Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in special two-celebrity appearance, and Jeff Goldblum.
Top Gear: The Complete Season 15 arrives on Blu-ray encoded from its original HD source in AVC/MPEG-4 at 1080i/60. The overall image is is quite natural looking and clear, particularly the in-studio segments, which are clean with lots of detail and natural flesh tones. Other segments, including test track footage and challenges show some aliasing, video noise, and include some standard definition footage.
The soundtrack is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo at an extremely low bitrate, which doesn’t provide the greatest sound. High frequencies sound scratchy and stereo separation is a bit narrow. Otherwise, the dialogue is intelligible.
The Season 15 Blu-ray release steps up the quality of the supplements from Season 14 by providing everything in HD. The extended Celebrity Laps are back, as well as some additional brief featurettes and extended scenes from the season.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Celebrity Laps (1.78:1;1080i/60):
- Alastair Campbell
- Rubens Barrichello
- Rupert Grant
- Andy Garcia
- Jeff Goldblum
- James May – Bugatti Outtakes (1.78:1;1080i/60; 0:01.46)
- Bubble Car Outtakes (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:01.32)
- Bentley Continental Supersports – The Stig’s Lap (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:01.10)
- James Cooks Volcano Lunch (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:02.12)
- James Checks Tyre Pressure on Hilux (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:02.28)
- Presenters end of Series Chat (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:06.05)
- Porche 911 Sports Classic – The Stig’s Lap (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:01.27)
- Motor Homes – Bees Outtake (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:01.02)
- Motor Homes – British Beach Outtake (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:03.35)
The Definitive Word
The jovial nature of the hosts, the coolness factor of the automobiles they test drive, and the addition of celebrities chancing it around the Top Gear test track make the series fun to watch and interesting from the first episode to the last.
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