By on August 8, 2010

Watch it if you must, and if you haven’t already: this is “Top Gear USA”. The three people involved are:

  • Rutledge Wood, a television personality best described as “professional douchebag”;
  • Adam Ferrara, stand-up comedian and character actor;
  • Tanner Foust, a fanatically self-motivated and successful individual who has made a name for himself participating in a variety of low-talent driving events such as X-Games Rally and “Formula D”.

Even if you don’t watch the trailer, you should be able to figure out that this series will be an absolute train wreck. With that said, the original Top Gear has never exactly been compelling television, yet it’s found a worldwide audience. The USA version won’t, and here’s why…

The English didn’t invent the idea of a TV show about cars, any more than the Japanese invented the basic ideas behind the Honda Civic. We’ve had American TV shows about cars for decades, and they’ve all been unwatchable garbage. “Motorweek”, with its endless pans of Toyota Camrys doing five under the speed limit on rural two-lane roads, is a perfect example. I double-dog-dare you to get through an episode of Motorweek without picking up a book, checking Twitter, or changing the channel. It’s unbelievably bad.

The original Top Gear succeeded in the UK because it had no competition and because it was on one of the default-choice BBC channels. Motorists in the UK, as a group, are an endangered, persecuted species, endlessly taxed, regulated, and humiliated by everything from a national network of speed cameras to a Byzantine inspection process which fails perfect-condition Jag XJSes off the road because the handbrake doesn’t work better than it did when the car was new. Driving in the UK sucks. It’s much easier to watch a show about driving, so Top Gear became a success.

Add in a sprinkling of the usual fawning British celebrity culture, and there was no stopping it. If you think the American celebrity culture promotes idiots to fame, you will be flabbergasted by the Brits; Google people like “Katie Price” or “Jade Goody” to find out what our oh-so-sophisticated cultural betters like to do with their time. “Jezza” Clarkson almost seems like a reasonable individual compared to some of these folks.

As with their compatriots in print journalism, American video autojournalists set the bar so low that this relatively flaccid English product had no trouble high-stepping over it. Unlike Motorweek, Top Gear at least showed the occasional spinning tire or racetrack action. The hosts appeared to be living people, not cadavers bolted to a stake and shocked into speaking by repeated electrical stimulation. It’s not great stuff, but it’s better than what we got here.

Naturally, the “Mr. Euros” of the world loved the snob value that came from watching a British TV show. (These people were apparently all too young to have seen Fawlty Towers.) Watching TG became a must-have status badge in the world of Internet car forums and “Cars and Coffee” circle-jerks. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that the anti-American episodes of the show are usually some of the most popular and most discussed episodes with American audiences. The folks who watch TG here consider themselves to be better people than the “Amurricans” lampooned on the show.

The final inspired addition to TG was “The Stig”. I’m continually surprised at just how impressed non-racers are with this person and the glorified-autocross “test track” he uses. When we lampooned him at Speed:Sport:Life by having me put on a mirrored helmet and present myself as “Mr. Roboto”, we got some nasty, threatening emails from it. Even if TG itself doesn’t take The Stig seriously, the viewers sure do.

For the record, the whole “Stig” deal is a joke. The race course is a joke. The vastly differing weather conditions are a joke. If you think that “fast lap” times mean anything on that show, you are mistaken. It’s all about entertainment, plain and simple.

Can an American version of this English show succeed? Of course not. It’s missing the three crucial factors that made the UK one work. It will not have a large audience as the original show did, it will not benefit from American celebrity culture due to the complete and utter nonentity status of all three hosts, and it won’t benefit from the snob appeal of being an overseas product. I promise you that the vast majority of potential viewers will simply continue to watch the original. Why would they switch?

If an American show about automobiles is to succeed, it has to be American. It should incorporate all the American automotive and racing traditions, from quarter-mile circle tracks to rallycross. It should provide accurate, fair information and have hosts with both crowd appeal and respectable resumes. Top Gear USA fails on all counts, and it will fail anyway for the simple fault of not being British.

If any of you watch the premiere when it comes out, feel free to let me know your thoughts. I won’t bother; I’ll be out driving. For that matter, you should be, too.

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92 Comments on “Why “Top Gear USA” Is Unlikely To Succeed...”


  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    All of this is just meaningless opinion and rhetoric.

    There’s one key reason why Top Gear USA will falter.

    It’ll almost certainly be shown on a channel which relies on advertising for revenue. So giving a bad review to a car or talking unfavorably about a particular car make may cause the producers to talk to the hosts about dwindling revenue because companies are pulling their adverts. Top Gear UK doesn’t have that issue.

    And that is the reason Top Gear USA will stumble, not for the reasons stated above.

    As for Top Gear UK (which I’ll just refer to, from now on as “Top Gear”), up to series 10, it was chucking out top class TV. Here’s a few highlights:

    The Aston Martin DB9 Vs the Eurostar & TGV to Monte Carlo race
    Trying to destroy a Toyota Hilux
    The Ferrari 612 Scagiletti Vs Airplane to Switzerland race (the best race of them all)
    Trying to send a Reliant Robin into space.
    The Mercedes-Benz McClaren SLR Vs Boat to Oslo race.
    The Bugatti Veyron Vs Cessna 182 to London race
    Biking across Vietnam
    The race to the North Pole
    Going from London to Edinburgh and back again on one tank of fuel

    Lately, it has been going downhill. But to say that Top Gear is poor is a pretty silly thing to say when it’s provided such great entertainment and great stunts which other shows are trying to emulate.

    P.S. You mis-spelt “unlikely” in the headline.

    P.P.S If they were going to make a Top Gear USA, they should have used this guy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCB4jY0-e6I

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      ^^^ This is truth.

      I love Top Gear but an American version of it will not be “Top Gear US”; it’ll be a bunch of yobs that I don’t care about perpetuating bad American television stereotypes.

      Give an American car show these things and I’ll watch it:
      * some some semblance of independence from corporate interests
      * intelligent hosts with maturity matching their age and not their shoe size (Dream Team: Jay Leno, Adam Carolla and Robert Farago {alternately Edward Niedermeyer or Justin Berkowitz})
      * zero editorial input from network execs

      If the series is anything like the crap in the trailer then it may be worth a peek for the “train wreck” aspect but it definitely won’t last.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian E

      I think Dan Neil deserves a spot on any fantasy US car program lineup.

      Here’s one of the short videos he’s done for the WSJ on the Boxster Spyder, which seems to be every auto journalist’s favorite Porsche to beat up on.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul W

      “It’ll almost certainly be shown on a channel which relies on advertising for revenue. So giving a bad review to a car or talking unfavorably about a particular car make may cause the producers to talk to the hosts about dwindling revenue because companies are pulling their adverts.”

