RogerBW's Blog

Top Gear season 2.24 29 September 2017

2017 motoring show, 7 episodes. Much to everyone's surprise, it's actually trying to be a car show again.

Well, a bit. And this happened before, with the previous reboot in 2002, and it didn't last. But for the moment there's a welcome occasional undercurrent of sensible cars that normal people might buy and use, in between the silly stuff.

Much to my surprise, when he isn't having to share the stage with Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc manages to project a reasonably likeable, reasonably interesting personality. I'm not aware of his having any particular history with cars, but he comes over as someone who's been paying attention. Co-host number 1, Chris Harris, is a motoring journalist but also a racing driver; number 2, Rory Reid, is a motoring journalist who's too often used as the comic relief (he's never put in anything vaguely fast or sporty, and most of the "crew goes on a jolly" segments exclude him). There are occasional other hosts, brought in when they're needed (Sabine Schmitz, who'll apparently work with anyone who pays for her to drive fast, and good for her; and Eddie Jordan, who doesn't seem to have any particular purpose, but I suppose some people have heard of him).

With Evans' stretching removed, the show snaps back to fit more comfortably into its format, with just enough adjustment of both format and people that it holds together in spite of a basic saminess from one episode to the next. There's a review of a new sporty car; there's a guest promoting their new film, book, whatever and doing a timed lap of the track (though rather than have a Guest Segment that's all about them, they're involved more generally in the conversation over a longer span); there are segments filmed away from the studio, either two short ones or one long one in two parts.

But sometimes those segments actually deal with a normal car, rather than things that cost six or more figures and can only be used on a race track. And the cast seem to have fun with them. Which is something the old Top Gear would never have admitted.

It ends up as an enjoyable, but mostly not explicitly comedic, show; there are funny segments (I particularly enjoyed Tamsin Greig using a crane to feed things into an industrial shredder), but it's not yet the pure comedy programme that iteration 2 of Top Gear was, and The Grand Tour is.

For the moment, it actually works rather well.

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 05:37pm on 30 September 2017

    Sabine Schmitz is actually the fastest driver of the lot of them at the moment, she clocked track times faster than the current Stig and all of the main presenters. She's not called Queen of the Nurburgring for nothing. On the previous incarnation of Top Gear she drove a van round the Nurburgring trying to beat Clarkson's time he'd set in some supercar. She missed it by two seconds, but then she was held up by Porsches and other traffic that she had to pass in the van.

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