This Series 14 special stands as one of my all time favorite road trips that the boys have done on Top Gear. It had everything you would want in a special; humorous situations that the boys have to deal with, danger, terror, and scaring James May to the point on crapping his pants.
I knew we were in for a treat when the episode kicked off with Richard claiming that they couldn’t possibly be on the Equator because they would see a big dotted line. If you’re going to use a joke from Tom Sawyer, then you’ve got my attention.
The episode moved into full comedy (and ingenuity) mode when the boys’ cars (Land Cruiser, Range Rover, Suzuki) were delivered and they had to figure out how to get them off the barge and onto the riverbank. All jokes aside, I truly enjoy watching the boys figure out difficult situations like this. Whether they’re being serious or not, it’s interesting to see what ideas the boys come up with.
The star of the episode, however, was not one of the boys or one of their cars. It was the infamous Bolivia Death Road, which, as someone who is terrified of heights like James, was nerve-wracking to watch.
The thing about these sort of episodes is the viewer knows for insurance purposes, there’s only so much danger the boys can actually be in, and that a lot of what we see is mostly dramatic effect; but this Death Road segment was just pants-wetting terrifying. They were hanging off the edge of the cliff and there’s no other way to put it than the boys were flirting with a horrible death.
Just the Death Road segment would have been worth it if it was the only near death situation encountered on the episode, but the Bolivia Special upped the ante by making the boys the boys scale a volcano so high in altitude, that they would run out of oxygen. How the boys even agreed to do that is beyond me, but we the viewers benefitted from it.
Every season on the old Top Gear, we got to see the boys travel the world to some exotic locations, and most of them involved some sort of danger or discomfort along the way. But this Bolivia Special will always stand out as the one episode where I actually feared for the boys’ lives (other than the American South road trip).