      Your argument makes sense but I seriously doubt it has much of an impact. Nobody watches Top Gear for unbiased, objective car reviews. Jeremy Clarkson is known for being the very opposite of objective. Besides, who cares when they are testing a Ferrari vs a Lamborghini? It’s not like it’s gonna effect that many peoples buying decision anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Cammy: Great call on RF.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      Amen, Cammy.

    • 0 avatar

      Wise words Cammy, and well put. Thanks for saving the rest of us the trouble of setting JB right on this

      *tips hat*

    • 0 avatar
      wild409

      It will go down. The main reason is Rudledge Wood. This guy has the most irritating voice of all. I’ve tried to watch the show a few times. Each time Rudledge speaks I have to press the MUTE button.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Based on the trailer, I could see the same thing on thousands of YouTube videos.

    “Hey, let’s abuse an old Coupe DeVille by beating the crap out of it on a dirt track”. .

    Wow, how original.

    I found myself embarrassed for the hosts as they hooted and laughed at themselves.

    All it needed was a case of Busch Lite to be perfect.

    Generally speaking, trying to copy a show from another market falls flat, with some notable exceptions. However, this won’t be one of them.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Yes, the trailer convinces me that this show will last a good 10 episodes (all that were filmed prior to the actual showing) before somebody puts it (us?) out of its’ misery. Two more shows than Firefly got, but who said life is fair? For what it is worth, TG is the only car/motorcycle show my wife will actually watch. Her usual reaction to, say, WSBK, is to sprint out of the room about as quickly as I do if I accidentally wander into the tv room at 9:00pm on a Monday. TG can be genuinely funny, although why exactly that makes me some Europhile hipster thinking I am better than you mystifies me. In this world of international HDTV weird things happen. My redneck cousin in law living and growing up in rural Ammuricah loves F1 and rides an RC51. But to maintain our image when I go visit him we pull out our various weaponry and blow up things in his back yard.

  • avatar
    Paul W

    Top Gear UK has a ridiculous budget which ables them to go to exotic locations all over the world. My old folks who are only generally interested in cars, love the Vietnam/South America/Arctic special episodes, probably mainly for the humor and pretty scenery.

  • avatar
    John R

    OOOOOOHHWEEEEE!!! This Haterade is Mmm, mmm, delicious!!

    I’ll also add to Cammy’s valid point about free (non-advert supported) speech. These host are about as pleasing to watch as a festering wound. Why they choose to not go with Adam Carolla is beyond me. I’d wager if he had his own car show on HBO it’d be at least good for a solid chuckle per episode.

    I’d rather watch him by himself than these three dorks.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      During an interview with Carolla on Howard Stern, he mentioned that when they contacted him about this version of TGUSA he was already committed to a TV pilot and couldn’t do it. Then that pilot fell through.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    It’s all about entertainment, plain and simple.

    Which is exactly why it’s compelling television, despite what you say. I don’t race. I know just enough to know that the power laps are a joke, and I don’t care. Top Gear is a success because of the hosts. It’s not just Jeremy either. I’d tune for just James May, and I’ve loved his other programs like “Toy Stories”.

    I’m not exactly Mr. Euro. You couldn’t pay me enough to live in England. I find Clarkson’s reflexive anti-Americanism to be annoying at best, but it’s tempered by the fact that he’s like that about everything. He can’t talk to a German without mentioning the war. It’s just who he is.

    If you can watch something like the Reliant Robin shuttle launch or Jeremy’s famous Fiesta test without cracking a smile, then you’re Mr. Anti-Euro. There’s sheer television excellence in Top Gear and it doesn’t matter what side of the pond you’re on.

    I still think there can be a compelling American car show, but Top Gear USA never could have been good. Naming it “Top Gear” means that they’re aping the original, and that’s unambitious and rubbish. I have better things to do with my time.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    AS Cammy says. Top Gear and to some extent Fifth Gear as well, take “the piss out” as the brits say. Watch Jezza take a 10lb mallet to a Korean POS he just bought in front of that same dealer he just bought it from is priceless. No holds barred.

    We, as the audience, are starved for honesty and true opinions. Celebrity whatevers are not the key. Motorweek, no matter what your opinion of the “excitement” of the show was, had a following because Dawe, while working for PBS Maryland, had a rep for telling the truth. It may have been boring like CR, but you could trust it instead of the tire shreading antics of Motor Trend TV.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      It’s a shame to see what Motorweek has devolved to at this point..  The “reviews” range from fawning to obsequious, and the Goss’ Garage is basically pure product placement.  Not that that’s actually all that new, but still.
      Frankly, the Spike Horsepower TV block is more informative about cars, even with the ads.  Oh, and BTW Motorweek has been syndicating on pay-cable TV (Speed, now Discovery HD Theater) so they have ads too, but they were still ass-to-mouth with the automakers even before then..
      Also, all the green crap is friggin annoying..

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Calling something a failure before the first episode even airs is a bit harsh. I watch the UK version of Top Gear not because I’m a Mr. Euro, but because it is entertaining, and I get to see some cool cars that I otherwise wouldn’t. I always love when they have American cars on the show, as it’s fun to see what some car experts from across the ocean think about our homegrown metal.

    I think this has a fair chance at being a success if people give it a shot for what it is and don’t get too caught up in comparison to the original aspect. As it was said, there isn’t a whole lot of good domestic auto programming as it is, so even if it isn’t as good as the British version, that doesn’t mean it won’t still be better than almost everything else we have. There’s nobody saying that you can’t be a fan of both shows.

  • avatar

    I watched this preview over the weekend, it looks like a glorified YouTube production. It is not Top Gear nor will it ever be.

    People watch and love Top Gear for Clarkson, Hammond and May, their chemistry is really something special. It also helps that Clarkson is a professional automotive critic whose reviews carry some weight, who are these guys and why do we care what they think about a car?. People also watch Top Gear for the humor, which is distinctly British, clever, non-PC and brilliant.

    Finally, Top Gear gives those of us across the pond a glimpse of Great Britain and Europe. Cars that we’ve never seen, places we wish we could visit… a US show trying to be Top Gear, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian E

      It also helps that Clarkson is a professional automotive critic whose reviews carry some weight.

      Yes, whenever I’m shopping for a block of cheese I always check Jeremy’s reviews. Before buying or recommending a car? Not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Clarkson’s car reviews border on the insulting. Nothing is good for him, everything is rubbish and he writes like 3 pages of garbage BEFORE talking about the car.

