The Grand Tour's latest special - Seamen - is the first episode that is part of the new structure of Amazon's most popular motoring show. Clarkson, Hammond and May once again proved that they are capable of producing some of the most entertaining shows available to watch; and this time, they didn't even use cars!
While this review does seem late; I wanted to leave enough time for the majority of people that are interested in watching the show to watch it so we can start a discussion in the comments.
NOTE: This article will contain spoilers about what happens throughout the special. I will not, however, spoil the ending of the show.
This episode of The Grand Tour is different from the usual content that Clarkson, Hammond and May make as they don't get in a single car. And while their show is a car show; it seems as if they wanted to experiment with different ideas to explore the world.
The Seamen Special is entirely focused on boats, with the goal to get from an area near Siem Reap - which is located in the north-west of Cambodia, to get to Vung Tau (located in southern Vietnam) with the only means of transport being by biycle or boat in order to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Some of the views that are seen in this episode of the show are fantastic. We see rivers that span miles and miles, as well as cultures that are vastly different to what I, and many of us are used to.
The Seamen special, as mentioned above, was about going from Siem Reap to Vung Tau. The trio picked out a boat each, all of which were totally different from one another (very much like their car specials).
As Clarkson, Hammond and May travel, we are often greeted with the hilarious moments of their boats grinding to a halt and watching the presenters jump into the water to see what the problem is. Additionally, we see the trademark Grand Tour act of leaving a stranded colleague behind.
The show starts out with the three of them cycling through Siem Reap trying to find a water source for them to start sailing on. After a few miles of cycling, they finally find the lake and get into their boats, where they meet at a pontoon in the middle of the lake. This didn't go without a problem though as a storm rapidly approached and made the conditions go from clear to violent in a very short amount of time.
Richard Hammond was the first of the three to arrive, where he climbed out of his Scarab Jet Boat and onto the platform. Jeremy Clarkson soon emerged in his PBR (Patrol Boat, River) which was around 3 times bigger than what Richard arrived in.
After violently hitting Hammond's boat and the pontoon (many times), Clarkson finally parked and the duo waited for James to arrive. May eventually arrived in a boat from 1939 which Hammond claimed as 'totally inappropriate'.
Clarkson, Hammond and May waited for the storm to pass, before heading over the Tonlé Sap Lake that they had started on earlier. Jeremy was looking forward to unleashing his two favourite things - 'speed and power'; but he couldn't due to the lake not being deep enough. This was a problem for Hammond and May too as mud kept clogging up their engines when they hit the floor.
The next day of the trip consisted of the three 'sailors' arriving at a hotel, not being able to sleep, having a picky Hammond not eating food, buying sleeping tablets and crashing into every shop in the floating town.
Once they set off again, they soon approached a blanket of weed that covered miles of the lake. Clarkson tried the speed and power approach - but it failed as it usually does...
The locals on the trip were nothing but helpful when it came to fixing boats and towing other boats when they weren't working at their best or broken. The trio eventually made it past the huge obstacle and carried on down the Tonlé Sap river. This river was an open stretch, which allowed Clarkson and Hammond to have a drag race without their colleague (who's boat was way too slow to keep up). They also took part in other games such as brake tests and jumping on the waves, which was very fun to watch as they reached the capital city of Cambodia -Phnom Penh.
This is as far as I will explain with the story as I urge you to watch this special. Now I am going to give my thoughts.
Now that I have given you a taste of what the special is like and what it is about; I want to address my thoughts about the new style of The Grand Tour.
Personally, I really enjoyed the special and am open to more episodes like it. Boats are drastically different to the cars we known and love; but I believe that Seamen was a fun special that kickstarted the new approach to Amazon's motoring show.
I wouldn't say that Seamen was the best special that the three have ever made; however it was still an enjoyable experience. We were able to see more of the humour along the way that make Clarkson, Hammond and May so unique, as well as learning new things about the culture. Using a different mode of transport made the show interesting, and I would be happy to see a special about motorbikes or even planes!
Overall, I would rate The Grand Tour - Seamen special 7.5 out of 10. The programme followed the typical storyline that a Top Gear/Grand Tour special always has. And while that sounds like a negative, I assure you it isn't. I have always loved the structure of the specials and Seamen is no different. I still prefer the car specials, but I think DriveTribe's founders did a great job for the season 4 opener; and I cannot wait for the next special to be released. Let me know what you thought of Seamen in the comments below!
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