Both Shows Have Finished Their Series; so who Came out on top?
The final episode of The Grand Tour has now aired. We can now ask the question, which was better? The Grand Tour or the newly revamped version of Top Gear? Whilst it may seem obvious that The Grand Tour won due to it being Clarkson, Hammond and May, rather than a collection of random people vaguely related to the motor industry, its victory is not confirmed. The Grand Tour was a good show but it still had numerous problems throughout its run.
Neither Show was Perfect, Maybe Avoid Celebrities
I had hoped, no, prayed that GT had learned from New Top Gear’s mistakes, but I was wrong. ‘Celebrity Brain Crash’ as it had been called, is one of the most irritatingly pointless parts of a car show I have ever seen. As I mentioned in my review of the first episode of GT (The Grand Tour: Return of the kings), for one episode it was funny but for a further twelve episodes it became the hold my head in my hands moment of asking myself how could they get this so wrong? It was a worthless segment that wasted ten minutes of my time as they killed off various celebrities in pseudo-humorous ways. But Top Gear didn’t do any better. Chris Evans’ interviews with various celebrities were horribly awkward and were just vague attempts to plug a new movie. The celebs introducing each other was the bane of my existence during the new series of Top Gear. I would reluctantly watch as I knew what was coming each week, another ten minutes of pain and suffering on my part.
Top Gear Gets the Upper Hand in Road Tests
On the road test front I feel Top Gear has the advantage. The addition of Chris Harris and Rory Reid has been fantastic. The internet has been telling us the wonders of Harris for years and it seems the BBC has finally listened. Whilst I wasn’t aware of Rory Reid before the series started, he has quickly become a favourite. Harris and Reid’s show on iPlayer has given the pair the opportunity to really show their stuff and the BBC has seemed to have noticed, giving them a place as lead presenters next to Matt LeBlanc. The Grand Tour on the other hand hasn’t fared so well. Whilst the road tests themselves have been fine, the replacement for The Stig in Mike Skinner is incredibly irritating. All he has to do is drive the car fast round the track, not really a hard job, but they have deliberately made him seem like an idiot with him berating the car as he drives round the track moaning that it doesn’t have a V8. If I had to choose an American to keep for the next series, I would choose Matt LeBlanc every time.
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Scripted or Boring? It’s Your Choice
The films have been very varied on both sides. The Grand Tour’s films have felt a lot like the old Top Gear films in both good and bad ways. It still feels like three friends just ‘cocking about’, but it also feels incredibly scripted and doesn’t let the characters of Clarkson, Hammond and May shine. When they are on form they are great but sometimes either due to the editing or the challenge they’re taking part in, it just feels like the bad, old Top Gear. New Top Gear on the other hand felt very different. Whilst it felt less scripted, it also felt less fun. There was no chemistry between the presenters as they had essentially just met one another and weren’t really comfortable. The films ended up just being boring, there was no excitement either from the viewer or the presenters.
Chris Evans has Already Gone, Thank God
So what can they do better next time? Well, Top Gear has taken the biggest step already by letting Chris Evans go. Although he tried hard, Evans was the worst part of the show and quickly became the biggest thorn in the fans side. Week after week the fans would destroy Evans and rightly so, his shouty overexcited style did not suit the show and would inevitably be his downfall. Top Gear now seems to be listening to the fans, with Matt Leblanc (a surprise success), Rory Reid and Chris Harris now leading the show, with Sabine Schmitz and Eddie Jordan coming on for occasional segments. This is almost a fresh start for the show for a second time and I’m eager to see the results. The Grand Tour however, is more difficult to fix. Firstly I feel the show went on for too long, 12 episodes is a long series for one that used to only be 6-8 episodes at best. Fans started to fall off the show after the Christmas break. Get rid of the celebrity segment, I don’t think I can bear another series of awkwardly killed off celebrities. Secondly, I know they can’t use the News section because somehow the BBC has it, but find another way of doing Conversation Street. The intros grew tiresome over time and you could tell even Clarkson, Hammond and May didn’t find the skits funny anymore.
A Bright Future for Both Shows
Overall I think the Top Gear vs The Grand Tour was closer than people think. I feel the good stuff from Top Gear was better than the good stuff from The Grand Tour, but it’s the bad stuff that lets them down. As the bad stuff was so monumentally bad, it left fans wanting the show to die rather than succeed. The Grand Tour’s bad on the other hand was more dull and boring than actively annoying the fanbase. I feel The Grand Tour does come out on top as many suspected it would, but Top Gear has already stepped its game up for the next series as the trailer suggests. The ball is firmly in Top Gear’s court.