      I had the link to the newspaper that host them (the Independent IIRC), and read some of them. Now, you have to pay 1 pond to get access… I rather pass

      • 0 avatar
        hinn

        I couldn’t agree with you more. Clarkson’s writing is abysmal. He drivels on about some nonsense for a good 3/4 before managing to pip in a few sentences about the car he is reviewing, and often enough that nonsense has very, very little to do with the car itself. Writers of car magazine from Britain are far better at it. Clarkson is way better as a tv presenter. He is entertaining on tv, but whether he is professional in his reviews, I don’t think so

  • avatar
    Bunk Moreland

    Jack, I agree with everything you said. I want to add there is one other important thing missing from this Americanized equation: charisma. I know the hosts of the BBC schlock could be better, but the trailer I watched above looks like a Jackass installment. Where’s Johnny Knoxville to strip down and kick the other guys in their special purpose?
    Stupidity. Throwing a Caddy over hills for the first trailer?? Really?
    I was expecting something interesting to happen during that little “sneak peek” we got. But no. The guys do not seem to know anything. They were placed there on set in their flannel to laugh while the other guy jumbles away a few million brain cells in a stupid Moonshine whatever rally, something.
    Who cares. Jeremy Clarkson’s charisma comes from his attitude. He knows he’s a bit out of touch. And that little bit of insightfulness he brings allows me to sit through an episode. He makes plenty fun of Americans, but of himself and his co-hosts ten times as much.
    He has a way of placing himself in the middle of things deliberately as the cynical grump. And I love it. It doesn’t have any Euro trash cache to me. My friends don’t know I watch it.
    But the biggest pitfall these guys are missing with the Hollywood X-games hipster redeux is that in order for a car show to work, or any infotainment show for that matter, the hosts should be self-effacing enough to keep it watchable.

  • avatar
    The Anam Cara

    it’s funny, because i just got done reading the rather trite booth babe/bertell schmidt piece about the annoyance of naysayers at car shows who slam vehicles they’ve never driven. i think the same principle applies to people who critique a show they haven’t seen. it may still suck in the end, but i’m willing to give it a shot, and will withhold my opinion until i’ve actually seen the material.

  • avatar
    Bunk Moreland

    european, Mensa called. You were rejected.

  • avatar
    VLAD

    30 years too late, poor imitation of General Lee, and the giggling idiots seem overdosed on antidepressants.
    Is it going to be on Speed? LOL.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    I have to admit I was a Tanner Foust hater until he gave a ride to a Hawaiian homeless guy on an episode of Supercars exposed. Needless to say the homeless guy was thrilled, and Foust CAN drift. As far as the show is concerned, I give it 3 episodes.

  • avatar
    rehposolihp

    If I had to (and since I feel as though I do) give my opinion as to why American Top Gear will fail (and it will, otherwise I’ll go to any bar you name and drink girly drinks until I am sure to have the worst hangover ever) is because of the rhetoric. Americans are not as good at holding interesting conversations. I don’t know why, but I’ve never seen any show where the hosts wordplay so effectively and so effortlessly.

    Won’t happen in ‘Merrrica.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I was going to just skip reading the article and post that Top Gear USA was going to fail because of the “everything Europe does is better” snobbish douchebags, but it looks like the article lined that out already.

    If for some reason it becomes a hit I’m going to make it a point to rub it in every chance I get.

  • avatar
    thecavanaughs

    Jack,

    That was a really angry and unpleasant article to read. I hope that isn’t the direction that this website is trending. I disagree about a couple of things and would like to comment, for what it is worth. First, it is not without competition (5th Gear). Secondly, I find Americans who like the show enjoy it because it is funny. It is a genuinely funny show. It isn’t just the cool cars, and it isn’t just The Stig. My kids favorite episode is the Vietnam Special- and there isn’t a cool vehicle in that show (nor does The Stig make an appearance).

    Yes, their anti-American rhetoric is annoying, but Jeremy Clarkson is a buffoon- that’s his shtick- he says idiotic things on every topic, not just America. Besides, even as he calls Americans fat, he is 30 lbs overweight, obsessed with power, and has the engineering knowledge of a ham sandwich (which he admits). I don’t find his opinions about anything, let alone the merits of my country, to be particularly threatening. But to suggest that American fans have some sort of anti-American better than thou attitude? You have nothing to support that and you are just saying it to cause a stir and generate some interest in your opinions- a move you appear to have lifted from Jeremy Clarkson. You certainly have the right to mock and condescend just to amuse your audience, just like Clarkson, but those who live in glass houses, etc.

    With regard to fans taking it too seriously- this is where you are really in left field. Who cares if some fans on a website were incorrectly quoting Top Gear as a serious hardcore racing reference? Most of us on this planet find hardcore racing experts to be arrogant and boring- a total turn-off in every way and a huge part of why other automotive shows fail. The laughable test track (that still has aircraft parked on it in the background), the variable weather conditions (at least once there was a dusting of snow), and the comical silent “robot with magnetic knees” that does the driving are not being taken seriously by an audience that isn’t an enlightened as you are. You’re suggesting that we, the audience, don’t understand that this is fluff entertainment? The last rerun I saw was a race between an overpriced four door and a personal letter- trust me, we are aware that this isn’t Formula One. The fact that some idiots on car forum sites quote Top Gear as gospel is not a great basis for the opinions you put forth. Idiots are idiots- but that means that when I sit down with the kids to watch Top Gear I’m either arrogant and anti-American or I’m ignorant of true motor sports? Arguing about true motor sports is useless in my opinion- never claimed to be a fan. But a good TV show with consistently high production value, a hilarious script and funny characters? That’s worth something!

    The American version will fail- in that you are correct. The rest of your article is just lashing out at folks- and while you have every right to do that, unlike Top Gear, it is neither factual nor entertaining.

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      Amen to thecavanaughs. I normally enjoy Jack’s articles, but those tend to be either about his past (a good story) or reviews on vehicles. This rant falls outside his normal wheelhouse and ultimately falls flat on its face.

      I think Mr. Baruth is more like Jeremy Clarkson than he would like to admit.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    Jack, Jack, Jack…Why so much anger against Top Gear? Top Gear is the # 1 car show in the world. That in itself may not mean much if you are a television connoisseur, but those few excepted, it’s a good indication that there is not just something right about TG but quite a few things right. Start with a trio of likable adult presenters with some good car-related experience who are not afraid to make fun of themselves and laugh at their idiosyncracies. Add good plot ideas and quite often pretty good writing to the mix, exotic locations, the best and most expensive cars in the world, gorgeous photography, good-looking female audience in the studio and you can’t go wrong. You’ve got a certified world-wide hit on your hands. If the US show can put all this into their bag tricks they’ll be on their way to multimillionaire status like the 3 Brits.

