The start was a classic dig by Clarkson, not to say goodbye, but to say good riddance to the dark, cloudy, dank establishment known as the BBC. In this same opening segment the trio of Clarkson, May and Hammond were able to lift their middle fingers to the BBC and be welcomed to the United States in a glorious, expensive, no money spared salute starting with iconic cars, a mob of Mad Max inspired machinery, classic cars, off-roaders, hot rods - oh pretty much basically something of everything.
From there it had a familiar feel to the old Top Gear but with a few extras added in for good measure. The lively crowd had gathered in the desert in front of a giant stage complete with a live band, and being American, with the expected flyover of fighter jets. It was quite the welcome.
In regards to the show format it is the Top Gear of old, with stunts, reviews and adventures – but the difference is the hosts are looking a lot older, Clarkson and May are a whole lot fatter, and the filming is another step above. I really mean that, the camera shots and editing is insane.
In the last few seasons of the previous entity the filming had certainly lifted a few notches and the BBC had certainly thrown some coin at it – but it is nothing compared to what the production team are doing for these three gents now. The unsung heroes behind the cameras and editing desks should be paid astronomical amounts. They warrant it.
That is expected though, given the mammoth investment put in by Amazon, and they probably deserve to have the budget thrown at them after so many years building up not just a local, but a worldwide audience. However the gags are the same, albeit still somewhat entertaining, and to be fair it’s a fine line to make gags work or appear badly staged, so going off history it will be a mix of both from this lot as the episodes roll on.
They also still remember how to work a crowd, even if television audiences have to deal with the routines of applauding and cheering on cue, but no matter where they film across the globe it will be the same, they will be loved and appreciated.
In regards to the script – it’s almost an open slather. As an online based show they can get away with much more than they ever could with the BBC, and yet while being more human and real with their comments and descriptions of things they’ve been able to keep it family friendly. Nice touch that.
So we’re up for three years of the Grand Tour. Three years of gags, stupid tests, banter and car comparisons. There will be celebrity guests thrown in for good measure, and of course they have a new track and a new tame race car driver who spent many years racing Nascar. He’s mostly retired from driving now and is a TV host and celebrity for many Southern Americans. Who knows how well he will fit over time. Probably simple comedy relief.
In the end it’s a lot of the same old with more money thrown at it. That’s not a bad thing. It works, it really does. But it could’ve done with something new, everything on the show has been seen before.
In the end you might actually find more pleasure in watching videos from their other online presence DriveTribe, but true hard-core fans of Top Gear will be pleased with the Grand Tour offerings.
Oh and one more little thing, with the millions being thrown at the guy, you’d think Clarkson would visit a dentist.