IMBOLDN Reviews: The New Top Gear Is DOA - IMBOLDN
Go to Top

The New Top Gear is finally here, spearheaded by the enthusiastic Chris Evans (no, not Captain America) that replaced Jeremy Clarkson when his highly publicized ‘fracas’ got him canned from the BBC. The trio has moved on to Amazon where they will continue to do what they do best, but BBC bas been busy giving a new polish to one of their most successful franchises with new cast members.

The show has been on for a couple of weeks now, and so far the general consensus has been fairly negative. I didn’t write a review immediately after the first episode, knowing that judging their performance after their first outing would be less than fair to the whole cast and crew. However, after having watched the second episode, I have to admit that it seems like there is something more fundamental that might be plaguing the show.

First off, let’s establish why Top Gear was so great under the helm of Jeremy Clarkson and producer Andy Wilman, who has also moved to Amazon with Clarkson. Clarkson’s tendency to not give any f#%k’s to pretty much anything became the cornerstone of the Top Gear culture. It was his outlandishly opinionated behaviors that defined the show’s personality and color, allowing James May and Richard Hammond to react off of and create the great chemistry the three were known for. What really showcased their great chemistry was in the subtle humor, where it felt effortless and considered without the need to make each punchline painfully obvious.

At least they had Clarkson’s dry wit, but seems like Evans just can’t bring the same level of humor to the table. The jokes fall flat as they feel forced, while Clarkson was known to painstakingly craft every punchline to perfection. Evans definitely has more enthusiasm, which verges on desperation at times as if he’s out to prove himself worthy of the monumental task of spearheading such an iconic show. However, enthusiasm alone can take the show only so far, as he comes off as being nervous and unsettled.

The only saving grace is that they dragged poor Matt LeBlanc into this mess. I’m sure he was excited when he was approached to host the greatest motoring show on the planet, but I feel bad for LeBlanc, I really do. Unlike Evans, who just seems like a orange ball of misplaced enthusiasm, LeBlanc is actually charming and funny, and more befitting of the show. First and foremost, you can tell that he is a genuine car enthusiast, which is always a good thing, where as Evans just seems like a spoiled brat that likes nice things, with expensive cars being one of them. Yes, I know that he has an impressive collection of Ferraris, but that’s exactly my point. I can’t imagine him getting excited about a piece of crap barn find for what it is, where as LeBlanc seems to possess that innate quality all car guys need to have; excitement for anything on four wheels, good or bad. His boyish charm and the spot-on comedic timing he’s honed for years being on Friends translate well to his enthusiasm for cars, but is lost in the show as he doesn’t have anyone to play off of.

Maybe I’m just a fan boy lamenting the end of a era. Jeremy Clarkson is not the most politically correct person nor is he the kind of guest we’d invite to our dinner party with open arms, but as the host and personality that embodies Top Gear, we can’t think of anyone more perfect. It’s such a shame that his name is no longer attached to his baby.

So on a sad note, I thank you Top Gear gear for the wonderful 13 years you’ve shared with us, but now I bid you farewell. And on that bomb shell, on to the Grand Tour.