21 November 2010

Top Gear, American Style

Episode 1 leaves me less than impressed.  The BBCA shows are a hoot with the interaction between Jeremy, Hamster & May.  Even a former neighbor visiting from the UK (picture middle aged British mum, about as far from a gear-head) raves about the show.

Mega props for dramatic photography and the cool cars.  But starting off with not just supercars, but the ultimate in supercars leaves me concerned.  Specifically, where do you go from there?   Can they talk superlatively about the latest BMW, Porche or Prius after driving the hottest Lambo's & Vipers?

Good call to start off with Buzz Aldrin as the first guest.   Talking about the cars he's owned and why is good, but where are the questions like "so you walked on the moon at age 39.  What have you done since then?  Surely he'd have had some more interesting stories to tell (Seems I've read of him criticizing NASA for not pressing more for a Mars mission).  Guess that footage ended up on the cutting room floor.  He drove your car, give him a chance to sell his vision.

But so far the host personalities aren't there.  NYTimes has an article detailing the history of the show and the attempts to transplant it noting especially there have been several cast changes.  That suggests it's hard/difficult/one-in-a-million chance to get the three way chemistry to go critical.   NYTimes article notes one guy is a stand up comic and another does stand ups for NASCAR.  Could be but I wouldn't know as NASCAR is about the one form of motor racing I don't follow.

Also it's embarrassing(an insult really) they felt the need to explain "The Stig".  "You will never see the face nor hear the voice."  Did WKRP have to explain Les Nesman's bandaids?  Or Captain Kirk's ripped shirts?  NOOOO!  Let the audience figure out the gag, explaining it in episode 1 is an insult to the audience's intelligence! What's next... explaining that the hosts never win any of the challenges?

The SandCastle Queen suggests one of the hosts should be a woman.  Maybe she's right.  Surely there is at least one female gear-head that would fit in and offer an alternate perspective to the "My Lambo is better than your Lambo" argument  beyond "Your's is made of plastic". 

However the look forward to next weeks show holds some promise.    Two of the hosts make fun of Tanner Foust for being a drifter "So you're the Brian Boitano** of drifting?"  Maybe the personalities will come through.

Top Shot also started off slow (like the first 8 episodes), Maybe this is a similar slow start.   I'll stick with Top Gear for a while. But so far it's miles behind the original.

(How are they going to top Jeremy's V8 Blender?  And how about the absurdity of their version of the Olympic Biathlon?  Enquiring minds want to know!)

* An uber-technical driver is not required for the show, but hosts should be able to rattle off the cars specs and know what the numbers mean.  ("redline" is not a makeup tip.)

** I had to look up the spelling because I care about spelling names right.  I didn't know how to spell the name because I follow ice skating even less than NASCAR.  In fact, any "sport" with subjective scoring, really isn't much of a sport.

1 comment:

ExurbanKevin said...

I think the personalities will gel over time. Remember, the lads we see on BBC America have worked together for years, while the USA Top Gear hosts have had a few weeks.