The very first episode of THE GRAND TOUR finally hit Amazon Prime earlier this week, and of course I was practically bouncing off the walls in anticipation when I sat down on Friday night to watch it. I had some idea of what to expect, but what I actually saw was... so much better.
It wasn't just good. I believe Millennials have a phrase for such a thing that probably is appropriate in this instance: that first episode was SUPER AMAZEBALLS!!!
The boys are well and truly BACK. And they've put together the funniest TV show I have ever seen.
I do not claim this lightly, by the way. I say this as a die-hard fan of the old show, who has been quoting chapter and verse from the Gospel of Clarkson for years.
The 2002 reboot of TOP GEAR created a television phenomenon in which cars were actually relegated to a supporting cast role, while the show itself focused instead on the interactions between and personalities of the three main presenters. In the process, they created the biggest "reality television" show in the world. (It wasn't really "reality TV", obviously- TOP GEAR was and has always been very heavily scripted- but you get the idea.)
The hosts and the production team eventually created a ratings and merchandise juggernaut, by BBC standards, which allowed the Beeb to reach a global audience of well in excess of 350 million viewers.
And then, inevitably, the Bolsheviks that run the Beeb went and cocked it all up.
Now obviously, Jeremy Clarkson certainly needed to face real consequences for physically assaulting one of the production staff in 2015. He took his lumps, walked away, and got on with his life. Full credit to him for doing that.
But instead of doing the sensible thing and calling time on a beloved franchise that millions of fans around the world were now no longer interested in watching, the Bullshit Broadcasting Corporation went full-SJW, doubled down, and decided to create a rebooted version of the show with more presenters, more volume, and more cars.
They completely missed the point of the old show, which was all about the chemistry of three fat middle-aged blokes falling over and setting each other on fire while driving the world's greatest supercars very very fast.
The Beeb's decision completely robbed the old show of its originality, enjoyability, and joy. Instead of thinking that you were watching three guys with the greatest jobs in the world cocking about and having fun, you now got to watch a shouty ginger nerd, a tubby middle-aged American, some German bird that no one who didn't watch the old show had ever heard of, and two or three other completely forgettable presenters, all being very loud and yet fearfully politically correct.
As I wrote a while back on the same subject, "they turned the rampaging TOP GEAR stallion into a neutered, sterile mule".
And that is where the new show comes in. Freed of all of the bureaucratic nonsense and politically correct shackles of the Beeb, while being handed a mind-boggling budget by Amazon, the boys and the old production team have had the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild.
Bloody hell, did they ever deliver as a result.
THE GRAND TOUR is everything that TOP GEAR used to be, but better in every possible way.
Every part of that show is bigger, better, louder, more ridiculous, and yet more heartwarming and funny than its predecessor. The film quality itself is superior to what they used to have, with far higher resolutions, brighter colours, and more vivid backdrops than the old show ever managed.
That, my friends, is how an epic show about friendship, manliness, burning rubber, and fast cars should be done. I cannot wait to see what the boys have in store for us in the coming weeks.