    As for RF on TGA, I think he would be terrible on TV. His writing is barely legible and I doubt he would pass English 101 in college with many of his rants. But thanks for TTAC.

  • avatar

    I’m pretty sure that if the contributors to TTAC got together, we could come up with a fairly entertaining and informative television show about cars. Remember, Top Gear is a scripted tv show and it’s pretty obvious that TTAC has writers with some talent. Whether the current staff has on-camera chops is another question – I think Jack’s done some video for Left Lane News and Ed’s dones some talking heads stuff on cable news.

    There’s very little good automotive programming on television. Everything seems to be crafted to a junior high level of literacy. Even a show like Ultimate Factories, which is fun to watch, will make technical errors.

    In the thread about ugly cars, I mentioned the Mohs vehicles. Afterwards, I spent some time reading about Bruce Mohs and his cars and thought that he’d make a great subject for a documentary or episode of a tv show. He’s still alive, his outrageous cars still exist in a museum, and the guy has to be a bit of a character.

    There’s got to be a market for quality automotive programming on television. SpeedTV certainly doesn’t come close to what it could be. Just about the only thing that’s watchable on that channel is Dave Despain’s Wind Tunnel.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      One thing enjoyable about TG-UK is that while they are doing commercials for cars – these commercials are filmed in a style similar to music videos. Makes them interesting to watch most of the time. More so than most of our American car shows which are blatantly selling you some product to make your tires shiny or some chrome bit for your engine.

      Sponsored by ACME Auto Products…

      I’m glad TG-UK offers something more than another garage on a set where guys are polishing their rides. I’m much more interested in driving the car somewhere or the dirty/noisy aspects of fixing a car. MUCH less interested in pulling some shiny component out of a box and installing it – i.e. most of the hot rod type shows. When I build a hot rod/muscle car/sleeper it’s with junkyard parts that I spend alot of time cleaning and painting. VERY little coming via the UPS truck. Can’t afford to.

  • avatar
    wmba

    A well-written relentless tirade as usual.

    Unfortunately, so far as your comments on BBC Top Gear go, they’re hilariously wrong. Utterly and completely incorrect.

    Three guys I know, who care not one whit about cars, happily sit down each Thursday night and take in the show on Canadian cable, whether it’s a repeat or not. They find it wildly entertaining. If these people, two of whom are not even car owners, find top Gear worth watching, then sorry Jack, it’s compelling TV. The show’s downright outrageous and therefore a lot of fun.

    As for the US “version”, probably won’t even make their radar.

    Your comments on life in the UK are as off-base as Clarkson’s about the USA, but lack any trace of humor or levity. What a pity, you have the literary ability to be a bit more tongue-in-cheek yourself, but rarely are. Besides, I’d be truly amazed if American celebrities live more angelic lives than the British ones.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It has all the production quality of a “y’all watch this” YouTube home video and is more Jackass than Top Gear. But maybe that’s all the Americanization they need?

  • avatar
    timothymcn

    You might want to consider a new title for this post. I was hoping for an informative piece on Top Gear USA, and the many faults revealed in its trailer, but instead I feel as if I have just read a letter from a scorned lover, that wasn’t for my eyes. I’m shocked. Did this flaccid english product hurt you in some way?

    Most of the faults in this post have already been addressed by other commenters, but I just wanted to remind you that I had to look up who Katie Price is, so I doubt the celebrities have had much to do with TG’s success in the US. I rarely know who the star in a reasonably priced car is, and if I’m watching a recording, I often skip that part of the episode. It’s hard to believe that TG’s US success is merely a product of previous success in the UK and euro-snobbery. Maybe the production values, you failed to mention, contribute?

    But this is a small chink in your piece, the part I can’t understand is how quickly and unexpectedly the piece turns into a Top Gear tirade.
    “With that said, the original Top Gear has never exactly been compelling television,”
    Why make such a bold and controversial statement as if its a established fact and then follow it up with
    “yet it’s found a worldwide audience.” – as if this is the surprising point you are a bout to make.

    You have a valid point, which I wholeheartedly agree with, “If an American show about automobiles is to succeed, it has to be American.” Unfortunately, you immediately contradict yourself, “Top Gear USA fails on all counts, and it will fail anyway for the simple fault of not being British.”

    When Top Gear USA airs, I will certainly give it a chance, but whether or not I stick with it, I know I will stick with the original, because I like my Top Gear British, not because I’m un-American, but because it’s compelling TV. I already dislike having to watch Top Gear edited for BBC America, so that it can fit more commercials. Why would I watch an American cover band, when the original is still playing? I would love to support an American Car Show, but I don’t want an Americanized version of a British show, I want an American show thats already American.

    Perhaps a follow-up pieve is in order…

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Too many of the American car shows have become too much like their American car magazine cousins – more of the same episode after episode. I quit reading C&D and Motortrend years ago and I don’t miss the Speed channel much either. I can only take so much NASCAR… When Speed first came on I think they thought they could appeal to a wider audience and played all sorts of racing. Last time I took a look it was mostly mainstream American NASCAR and drag racing.

      I’d like to have some hill climbing, some trials bikes, WRC, Paris->Dakar rally, LandRover type trials, etc to mix in with the NASCAR.

      I would not be surprised if NASCAR franchise rules limited how much other kind of racing your network hosts lest your viewers develop wider tastes.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Top Gear USA won’t appear on my TV unless it’s on a channel I already get. And maybe not even then.

    Like Zarba said above, I can see such drivel on youtube.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    We already know what happens when you try to do Top Gear without Clarkson, Hammond, and May, and without the big budget. You get Top Gear Australia. For those that haven’t seen that show, it’s basically unwatchable.

    Top Gear is often absurd and silly, but the show can also be very intelligent (some of the May segments), and can also be very thought provoking, such as Jeremy’s segment on the Aston V-12 Vantage.

    There have been some bad ones, like the infamous caravaning episode, and the Panamera vs. Royal Mail “race” which was as exciting as watching paint dry. Top Gear still usually delivers though, and the South America special was some of the finest TV I’ve ever seen.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Ah Jack, you’re all wet. TG is a great show. All that American bashing is hilarious because it’s not done for any reason other than raise a laugh besides TG are equally rough on the Germans and even thenselves. The US version just needs a chance, who knows they may find just the right formula besides USTG have a chance to get even with a bit of Brit-bashing!

