9 Feb, 2017

The Grand Tour Season 1 Overview: The Good, the Bad and the Future, plus the New Top Gear Season 24 trailer is cool but similar

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Ok, I waited for a good three and a half months before writing this and to be very honest, it was worth the wait. I wasn’t just a fan of the old Top Gear, I was a die-hard fan. Living in India and being a BBC Top Gear Fan isn’t an easy task as the channels weren’t available to air earlier and the internet, well, we are still trying to figure out the difference between the 3G and 4G speeds. (They seem same to me). Anyways, people born in the 80s have the privilege of watching and remembering quite a few classic television shows and for most of the men, Top Gear was home.

Well, who am I kidding, I had nothing to do with who offered Top Gear and what format it ran on or how popular it was, I was in love with the Top Gear trio, the three presenters. Yup! Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May who like to call themselves motoring journalists had to offer something new that nobody on television or on the internet had and that was genuine passion mixed with silly banter, idiosyncrasies and humour, all genuine humour that hooked the audiences globally and forced us to watch them do silly stuff with the cars.

We all know Jeremy Clarkson had a somewhat different view when it came to sarcasm and wit which wasn’t appreciated by all. I mean every season the show had to apologize for something or the other, whether it was a joke or a number plate, the show went on to entertain us all until that punch fiasco Jeremy had with one of the Top Gear producers over cold food. He was fired from the show and his fellow hosts, Richard and James decided to leave with him. I guess this was the best thing that happened to them, they joined hands with Amazon to create an Amazon Original Web Only series that we all know now as The Grand Tour (more on The Grand Tour below). However, for BBC, the Top Gear brand was obviously valuable enough to be boosted with new talent. The first season of Top Gear without Jeremy, Hammond and May wasn’t well received, but BBC noted that and is back, which we’ll talk about later.

The Grand Tour’s opening episode, The Holy Trinity was nostalgic, it brought tears to lots of eyes across the globe. seeing the trio driving Mustangs, arriving in California was emotional. I am not going to talk about the whole episode, but here’s the opening sequence. The Irish band Hothouse Flowers performed I can see clearly now at the opening sequence and it was magical.

Anyhow, The Grand Tour is a huge hit not only not for Amazon, but it was a great confidence booster for the trio. Amazon has contracted The Grand Tour to make 36 episodes in 3 years. The first season just concluded with its 13th and last episode and the show itself became one of the most anticipated web show of our times and it also became Amazon Video’s most watched series too. Amazon had its Prime membership being accepted at a faster rate just for this series than anything else. Available under Amazon Prime for just ₹499/year in India, it really is a bargain. You also get to watch a whole lot of other Amazon Exclusive content for that and enjoy the benefits of Prime membership if you are into shopping.

Talking about the format, The Grand Tour had to be very careful with what they offer in the show as they’d want to keep themselves out of the lawsuits. The basic concept was simple, three old men whom we all have loved over the years test drive the vehicles at exotic locations while carrying their studio (a large tent) to various locations. The first season had Los Angeles, Johannesburg, Whitby, Rotterdam, Lapland, Namibia, Ludwigsburg, Nashville, Loch Ness and Dubai as the studio segment. It was like the old Top Gear Specials with The Grand Tour every Friday.  The show had a test track called the “Eboladrome” (thanks to its shape that resembles the structure of the Ebola Virus) which features sections like the ‘isn’t straight’, ‘your name here’, ‘old lady’s house’, ‘substation’ and the ‘field of sheep’. A new test track meant having a new test driver and while we would have loved to see The Stig, The Grand Tour had NASCAR driver Mike Skinner who was given the name, “The American”. The Aston Martin Vulcan from episode 2 has the fastest lap time of 1:15.5 at the Eboladrome.

The Conversation Street is the new version of the news where the three presenters overshare their opinions about cars and what not. In the Celebrity Brain Crash, celebrities are killed (not actually) humorously in an accident while they try making their way to the studio tent. Now, while we might have loved James May asking, “Does that mean they’re not coming on then?” this segment of the show was far too much stretched. I mean yes, there are implications, but it wasn’t funny after a few episodes.

Things We Would Love To See In The Grand Tour Season Two

Amazon has what the BBC doesn’t and that’s the fun, wit, sarcasm and passion of Jeremy, Hammond and May and I guess those three are the reason why people enjoyed the new show. There’s feeling while watching those three that there’s something funny coming your way any moment, but now that the game is going to be tough, Jeremy Clarkson has to think about new segments. The cars were great, but that’s the funny thing about the internet, you can get an opinion, watch a review of any car here, you don’t have to wait for The Grand Tour’s version. The problem is that I don’t want to watch The Grand Tour thinking about how good the Top Gear was and it would be foolish on my part or for anybody else to compare the two shows.  I want to enjoy The Grand Tour and that’s it, I want Jeremy Hammond and May to just be themselves. Here’s what I would change.

More Adventure: Ahh! the Specials, I miss them. The two-part beach buggy adventure along the Namibian coast saw the trio drive 1000 miles and this was the peak of The Grand Tour Season one. Those custom beach buggies made of old Volkswagen Beetle’s was the best episode and the audience loved the two hours of adventure and without a doubt, this will be huge if The Grand Tour team makes more of them in the upcoming season 2. I wouldn’t mind the show just changing everything and having an entire series based on such challenges. I mean, Mr. Andy Wilman giving Jeremy, Hammond and May a challenge to drive their vehicles 1000 miles or more and the trio completing it. Epic adventures in the most remotest, most hostile parts of the world with three old men and their cars. They have the budget, so why not?

Ditch The American and The Celebrity Brain Crash: The Celebrity Brain Crash as I mentioned above was cool for the first week, but then it lost its charm and it was just dragged on and on, whereas the test driver The American just isn’t cool enough  and there are various others who could fill the post.

Just Be Yourself: Yes, the best advice anyone would offer, be yourself. Quit the unnecessary bickering and do some manual labor.


Meanwhile, the New Top Gear is back and it has changed for good, I hope!

I am Top Gear fan and I did watch the Top Gear without Jeremy, Hammond and May too, but the new trailer is out and this looks amazingly similar. I mean yes, it’s all the same again, but it must be wonderful this time around with Chris Evans being left out. Here’s the trailer for Top Gear Season 24.




“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.” -Stephen Chbosky
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