New Cast, New Rules, New Top Gear

Chris Evans Takes the Reigns on the new Rebirth of the Classic Show

So Top Gear returned on Sunday with a new cast of characters, a new rallycross track and a new set of rules to play by. All eyes were on Chris Evans as he began this new adventure, and he and Matt LeBlanc had big shoes to fill; a challenge for any presenter. Top Gear was the most watched show on the planet at one point, bringing Clarkson, Hammond and May to over 350 million people worldwide.

New Faces, New Ideas

Now first of all I think the presenters are a great choice. Sabine is well known for being into cars, appearing on old Top Gear numerous times; Chris Harris, a man known to many as being the best motoring journalist on the Internet; Rory Reid, a great up-and-comer in the motoring world who is finally reaching a wider audience and surprised me with his talents, but more on that later. Then we come to Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, two characters who are not journalists, they are not racing drivers, they are an actor and a radio DJ.

Impressive Showing from the American

Matt I have to say did a surprisingly good job. His film with the Ariel Nomad was great fun, albeit slightly reminiscent of Jeremy Clarkson taking on an Apache Helicopter with a Lotus Exige (old Top Gear was really great wasn’t it) and his presenting style was different enough from what we’ve seen before to really enable him to get into his car fandom and become a really likeable character in the show. Where this falls down however is his chemistry with Chris, which was never really there. It felt as if they had only just met on the first day of their trip to Blackpool, making both rather nervous around each other which was evident from the film.

Who Brought the Over-Excited 5 year old to the Show?

Then we get on to Chris Evans. Now I like Chris, he’s a funny guy, but he had a lot of pressure on him when it came to Top Gear and it seems as though it may have got the better of him, as he just seemed very over-excited through the entire show. I likened him on Twitter to a 5 year old child due to his over-active style of presenting. This was very different to the old presenting style which I admit had gotten rather stale over time, but it was far too crazy for people to even listen to him. Rather than being the lead presenter he just seemed to become irritating and get in the way of the much more likeable Matt.

Viper vs Vette: Let’s Have a Dogfight

The show itself wasn’t as horrible as I was expecting, as we started off with a dogfight between Chris in a Dodge Viper ACR and Sabine in a Corvette Z06 in which Sabine ‘supposedly’ made an elite fighter pilot throw up when they were driving, which I pray will not become a running gag for the show, as we already know she made Chris throw up in an Audi R8. This was fun with Chris likening the Dodge to a rusty crowbar in Clarksonesque style, and Sabine complaining about the horrible suspension in the Z06 saying it was like a Ferrari (not sure if that was an insult or a compliment to the Vette).

Not Really a Fair Fight Between Matt and Chris

The main film for the show featured a competition between Matt and Chris in Reliant Rialtos and a Willys Jeep versus a Land Rover Series 1 Defender. They called it a competition between the UK and the USA but it was a forgone conclusion that Chris would get to the location first. This battle also was the end of the man in white coat idea from old Top Gear, instead we saw John Anderson from the 90’s show Gladiators, was this meant to be funny I don’t know it just feels as though Chris is stuck in the 90’s. The eventual film just felt like a confused Matt LeBlanc travels round the country with a crazy person.

Star in a Reasonably Priced Rallycross car

Then we come to the Star in a Reasonably Priced Rallycross Car segment. This saw Jesse Eisenberg take on Gordon Ramsey to see who would be faster round the new track, which is the same as the old track just with an added off road section with a water splash and a small jump. But the problem came when Chris was ‘interviewing’ them, I still have no idea why they were there, normally celebrities just come on to sell their new book/film/album, all we got was a rambling section where the celebrities introduced each other and then they got into an audience section which involved them arguing whose car was best. I don’t think Chris asked a single question.

Not a Great Showing for the Show’s First Outing

Overall I was disappointed with Top Gear’s return. I hope that Chris’ presenting style was just him being excited about it being the first show, and I hope he calms down as the series goes by. Matt was great and shows a bright future on the show as long as he stops saying the word bro (my personal opinion). Sabine again was a great addition to the show with undoubtable driving talent she has the opportunity to shine in this new production. The overall opinion of the show however is not good, with Top Gear fan and Countdown alumni Carol Vordeman tweeting “Could CHRIS EVANS SPEAK UP A LITTLE COS HE ISN’T SHOUTING ENOUGH #TopGearNot” followed by “Sorry #TopGear switching off looking forward to the proper boys on @amazonprimenow soon night all” unfortunately this was the prevailing opinion online with many hating the show and Chris Evans.

Extra Gear is Highly Recommended for Top Gear fans

One bright spot on the dark cloud that is the new Top Gear has Extra Gear, an iPlayer exclusive show featuring Rory Reid and Chris Harris that is designed to be a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Top Gear but I was pleasantly surprised to see it being a mini old Top Gear, with fresh new faces and enjoyable segments which included Harris taking the Ariel Nomad around the track and Reid meeting Sabine at her home in Germany, which was frighteningly American with a full cowboy saloon and farm yard. If you didn’t like the new Top Gear I would firmly recommend you hop online and take a look at Extra Gear as I thought it was great as a Top Gear fan.

Follow me on Twitter (where I live tweet the show) @jimafred

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