As usual I’m late to the party, I put this down on my to do list to review episode 1. Yet here I am, only just getting round to it. Meanwhile episode 3 is out in a day or so! Bloody Football Manager being so addictive…
Never the less, I’m here to review Amazon Prime’s new original series starring those old blokes from that BBC show you’ve never heard of. Top Gear, or something like that. It’s called The Grand Tour. I’m actually glad, in a way, that I was too lazy to review it when I first intended because my opinions have shifted between episodes.
Let me start by saying it’s great to have these three back together. Their chemistry together is fantastic and they were very much missed on the latest series of Top Gear. The problem the BBC had with keeping Top Gear going after letting Clarkson, Hammond and May leave was that they didn’t try to reinvent it in any way, shape or form. It felt like wanna be’s playing pretend. They should have scraped The Stig, scraped the Reliant Robins and forged their own future. But they didn’t and with Chris Evans being awful throughout it almost killed the show. Which has left an even bigger gap for The Grand Tour and Amazon Prime to swoop back in and fill.
I said before The Grand Tour started was all I really wanted was the old Top Gear, with a bigger budget. However, this honestly feels like Clarkson, Hammond and May pretending to be on Top Gear. It’s lost something. Top Gear had a legacy and you don’t create those overnight for new shows, but right now it feels like it has no heart. It’s just flashy, badly scripted, sometimes funny (admittedly) mess.
Which brings me onto my biggest complaint. We all knew Top Gear was scripted in one way or another but it feels like for The Grand Tour ever single joke, smile, wink, whatever has been carefully scripted. It’s been overly produced to death. It actually reminds me of the WWE*. Years ago, they used to send guys out with a live microphone and a list of story telling beats they needed to get through. Other than that they had complete freedom. These days, everyone is scripted down to the last word and it’s ruining it. This is exactly what’s happened to this show.
The problem isn’t really that its scripted, it’s that it poorly executed. For whatever reason in episode 2 they spent half the show pretending they were in the film Edge of Tomorrow. In which, if Tom Cruise dies he wakes up at the start again. Problem is Clarkson, Hammond and May aren’t actors so it just came across as three people trying to be funny. Surely the idea is to put the three into potentially interesting or funny scenarios and then film the results? That way it’s spontaneous and real. After all, the best Top Gear episodes where always the big ‘specials’. The main one that always comes to mind being the Botswana Special in which the three drive across Africa, seeing incredible things and it’s simply amazing.
Don’t get me wrong some segments, normally the actual car pieces, are still really good and they look fantastic but at other times the team are trying too hard and it just falls flat.
With that all said, it’s still better than Top Gear with Chris Evans.
*Only I can turn a review about a car show into a rant about wrestling.