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This is comfort TV at its best. It consists of thirty minutes episodes where James May reassembles at each time a different mechanical item, explaining what he's doing and musing about disparate topics related to the object.
It may seem a boring premise: it's not. It's funny, elegant and captivating. The threadbare setup makes the charisma of the host shine through. It's oddly cosy as well, like sitting near the fireplace with a glass of whisky in the company of an extraordinary raconteur.
The format is rigorous: even when it skids into meta territory, with the cameramen/women interacting with the host and the filming devices left visible, it's always functional to the narrative, it never looks as it were trying hard to seem clever.
The only minor gripe is that at time the editing looks too severe: one can only suspect that too many interesting bits remained on the cutting floor in order to fit several hours of footage into thirty minutes. It would be fabulous to have an extended version of one hour, or even the whole raw footage in pure slow TV style.
Even with this caveat, it remains a brilliant program, with a host who can make great TV out of almost nothing. The possibilities seem endless (threadbare cookery show anyone?) -- hope it won't remain an isolated work.
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