A mix of fast jump cut editing taken from slick camera work can hide a multitude of sins, but last season it couldn’t detract your senses from that horrible Chris Evans incessant yell that triggered the nerves like a loud tourist in an art gallery who thinks his kid could paint better than that.
Thankfully common sense has taken over and that voice of an angel being strangled is gone. Evans got the boot and the hosts have been stripped down to the people that made the show watchable over the last season. Someone somewhere realised that more isn’t necessarily better and this fresh episode was all the better for it.
On a side note, I will be sorry if we don’t see Sabine Schmitz again on Top Gear. We’ve seen how capable and funny she is on old new Top Gear, and throwing her into the blender last season didn’t do her any justice at all.
Of course there will be the detractors crying that it’s not the same as when the other trio were presenting. And they are right – because it can’t be the same. That would be impossible, and I still don’t get all the fuss that was made. Now we have two high end motoring shows! And that’s a relief because I’m here in the U.S and all the shows made here are junk, unless you count Wheeler Dealers, the fact I haven’t seen /DRIVE yet and that American Top Gear has been put on ice despite starting to get really good.
Back to S24E01 of Top Gear though. The opening segment of the Ferrari was definitely a statement. I’m not very excited about unobtainable cars, so an unobtainable car to multi-multi millionaires isn’t likely to interest me at all. However Chris Harris getting hold of it by the scruff of its neck and knowing what he’s doing was captivating when helped along by the cinematography – which they played with very well by changing in and out of cinema mode to change the feeling and tension of the action.
The Ferrari Alphabet Soup during one of the swaps to a cinematic aspect ratio.
The guest didn’t work that well and was clearly stilted by the hosts not having experience of interviewing people. Having three people and one guest made that fact really stand out and I suspect that will change at some point. What it really did is show how good Jeremy Clarkson is at relaxing people and getting something out of them. He gets a raw deal being seen as oafish and belligerent, but you could tell in old new Top Gear the guests genuinely enjoyed talking to him and he could get the best out of them. Matt LeBlanc might be the best candidate for some coaching there as he has the celebrity juice and comfort in his own skin to maybe pull it off.
The main thread of the show, travelling three high mileage cars through Kazakhstan, was already better than anything from last season. I should imagine professional TV reviewers are describing it as feeling forced and lacking the sparks and chemistry of the previous team. But let’s not forget something important – season 1, 2 and 3 of Top Gear were not good. James May didn’t join until season 2, the Stig was dressed in black and it felt a lot like original Top Gear with forced fun. It was season three when we saw the inklings of the chemistry to come but it wasn’t until season four and mainly five that it became a great show.
The bottom line is that you can’t just drop three people together and get magic. It just doesn’t work that way, and unfortunately we wont know for at least another season or two if it will come.
Right now though, we have a decent show about cars that we know the BBC aren’t going to just axe without giving it a chance to morph into something exceptional, and that should be celebrated because the alternative is the sloppy reality crap American TV companies are shovelling out that for some reason get the ratings to go season after season.
Honestly, if you saw Top gear and are down on it, I recommend you watch an episode of Fast And Loud, Graveyard Carz, Misfit garage, Counting Cars or the excruciating Restoration Garage before the next episode.
After being spoiled for so long that will definitely give you some real perspective.