Better, But Still Not Great
When Top Gear returned last week I think we all expected the worst, and let’s be honest we weren’t disappointed, it was horribly awkward between the presenters, and had some upgrades that nobody really wanted. But for the second show of the series, the improvement has been amazing. Chris is a lot less excitable, so I would put last week down as first show nerves as he was much improved over last week. Matt however has been the standard to beat though; he’s charismatic, knowledgeable and – dare I say it – even scratching at funny. Don’t get me wrong, the show still has a mountain to climb to even match up to the worst of old Top Gear, but it’s nice to see them making progress.
I see the Future and it Looks Like Jenson Button
The first film of the show was Chris Evans testing the fantastic McLaren 675 LT and somehow I still don’t know what he thought about it, for the first half of the film all we got was Evans reading off facts that in could have got from the brochure. At no point did we get a shred of his opinion, which must have been good as he’s bought one. What disappointed me about the film though came later when I watched Top Gear’s companion show Extra Gear, whilst driving the McLaren F1 Chris actually broke down in tears whilst driving it, this could have been a very poignant moment in a main film but, because it wasn’t shown on TV, barely anybody will see it. Now then we have the saving grace of this film: Jenson Button. Jenson is an incredibly likeable guy and his opinion of the 675 LT was the first we heard. He has incredible driving talent, a knowledge of cars, and an ability to talk eloquently whilst driving (unlike a certain other Top Gear presenter). He is the perfect Top Gear presenter, and whilst there were rumours flying around before the new season that he would be on the team sadly it didn’t happen, but I think in the future when Jenson does finally retire he would be the perfect replacement for Chris Evans (whose time with the show may be short if the audience gets their way).
Top Gear is South Africa Bound
The second film of the show saw the team take a trip to South Africa in three SUV’s; the Jaguar F-Pace, the Porsche Macan and the Mercedes GLC, with also the introduction of Eddie Jordan, who really didn’t seem comfortable around Chris and Matt which I hope was first show nerves again. So what do you do when you have three presenters who don’t really know each other and aren’t really comfortable yet? I know, add three guests who still don’t know each other and just add to the awkwardness. That was the overall feeling in this film, awkwardness, Eddie Jordan is fantastic and really enjoyable to watch on the F1 grid, due to his excitable personality and great presenting talent, here though he was out of his element and looked noticeably uncomfortable. Not much really happened throughout the first half of the film apart from some scripted Top Gear shenanigans of Matt and British rapper Tinie Tempah sleeping in a small tent with each other.
The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car Segment: Toilet Break!
This was the worst part of the show so far and is becoming the worst part of the show full stop. Bringing on stars who don’t know each other and having them plug each other’s stuff doesn’t work, as they are all too polite and won’t be competitive with each other. The only time old Top Gear had two guests on simultaneously was when they were from the same show, plugging the same thing. This made them competitive between one another to get the fastest time, adding drama. The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment is quickly becoming the ‘time to make a cup of tea and go to the bathroom’ segment, which isn’t good. Anyway, enough ranting, Damian Lewis is now leading the lapboard with a time of 1:53.9.
More Awkwardness in South Africa
So back to the South Africa film where we saw the three teams try to get videos of animals on their cars reversing cameras, now I’m not saying this was classic scripted Top Gear, but they were able to get rather close to the animals in the ‘wild’ with their cars and it seems much more likely that the team were in some kind of nature preserve because all three had the opportunity to get film of wild animals rather quickly but I’ll leave that for you to decide. Then we get to the worst part of this episode in my eyes. On old Top Gear, you had three presenters, plain and simple. When accidents happen two would laugh at the one, and that could happen in any combination, whereas in new Top Gear when Eddie Jordan damaged the Mercedes GLC because he didn’t have it in off-road mode (which would have made little difference judging by the terrain they were on) the whole rest of the team had a go at him for it. This made it five-against-one, which just came off as bullying and was in very poor taste and made me feel very awkward watching. This is why such a large team needs to be broken down for filming with at most three characters per film (with no guests involved). The finale for the show was a rally race up a treacherous course to the highest pub in Africa, which Matt and Tinie Tempah eventually won, which meant an awkward performance by Tinie in the pub to an audience who had no idea who he was or what he was doing whilst the other teams washed dishes and served at the bar.
Overall despite its massive problems I think it was an improvement over last week’s debacle. Matt and Chris actually seemed to have a rapport this week and Chris was shouting a lot less which made Top Gear much more enjoyable to watch. Do I think the current show with its current roster of presenters has a future? Maybe. But it still has an Everest-sized mountain to climb to even be better than the worst of old Top Gear. Watching new Top Gear just makes me happy that original Top Gear is still available to watch on Dave.