Safe to say, the last season of Top Gear came out with a hell of a monkey on its back. The first without Clarkson, Hammond, and May, and a fleet of hosts, lead by Chris Evans. Controversy over filming a Gymkhana segment in Central London, and an audience who a lot of the time, was never going to like the end product anyway out of either spite or for the fact that deep down, they were never going to give the reboot a chance.
Me personally, I thought Top Gear Season 23 was decent. There was definitely potential out there, and I think Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid should have been the trio doing the heavy lifting. However, it was hard to get over Chris Evans trying way too hard, to the point where it compromised the quality of the show. Very publicly, he quit after just one series, even he know he didn’t fit what the show was trying to be.
So, Season 24 debuted last night… And it was fantastic. This is what the reboot should have been all along.
A gorgeous, brand new, modern looking set. Rory Reid, Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris front and center. And how do you open the series? Harris in the 1,050 bhp Ferrari FXX-K at Daytona. A 2 million pound invitation into the rawest, most savage car Ferrari’s ever made in a World Exclusive event. God yes. Harris is the best car journalist on the planet, and his style translates from YouTube to TV perfectly.
They’ve re-addressed the celebrity influence as well. The Rallycross shit has been scrapped, the original track is back, and it seems Harris is going to instruct some folks on how to drive the new base car, which is actually really good – A Toyota GT86! Sod that Kia Cee’ ds! It seems the general celebrity interviews are gone and instead they’re just a part of the panel and interject with their own one-liners every once in awhile. I like it, it’s a bit more natural than those forced Interviews with celebrities that really didn’t give a shit about cars really. It was James McAvoy this week, and he was pretty cool. However, the humour in those, as well as Chris Harris’ lame jokes about car continuity in movies was a little ham-fisted.
The main segment of the boys in Kazakhstan driving three cars with over 400,000 miles each in the ultimate reliability test was great entertainment, from the race up and down the canyon, to the trip reset at the end… And most importantly, the banter between the three of them was pretty darn good, better than it was in-studio. And the more serious ending the film took at the end was well worth it.
If I was scoring this episode the same way I was for my Grand Tour reviews back in January, this was a 9/10 episode. Near flawless. Yeah, some of the studio segments were a bit silly, but I also took into account that this was their first episode together as a threesome on television, it was never going to be perfect, and I’m not going to pretend TV filming is easy, especially when the pressure is so high for a new series.
This was a better episode than pretty much anything The Grand Tour had in its first series and anything that came in the series before. A must see, and I think if you’re still not onboard with the rebooted show, you probably never will and should just stick to The Grand Tour, as overrated and rose-tinted as it is. More on that later in the week, because I have some unfinished business with that show.
Just before I go, let it be known they’ll be stuff on Robot Wars, some Boxing, and inevitably some cars later this week. But check out friend of the show and Motorsport101 guest and absolutely lovely Katy Fairman’s behind the scenes post, given she was in the audience for the first episode, and keep your eyes peeled, as Adam Johnson will be down there for Episode 2’s taping, so there could be some details on that too! Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you guys tomorrow!
PS: Can I also just say, it fills me with pride that two people of colour get to spearhead one of the biggest TV franchises in the world. That is some good shit.