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My One Hope for Top Gear

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Topics:  Top Gear

My One Hope for Top Gear

Bill Crittenden
May 30, 2015

Losing Jeremy Clarkson would have been enough of a transition for Top Gear. But in a great big "fuck you" to everybody at the BBC who aren't independently wealthy like themselves and who just want to make a living without getting punched in the face, Richard Hammond, James May, and top producer Andy Wilman aren't willing to come back without Jeremy.

On a funny note, the Clarkson-Hammond-May era ended, for me, with Hammond saying to Jeremy "you total plumsack."


It looks as if the onscreen trio and their offscreen mastermind will probably surface somewhere else as an intact group, and that's going to be a bad thing for the folks they abandoned at the BBC. It's likely, as Top Gear was so much more than the one television program, that they'll try and carry on with new hosts.

Of course, without getting into a discussion of psychology and celebrity and how people's perceptions of right and wrong are swayed by how much they like a person, suffice it to say that most people don't care one whit about what Jeremy did and the BBC are just the evil, idiotic killjoys of this story, the executives just sad little car-hating trolls who have been trying to fire Jeremy for years as a sacrifice to their deity of political correctness, and fuck that guy who got punched, who does he think he is to dare disappoint Jeremy? He had it coming!

Honestly, this attitude doesn't bode well for anyone trying to keep Top Gear's viewership. The new hosts are going to have to try and go up against a tsunami of seething hatred and somehow they're going to win everyone over?

So here's my one hope for any "new" Top Gear: don't even try. Let the old fans go. Don't try and replicate the old magic while the genuine article is just a channel flip away under a new name. Find new viewers. Find a new time slot and a new opening theme, too, maybe even a new logo, whatever puts some distance between the Clarkson era and the new show.

There are still a billion things that can be done with cars and some new faces that haven't yet been done by Wilman and Co.

Just off the top of my head, I'd love to see a handful of Brits who hate caravanning take million-dollar luxury RVs...and perhaps end up in the infield at Talladega to see if they can survive a NASCAR weekend. Okay, I admit I thought of that years ago but I'm sure it would still apply to whoever the new producers find.

How about the new trio enter Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race? Great cross-promotion there. Or, if that can't be done, just try to run a taco truck on the streets of L.A. for an episode.

Borrowing from other shows, they could visit some supercar factories (How it's Made: Dream Cars) or see if the new hosts can hack it in some of the auto world's toughest jobs (Somebody's Got to Do It with Mike Rowe).

Of course, my greatest disappointment in these last few seasons of Top Gear was how silly some of the challenges got, particularly in the Ambulance Challenge just a few episodes before the era's end. I mean, that was getting down to a level that made The Three Stooges look a bit highbrow. One great way to take things in a different direction is to make it a bit more serious. That's not to say they need to banish humor, but their challenges could aim a bit higher.

Take the stretch limo challenge, for example. I mean, really, the cars they built were absolutely silly, and the show's had its funny moments, but what if they had spent a lot less on hosts and a little more on technicians and actually stretched a Jaguar XK? And built it to a quality that made it worth serious consideration? How much room could one have inside a Ford Transit van when stretched to the legal limit? And what if they had gotten manufacturer cooperation including a spot in their booth at a major motor show?

"More ambitious, less rubbish," to paraphrase the old description. Less slapstick, more serious, but still fun, just in a different way. But a new way is what's needed at Top Gear. Unfortunately, any effort to replicate the old show's style without the people who made it happen is likely to make it look like the kind of eye-roll-worthy, embarrassingly cheap knockoff that BuzzFeed makes lists about.

My one hope for Top Gear is that they don't do that.

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