When I had first heard of Jeremy Clarkson’s now famous fracas heard round the world, I was both shocked and dismissive. Surely that didn’t happen, did it? It did. Well surely they can’t get rid of, arguably, their best host? They did. Oh dear. They did it. They had actually done it. They had sacked Jeremy Clarkson. After previous repeated threats of doing so by the BBC, and then following it up with absolutely bupkis, they actually sacked him this time… Oh dear. It was no surprise to find out soon afterwards that both Richard Hammond and James May would be departing as well.
So what now? I thought. At best, the BBC would find a mediocre replacement. At worst, they’d cancel the show. Well they certainly weren’t going to do that. Top Gear is their cash cow, earning them millions per season. So they found Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc as the new hosts of Top Gear, along with Rory Reid, Chris Harris, and Sabine Schmitz playing second fiddle.
Since airing it’s first episode, the new Top Gear has drawn the ire of just about everyone. Nearly every article written about the new show highlights its missteps and shortfalls. And this one is no different. The show fell flat. Very flat. There was really only one segment in the entire episode I genuinely enjoyed. And surprisingly it was LeBlanc’s segment about the Ariel Nomad. You can tell he put his best foot forward during that solo segment. And you know what? He can grow into a damn good presenter.
And this brings me to my next point; the new Top Gear isn’t bad! The production value is still astronomically high and the stunts aren’t that dissimilar from what we’ve seen in the past. But therein lies the problem. Top Gear is trying to hard to be Top Gear of old. The old formula worked with the old presenters. This new crew needs a fresh perspective.
I’m all for seeing how well LeBlanc and Evans mesh, but my first suggested change would be to simply remove Evans all together. He is far from a fan favorite, and doubt he ever will be at this point. Plus he’s a tad too “shouty” for me. Instead, I’d replace him with someone who has somewhat of a cult following and has the added benefit of already being under contract; Chris Harris. A Chris for Chris swap. I think it’s the one thing this show desperately needs.
It’s apparent from watching Extra Gear that Harris has a sort of charm that the main show currently lacks. The show is in some turbulent waters and sorely needs an anchor; Harris can be that anchor. The rest of the cast also shows a fair bit of promise. Rory Reid is cut from the same cloth as Harris, and Sabine Schmitz is, well, she’s Sabine Schmitz.
On a quick side note, how awesome would it be to see Schmitz and The Stig chase each other around on the track? I don’t care how contrived it is, but this needs to be a regular occurrence on the show.
Did I have high hopes for the new Top Gear? No. Do I hate it as much as everyone else seems to? Certainly not. There’s (mostly) a lot of potential with this new cast. Given the right environment and ability to shape and mold Top Gear into their own vision? The sky’s the limit lads. My singular piece of advice to Top Gear? Stop trying to be Top Gear.