Without a doubt, the new show The Grand Tour has been one of the most awaited shows for the relatively new Amazon video streaming service. It’s also one of their biggest productions ever, collecting together the three former hosts of BBC’s Top Gear into a new show that was either going to go over big or sink so quickly that nobody mentioned it again. That I am mentioning it here suggests that it’s gone over big, really very large.
The history is pretty simple. Once upon a time there was a show called Top Gear. It was just sort of a car review and test show, and not much more than that. But over time, they ended up with three co-hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. They are sort of an unlikely trio but for some reason they just mesh together nicely and do silly things. Top Gear was perhaps one of the most popular shows worldwide on the Beeb, syndicated all over the place and really well know. But behind there scene there were always issues, Jeremy Clarkson has been known to be a little difficult to work with, and a few times things have gone off the rails. They did a show in the Argentina with licence plates the referenced the date the UK retook the Falkland Islands from Argentina, H982 FKL. That lead to them pretty much getting attacked by a mob and getting run out of the country.
In 2015, things came to a head when Jeremy Clarkson got into it with a producer of the show, and the issue got physical. Not only was Clarkson suspended immediately, but the rest of the shows for that season pulled and never shown. As Clarkson’s contract was up for renewal, the BBC decided not to renew it, and further he ended up not only apologizing to the producer but quiely settled a lawsuit coming from it. Now normally this would mean the show would find a replacement and keep going, but May and Hammond decided that it wasn’t worth working without Clarkson, and they too left the show.
After a reasonable period of time, it was announced that Amazon would be bankrolling a new show for the trio, and for the longest time it was a big secret with no name. Finally it has come out, and The Grand Tour has not only picked up where Top Gear left off, it has also become one of the most popular online shows ever – and has totally destroyed the replacement Top Gear crew on the way by.
The basic premise of The Grand Tour is that it is a car show. However, that doesn’t mean this is a consumer reports sort of “just the facts, Ma’am” sort of show. Rather, it’s “films” as they call them are longer stories that intertwine the personalities of the cars, the places they visit, and the presenters themselves. Having Richard Hammond in a Dodge Hellcat pretty much destroying a quiet tour by the other two in their high end luxo-cruisers is totally awesome. Watching them play battleships by dropping cars from a crane is another oddly entertaining piece. Seeming to kill off, maim, or lose a celebrity or two every week has it’s appeal as well.
More than anything, it’s the three presenters. They are perhaps the perfect combination, pairing up in different combinations to gang up on the other one, who generally gets the last laugh. The locations are awesome and the video quality amazing, the cars appealing, and even the ugly American (played by NASCAR driver Mike Skinner) seems about right.
The Grand Tour is produced by Amazon and is available on their Amazon video / Prime service.
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