  • avatar
    bevo

    Give me Jay Leno, Adam Carolla, and Dan Neil and I would watch. Yes, it needs an American sensibility but it also needs to educate the viewers.

    Top Gear does an amazing job of educating the viewer. I always believe that I have learned something after watching an episode.

    I don’t think Americans will watch this show because (A) the Americans who watch Top Gear are already watching on BBC American, iTunes, DVD, etc. and (B) Americans hate cars.

    As to point A, there is no new viewer growth. People who, for whatever reason, skip the British iteration are not suddenly going to watch Top Gear:US because the hosts speak in regular English.

    As to point B, how else do you explain the entire SUV and minivan craze? The lack of a proper diesel? The disappearance of manual transmissions? Inability to embrace hatchbacks and 5 doors? The dumping of high performance 4 bangers? The lost ability of a seemingly entire nation to change its own oil?

    Cars in the US represent can openers. Would any of us watch a show about can openers?

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Jack, have you WATCHED basic cable lately? Kardashians, American Idol, more rehashes of American Chopper, it goes on and on. All they need is like five people to watch and this show will be fine. My guess is that as long as the show isn’t overly contrived they’ll find an audience, mostly of people who have no idea what Top Gear really is.

  • avatar

    Jack, you’ve spoken the truth.

  • avatar
    church

    It simply won’t work without those three clowns. That trio is what TG is about/made of. All the rest like advertising/UK specific automotive situation/Stiginess/Cool uber sportcars are of less importance and secondary to having highly (!)entertaining(!) & charismatic hosts. They don’t even have to be professionals at anything related with cars, but they absolutely must bring smile or idiotic laughter when watching them. TG’s trio is fantastic even in other shows, they are the show.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Jack, you have spoken the truth.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    Without the chemistry and timing that Clarkson, May, and Hammond have the show will fail. However, the chemistry and timing those three have has been developed over, what, 17 or 18 seasons?

    Unfortunately, Top Gear USA won’t have the same amount of time for it’s hosts to gel. Too bad.

  • avatar
    detlef

    The last episode in Series 15 offered a challenge with three classic British sports cars. What followed was not so much the typical antics-filled Top Gear challenge, but a poignant political editorial condemning the assisted suicide of British industry, the assassination of the British working class, and the corresponding atrophy of national pride. With pieces like this, Top Gear is one of those increasingly rare shows that is able to transcend its medium.

    I don’t think any of the presenters would seriously advocate buying a car based solely on the reviews aired on the show, but they do offer entertaining and frequently unconventional perspectives on the cars they review. That already outstrips what MotorWeek and the even more execrable programs like mid-Nineties Motor Trend TV or somehow-still-around My Classic Car, presented by Dennis Gage in his best Terry “The Toad” Fields impression. The added challenges are merely enthusiast frosting and almost always inhabit the same farcical space as Monty Python’s Flying Circus. If they don’t put a smile on your face, you’re taking the show too seriously.

  • avatar
    Doc

    I happen to love Top Gear and although I am disappointed that Adam Carolla will not be on it, I will definitely watch.

    One of the things about the British version that makes it work is the chemistry between the hosts. If they cannot achieve that with the US version, it may not make it.

    Unfortunately, that chemistry is very difficult to quantify and I cannot tell if they have it from the clip.

  • avatar
    niky

    The one reason Top Gear UK works, as some others have pointed out, is chemistry. And no, it didn’t take 18 seasons for that… what really happened is this:

    I watched the first incarnation of Top Gear (before people moved to Fifth Gear and it got canned) and it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as it got in later years. It was good, mind you, in parts… but not quite as compulsively watchable as it is now.

    And what did they do wrong? Nothing. They had car reviews with real humor. Vicki Butler Henderson frying an egg on a car hood after a test. Races upon races. (who doesn’t love seeing a 1980′s rally car getting beaten up by a Mitsubishi Evo?) But when many of the old presenters left the show, it fell completely apart. It took them a while to come up with the new formula, with Clarkson, Hammond and May.

    And really, Clarkson is a rubbish reviewer. Not that he knows nothing about cars, just that much of what he says is merely meant to get a rise or a chuckle out of viewers (and readers), or both, preferably. May is the more knowledgeable, but he can’t drive worth beans. Hammond is more of a motorbike guy than a car guy… but he’s up to anything. Put all three together, and they couldn’t drive anywhere close to as well as Tiff Needell or Vicky Butler Henderson (both racing drivers, both on 5th Gear now). The reviews they do on Top Gear are horrible as reviews, and Jack’s right… Top Gear lap times are a terrible indicator of performance, simply because they have too many Stigs to count, and the infamous British weather makes a hash out of many of them.

    But does it really matter? It’s ridiculously fun to watch James May mow the lawn with a Zonda, and the Vietnam special was epic genius, even though not a single car was driven in the entire show. It’s goofy, irreverent and terrible automotive journalism (shift gear, kill a prostitute, shift gear, kill a prostitute), but it’s always (as the Brits would say) good for a larf.

    Which means they went about it all wrong. TGUSA should have been Leno, Titus and a straight man (preferably from MotorTrend, so they can pick on him mercilessly… Lieberman, are you listening). Forget racing drivers. This show needs comedy.

    And chemistry. Whether TGUSA hits or flops will be all down to the three guys sitting in the chairs.

  • avatar
    ajla

    We here at Motorweek enjoyed the fresh perspective provided by the Top Gear USA show, but some staffers would have liked to see more of the European flair that made the original so popular.

    The size of Rudledge Wood’s ego is impressive at 26.2 cubic feet and a tasteful hipster haircut/beard combo comes standard.

    Adam Ferrara succeeds at having an exotic name, but only 3.5 of his jokes make it past the slightly narrow trunk opening.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    That trailer is absolutely horrible. Who are those clowns and why are two of them wearing almost matching plain shirts (which, by the way, are gang symbols in Santa Cruz, CA these days)? Beating up a tired on Cadillac on a hastily whipped together dirt track through some down on his luck farmer’s back 40 is hardly great entertainment. As others have said, I’ve seen better stuff on YouTube!

    As for Jack’s take on Top Gear, I don’t agree with him … and found his take on it pretty hilarious and a bit recursive. It is almost as if Clarkson took on the assignment of giving a good verbal thrashing to his own show. Quite entertaining if you don’t take it too seriously!

