71mins – Amazon Video – Streaming from Friday 18th November
Hosted by: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May
Produced by: Andy Wilman
Directed by: Phil Churchward, Brian Klein
BACK IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
“I can see clearly now the rain has gone” rather arrogantly boasts the theme tune as persistent motor-mouth and infamous producer-puncher Jeremy Clarkson finds a new platform for him and his car-crazy bezzie mates to bicker, banter and blaze around race tracks in blooming expensive vehicles for an hour every week.
Amazon Video may have thrown boot-loads of cash at The Grand Tour (the prolonged opening skit of JC departing the Beeb under a literal dark cloud before fleeing to the Californian desert for a celebratory festival in the sun must have cost a fair whack, so too the flagrant and flippant wasting of A-list guests), but it’s a little rich to label this shiny new show an Amazon “Original”. Reinvention this ain’t. Under the hood of TGT’s ‘touring the globe in a tent’ concept hums Top Gear’s driven-in motor through and through.
“We’re like Gypsies – but with insurance”
Scripted skits, staged stunts, test track cutaways, playful teasing, dubious controversy-touting joshing (see above)… it’s no wonder Clarkson, Hammond and May look comfortable in their new travelling motor-home – aside from some copyright-swerving segment name changes (Conversation Street, Celebrity Brain Crash) and Mike “The American” Skinning replacing The Stig as the go-to pro-racer, this is the same shit in different surroundings on a different broadcast service!
Okay, yes, “shit” is severe. If debut episode 1.1 (“The Holy Trinity”) is any indication, then The Grand Tour is divertingly entertaining – if hardly educational – fare and the host’s well-oiled camaraderie never fails to raise a smile. We see the cheeky trio challenge each other to discover which hybrid supercar is the best, we see Armie Nocturnal Animals Hammer, Jeremy Arrival Renner and Carol Vorderman “die” before they can reach the tent and we see the Californian crowd “beat up” the political button-pressing hosts. Such fun! But for such a massively over-hyped property this is sorely lacking a fresh coat of paint. Let’s say its a stalled format.
Yes, it’s what the fans want and didn’t get when Top Gear tried to pull the same stunt with new faces on BBC Two earlier this year – the fact that this is currently Amazon Video’s most-watched pilot episode to date confirms this – but I was expecting more than Beeb-sneering taunts and friendly digs at their American audience from the thump-happy host who most definitely deserved to lose his gig with Auntie, not gain a lucrative new streaming deal out of his errant behaviour.
CR@B’s Claw Score: