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Regardless of your opinion on Top Gear, the Clarkson era, I was a huge fan. Perhaps, for me, it is the chemistry between the three hosts and the format of the show. When a program runs long enough and millions watch it, there is plenty of room for people to moan of its script, format or staleness. I didn’t find any of that in Top Gear but I have always appreciated it for what it is, not what I thought it should be after viewing YouTube car channels.

When the BBC parted company with Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, I wrote at the time that it was a major failure on their part. The show was a massive revenue generator for them and cutting the hosts loose was like McLaren inventing ways to lose in Formula 1.

When Chris Evans took over Top Gear with Joey or whatever that actors name is, I was immediately infested by creepy parasitic thoughts and “terrible disappointment”. They may have retained Rhe Stig and Stars in a reasonably Priced Car but the show had not simply waned, it fell off the cliff.

Immediately, viewers starting trumpeting the post-show, show with the two internet car guys and while I think they do great work on their YouTube channels, I’m not sure amping up their work was a worthy replacement for what was supposed to be Top Gear.

Tonight marked the debut of The Grand Tour. Clarkson, May and Hammond have found a home at Amazon Prime and just so Jeff Bezos knows, the only reason I subscribed to Prime was to get this show. I’ve been a customer ever since it was announced they’d be moving to Amazon so you’re welcome Jeff. Oh, and I’ve bought some crap from Amazon over the past year as a Prime member, you’re welcome Jeff.

The production values, cars, set, cinematography and, perhaps most importantly, host chemistry is all there. I felt as if I had been deloused from the Chris Evans Top Gear infestation I experienced after watching just two episodes—that’s all I watched. The Grand Tour felt like home. It felt like I was back in the living room of old friends and entertained with laughs and even some amazement at the production and insight.

I was somewhat surprised to find Mike Skinner as the race driver to test the cars. I don’t know Mike and I’m sure he’s a terrific guy but I would have thought an Indycar driver like Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, or Sage Karam might be a good choice because they’ve turned right AND left.

Maybe some of those guys would want too much money. Perhaps Tanner Foust, Townsend Bell or maybe even Santino Ferrucci? My personal choice would have been the epic Paul Charsley but I’m biased. You could also look at the WEC and Le Mans grid for a number of killer drivers who would be good. Then again, if Amazon wants to appeal to NASCAR fans, Mike is the guy and the “communist” shtick was funny.

I can appreciate the roving tent studio and that’s a great concept but I will say it makes it difficult to have the track near them. The interesting thing, based on the first episode, is that the recorded segments had nothing to do with California—the location the tent was in. A bit of a non-sequitur as I thought they would be doing activities based on where the tent was.

Maybe they will, this was just the first episode, but if they don’t, I find the relevancy of a roving tent somewhat diminished and it seems like it would be more advantageous and less expensive to have a stationary studio compound with a test track. On the flip side, taking the studio around the world is a great way for fans to all experience the show and the draw for crowds will be tremendous so I can see the upside too.

In the end, I was very happy with the first episode and to see the Porsche, McLaren and Ferrari finally face off was terrific. It was great seeing Jerome D’Ambrosio again and if I’m honest, I’d go for the Ferrari regardless of being a 10th slower.

Great job folks! It’s great to have you back and thanks to Amazon for footing the bill. Here to three seasons of wonderful car talk and ridiculous antics as well as the terrific chemistry that the BBC refused to recognize as bottled lightning.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.

  • the Late Idi Armin

    couldn’t be Charsley he hasn’t done more than 175mph.

    • abrobeer

      I want the stig Ben Collins no other driver is even remotley intresting in this new tv shov or internet show.

    • Peter Riva

      Hahahahahha

  • oregonwings

    It had all the humor and epic filming I hoped and expected. That said, you are correct, they need to replace this Mike Skinner bloke. NASCAR Camping World Truck series champion? Really? How is that even a thing? IndyCar, IMSA, or even Pirelli World Challenge would be better places to find a professional driver. I hear Juan Montoya is looking for work! Okay, if it has to be an American, there are still plenty of professional drivers outside the NASCAR roundy, roundy world.

  • yoshif8tures

    According to this, they weren’t permitted to film in a studio due to BBC holding the rights and their own fear of getting sued for using to many similar ideas to Top Gear.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/30/jeremy-clarkson-fears-bbc-could-sue-over-new-racing-show-the-gra/

  • Peter Riva

    My comments? Meh…

  • Les

    The elements which made Top Gear popular in 214 different countries (end of 2014) have been successfully moved and upgraded, in a complete package, to Amazon; from the politically correct strictures of the left-wing BBC.

    The opening sequence of their first episode of “The Grand Tour” was both uplifting to fans and a poke in the eye to the BBC and detractors in Britain.

  • Andreas

    Wow… This was the real deal, definitely. “The Grand Tour” showed in full detail what was missing from the Evans/LeBlanc Top Gear – chemistry. Segments may come and go (and I wonder if the “deaths” of three celebrities was their way of killing off the “celebrity in a…” segment), but what you can’t invent or script (or indeed replicate with other people) is the way Clarkson, Hammond and May plays off each other. The chemistry between those three guys is such a prominent part of the concept, that it just doesn’t work without them.

    I too was a little befuddled about the tent thing, seeing as none of the segments were in any way related to the location. But I suppose the “tent in different locations” thing is the actual Grand Tour itself. On the subject of Mike Skinner, I hope they can elaborate a little more on him during the season. Yes, the “communist” thing was funny, but that gag won’t last a season…

  • Completely agree on the driver selection. Sage would have been a good choice. Unfortunately, it’s not like he’s busy doing anything else right now. :(

  • T-Batwoman

    Their chemistry is magic, one can’t help but think they are best blokes in real life.

  • Guy Fawkes

    Almost entirely spot on, even down to joining Amazon Prime just for the show. I joined the very week they announced “the new Jeremy Clarkson show”. And I’ve…uh..bought more than a few things.

    The one thing I disagree with is your take on the tent. I think the purpose is ENTIRELY to allow them to move around the world, just to show The Beeb that the appeal of the show is worldwide. It also allows them to not be TOO similar to Top Gear itself. And who knows where the tent might end up! The Eboladrome is fun and looks like a challenging little test track. By not being tied down to one studio it allows the guys to have a constant source of new material based on the crowd and location each week. Promises to be fun.

    Mike Spinner…err..Skinner…had me scratching my head, but the schtick is pretty good. Amazon made it a condition that the test driver be American for whatever reason. We’ve all got to realize that “The Grand Tour” is going to be an entertainment show first and a car show second. And that’s OK as long as those three guys continue to do what they do.