    And, BTW, I’m pretty sure the whole “The Stig” thing is indeed a big (wink, nod) con.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    You are correct Jack. I lived in several countries and would watch Top Gear because of a lack of any english language show…Top Gear is schoolyard rubbish. Pointless and emotion seeking actions and words…now the US will produce a cheesy knock-off of that…class, real class.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    I don’t think it’s acknowledged just how talented Clarkson, May, and Hammond actually are. Clarkson in particular; that combination of wit and charisma is almost nonexistent even among television hosts. He would be just as compelling if the show were about apricots. The three of them are so good that they give the impression that any fool and his buddies could host a car show to the same effect. As should be apparent from clip above, there’s a massive gulf between acting the fool and being one.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    If it fails, it’ll be because it takes a couple of years for a group of three guys to develop real chemistry between each other, and they won’t be given that much time.

    But I do think they need to take themselves more seriously than they do in the trailer. Top Gear’s genius is being silly while pretending not to be. You can be more openly silly, as the UK show has done, as you get to know the presenters better, but you can’t just start off that way.

  • avatar
    gsnfan

    I don’t know. That Cadillac thing at the end seemed to be on par with Davidsfarm rather than Top Gear. People watch Top Gear for the hilarious banter between the hosts, the reviews of cars we will never own, and the humorous challenges. People watch Davidsfarm to see Canadian rednecks drive a modified (read: destroyed) car that Dave got for $200 at the Pick and Pull up Skyhill. Their commentary is similar to that of drunk rednecks (Yeah! That was awesome air!), and that was what the commentary sounded like in the trailer. Dave at least has an encyclopedic knowledge of automotive engineering and can jury rig parts because he’s too cheap to get new parts. Clarkson doesn’t have any, but he makes up for that with his insults and commentary. Do these people have any? We’ll have to find out.

  • avatar
    Jackalope30

    Oh puh-lease Jack. Top Gear USA won’t succeed because its going to be bland and uninteresting. Right. Sure.

    Its true. All of our car shows are bland and uninteresting. From the powerblock on spike to pinks, hot rod TV, Pass Time, Motorweek, ETC., Yes, all bland unwatchable garbage. Note that this bland unwatchable garbage has been on the air for decades in some cases (Horsepower has been on since I was in middle school) and couldn’t be there unless someone out there’s been watching it. Despite not being worth Jack Baruth’s time, somehow, these on-air train wrecks have maintained the kind of sustainable success your average prime time TV show wish it had.

    Something can’t succeed in America because it’s bland and uninteresting? Just how long have you been living here, Jack? Here in this great nation, despite photo-copying madonna’s music and dressing like she fell out of a hoola-hoop factory only to fall into the back of a dump truck full of silver glitter glue, Lady Gaga can have the most watched youtube video and rank #4 in forbes. The ‘Twilight Saga’ is little more than taking your already bland episode of ‘buffy the vampire slayer’ and sucking the most interesting bit out of it – slaying vampires – and leaving the now weak willed main character to decide if it will be a vampire or a werewolf that will be tapping her ass for the rest of eternity. Despite this, its already a multi-billion dollar franchise. The accord coupe has existed continuously for the past 26 years. In that same span of time, the camaro and firebird were canned, one forever never to be seen again, the GTO came and went like a short summer storm, and the G8 failed so hard that it creamed any chance or us getting another RWD impala. No question about which one of those cars is most bland and most uninteresting. Also no question as to which one is the undisputed sales champion second only to the mighty F-150. Guess we can gauge from that just what sort of (lack of)driving experience Americans want most from their cars…

    Bland and uninteresting? Those two words describe whole swaths of our culture. We’re saturated with the dull and ordinary and no one seems to mind – no worse than that – its what everyone expects and will put their money towards. How else do you explain the complete lack of sports cars (or at least fun-to-drive cars) from the two most successful car companies in the world? One of whom has gotten completely out of that business (honda), and another (toyota) who just now got back on board (but you need to be gigarich in order to join in the fun)?

    ‘Bland and uninteresting’ summarizes the history channel. Yet we have two of them. It costs almost nothing to produce these kinds of shows, and I bet a meager audience of a few hundred thousand will be more than enough to keep ‘Top Gear USA’s lights on. It doesn’t have to be wickedly gripping television (which, clearly it ain’t) in order to be successful, all it has to do is blend right in. Judging from this trailer, its well on it’s way to that.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      But… but… but Buffy was created by Joss Whedon! He can do nothing wrong!

      Actually… you got it wrong… they took Buffy and removed the part that made it fun to watch. The witty banter, girls-kicking-butt and believable (well… semi-believeable… Joss Whedon is incredibly prone to type-casting) likeable characters go out in favor of self-indulgent narcissism and inept writing.

      True Blood is a million times better than Twilight and (shudder) the Vampire Diaries. And sexier. Not that I, uh, actually watch Vampire shows. (Buffy wasn’t a vampire show… it was a sitcom. With vampires. And girls-kicking-butt.)

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Can’t agree with you, Jackalope30. The trailer doesn’t impress as anything more than a youtube stunt. It’s not even informative. Advertisers won’t pay enough to keep the lights on.

      And someone please do something about “european”. The flaming’s getting pretty hot.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    My opinion, Curb Your Enthusiasm is the funniest show on TV. Top Gear UK is second. I don’t race my car, but I love cars. I can tell you how a turbo works but I don’t know how a diesel engine can work on rendered fat. I think the Panamera is ugly and the Lexus LFA is too expensive. And I think Top Gear UK is really, really funny. Why? Not sure. Maybe the same reason that The Quest For the Holy Grail is the funniest movie ever made. Maybe its just that they can laugh at themselves. And do so far more often than they make fun of Americans. The little segment featuring “I beat the stig” t-shirts is a perfect example.

    I think its funny. Very funny. For car reviews I come here.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    if you have a look at Top Gear Australia and Top Gear Russia you can see they are very very pale carbon copies… and they try to copy the formula word for word

    the US one… it’s gonna fail

    it’ll be lucky to run one season

    btw. your assessment of Tanner Foust is exceedingly harsh… the other two? meh… pretty accurate

  • avatar
    Tricky Dicky

    As much as ‘European’ is a (Manucunian?) troll, I think he’s called your bluff on this one Jack. Your grist seems to come from within (maybe you feel you are a better driver than Clarkson, your opinions more witty)?

    Either way, I don’t think your criticisms are valid. Top Gear was a stodgy, dull show, where they did review cras like the Vauxhall Astra, going back 20 years or more (Tiff Needell as main presenter with Quentin Forgethisname). It was a car show, for people interested in cars. With a limited audience.

