Thursday, 25 March 2010

Reviews You Can Trust

I love Top Gear. I don't always agree with it, but I love it. And a while ago I figured out why: Top Gear is just Blue Peter for 'grown up' men. It has a similar number of presenters, exciting events, a totaliser (well, a board that says how fast people go around a track... but it has the same sort of feeling), a dog (whatever happened to Top Gear Dog? Well, they've got the Stig, which is much the same thing... or is he their Percy Thrower?), celebrity interviews and occasionally they show you how to make things. All its missing is badges that get you into places for free.

But Top Gear does something else... and what it does is an idea I have actually pitched in the past (it was passed on at the time, but I think it has value)

When Top Gear reviews things, it reviews them from particular perspectives. We all know what the interests of Clarkson, Hammond and May are. We all know what they are meant to think about things. When they review a car, we don't get told what the car is like: we get told how three personalities - three caricatures of their actual personalities think about things.

And this is good - because it helps up - the viewer - make up our mind.

When I read Roger Ebert's film reviews, I get a good idea of how the film is - what makes it good or bad. Everything is factual - or presented as factual. These reviews are superb - they are the best in the business - but what Top Gear gives is different, its what you get down the pub: opinions.

And when you get opinions from your friends in the pub, you filter them through knowing what your friends like and dislike.

This is a model which could be applied to anything which needs reviewing: why stop at cars. Why not review films from the perspective of a person interested in cinematography, another who likes complicated plots, and details characters and a third who likes special effects and action.

Or technology from the perspectives of a Mac, a PC and a Linux user.

Reviews are one thing. The big idea here is that opinions from particular points of view are more entertaining.

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