Peer pressure. It’s peer pressure plain and simple.
The Top Gear reboot was going to be such a big event it was unavoidable. Everyone was going to have a loud and aggressive opinion about it so last night I found myself putting it on at 8pm sharp, telling Mr H not to get too used to it. Neither of us drive, so it’s pretty difficult to be entertained by what is essentially a car review show.
As far as I can tell, Top Gear has always been awful. Either too serious, too factual and too boring in its initial inception and then after the 2002 relaunch too stupid, too loud and too macho. The presenters were men old enough to know better running around growling politically incorrect nonsense and shouting their surnames at each other like retarded public school boys.
But goddammit it was popular. A televisual juggernaut, popular in nearly every country on earth. What that says about the character of the average tv-watching human makes me sad. Not half as sad as the BBC though, who after a much publicised mealtime fracas, ended Jeremy Clarkson’s contract and in macho solidarity, the lads went too.
So the show was in a bind and had to change. Old Top Gear is done but the viewers didn’t want it to change, putting the BBC in a very difficult position. It was clear this was going to be about as popular as New Coke.
The BBC had to be brave in the face of desperate odds and grab this opportunity to change and draw a line under the past, but Episode 1 looked and felt almost identical to the original, especially the pop video segments of sexy fast cars – speed in slow-mo tight shots of bodywork, lights and tires. Phwoar!
The track time (Corvette vs Dodge Viper) with US Navy pilots, laser guns and sweary Sabine Schmitz was fun. I hope to see more from her, that she’s not just Stig without a helmet.
Two stars in new mini rally cars was extremely dull. Two celebs (a chef and an actor) not connected at all, but not interesting enough to interview separately. Some mud on the track seems to be the most innovative change to this tired old segment.
Personally I can’t stand Chris Evans. I’ve always found him intensely annoying, so really he’s a perfect replacement. Matt LeBlanc was pretty dull making the obvious deadpan jokes about the American abroad. But he was a decent foil for his over-excitable slightly squeaky co-presenter who was busy doing a Jeremy Clarkson impression.
People on Twitter were complaining about a lack of chemistry and generally being rude. Well, that’s not exactly a shocker. When Jeremy Clarkson left his rabid fans sent a protest tank into the middle of London; they’re not exactly subtle people. Jeremy Clarkson’s gang of bullies is bigger than just three middle aged men. And bullies flock to Twitter. Even if it had been the most brilliant piece of television ever it was never going to be enough to placate the fans. And of course lots of people decided to give an opinion before it was even aired and the negativity was merrily stoked up by the anti-BBC press. The new presenters will have to develop a very thick skin very quickly.
Whatever other grumbling reviews might say it’s not worth comparing new Top Gear to old Top Gear because that no longer exists. The only worthwhile comparison will come in the autumn – when The Grand Tour is due on Amazon Prime.
…Shout out to ‘Extra Gear’ a sister show that will languish on BBC3 online. If you’re running a sister show it has to be on straight away after or on the red button to get anyone to watch surely?
Top Gear is on 8pm on Sunday nights on BBC2. If you missed Episode 1 it’s available on catch up Then you’d best go to Twitter and yell about it. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.