    Then they decided to make it an entertainment programme, loosely based around cars. They didn’t pretend to do fair reviews, they focused on fantasty exotic cars to tap into the collective sense of aspiration, they scripted the gags and races and carefully blended the identitied of the presenters. The whole point of the ‘Star in the Reasonably Priced Car’ is NOT to deliver a benchmarkable assessment of driving skills, it is to get another angle on a celebrity doing something outside of their comfort zone. Thhey can be teased and cajoled in an interview because they are vulnerable to how their skills are going to be appraised. We get to see their emotions and hopes worked out on screen in an entertaining way.

    Clarkson is a dinosaur, opinionated, a xenophobic buffoon. He represents the common man, not afraid to voice his opinion, anti-establishment and more than willing to offend as many French, Germans, Americans, Polish, stupid or working class people as he can. People appreciate his directness, scepticism and seeming honesty. When he dislikes something, he launches a tirade, when he loves something, he raves about it. Nothing in between. You know what you get with Clarkson. In my opinion, I think he’s an irritating, smug git.

    Richard Hammond is the clean cut, optimist. His enthusiasm and appreciation are the character traits they draw out. He is seen as fair, willing to slightly challenge a bully, but most of all to chirpily sing the praises of whatever he is given to drive. He is Mr.Sunshine and Flowers, progressive yet somewhat vulnerable.

    James May represents the laggards in the audience. He is slow to make an opinion, considered in what he says, balanced, reserved, not self-promoting. He is the humble man who does not allow himself to be overwhelmed.

    And maybe this is the point why TG is a success. Because the show is carefully crafted to represent the emotional needs of the audience in a balanced way. There are three characters which people can identify with. The cars are unattainable and represent dreams. Conflict and tension are crafted into the programme to create a believable feeling of suspense. And some of the interplay and dialogue is just hilarious 9even if at times, childish).

    Which is why any show which is based on just 3 dudes hooning around with cars is not going to be the equal of the original.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Exactly and Topgear USA might have a chance if they had three separate personalities/styles as hosts. Have those three drag their co-hosts to events and car shows that are important to them.

      Have the sports car guy dragging them to sports car road rallies or poker runs. Have the street rod guy dragging their cohosts into hot rod shops and hot rod shows. Maybe drive a few ‘rods and be honest – they got the straight line speed but they handle and or ride like shit. (They do. So do the ones I’ve built). Have a semi-intellectual like May constantly rooting for the “underdog” like the Prius and “Green-tech”.

      That’s part of what makes TopGear interesting – the contrast between the hosts. That TopGearUSA clip makes them look like three of the same kinds of guys. If you relate to those three guys then maybe you’ll enjoy the show. If a viewer doesn’t relate to them then that viewer will likely keep on channel surfing.

      I’m tired of the American “all the same, all the time”. I can get the same meals at McDonald coast to coast. Blah. Meh. I like to try new foods and meet new kinds of people. I like to drive all cars and trucks big and small. I’m going to have just as much fun rock crawling as I am trying to make the next hairpin corner in a convertible going too fast. I like cars expensive and modest.

      That’s what we need in the USA. More variety. Not another show with the same kind of dude driving the same cars we see on the road everyday for $500 a dozen. I’m worn out on the tattooed biker type shows. The dude with too much attitude for one human body or taking themselves WAY, way too serious. I’m tired of people who can only relate to people who drive what they drive, dress the same way and listen to some narrowly focused style of music – you know the type. Listens to 10 songs over and over and over and over.

      I want to see Topgear USA bring some new to American TV.

  • avatar
    Vega

    “I’m continually surprised at just how impressed non-racers are with this person and the glorified-autocross “test track” he uses.”

    Ooooooh, it’s so unjust isn’t it Jack? You have far more talent than Stig and yet, he gets all the (robot) chicks? The world is just so mean… Just asking, does this huge chip on your shoulder affect the laptimes in your PLYMOUTH?

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    The reason that Top Gear UK is successful is because it’s a good show. It’s not a good show about cars, but rather its’ a good show about three blokes having a chemistry that can’t be easily defined. I almost died laughing when they came to the states and traveled to New Orleans. It was hilariously funny. As far as the stig, I think he is just as entertaining.

    But the big issue with Top Gear USA is just that, it’s an imitation. Imagine how unsuccessful the Drew Carey show would have been if it was called “Seinfeld Cleveland” or “How I met your Mother” was called “Friends Revisited.” See, even if it is a direct ripoff, it can’t identify itself as one. Even such shows that are continuations of successful shows never quite succeed because they are ripoffs. The Jeffersons was never called “Rich Black All in the Family” for a reason.

    So, I maintain that the show could be excellent and it wouldn’t matter. Americans hate an imitation.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I have driven extensively in the UK and usually hit 100+mph on the M roads in the rentals if they are up to it. I found it to be quite pleasant and in most cases easier to drive enthusiastically than here in the USA

  • avatar
    tedward

    I find it hard to believe that you actually read everyone’s response to British Top Gear so inaccurately. This strikes me more as being contrarian for the sake of it, or just reveling in your testosterone cycle or something. People watch Top Gear b/c it is hilarious, hell 90% of the people I’ve watched an episode with continue to seek it out, and almost none of them are car people at all.

    Also, I enjoy Clarkson’s digs at America the same way I enjoy cracker jokes (which I hear a lot of in the South Bronx) or breeder cracks from my gay friends. I fail to see how it’s a sign of elitism, instead I see it as a symptom of not taking yourself too seriously, something to be admired and encouraged by my lights. Also, you’d have to put some real blinders on to not catch his digs at the British, I’d say he heaps more crap on his own audience than anyone else (teeth whitening jokes, Mr. May’s taste for tweed etc…).

  • avatar
    tedward

    also, low talent in regards to Formula D? Really? Drifting is easy…drifting with inches of clearance on dry pavement consistently and with an eye to “style” is not. Never mind sharing the track.

  • avatar

    And here I was expecting some rational explanation about why Top Gear USA (either this incarnation or, possibly, any attempt) was going to fail…

    I’ll give you one. The casting (seemingly) is inadequate. I can understand not wanting to blatantly copy TG’s formula, and the budget probably wouldn’t allow big names, but that’s my biggest diappointment. If TGUSA is going to have any chance to succeed, the cast needs to develop a repoire right away. It also needs to be fun but there’s at least a chance of that.

