How Much Does The Grand Tour Look Like Old Top Gear Now?
When Jeremy Clarkson was fired from the BBC, oh it seems like such a long time ago now, the automotive entertainment world came crashing down with it. James May and Richard Hammond finished out the season in a somber way, and shortly after quit"Old Top Gear" (circa 2002-2015) in solidarity and went about their ways. When word came out that a new show on Amazon Prime was in the works, rumors also swirled that the BBC threatened litigation if the new show came too close to what Top Gear was.
There couldn't be a leaderboard for timed cars around some sort of test track. There couldn't be a "Star in reasonably priced car" segment. It cannot have a news segment called "The News." And most disappointingly, The Stig was left in BBC's custody after the bitter divorce of more than a dozen years of marriage. Andy Wilman, the show's producer even described a moment where they couldn't say "The scenery is beautiful":
"We went to Namibia to make a big film. The lawyers got out a film we had done [for Top Gear] in Botswana. The lawyers go through everything and they said, ‘There’s a scene in [Top Gear] where you’re in the middle of the Okavango and you go, “This scenery is beautiful”, so watch that you don’t do that.’ " Said Wilman
Season 1 of The Grand Tour - Experimentation
Season 1 was like the Top Gear trio going on an automotive acid trip whilst avoiding litigation from the BBC. They tried a lot of new things that seemed to be in the spirit of being different from their old show.
They had a segment called "Celebrity Brain Crash" where celebrities were immediately killed before getting interviewed. A morbid tongue-in-cheek poke at the possibility of becoming too similar to Top Gear. They brought on "The American", which is The Stig's complete opposite, an overweight American that won't stop talking and complaining about the cars. And they also tried various skits, for a few episodes, where there were very little involvement with cars, producing what was agreeably the worst episodes from season 1.
However, there were a lot of things that Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond got right from season 1. The rich and fatty chemistry between the trio was deeply saturated in each and every episode. The over the top, glossy, and high production value from the BBC was effectively given a dose of steroids, cocaine, and fancy filters by Amazon to produce one of their first 4K content. Finally, "Conversation Street" seemed to be a welcomed addition and alternative to "The News", that they've decided to bring it over to season 2.
Season 2 of The Grand Tour - Refinement
Season 2, thus far anyway, seems to be a much more refined version of The Grand Tour. The terrible parts of season 1 has been happily trimmed away. Even Jeremy Clarkson explained how "The American" and "Celebrity Brain Crash" were removed because "you all hated it." In its place is a new, quiet and very capable test driver, Abbie Eaton, a British racing driver that has competed in several racing series like the Mazda MX-5 Supercup, GT Cup, and British GT Championship. There's also a new celebrity segment called "Celebrity Face-Off" where two celebrities of a specific industry, compete around a test track to see who is the fastest.
With these changes The Grand Tour certainly feels a lot more like the Old Top Gear that we've come to love. It has that classic feel where we are introduced to a challenge or some car review in the beginning, and then segued into a "news" segment filled with good quality back and forth chatter. While I never cared for celebrity chatter in the Old Top Gear segments, it did provide a good break from all the car action and gave me the opportunity to look at my phone for other entertaining bits. Just when I thought I couldn't be more bored with celebrities talking on the show, they bring the films back after the cliffhanger moments.
Season 2 just started so it's tough to tell whether this newer and more refined formula will work in the long run. But for this diehard Clarkson, May, and Hammond fan, every Friday for the next couple of months will be looked forward to with anticipation. I think they've got the old recipe back and it's better than ever.
What do you think of The Grand Tour's season 2? Let me know in the comments below. And if you're looking for something else to watch, other than The Grand Tour, to fill the time make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel and keep track of our project cars