I think we can safely say that when The Grand Tour launched on Amazon Prime back in November 2016, we were all brimming with joy at the sight of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May reunited on our screens, driving Ford Mustangs in the Californian Desert.
And while the first 12 episodes have no doubt been entertaining, we couldn’t help but notice a few slightly annoying aspects which we hope will be ironed out for Series 2.
Before we get in to this, let us just say that we know The Grand Tour needs a test driver – we get that. But Mike Skinner as ‘The American’ is simply not entertaining in any way at all. We’re struggling to find any redeeming features – his complaints whilst behind the wheel aren’t funny, and don’t even mention the communist jokes. They’re shitty.
We get it – due to legal reasons The Grand Tour isn’t allowed to conduct guest interviews or hold laps in a reasonably priced car. But it isn’t that entertaining to see the guests pretend-killed en-route to the tent every single week, so why even bother with the segment at all? The gag has been repeated to buggery, along with James’s stupid response.
As the Clarkson-spec Top Gear evolved over the years, it became obvious that the show was at its best whenever the boys went on one of their Cheap Car Challenges and Epic Roadtrips – these episodes were almost always received well, resulting in a reduction of car reviews, and other more run-of-the-mill segments.
Sadly, The Grand Tour has kicked things up several notches in an effort to outdo the old show, and as a result many of the boy’s “adventures” feel unrealistic, as if we’re watching a B-grade action movie which desperately wants you to believe everything is real.
Sure, we’re aware the older Top Gear episodes were scripted too, but the difference here being you noticed it a lot less.
The Richard Hammond we’re seeing on The Grand Tour is completely unlike any Richard Hammond we’ve seen before – and that’s even before you consider the homosexual ice cream fiasco. Instead of the kind and funny Hammond we’re used to, he’s angry and always ready for an argument or extended bickering session. It’s as if he’s been asked to play a brand new version of Hammond, and it’s wearing a little thin..
And in the early episodes of The Grand Tour, James May also had a similar problem – except that he was playing a bumbling idiot. For those who have seen James May’s The Reassembler or practically any other show he’s ever done (Top Gear included), you’d know he’s probably the smartest and most articulate host out of the three. We genuinely felt sorry for him.
One of my favourite parts about Top Gear was that it felt like the hosts were all mates having a laugh together, with a bit of light-hearted teasing and pranks thrown into the mix. Now it simply feels like they all dispise each another.
In our opinion, the best episode of The Grand Tour so far would have to be the two-part ‘Beach (Buggy) Boys’ episode which they released over the New Year – but even that was a little shaky at times. Whilst they literally drove around in circles for what felt like the entire first episode, overall it was a return to form for the boys and a glimmer of hope to what is possible with a bit of smart planning and and a good itinerary.
While ‘Conversation Street’ is quite an interesting addition to the show (and the sting’s are excellent), it is essentially a supersized version of ‘The News’ from Top Gear – only twice or three times the size. It is not uncommon for the studio segments to feel like they take up half the episode, and quite often the conversations degrade into something which often feels like a stand-up comedy routine. Don’t remove the segment by all means, but we do think it could be reduced a little.
We here at TopGearbox love a good Cheap Car Challenge, but the only one to feature in The Grand Tour, with the three used Maseratis, was a bit of a let down.
I mean what exactly was the point of it? Why Maseratis? Why did they set off without any kind of plan or aim? A pointless drag race, then a lap time challenge without any lap times being revealed? Heading to the south of France, and then deciding to see who could get back to the UK the fasest, which resulted in perhaps one of the least believable sequences we’ve ever seen on a motoring show? Not exactly their finest hour…
Don’t get us wrong, we’ve enjoyed The Grand Tour so far overall, and we’ve certainly enjoyed it more than Top Gear Series 23 – but it is our love for the show which means we’d love nothing more than for it to reach even higher levels of success. And you can only do that by refining the show’s formula – cutting the bits which don’t work outright, and polishing those which need a bit of work.
So that’s why we’re pointing out the bits we didn’t enjoy so much, and hope you’ll all add a few of your own in the comments below.