Top Gear – Seaon 23 Episode 4&5
I know I have been silent for number of days which is rather uncharacteristic in my part, and I even went as far as not writing the usual Top gear summary which I have been doing when the new series hit our screens. However I shall be silent no more and I thought I share my thoughts on the last two episodes.
Top Gear under Chris Evans has dominated the news, unfortunately the comments in most parts have been unkind and in some cases almost accurate. If Chris Evans was under any illusion that the average TG Fanatic Would welcome him with an open arms, then once again he was most certainly mistaken and by now should have clicked that a new game plan is most certainly required. However if you have been reading the news and watching the series, you can deduce that there is no new game plan and he is sticking to his gun, which I am sad to report, is rather infuriating.
However all is not lost, and his horde of Twitter followers, have laid lavish praises upon his person and have acted chivalrously to ward off any attacks directed at their not so young and not so dashing hero.
Hot on the success of Ep3, Ep4 opens with number of good things, mainly in the form of Chris Harris behind the wheel of the greatest Aston Martin ever built, the one and only £1.8m Aston Martin Vulcan, and of course the only place where you can truly appreciate the huge potential of this magnificent super car – the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
So now that I have managed to build up your expectations, allow me to maliciously destroy this build up as this feature is rather bland and sadly, not really innovative. The two things that, I was seriously disappointed here were,, how the cinematography was put together. This isn’t the first time TG has used the circuit, Mr Hammond was here previously filming Porsche 918 Spyder on one of the late episodes of season 21. If you have not seen that clip, please do so and then compare it to Chris Harris and try telling me what the team did with Harris and the Vulcan isn’t disappointing.
Second issue , TG’s Vulcan evaluation. Why on earth would you pit the Vulcan, against the Vantage GT3? but why not compare apples to apples? it’s clear from the start that The Vantage would lose. Then of course they give the GT3, 20 sec head start and beat it soundly to prove a pointless point.
Feature number two is even a bigger disappointment. It looked promising, combination of two of the old show’s favourite routine – cheap-car challenges and epic races all rolled into one event.
Let’s cue in Eddie Jordan….
The challenge in a nut shell is rather simple, why spend money on train ticket when you can spend less on a car and enjoy the trip. Eddie Jordan rides in first class on the Venice Simplon Orient-Express train from London to Venice, while Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc, and Sabine Schmitz spend the price of Eddie’s ticket on vehicles.
Chris and Sabine’s choices are predictable – CE buys a typically British car in the form of a Jaguar, and surprise surprise our beloved German buys a typical German car. And just to make sure we have some form of American road trip nostalgia, Matt LeBlanc buys a Honda Gold Wing. So at this stage, I am fuming and my wife has correctly deduced my sudden outburst and had decided to retire to the bedroom on the upper floors of the house.
This entire feature lacks stakes. There’s no mechanical drama with the cars or the bike, nothing breaks down which needs repairing, no one runs out of fuel, And to make a dull journey duller, we don’t hear much about the vehicles at all. Unfortunately the feature dose not become much more interesting and of course just to make me fume and shout even more the little excitement which was still hanging there for its dear life is sapped shortly as the race begins. There is an idiotic twist to this bizarre race now, with Evans, LeBlanc, and Schmitz already deep into France before Jordan even boards his train. By now I am looking at items within reach to throw at the TV screen and googling imaginative ways to erase short and long term memories from my brain on the World Wide Web.
Look, I don’t care who wins these races, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think many people do. But key here is letting the race to mature without too much human intervention. That means all sides start evenly. We all knows Clarkson, Hammond, and May faked things for a lot of their films, but they remained adamant until the end that the epic races actually took place without meddling the end result.
But Rory Reid’s Tesla Model X feature is by far the episode four’s biggest problem. Reid’s review of the Model X, was an attempt by Top Gear to mend fences with Tesla giving their troubled past and court room drama. Ignoring the masterful positive spin by Mr Reid the actual truth about this car, it’s downright misleading. Near the end of the feature, Reid says he covered a couple hundred miles around New York City and up-state, ran a drag race, and made it back to Manhattan with 20 miles of range. Really?? I smell something here and it’s not rather pleasant. The maximum range quoted by Tesla is currently set at 257 miles, with Ludicrous Mode activated which officially cuts that to 250 miles, although repeated hard acceleration will inevitably put a dent in the batteries’ reserves. If by any chance you live in middle of Siberia and have recently managed to get yourself internet, then this piece is just for you. Otherwise this drag race has been done so many times, it pains me to see it again. If you don’t believe me, just head on to YouTube and see for yourself.
Episode 5 was aired just a few days ago, at the time of writing this piece and did not disappoint. Well it actually did, but it did have some enjoyable moments and dramas. Mr Evans Starts the ball rolling with testing the merit of light-weight British motor, by zipping around the TG track behind the wheel of Zenos E10 wearing a lumberjack headgear. Now I am not the best person to provide fashion advise and my own fashion sense is slightly better than Mr Evans, however they have wardrobe teams on these shoots and surely they can put a stop to all these wardrobes malfunctions. I am sure you have noticed that the media has picked up on Mr Evans wearing the same outfit on every episode so far. I don’t know, maybe he is creating a TG image for himself but whatever he is doing, its not winning him any new admirers.
Next up – LeBlanc rolls in driving a magnificent Royal Blue Rolls Royce Dawn. LeBlanc looks good and comfortable on pre-recorded scenes, however he still looks rather uneasy with all the back-and-forths with Evans in the studio.
Evans and LeBlanc head out to Dingle in Ireland, to allow the locals to decide whether classic (Evans) or contemporary (LeBlanc) Rolls Royce comes out on top. I do not even remember why Mr Evans got involved in this apart from showing off yet another car from his collection and of course once again looses, as most people in Dingle showed more interest on Joey (Leblanc) than actually care what car he is driving.
Lastly Mr Rory Reid the self proclaimed “Idiot from the internet” races through Europe in a Jaguar SVR F Type Convertible in an attempt to recreate the journey (55-years ago to the night) of legendary Jag test driver Norman Dewis, who drove all the way from Coventry to Geneva Motor Show in a Jaguar E-Type – and desperate to match his time, but in 21st century traffic conditions. This is a piece I truly enjoyed and which made the whole episode worth watching.
Last week’s episode, with futuristic electric motors, a ‘carbecue’ challenge and a few real moments of comedy, gave me a glimmer of hope that this reboot might not be a total write-off. Episode 5, gained an additional 300K viewers, however there just wasn’t as much fun to be had, and it was disappointing. The stars in rally-cross car routine is still dull and boring and should be cut down in length which will allow more time for the story lines to develop further. These set pieces look and feel rushed. These fundamental issues if not addressed will eventually be the route cause that can kill Top Gear for good and it will be a shame to see that.