Developed By: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, Andy Wilman Starring: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, Mike Skinner
Certificate: 12 Running Time: 44-71 Minutes per Episode, 13 Episodes
I can't imagine there are too many TV shows that have been as divisive as Top Gear. To many, the show was infantile nonsense at best, and hosted by three ageing cretins who should know better. Controversy has never been far away from the immature antics of James May, Richard Hammond, and particularly Jeremy Clarkson, with some even throwing labels such as 'racist', 'homophobic', and 'sexist' in their direction. Conversely, however, the show also had a great many fans who adored the troublesome trio responsible for it, and I was one of them. I almost feel like I should apologise for that, what with the misdemeanours (alleged) of its stars. I don't actually like them that much outside the confines of the Top Gear format, and I don't even like some of the things they say/do on the show either, but I can't pretend I don't find them amusing much of the time.
I mean, getting to see (and hear) all the crazy supercars they test is pretty great in itself but it's the segments with all three together, the 'three mates, having a laugh' as they put it themselves, that most entertain. Things like the 'Cheap Car Challenge', for example, or their yearly 'specials' never failed to raise a laugh, and who could forget their attempts to build their own vehicles? Things like the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust, the P45, and the Hovervan are comedy gold. But then it all went wrong.
|In the tent, engaged in serious discussion as always...|
It sounded very much like the Top Gear series-finales where the guys would engage in what one might call a 'tour' across a particular country, with examples including Vietnam, Bolivia, Uganda, and of course the US. Would the new show really be a 'special' every week? I may have misunderstood but that's what it sounded like to me, so I was greatly looking forward to the new show which finally arrived last November and was enthusiastically received. Having recently watched the final episode of the season, however, I'm not so sure how I feel about it myself.
|First episode and we have a trio of mental hybrids...|
This, we're told, is usually their attempt to 'settle an argument' about which is best of a particular type of car. They'll show up somewhere, each in their chosen vehicle of that type, and put them through a 'series of tests' to determine the winner, which is rarely agreed upon. Lastly, splitting this section in two is 'Celebrity Braincrash' which sees celebrities get 'killed' in various ways en route to interviews with the three goons in their tent. Interviews which then fail to materialise, naturally.
|About to be dropped off for their stupid military games...|
I found this a bit surprising to say the least - it hardly seems worth a celeb's time and effort. I kept waiting for them to jump up, revealing that they are in fact alive and well, and getting on with the interview, but alas - the 'deaths' really were the end of the segment. Suffice to say, neither I, nor anyone else from what I've read, found it even slightly humorous. Then, while watching the second episode, something similar happened another celeb met his supposed grizzly end.
|Hammond's garden car closes in on Clarkson's carcass car...|
The best part of each episode is still the road trip with the three goons competing against each other, taking the piss or playing pranks, arguing about whose car is the best, and all the other tomfoolery we're so used to by now, whether their points of contention are hybrid supercars, sporty roadsters, or expensive SUV's, and their efforts to make environmentally friendly cars with May's mud car, Hammond's garden car, and Clarkson's meat/bone car, result in the sort of chaos we've seen numerous times before. We still get a two-part cross-country special too, which this time sees the guys attempting to travel the length of Namibia's coast in beach buggies.
|Jeremy attempts to get in the Vulcan which isn't so easy...|
What's the point of dragging their equipment and crew all over around the world just to film a few segments in front of a small audience in a tent? They might as well have just stayed in the UK and saved Amazon a butt-load of cash. Unless their arrogance has reached such levels that they just did it because they could. I guess it doesn't really matter too much though - despite spending much of this review moaning, I really did find The Grand Tour entertaining for the most part.
|Careening down Namibian dunes...|
It's pretty clear where that budget has gone too - there's a load of unnecessary destruction, travelling, and equipment used and it does make one cringe at times. There are many fantastic shots and sequences in every episode as well though, and beyond all the extravagance, it's still great fun to watch (Celebrity Braincrash and The American aside). The stars are clearly getting on a bit now but their interactions are still what make the show what it is, and the so-called 'banter' is as prevalent here as ever before, even if it does seem a bit fake and scripted now and then.
Hopefully the boys aren't too up themselves to listen to the reviews and feedback from fans, tweak the format for the next season, and return better than ever. Is it worth subscribing to Amazon Prime for though? Well, if you already liked them - yes. If you've never watched them - possibly - there's plenty of other content to cushion the blow if you don't like this show. And if you didn't like them before - definitely not. But you probably guessed that already.
RKS Score: 7/10