Can three Yanks equal three Brits on Top Gear?
You know what I haven’t written about in a while? Cars.
This could be why I never followed up with the automobile column I started writing on examiner.com. While I truly adore driving cars, as well as the engineering that goes into cars, I never seem to be inspired enough to write about cars. Perhaps it’s like my appreciation for art, I know what I like, and what I like is beautiful, but that doesn’t necessarily make me want to write a sonnet about it. Also, since I really only drive two cars on a regular basis, it’s tough to come up with column after column while driving an 8-year-old Dodge truck and a 3-year-old Toyota SUV.
So for my car fix, I live vicariously through the guys on Top Gear, the slickly produced BBC 2 television program about cars and three guys who do really awesome/dumb things in them.
Top Gear also happens to be the world’s greatest television show ever. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it isn’t. Okay, maybe it is (though it does have a 350 million worldwide audience).
Except I’M NOT!
Sadly, it will probably be a meek imitation of the original show, but I’m holding out hope it won’t suck outright. The key to the original was never so much about the cars (though the cars, and what the hosts do to them, are awesome), it was really about the three presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. The interactions among the three are as hilarious as they are charming.
Clarkson is a long-tenured and well-known British journalist and all-around blowhard, but with great comic timing and a disdain for all things effeminate. Hammond is the diminutive, pretty boy with a zest for life and the most open-minded of the three. May is British. I mean, he’s exactly what we Americans would expect of a Brit (completely stereotypically, of course) he’s fastidious on all things other than wardrobe, well-spoken, hates the Germans (but loves their cars), unaware of pop culture and isn’t too concerned if you disagree with him, since you’re wrong anyway.
The highlight of my TV watching week is the hour these three guys are on with a new show. Sadly, because of the production requirements it takes for Top Gear to be put together, there are typically only about 14 episodes a year, seven in the summer and seven in early winter, which leaves me 38 weeks of reruns.
Fortunately, after years of delays, we get the home-grown U.S. version of Top Gear, with three guys you’ve probably never heard of before. Tanner Faust, a good-looking, race car and stunt driver, Adam Ferrara, a dopey-looking actor and comic, and Rutledge Wood, someone even I never heard of before, but looks like what I imagine most Brits think we Yanks look like – shlubby and hickish. He’s also a racing analyst from the Speed channel.
So will the show be any good? I don’t know. The trailers have not been disappointing, so that’s good at least. I’ll be happy if the show can be the methadone to the original’s heroin. I just hope my teeth don’t fall out before the next run of the original Top Gear begins.
I am prepared to predict, however, that Rutledge Wood gets replaced by Adam Carolla if the History channel picks up a second season of the show. Carolla was the original host of the pilot version created in 2008 and passed over by NBC. It is rumored that Carolla was supposed to be the host of the History channel reboot, but was locked into a sitcom pilot for NBC at the time and had to pass on the offer.
So we’ll see. I have the Redskins vs. Eagles Monday Night Football game tonight to occupy my usual Top Gear time on BBC America, and then just a mere 6 days more to see if these three new guys can hold down the fort. If nothing else, I’ll still get to drool over the cars come Sunday night (which I’ll be DVRing as the Eagles will be playing the Giants that night).
- Top Gear US – one week to go (transmission.blogs.topgear.com)
- The Biz: History Feels the Need for Speed (seattlepi.com)
- 60 Minutes Explains the “Top Gear” phenomenon. (ridelust.com)
- Top Gear’s James May: ‘Show Is Like A Sitcom’ (news.sky.com)
- American ‘Top Gear’ Packed with Guest Stars (tvsquad.com)