Thursday, July 07, 2016

Top Gear

The recent series of the revamped Top Gear has ended and with it the tenure of Chris Evans. It was inevitable the Radio 2 DJ would leave the show. Since the first episode, he has been described as the weakest link of the car programme.

The BBC didn't want this situation but it had no choice. When Jeremy Clarkson punched Oisin Tymon for not producing hot food after a day's shooting, the BBC were put in an unenviable position and had to fire him (technically his contract was not renewed but the outcome was the same). I know many Top Gear fans said the BBC would be losing out on a lot of money if they sacked Clarkson but what else were they going to do? If they didn't sack him, it basically means that Clarkson or any big star at the BBC could get away with murder. Let's put the situation in another way - if you punched a colleague, what would happen? Your employer would say goodbye to you and your wounded colleague would sue the arse out of you.

When Clarkson, Hammond and May left, the BBC had to pick up the pieces and see what they can salvage. They still had the name "Top Gear", which has worldwide brand recognition, and the Stig. All they needed were appropriate hosts. Unfortunately they got Chris Evans. Even though he's a good radio DJ and car enthusiast (especially regarding Ferraris), he has divided opinion and it showed in the news series. Most of the time, he is trying to drum up the audience too much and being way too shouty. He was known to be difficult to work with, represented by the lack of banter with his co-hosts.

All is not lost on Top Gear. Matt LeBlanc has done very well with presenting Top Gear and doesn't mind being picked on being American. The same goes for Sabine Schmidt - she doesn't mind being the butt of jokes and adds pedigree with being an actual racing driver. Eddie Jordan adds some lunacy to the picture but he wasn't on often enough and didn't present any of his own segments. The new guys had their good and bad points. You can see that Chris Harris is a petrolhead and he can present to camera well. He is also well opinionated, which adds to good conflict with his presenters. Rory Reid is well knowledged about cars but comes across as too nice.

At least the new producers tried to revamp certain segments. The "Star In A Reasonably Priced Car" needed a makeover and turning the lap into a rallycross segment was good. However pitting two celebrities against each other wasn't that great. Comparing the celebrities' cars wasn't that brilliant either. They really need to go back to the natural chat that Clarkson had with the guests.

They still maintained the standard with segments and challenges. All they need to build on is the on-screen banter. 'A' for effort, 'B-' for actual content.