Top Gear: The Good, The Bad And The Rolls-Royce Dawn

The Top Gear Train Continues, but are They on the Wrong Track?

So here we are again. Another week, another Top Gear wrap up for you. This week’s episode saw Chris Evans take on the Zenos E10, Rory races to Geneva in a Jaguar F-Type SVR convertible, Matt takes a trip to Ireland in the new Rolls-Royce Dawn, and Chris Harris tests out the BMW M2 on the track. Now firstly, I know this has become a running joke on the internet, but does Chris Evans actually own any other clothes other than a yellow t shirt, jumper and jeans? For four out of the current five episodes, he has worn exactly the same outfit, which to me seems slightly more than coincidental.

A Surprising Improvement for Chris Evans

So the first film of the night saw Chris Evans driving the Zenos E10 around the Top Gear track, and to be honest I don’t think it was all that horrible to watch, his Clarksonesque style is still very grating but I think he is starting to get the hang of presenting, and creating his own voice for himself. What also struck me was that this was the first film by Chris that didn’t have another invading presenter with some silly little add on challenge, like a dogfight between a Viper and a Corvette or Sabine racing an Audi R8 around Laguna Seca, which I liked. It gives the viewer the impression that Evans can do it on his own and doesn’t need any help from the other presenters. When given to The Stig, the Zenos set a lap time of 1:25.1 on a mildly moist track.

The Night is Always Darkest Just Before the Dawn

Next we saw Matt take a trip over to Ireland in the Rolls-Royce Dawn, and the most striking thing about this film was the amazing camera work of the crew behind the scenes. The crew has been one of the most consistent parts of Top Gear over the transition from Clarkson to Evans and still manages to produce amazing film work. For Matt’s part in the film, I feel it was essentially just paint-by-numbers, nothing we hadn’t heard before about a Rolls: Rolls-Royce is BIG, Rolls-Royce is posh, Rolls-Royce has an umbrella in the door; all things you will hear in any other Rolls-Royce film. I don’t know if this should be Matt’s fault or just down to the car, but I do wish we had seen something new from the team. Then we go back to the studio, and we see the real reason Evans should leave Top Gear. You do not insult the Spirit of Ecstasy Mr Evans, and you do not compare a Rolls-Royce to a Rover 75. I think it’s safe to say Evans won’t be on the Rolls-Royce Christmas card list after that outburst.

Not the Best Showing from Harris

The next film we see saw Chris Harris drive the BMW M2 on the track. Now, I like Chris and I think it’s great he’s getting a wider audience on the show, but I don’t think this was his best work. Maybe it was the car, maybe it was the fact it was the second track film of the show, I don’t know but it didn’t excite me the way Harris’s normal videos do. It probably didn’t help that Chris was comparing the M2 to an older car like the 90’s M3, similar to the way that Clarkson compared the old 1M coupe to the MK2 Golf GTI. I still enjoyed the film but I don’t think it was the standout film of the show like he’s had in the past.

Here we go Again!

ARGH! BBC, Top Gear, why don’t you listen to your viewers? We don’t like the interview segments of the show and I know you had probably already booked the ‘celebs’ to appear, but did you really have to make the interviews so horribly awkward? Yet again you had to pair off two celebs that don’t know one another to introduce each other: The Great British Bake Off’s Paul Hollywood and Jennifer Saunders of Ab Fab fame. Then you try to make it more awkward by having them squint at an autocue to introduce one another. Please make it stop. I’m not saying that the old Top Gear Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segments were great, but at least they weren’t cringeworthy. The interview may not actually be that bad if it weren’t for the awkward introductions, so maybe Top Gear will finally listen at some point, I doubt it but I can dream can’t I?

A Wasted Opportunity to Interview a Legend

The next film saw Rory Reid race the Jaguar F-Type SVR convertible to its own unveiling at the Geneva Motorshow, mirroring the trip Norman Dewis took in the original Jaguar E-Type. This was in my opinion the best part of the show, but a little short. The trip was a mixture of Rory talking about Norman and talking about the incredible car, similar to the way Clarkson talked about Carroll Shelby in the Mustang GT500. With added voice over by Norman himself, it gave the film real credibility, and of course Rory made the unveiling just in time, with an ounce of Top Gear fakery I’m sure. This film was great, but I do feel it could have been so much better, given more time (the film was only ten minutes in length, shorter than the interview segment). Rory seemed to race through France as if it didn’t exist, and was in Geneva before we knew it, and we never really got a true interview with Norman, who was in the studio after. We had to watch Extra Gear for the interview, which I feel didn’t give Norman the respect he deserves.

Trouble Brewing for the Top Gear Team

The final film saw us go back to Ireland this time with both Matt and Chris, the film saw Chris challenging Matt that his own Rolls-Royce Corniche from 1976 was better than the new Rolls-Royce Dawn, and in a week in which we saw the most important referendum in the history of the UK, we saw them hold another vote to see whose car was best. This film was yet another example of the lack of chemistry between the two men, neither of them were particularly funny, neither were particularly interesting and, at no point did I get the feeling that they even liked each other. As evidenced from the report this week that Matt has given the BBC an ultimatum; either he goes or Chris does (see here). The wars between the two of them have been getting more and more common, with Chris apparently jealous of newcomers Chris Harris and Rory Reid, being more popular than him. The film translated it as much, whilst it was filmed long ago the lack of a rapport between the two of them was evident, and is worrying for Chris’s future with the show.

Summing up

Overall this week’s show was very vanilla, very bland and not much happened. There were no major standout moments that were particularly bad, just the usual dull conversations between the presenters, and the horrible Star in a Rallycross Car segment. There’s nothing much more to say. Am I worried for the future? Yes, am I worried that the show seems to be falling apart before the first series even finishes, of course I am. I don’t want Top Gear to go away, I am a big fan but sometimes you just have to accept that the one you loved has gone to a better place, and that place is called Amazon.

Follow me on Twitter @jimafred (where I live tweet the episodes as they’re happening)

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