A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this one-of-a-kind British car show -- which will entertain auto enthusiasts with its hilarious blend of fact and comedy -- is pretty clean overall. "Damn" is about as strong as the language gets, and while there's no outright sexual or drinking content, one host talks about his former cigarette habit, and the guys' habit of drawing comparisons between cars' appearance and sexual/body part terms (comparing a small pink car to a scrotum, for example) is sure to make older tweens giggle. The hosts put cars through an array of stunts, some of which result in (injury-free) crashes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This Emmy-winning British series is hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, who are all up to speed on the latest and (supposedly) greatest models in the automotive world. From the Swedish speedster Koenigsegg to the more modest Chevrolet compact, the trio puts an array of autos to their unique brand of road tests to gauge whether the cars stand up to the manufacturers' claims. Besides evaluating standard features like top speed and shapely design, they also rate the "coolness" factor of attributes like flashy dashboard buttons, cushy seats, and noise reduction. The guys then turn their full attention to staging car stunts, goofing around with celebrity guests, and working up their own homemade "improvements" to existing auto designs.
Is it any good?
The sky's the limit for the three hosts, who put an entertaining spin on the standard auto show with their creative approach and top it off with enough wit and comedy to ensure that the entire package is entertaining for car amateurs and enthusiasts alike. In recent episodes, they've welded their way to the world's first convertible minivan, played soccer behind the wheel, and had stars like Ewan McGregor, Gordon Ramsay, and Ray Winstone add their names to a prestigious list of celebrity speedsters willing to have a go at the TOP GEAR time-trial challenge.
Top Gear's greatest selling point is its ability to entertain both car experts and novices. Even viewers who don't know a taillight from a gas cap will enjoy the hosts' wit and wisdom -- and the crazy lengths they go to to test their subjects' limits. Just be sure to brush up on your math skills before tuning in so you can convert kilometers to miles and pounds to dollars (if you're interested in the cars' specs, that is). Translation skills are also helpful in case you find yourself measuring your foot in confusion when they discuss "boot" space (that's the trunk for us Yanks).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether shows like this are educational. Does this show teach viewers anything? What, and how? Do you find the information credible? Does the series' fun nature in any way detract from how seriously you take what the hosts say? Families can also discuss road safety and responsible-driving guidelines, as well as the popularity of cars in our society. What do cars say about our lifestyle and financial status? Why do we value car ownership so much? What freedoms do cars give us? Tweens: What types of cars do you like? Why?
Themes & Topics
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