I’ve always liked Jeremy Clarkson. I like his take on life and I’m surprised he’s never been on the TV series Grumpy Old Men. My other-half says I’m getting grumpier and compares me to Karl Pilkington the star of Sky’s, ‘An Idiot Abroad’. Grumpy is good. At least in our male grumpiness we speak the truth, something which Jeremy does very well, albeit upsetting more than a few people along the way.
The older we get the grumpier we seem to become but conversely we also seem to mellow, I think. I doubt our wives and partners across the country agree, though. But this isn’t about what women think.
This is a male thing and there’s nothing like sitting down and watching a Jeremy Clarkson DVD. His car-battle, car-crashing all-out male testosterone filled-hour used to be great fun. But over the last few years they’ve all followed the same, formulaic and somewhat safe format. Although I agree with smashing a Perodua Kelisa to bits with a sledgehammer, this dropping a car from a crane or setting fire to a Fiat business, is getting just, well, plain boring. With his success with the re-launched Top Gear – partly down to his long-time friend and producer, Andy Willman – JC has been allowed to just about get away with anything he does, and that includes the downfall of his seasonal DVD’s.
They used to be something I looked forward to getting for Christmas; a day spent on your own when the other half and the kids go off to the in-laws and you get a few hours of peace and quiet, sitting on the sofa eating a box of Maltesers at ten in the morning watching a middle-aged man taking a car by the scruff of its neck and doing things we mortals can only do on our XBox’s and Playstations.
Deep down we all want to be Jeremy Clarkson even if he has no dress sense at all. Actually, come to think of it most of us don’t have any dress sense, me included. It was only the other day that I looked in the mirror and finally decided that I don’t do t-shirts anymore. I’ve hit 35 and I’m switching to wearing short sleeve shirts after finally agreeing they look better with a pair of jeans, shirt and jacket. Sound familiar?
Anyway I can only put this down to maturing. Even though we all probably detest our jobs, moan about the rise in fuel costs, road tax, and the M4 bus lane, we would, given the opportunity, jack it all in just to spend just three weeks filming a car DVD with plenty of tyre smoking drifts and the picking of holes in cars we actually can’t afford. Thing is, when you do it once and have great success, you tend to keep repeating the same old format. As for us car fans, and I think I can speak for us blokes, this has worn off.
People power is a growing phenomenon and the internet is a great platform to get things changed. Trouble is, JC’s DVD’s haven’t. I suppose when you get over a million pounds in book and DVD sales alone in one year, why bother? In his defence I suppose he’s now targeting a new audience. With kids as young as ten watching Top Gear, Clarkson’s DVD’s have to appeal to those under fifteen, which brings me nicely onto his latest release. Number eighteen to be precise; “The Italian Job”.
To be fair there’s always been a theme running through the entire series but ten minutes in and it’s back to the old format. OK, there’s different cars this time around, more exotic locations (Imola and Fiorano) thanks mainly to the production company, 2 Entertain, which is owned by the BBC, but it still has a very familiar feel to it. Production wise it’s slick; great camera shots, swooping helicopter angles and sharp slow motion – remind you of Top Gear?
Having sat through it however, I’m not entirely sure on the premise. It’s partly about Jeremy’s aim to take part in a classic touring car race and as he tries to lose some weight in the process there’s a great scene of him in a gym tackling some of the ridiculous training machines and weights, like watching your unfit dad taking on the marathon.
Thanks to the BBC’s budget, they manage to wangle three days filming at Imola where Clarkson brings along a Porsche 911 GT3 and GT3 RS plus an Ariel Atom V8 and a Mercedes SLS AMG, and yes, he manages to give them all a serious work out but not the over powering, tyre smoking silliness we’ve all become used to. Not very Italian, but then we see the Pagani Zonda F and Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera and whilst over at Fiorano, yes Ferrari’s very own test track, he puts the new 458 Italia against the 599 GTO, two very different cars but from the same bloodline. A great opportunity to see these two get absolutely hammered in the process. Something I doubt we’ll ever see the likes of again.
Half an hour in and I’m still struggling to get the point. Yes it’s great to see the Stig make a brief appearance or “the recently sacked Stig” as he’s referred to, and also see a short piece inside the Ferrari factory and he does actually make it to the classic touring car race, but I feel as if I’ve somehow been left short changed. Entertaining? Yes. Worth it? It’s OK.
If you’re still one of those who enjoy Jeremy blowing things up, there is a top five run down of the best destructions on the bonus disc and, I have to say, “the making of” the Italian Job was actually more entertaining than the feature presentation.
Although, like all his DVD’s Clarkson is just being a grown up kid doing things that he’s always wanted to fulfil in life and we shouldn’t read too much into the title, the Italian Job really isn’t very Italian especially as he gives his vote to the best car around to something that isn’t very ‘Bellissimo’.
I guess the Italian Job concept is a bit like me; getting older, changing my fashion sense and maturing, but it’s still me in the mirror; Overweight and middle aged, even though I still think I can eye up a girl and get her number.
I admit. I moan and nothing really floats my boat anymore. Certain things obviously have to impress me to get me to rave about them yet the Italian Job just misses out. Maybe I’ve become blasé and immune to the concept having been such an avid viewer for so long and I suppose, deep down, I just want to be like Jeremy Clarkson.
I do, however, have a Top Gear top tip: During the scenes at Fiorano we get to meet racing driver, Niki Faulkner, who races the 458 Italia against Jeremy in a 599 GTO. Niki is a driver who has competed in the Formula Palmer Audi series, Formula Renault and International GT’s with a few podiums in his career. Trouble is he’s looking for his next big gig and this DVD has just done that for him. In fact my bet is that just like the unknown Ben Collins a few years ago, I’ve got my money on him being the next Stig.
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Win a copy of Clarkson The Italian Job!
We’ve got two copies of Jeremy Clarkson’s new dvd “The Italian Job” to give away. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo of your car, tell us what car you’d like to replace it with and why and we’ll publish the top 10 entries on the site and the top two will each receive the DVD in time for Christmas!
RELEASE DATE: 15th November 2010
CAT NO: 2EDVD0545
DURATION: 81 mins approx
EXTRAS: Exclusive Behind the Scenes Tell-all Video Diary and the Top 5 Destructions voted by fans.