James May returns for a new action-packed series, as he continues his epic quest to re-skill the modern male. This programme sees James and the team reunite a teenage rock band, now middle-aged, and gets them to play their first concert in 20 years - in front of 5,000 unsuspecting festival goers. James also demonstrates his own axe skills as he fells a tree, makes toilet paper out of Richard Hammond's autobiography and learns how to tame his fears by going on a good old-fashioned ghost hunt in one of Britain's most haunted castles.
Includes a Christmas special. As seen on TV3.
The second series of the iconic and highly quirky BBC series dreamt up and hosted by James May, most famous for his "James May's Toy Story" series and his role as the third presenter on "Top Gear". In this series we are greeted with a very eclectic set of tasks and endeavours. I found the timing of this DVD set to be most auspicious thanks to the serendipity of reading Geek Dad in which a 'geek project' that really appealed was building a high-altitude balloon with a detachable and self-return camera pod for taking some stunning aerial video footage... and here we see James starting an interesting new venture dispersing the ashes of deceased beloved pets by sending them up into the stratosphere - or nearly into orbit as it turns out - for dispersal and having on-board cameras film the whole thing before returning to earth by parachute. Awesome! Skip the pet ashes, and it's a project I dream of doing one day for sure.
Another interesting project is the home-made pool table, with the only non-ManLab-made element being a pre-finished slate bed hewn out of the only still-working slate quarry in England, at Honister Pass. Though I personally found the design a bit shoddy and rough, that was a big part of it's manly appeal, according to James. Thus too with the idea of making one's own toilet paper - as a companion piece to Series 1's section on making a low-paper alarm for the toilet roll holder. I must admit, I have made paper in the past, but nothing as delicate and soft enough that I would EVER consider using it to wipe my nether-regions - 60-grade sandpaper would have been smoother than my best attempt... and from the looks of what James and crew made, that would be considerably smoother than his efforts despite such advanced technological advances as a heavy-duty press and a home-made perforater made from a modified pizza cutter.
Clocking in at an impressive 293 minutes (4.8 hours!) this series still somehow felt shorter in hindsight. Series one felt fully-packed with manly goodness and education, but this series felt quite weak in comparison. A very extensive segment on how to escape from Dartmoor Prison was less than useful, though in fairness I did learn 2 interesting things: How to use a proper orienteering compass, and how to read subtle tracks. Both of which will come in handy when I next take a Cub Scout pack out for a camping trip - which is due to happen as soon as we see some sun again.
Overall, the most interesting bits would have to have been 'how to make a coracle' and the Christmas Special, as I found that one episode to be almost as pack as the rest of the series combined - cutting down your tree using shaped charge explosives, Christmas Crackers that aren't lame, and how to make it snow inside. Would I say this is worth buying? Possibly - despite being somehow 'less' than Series 1, it still had some fun bits, some good highlights and a few intriguing bits that sparked off ideas of my own... but I would suggest you go into it with an open mind and no expectations of anything *amazingly* impressive. There's bound to be something new to learn in here, and it'll be a fun ride if you like James' somewhat droll and pessimistic, sometimes even derogatory, humour. Oh, and the MacGyveristic amongst us, the Swiss Army Bike could be a bit of a giggle - utterly impractical, but something W. Heath Robinson would have been proud of!
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