So after what felt like years, we finally got to see the new hyped-up show with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. The first episode was finally released last week and our overall opinion of the show was very high. It was as good as expected in some places and even better in others. However, there were a few things that I didn’t exactly care for as well.
It was well known that it would be released on November 18th, but what most people here in the U.S. failed to realize was that it was Midnight of 18th in the United Kingdom. That meant that it was available to stream on Amazon Prime as of 5pm on the 17th here in the mountain time zone. We assume that’s how all the episodes will be released so it’s a good thing to know for future reference.
As a major fan of everything Top Gear almost my entire life, I very well could be biased about these three presenters and would’ve pretty much liked anything they were going to do. Which to some degree maybe that’s true. But at the same time the reason why I am such a fan of Clarkson, Hammond, and May (let’s call them “the trio”), is because they are genuine car guys that also happen to be entertaining as hell. Once you learn each of their personalities to the point where you can pick up on the countless subtle bits of humor scattered throughout the show it’s even better.
(SPOILER ALERT BELOW)
Within the first 4 minutes of the show, I knew I was in for a treat and was immediately hooked. I’m not familiar with the Rocket Mustang that Jezza was driving and I wish they had explained it a little bit more, but it was a damn good looking pony car, that’s for sure. The “Burning Van” bit was absolutely brilliant if you ask me. I know with certainty that a great majority of the “art cars” seen in that segment were actually at the 2016 Burning Man festival this year so it was interesting to see them on hthe show. It actually had me wondering if they managed to film that during Burning Man and somehow kept it a secret this entire time.
I thought it was brilliant when they got on stage and were introducing each other for the first time, the way they listed off all the places Hammond and May had been fired throughout their lives, but when it came To Jeremy “he’s never been fired”! The trio did what they do best, they handled it head-on with humor. How they handled the controversial topics was something I was really looking forward to as a diehard fan. For example, things like the track and the “racing driver”.
Speaking of which, the track which Jeremy deemed “Eboladrome” due to it looking like the Ebola virus will probably grow on us, but I’ll be honest I was slightly underwhelmed. It will provide some excellent footage though that’s for sure, especially the “your name here” corner. Although is that really going to be a proper track to determine genuine results as far as track times? I mean the old track at Dunsfold Park was viewed almost in the same regard as the Nurburgring when it came to setting lap records and times. It was a big deal if your car was at the top of that board. So it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
While we’re talking about the track we should definitely talk about “the American”. First of all, I thought the way they handled the whole “racing driver” scandal was perfect. The BBC has and still does threatened all sorts of lawsuits regarding many aspects of the show, especially things like The Stig, and the “star in a reasonably priced car.” So the trio went about it using words that the BBC couldn’t say a thing about, hence “racing driver” and especially “the American”. If you take that into consideration “the American” makes a lot more sense where otherwise it would just seem like a terrible name, especially when its predecessor had such a badass name like The Stig. I can’t quite tell if he’s going to be a permanent part of the show or if he was just on this one episode. I’m not a huge fan of Mike Skinner, the NASCAR driver that plays the American, but I gotta admit I still chuckle about his “couldn’t pull a greasy string out of a dogs ass” comment in reference to the M2, in other words the slowest M car.
Lastly I wanted to talk about the cars. That’s one thing that absolutely exceeded my expectations. I believe I called it over a year ago that the first episode would feature the shootout of the Holy Trinity Cars and they certainly did not disappoint. Although I did think they were a little skimpy with the car shots, especially in the first segment. What was there was fantastic, but we wanted more. Being a huge fan of the P1 I also gotta say I was quite disappointed with the results of the shootout. I expected much more. But that’s beside the point.
The one part of the show I really didn’t care for was the celebrity segment. Maybe I just didn’t understand where they were trying to go with it. I couldn’t tell if they were poking fun at the fact that the BBC wouldn’t allow them to use the celebrity car segment and so it was symbolic in the sense that when they tried bringing in the stars they were killed off. Either way, I’m gonna say that segment didn’t do so well for me. The fight scene with the American audience was also a little bit weird, but then again that wasn’t all bad.
To wrap things up, The Grand Tour was fantastic, it really was. I think it absolutely has the potential of being the best car show ever made. I genuinely feel that once the trio gets their mojo going again, and they get into their groove, it’s going to be spectacular. It might need some work on a few things here and there, but name one first episode of any show that was perfect right out of the gate. One other thing I’d like to add is that I really regret looking at all the clips and previews along the way because I feel I knew what was going to happen before it happened. So I won’t be doing that again.