Given that all the episodes of Amazon’s new motoring show have now been released, I figured now would be a good time to utilise the home of my thoughts and opinions to voice my thoughts and opinions. As nobody has bought this up down the pub, or as modern interactions go, on whatsapp, I’m going to write about it here, unchallenged and in long form.
Featuring the former Top Gear trio, the Grand Tours appeal is still in the casts ability to be, or appearing to be completely at peace with themselves. James May is perfectly happy being reffered to as Captain Slow, Hammond as a hyperactive child and Clarkson the controversial traditionalist. There is no doubt that the production team have aimed to reinforce the stereotypes surrounding the hosts and the majority of the episodes bring laughs from the groups unshakeable appetite for banter. The show benefits from a new distribution channel with reduced regulation leading to a show that feels noticeably less “BBC”, giving the impression the trio may have been sensored more than anticipated in the past iteration. This has lead to the slightly contradictory feel throughout the show where some spects feel completely natural and others utterly forced.
Conversation streets sting is awkward. Celebrity brain crash did not appeal to me in any way and the repetitive nature of “then he turned up” in many of the features became frustrating. Then there is the American. This chap was obviously cast in order to appeal to the residents of Amazon’s head office location. America. In British English he can only and must only be described as an insufferable twat. The intellectual property the BBC own is clearly restricting the show in some parts requiring some creative thinking for linking content between films. These appear to have been slightly misguided.
The production quality is still outstanding. The cinematography (if that’s what you call it for TV shows) is still beautiful and you get incredible shots of all the wonderful vehicles you’d expect from Top Gear. I mean the Grand Tour. The concept of touring the world is welcome and the bigger budget is more apparent here than anywhere else. It appears as if the majority of aerial footage is still shot with a helicopter rather than drone and the tent is noticeably better looking than the studio of old. It’s also nice to see some modernised leader boards and animations throughout.
The elements of the Grand Tour that are great are as great as the very best bits of Top Gear. There are still laugh out loud moments and elements that invoke fury. It’s still motoring journalism with a hint of debauchery and a dash of controversy. The only downsides are the annoying parts such as Celebrity Brain Crash and the American. These are so infuriating they put a dampener on the whole viewing experience. If you can focus purely on the features about cars and not the linking aspects in the tent it makes for a good time. Remove them and it’s more a documentary film than a show. Hopefully in season 2 they play with the format a bit. We shall see.