As I sat down to watch The Grand Tour, I was almost wetting myself with excitement. I was always a fan of the ‘old’ Top Gear, if you know what I mean, so this was like Christmas for me, but I was also a little nervous in case I was going to be disappointed.
Firstly, I found the first couple of minutes absolutely hilarious, as they obviously addressed Jeremy Clarkson’s scandal with the BBC. The classic trio were reunited in American muscle cars and had a Mad Max like shot over the Californian desert. They then gave a speech in front of a festival-like crowd in America, once again addressing the discontinued contract with the BBC, and proceeded into a tent set to begin the show. I must say that I will not be commenting on my specific opinions of the cars because I am no expert.
However this is an episode for car lovers and experts, as they do not go about their silly shenanigans as before, they spend most of the show testing and racing super cars, with their inherent humour of course. For the simple minded like me, I prefer it when they do silly unrelated car things and make tits of themselves, but I am sure more of that is to come as it is shown in an exciting montage.
The camera shots in this episode were second to none. Absolutely beautiful, I found it totally captivating as it panned out over the Portuguese and American landscapes, tracing the super cars along with it. I cannot express how brilliantly filmed I think this was. The entire production just screams ‘big budget’.
Then I come to the format of the show. I found the crowd in the tent scenario a bit cringy at some points where it was clearly scripted and the audience seemed a bit over-enthusiastic, sounding like canned laughter. Although it was an all American audience, which is not a race known for being quiet and shy, so time will tell if all audiences behave in this way.
In the clips where the three are clearly just having their old fashioned banter, it really takes you back, and there were a couple of moments that really gave me the giggles. There was also a swear word in this episode I noticed from Richard Hammond which came as a shock because old Top Gear was always shown pre-watershed on the BBC, but I found this quite endearing, like they had been set free from their previous limitations to show this is a programme for adults.
I found the set a little bit too organised for my liking, I’m used to seeing them in a dark warehouse surrounded by old tyres etc. But this might just be me adapting to the change, they do have to be careful not to copy Top Gear as we know. Some of the links they did were also a bit embarrassing, such as getting celebrities on and havoc unfolding. It was amusing but I felt like a couple of the jokes were a bit too scripted and awkward.
However I mustn’t put a dampener on things, I extremely enjoyed this episode and will definitely be tuning in for the next installment. I feel comforted to have them back on our screens and it’s worth getting Amazon Prime for in my opinion. Or at least use someone else’s account! I reward this 3.5/5 stars. ★★★