Despite the fact that Jeremy Clarkson refers to his spawning pool as “a crappy BBC2 motoring show”, unassuming Top Gear is said to be one of the most viewed television programs in its class worldwide. The British automobile series is the spiritual basis for Amazon’s The Grand Tour. Tour is an offshoot of the motor show which comes on the heels of a big controversy where ostensibly English Clarkson allegedly physically and verbally attacked an ethnically Irish producer of his show in an angry racially-fueled tirade. Clarkson was subsequently dismissed by the BBC and the TV sharks began to gather at the spilt blood from this cleaving.
Clarkson received his capitalistic princess happy ending for this market economy fairy tale. Much in the same way that Donald Sterling was able to sell off a basketball team for far more than it was worth after he was caught making racist remarks, Clarkson was rewarded for years of racially-charged comments on air rather than punished. Right after his show was removed from the BBC’s lineup, Amazon decided to scoop up the three hosts of Top Gear (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May) in a deal that reportedly cost the e-commerce giant somewhere from 100 million to a quarter of a billion dollars. As the three hosts own the production company behind GT, they will surely have unmanageably heavier pockets for their efforts in the near future.
Politics aside, the show itself is an interesting melding of humor and expensive cars. Since the revival of Top Gear, the program can be summed up as three middle-aged men trying out very expensive cars. The leader of this group is Jeremy Clarkson, who is very imaginative, open, and politically incorrect when it comes to describing situations. He is something reminiscent of an old football hooligan. The other two also provide some comic relief, with James May functioning as something more serious and Richard Hammond often functioning as a lummox. The very casual and mildly disrespectful camaraderie between the three is the main source of the show’s popularity.
#GrandTour appears to be fairly different from its predecessor. Whereas Gear is more factual, with the group talking engines, horsepower, and torque, GT seems to be taking a different direction. Now the interactions between the three schoolyard chums is front and center and the show has become a travel show more than a dissertation on the technical qualities of the latest Ferrari. The group travels the world driving the most exotic cars, cracking jokes, and making inappropriate comments about British minorities. And a good time was had by all.
To the surprise of surely most non-Britons outside of the international automobile enthusiast community, #GT has gotten a hero’s welcome by throngs of adoring fans. It currently holds a celestial 9.6 out of 10 on IMBD. Metacritic users are hardly less moderated in their worship, scoring it an 8.9 out of 10. 98% of the peanut gallery on Rotten Tomatoes likes it and they present it with a near-perfect score of 4.9 out of 5. Sales are equally strong – Amazon Prime says it has scored its best premiere ever with the show and new Amazon subscriptions attributable to its release are the second-highest of the year, only outpaced by the day it gives a 20% discount to all new subscribers.
At its heart, this is a moderately humorous car show shot beautifully. The unconcerned freedom with which the main group expresses itself is better than many of the false expressions and scripted dialogue we see on reality television, but it surely does not deserve such high ratings, especially not after only a couple episodes as a sample size. That is neither here nor there, though. The fan base has been galvanized by BBC’s unpopular decision to sack the slack-tongued Clarkson and they are able to show support the online translation in droves, both in a financial sense through subscriptions as well as in a concerted campaign to give it the highest ratings of all time.
Clarkson and his team aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Controversy was already courted by the defiant curmudgeon as he made some snide antiziganistic remarks. Amazon has currently turned the other way to them, making no response in public, at least. As long as Clarkson controls an army of devoted young men who thirst for the crusty avuncular presence of this fixture of British TV, #GT should continue to provide entertainment on Amazon for years to come. In fact, the team has already committed to three seasons.
Yet nothing is certain in the world of television after contracts expire. Sign up for our E-mail notification list to know for sure as new developments are revealed. When details of #GrandTour’s season 2 are officially announced, we’ll
What are your initial impressions of the show? Do you think the style has changed since it’s been moved to Amazon? Do you still watch episodes of the good old Top Gear on BBC with the new cast? Are you angry because you have to pay for a program that was once free? Give us your comments and opinions down below.