Outsider’s Perspective: The Top Gift that keeps on giving

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I’m guessing we’re all outsiders on the whole circus that is the show formerly known as Top Gear. The BBC is keeping their cards close to their chest partly out of the fact that they want the transition to the new show to go as smoothly as possible, but mostly because it doesn’t matter who they choose and what they choose to do with their intellectual property. They’ll just get flame war after flame war about how it’s not the old show. Which is odd, You’d think people like having two new interesting car shows.

When I was a kid, I longed for more shows about cars. There was no chance of getting old Top Gear to my neck of the woods and not nearly enough of a car culture to make a car show big enough for me to take notice until a lot later. So my only option at the time was Automobiles, which was a show that ran on the History Channel when much of their programming was still about WWII and not about redneck swamp nonsense and two eminently punchable people driving a van and buying things to apparently never sell them again. But wasting text on the downfall of the History Channel’s programming standards is about as useless as asking them to make good on their name. So instead, let’s talk about general car programming.
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Most of the good programs come from England of course: Wheeler Dealers, Fifth Gear and of course The Classic Car Show. That latter one stars Jodie Kidd and Quentin Wilson, that alone means that it deserves your undivided attention should you catch it in the airwaves or provided by some guy or gal off the internet. Then you have Chris Harris doing his thing in Youtube and being just excellent at it depite having a crew of 2 people counting himself. That’s not to say that America doesn’t produce quality content. Top Gear US had a rocky start because they were trying to repeat the UK’s formula to a T instead of developing their own chemistry. Once they ditched that they improved substantially.
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But most of the programming coming from America seems to be of the “Guys from a tuner shop conveniently find a beaten to hell car in a not-at-all-pre-planned-and-scripted manner, buy it from the idiot owner at a fraction of what it was worth, bondo through and add some gaudy 78” rims to go with the similarly gaudy paintjob and interior finished in electric green suede; really we’re just doing this so we can add all the WACKY HIJINKS the characters will go through!!!” And now I need a deep breath…
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But really, that’s not a car program. That’s the same program that reality show producers have been making since someone realized that reality could be fictionalized enough to be interesting but not enough to be expensive. So it’s once again to the usual suspects. It’s not like the TG3 are going to go away in the foreseeable future. Even though James May implied that this three year stretch was going to be the end of the show anyway, the four people who made the most viewed show in the world are up for grabs and they come as a package. You can bet it’s not only Netflix that’s been in touch and offering them gigantic bags of money with Pound signs on them to sign in. So we’ll likely have more of the three guys in due time.
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But now, as an added bonus, from the ashes of the old show a new one will rise. And assuming (and I’ll grant you that it’s a big assumption knowing the BBC) that the people in charge don’t decide that what we need is a friendly, squeaky clean and politically correct car program with helpful consumer advice for ethnically diverse, ecological-minded integration programs. What will happen is that we’ll have two very good car shows around. And I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s not like the new show of the lads (Garage is the new black or Game of cones, if they keep on trying to make a punny name) will be much different from a new season of the old show. Maybe they can be even raunchier, like setting the entire cast and crew of Fat and Furious on fire to see for how long they could keep a steam train going using them as fuel. I’d get a Netflix subscription for that.

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  1. JayP Avatar

    I’ve given up on all of them.
    The only real show is Roadkill and anything Stacey David’s hair is in.

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      Can’t say I’ve seen any Stacey in a while but Roadkill is the best thing out there by a long shot.

      1. JayP Avatar

        Stacey is still cranking out Gearz.

  2. stigshift Avatar

    I still miss the days when TLC was still The Learning Channel. And The Furniture Guys were on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW_gv-uIsF8

    1. Hatchtopia Avatar

      Wow that’s a blast from the past. I had almost forgotten about those guys. Almost… HORSEHARRR!

      1. stigshift Avatar

        HORSEHARRR indeed! Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    Top Gear isn’t Dr. Who. You can introduce new Doctors for decade after decade, but you can’t introduce new presenters. BBC might have had a brilliant success in re-igniting the fictional Dr.Who universe, but they’ll never have that luck with the non-fiction world of Top Gear and the rest of the gang. It’s too personality dependent.
    In a parallel way to each Doctor having a distinct personality, each BBC car show has to have it’s own personality. It’s as if every BBC car show we’re watching is part of some larger intergalactic universe of car shows, and the presenters keep transmogrifying. One giant universe of automobiles with a rotating cast of interlocutors introducing us to its wonders.

    1. Eric Rucker Avatar

      That’s what’s critical, really. Top Gear needs to reboot, not just re-staff.
      Besides, the old Top Gear formula was getting stale as it was. I still watched it, and I guess I’ll watch the final episode just because, but I don’t think I’ll watch the new show on Netflix or wherever.

  4. karonetwentyc Avatar

    Ah, yes, Quentin Willson. If I remember correctly, he started out selling clapped-out luxury cars that had had more than a few miles clocked off of them.
    Did like his classic car segments on old Top Gear, though.

  5. crank_case Avatar

    The classic car show is excruciatingly stilted viewing, so much potential, such terrible execution. Really wanted to like it but the the Kidd/Wilson combo doesn’t work at all, not helped by cheesy scripting and mostly predictable “stuff you know already” features on obvious classics like the Mustang/e-type.
    For good UK shows, Car SOS is great, sort of like a Overhaulin, but much more resto than mod.
    same channel did a show called For the love of cars, which is a bit more muddled, but still pretty watchable:
    BBC have done some good one-off motoring documentaries too – “Grand Prix – the killer years” stands out, a must see for anyone with even a passing interest in motorsport. Get it via whatever means neccesary.
    Here’s hoping new Top Gear is successful, For all its faults, there’s a a gap in a Sunday night viewing.