So the time is finally here. After what seemed like years of hype for the new version of every gearhead’s favorite TV program, Top Gear, aired just a few days ago. If you live in America you had to wait until Monday night but the rest of the world watched it on Sunday. Lets be honest, we all knew that there was no way that Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc and crew would be able to match what Clarkson, Hammond, and May did. But we all sort of hoped that it would at least be good, just in a different way because that would be another badass car show to watch. As a principal thing, I’d like to mention spoiler alert if you haven’t yet watched the new episode.
First, lets go ahead and point out the good. The Extra Gear at the end was by far the best part of the show, Rory Reid and Chris Harris were actually entertaining to watch, and I’ll be honest, there has always been something about Sabine Schmitz that has done it for me. Maybe it’s because she is such an amazing driver, who knows. It’s good to know that between her and Harris there is actually someone presenting that actually knows how to drive. The cinematography seems to have been stepped up a notch with the films, granted it could just be improved technology but it also could be signs of the increased budget per episode. Lastly of course would be the cars, that Ariel Nomad is worth tuning in to watch by itself. Unfortunately that’s about all I have to say on the positive side.
As soon as the show started and Evans ran around the studio like a lunatic literally screaming at the top of his lungs, I knew we were in trouble. It was so obvious that Evans was doing his best to be “the Jezza” and if I might add, he did a piss poor job of it too. The in studio segments were the worst, it was almost unbearable to watch Evans as he seemed to force every word out of his mouth. I’m not British, in case that wasn’t obvious, but I’ve always loved British humor so don’t think this is “Merica” hating on the Brits or anything. Matt LeBlanc was better, but not by much. He seemed to go the polar opposite route of being so nonchalant about it the whole thing so it seemed to clash with the obnoxious Evans. Now, it’s possible that it was planned that way as sort of an “odd couple” type thing, but again, the in studio segments were painful to watch. Seems like there might have been some truth to the rumors about audience members actually walking out during the filming.
The next thing that absolutely drove me crazy was the “star in the reasonably priced car” segment. I figured they would most likely bring back this segment back which is understandable, but what in the hell was going on when Gordon Ramsey and Jesse Eisenberg first sat on the couch! So both stars sit down and then Evans asks Eisennberg if he could explain what Ramsey was up to in his life, so Eisenberg looked forward and read a teleprompter and spouted off a few things about Ramsey’s schedule. Then Evans asked Ramsey to do the same thing and it must have been added in last minute because both stars looked like deer in the headlights. This looked as awkward as it sounded. It reminded me of sitting in 8th grade watching student news. I felt bad for Eisenberg because so clearly was not in his element. Which reminds me, why did they have two stars on at the same time that have absolutely no connection to each other anyways? Usually if there are two stars it’s because they’re in a movie together or something along those lines, think Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz on the previous show. There were Rumors that Brad Pitt was scheduled but he backed out at the last minute, might have been a good call Brad. Then it came to the lap and poor Eisenberg was even more out of his element behind the wheel.
I’m still on the fence when it comes to the drastic changes to the Top Gear track. Turning it into the Rallycross style definitely was unexpected. When Evans pulled the cover off the Mini I was like, OK that makes sense, finally a good little car for these stars to drive. My first thought was why in the hell would they change that, but at the same time I love Rallycross and driving on gravel dirt roads might be one of the more fun things in life so it’s hard for me to hate on that.
The films shot outside of studio were somewhat bittersweet in my opinion. Some of the time I found myself almost enjoying it and others I couldn’t wait for it to end. I will say that Evans is slightly more tolerable out of the studio. The first film with the Viper ACR and the Corvette Z06 was interesting to say the least. I find it very hard to believe that Evans behind the wheel is that much better than a Z06 with the “Queen of the Ring” at the helm, even if she did refer to the 650hp beast of a Vette as “a piece of shit.” Then there was the Reliant Robin main film that was by far the worst. The Reliant Robin was an interesting choice, but that’s where it ended. What is the point of having six presenters if you aren’t going to use them all? It would have been better to have a main film using all the presenters to give the world a chance to see the unit work as a whole. And how could they possibly think they would top the segment Clarkson did with the Reliant Robin? Could they not come up with anything original?
Maybe I’m slightly biased because I’ve grown up my entire life with Top Gear as my favorite show and would spend countless hours searching the web for TG episodes. I have never laughed so hard while also being so fascinated by vehicles. I really want this new version to be good, I really do. There is no doubt that the Grand Tour will be much better, but why not have another car show on TV right? Now maybe it will just take some time, I’ll admit when the American version of TG came on I really wasn’t much of a fan either. I have a ton of respect for Tanner Foust but other than that I didn’t care much for it. But even that show now seems to be better than it first was. Who knows, only time will tell I guess. I can’t wait till fall when the Grand Tour comes.