If the names Clarkson, Hammond and May mean anything to you then you are, undoubtedly, a car enthusiast and a fan of the hit TV show TopGear – or at least you were a fan up until a year ago when suddenly everything changed. The infamous event involving Jeremy Clarkson, a cold steak, a punch and one of the show’s producers would become the beginning of the end … everyone who really mattered left the show and, long story short, they did what anyone adored by millions around the globe would do at the height of their careers – start their own show, on their terms. And the day fans have waited for is finally here – November 18th, 2016, the world premiere of The Grand Tour!
Fortunately for us viewers, the backer of The Grand Tour is online mega-retailer Amazon.com, so money seems to be no object in the pursuit of automotive glory. In fact, it is rumored that the show’s opening sequence cost over $3 million dollars to shoot. Having now seen it, I can confidently say it was worth every penny. Watching it put a smile on my face from ear to ear, and anyone who loves cars will be left with a gratifying feeling that, despite the disappointment that is the reconstituted TopGear, finally all is well with the world.
The cinematography and camera work on The Grand Tour is absolutely stunning, and the story telling is dramatically epic with the director putting you right in the action. I watched the episode on my iPhone and found myself not only gripping the phone harder while watching the LaFerrari scream through its timed lap, but I also found myself subconsciously tilting the phone left and right ever so slightly as Maranello’s finest went around the corners – the visuals are that good!
Of course, one can’t help notice the similarities to the original TopGear show (such as driving comparisons, the race track lap, the lap time board and the celebrity guests), but The Grand Tour changes things up where it doesn’t feel copied or regurgitated; rather, it actually feels fresh and even better than before.
Now, arguably, the single greatest element of the show, and what sets this car show above all others, is the intoxicating energy between the three hosts. Their harsh but lovable banter is what makes Clarkson, Hammond and May the best in the business, and you always get the feeling that they are really BFFs who, coincidentally, can’t stand each other. You never know what is going to happen next, and you just can’t wait for it.
So, is the show perfect? Well, not exactly: the “bar fight” scene between the presenters and the audience was kinda lame at best, and the arrival – or lack thereof – of the three celebrity guests was a little predictable, but otherwise it was thoroughly entertaining, enjoyable and, in some scenes, laugh out loud funny!
The Grand Tour marks the beginning of a new auto enthusiast show that rises up exactly where the original TopGear had fallen. One can see the creative shackles the BBC placed on Clarkson are finally gone, replaced by an original freedom that only brings out the best in this trio. It feels as though the torch has now been passed, but with a twist – the show may be “under new management,” but same three wise cracking idiots we all know and love are back and better than ever!
Verdict: 3.5 out of 4 stars