… yes, I have watched The Grand Tour. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, it is no secret to anyone that the famous « ex-Top Gear » trio had moved on from their BBC show in search of other horizons. They’ve finally chosen Amazon Prime Video for their show, which I believe was a pretty cool idea (both for the show & for Amazon themselves – what better way to make your service known than by backing-up THE most awaited car show in the world).
I’ve been reading a lot about it, and the hype was quite strong. Especially after everyone had seen that epic trailer. However, I’m a bit peculiar sometimes: when there’s too much hype for something, I eventually lose interest one way or another. But I always come back for it. So I’ve only got to watch The Grand Tour (let’s go with TGT from now on, ok?) a few days after its release. And I’m not saying global release, because unless you’re from the USA, UK, Germany or Japan… you’ll have to wait until December to be able to watch it.
So, I’ve watched TGT. What did I think?
First of all, I have to start off by saying I’ve never been a die-hard fan of what we’ll now call « the old Top Gear ». I was more of a casual watcher, a few episodes from time to time, a few memorables & epic ones that featured some cars I really enjoyed. With this in mind, it’s probably easier to understand how I might not have the nostalgia most people seem to have, or share their excitement. I mean I’m obviously happy about it, but I’m definitely no « old Top Gear » expert. That would be a lie or pretending to be something I am not.
Back to it. To resume, it was a very entertaining pilot. Jackpot. It had everything one could expect from it. Incredible camera work, scenes, visuals. Everything was filmed in a surreal way and you can definitely tell there’s a big budget behind this pilot (and apparently every other episode as well, judging by the trailer). Which is something we sort of were expecting, to be fair. But it does come to show how positively technology is impacting audiovisual and TV in general. I don’t watch a lot of TV to be honest, but when I see such quality TV, I’m left speechless. They are pushing the boundaries of quality and almost making it the norm. Kind of like BBC’s Planet Earth 2, which has completely changed the animal documentary game. Yes, I went there. Speaking of the BBC, what about the « new Top Gear », how do both compare? Indeed, I believe I can’t talk about TGT without talking about Top Gear. Forgive me if you don’t share this point of view, but I think both sort of go hand in hand. For having watched The Grand Tour and « new Top Gear », they’re fairly similar as far as videography is concerned. They probably have the same budgets give or take, the same gear, the same techniques. Call me an amateur, but in my opinion, it’s impossible to say one show was visually better than the other. Maybe TGT was slightly more crazy and had more epic scenes, but I believe this is also due to the « rebirth » and the need to give a big « WOW WTF » to the whole world. And it’s mission accomplished.
But there also was the much-awaited comedy bits & the wonderful symbiose between the three chaps. Everyone was expecting their worldwide-famous sarcastic, british humor: and I’m pretty sure we got what we were expecting. Clarkson Hammond & May definitely made me laugh throughout the whole episode. I have to admit I really like their ways, how they act on & off screen. I think this is the most important part of the show, that will make its success. The alchemy between the three hosts is something fans all over the world had been enjoying, and everyone is glad to see them re-united. How does it compare to the « new Top Gear »? Well, to be honest, TGT felt more natural & funnier & crazier. But then again, how can that not be the case? It’s an unfair battle to begin with, you can’t take away years and years of co-hosting, which has developped the aura & personal relationships of the famous british fellas, making them what they are today. You can’t compare to a team of 6/7 people, who have litterally just started working together (even if I really enjoyed Chris Harris & Rory Reid’s apparitions). On this particular subject, The Grand Tour obviously wins. But it wasn’t a surprise.
The cars, well, it obviously was epic. Though it is NOT the first time we get to see the holy trinity (Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918 spyder) being driven together & tested together, this time it’s « à la Clarkson ». Full of jokes and realistic thoughts: they’re not afraid of saying things and how they feel about certain things. But always in a respectful and fun way. But if you’re looking to know « who won »… you’ll have to watch it, sorry!
If I had some negative things to say? Well, it’s hard to find something to criticize, really. Especially when it’s a PILOT episode of what’s to come. Maybe the UK/USA rivalry is overplayed from time to time, but then again, this was to be expected around every corner, with Amazon Prime being an american service. One can’t help but deplore the absence of THE STIG and everything that revolved around him. But then again, the man with the white helmet is part of the past now and we shouldn’t mourn too long. They have to move forward with a new show mechanics. But I have to admit for the moment I wasn’t truly conquered by what they had in place. But then again, it’s the beginning!
Other than that, the plots, the jokes, the twists, everything was on point. I actually was quite surprised to be having so much fun. I even laughed out loud at times, which is not something I usually do. I’m definitely not going to say anything specific about all of this, which would kind of ruin it for everyone who hasn’t watched it yet. So this review after having watched The Grand Tour is definitely a « non spoiler » one (odd to speak of spoiler though). For the birth of a new show, it’s a complete and utter success. It had everything we were expecting, the cars, the driving, the running gags, the jokes and more. Much more. Their « moving studio » which seems to change during each episode is quite cool. Basically, it’s the old formula with a few tweaks & twists. But so far, they’re working.
Can’t wait for the rest!
Bring it on! I’ve watched The Grand Tour !