  • avatar
    threeer

    If hate-filled comments such as which are being professed by various commentators aren’t controlled, TTAC will begin to lose a fair amount of regular readership. There was a time (in the not so distant past) where the relative decorum and ability to thoughtfully share views on the topics at hand were a hallmark of this website. If the bottom-dwelling name calling continues, TTAC will become nothing more than another blogsite, where people can rant and spew forth unintelligent blather without recourse. I’d ask the editors to reign in the back alley grade-school dropout comments and return this site to the intelligent discussions that lead us here to begin with.

    Oh, and as for the boys over on TG UK? Sorry, but I can’t help myself…they’re just too much fun to watch.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I like Wheeler Dealers. Does that mean I’m a Eurosnob as well?

    Maybe these show’s successes is dependent on things that are harder to find in American TV – fun, entertaining, intelligent hosts who don’t take themselves that seriously…. maybe finding the Jon Stewart of the auto world.

  • avatar
    OB 50

    Will Top Gear USA suck? Predictably and sadly, probably… yes. That much I’ll give you.

    Hating on the Stig? What the hell?

    He’s not even a real person (obviously), but more than that, there isn’t even the pretense that he’s to be taken seriously. He’s an idealized myth. The Stig is an office, occupied by the man most suited for the task at hand. That’s the beauty of it. Anyone could be the Stig; even you, if need be.

    Why don’t you go into detail about how James Bond is a horrible spy, or how Santa Claus isn’t real? You’d be technically correct, but you’d also be entirely missing the point.

    Are you also the kind of guy who walks into a room of people merrily enjoying a game of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, and complains that no one plays real instruments anymore?

    It’s called “suspension of disbelief”, and humans who don’t hate themselves use it to enjoy life occasionally.

  • avatar
    DougD

    If you think TG is a car show you’re missing the point. As James May hisself said it’s a comedy show about a car show. As brilliant as some of it is, I can’t sit through an entire episode as the UK-spec celebrity interview is quite unwatchable when you don’t know who the UK-spec celebrity is.

    Classic brand dilution at the expense of a quick buck!! Where have we seen that before?

  • avatar
    mrcrispy

    Top Gear is a great show. All 3 of the hosts actually know cars and can talk at length about them. I doubt any of the TGUSA hosts (except Tanner) know more than the clueless SIARPC.

    And among the usual silliness and hyperbole on TG, there are nuggets of Wisdom. Can you ever imagine TGUSA (or any US network for that matter) doing a segment like the F1 or british classic cars retrospective. Americans are by and large loud, brash, unsophisticated simpletons and that is what we expect from our tv as well. The show will be overproduced to hell and beyond, chock full of ads and product placement and not even pretend to be objective.

  • avatar

    Top Gear will fail because it will be on commercial television – television that is made possible by sponsors. The show will be unable to rip these sponsors a new asshole if they make a shitty car or a shitty car product.

    The British version, on the other hand, is free to tear into whatever they want, whenever they want. Public television and whatnot.

    Call it journalistic integrity if you must.

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    I think the fundamental problem w/”Top Gear USA” is that America has a relatively healthy automotive industry, whereas the U.K. does not. As such, it’s easy for Brits to criticize (and praise) vehicles in the sophomoric manner Jezza, Hamster & Captain Slow employ. But over here, critical commentary will be seen by a certain sizable percentage of viewership as “America bashing”; conversely, positive reviews will be seen as sucking up. Throw into the mix three relatively unknown “enthusiasts” w/little pedigree and I just don’t see this show getting its legs (Note: I do sort of like the Red Bull jumper dude).

    BTW: I’ve heard a rumor that “Doc Martin” is coming over here too. Message to Britain: We don’t need watered-down versions of your programs…look at what you/we did to “The Office.”

  • avatar
    WEGIV

    “I’m continually surprised at just how impressed non-racers are with this person and the glorified-autocross “test track” he uses.”

    “For the record, the whole “Stig” deal is a joke. The race course is a joke. The vastly differing weather conditions are a joke. If you think that “fast lap” times mean anything on that show, you are mistaken.”

    First things first, I’m fully aware of the primary reason for TG – entertainment, and I get that the Stig isn’t necessarily God’s gift to racing. I’m not posting because you insulted my beloved Stig or the show.

    Also, I get that this is an editorial, and so the primary basis for the article is the author’s opinion, but normally TTAC is better at having it be at least *partially* based in fact, rationally expressed, and cogently defended instead of just ranting and casting unfounded aspersions.
    Jack, exactly what, in your “expert” opinion, makes the race course a joke? Why is it not plausible that a place like the UK, known for getting rather a lot of rain, might have days where the track is wet?

    I could understand if this had started with “I’ve seen/driven the track” (even if it was just on GT5) or “I’ve been behind the scenes” or “I raced the Stig when Lutz refused” or “I used to date Hammond’s former girlfriend’s aunt’s roommate”… anything that gives some manner of credibility to your assertion. But instead, it’s just trolling.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I watch TG because I’ve seen all the 3 Stooges shorts. And on BBC America, it comes on right after Star Trek, NG . Clarkson, May and Hammond work well together. The North Pole and South American trips were great.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Oh Jack, you are just lashing back at the euro-boys, as if that is any better…

    Top Gear is good because it has high production values, and they review cars how they want, as non-sensical as that may be. Watch the old JC stuff before the 2001 “rebirth” he was the same then as he is now.

    Sure it is not as “good” now as it was the first dozen series, the “set-ups” are a bit too obvious. Nothing lasts forever.

    The American episodes are great, not because the viewers seperate themselves from the “other” America depicted, but because it is another perspective, and a great way to laugh at ourselves. And in the end the boys love it here.

    TG showed me that being a car guy is not a logical thing, and when they reviewed more cars, they reviewed it from that perspective.

    Gonna be hard to duplicate that on American ad-driven TV, both by budget and ability to create an interesting perspective.

  • avatar
    slimersammy

    Just watched the new show. Boring. These guys have no personalitys. It was painful to watch. Can’t wait for Mon. and I’ll watch the real thing on BBC. 

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Well I watched episode number one of TopGear America. If those guys could grow some personality the jshow might have a chance but I found the hosts to be possibly the most boring three guys on earth.I fast forwarded through most of the show. If they were going to talk my finger was on the FFWD button.
    To be fair, I’m having the same troubles with TopGear Australia though too. Maybe these two sequel shows are some kind of Jeremy Clarkson revenge prank – you know, some sort of dry joke where they hire six fellows for the two shows that just din’t belong in front of a camera.
    Too bad the American guys aren’t a little more animated, too bad they can’t smile a little more. Too bad they have the personality equivalents of a toneless singer. Send them to a drama coach to teach them how to express some emotion on camera. Then send them to stand up comedian school so they know how to deliver some laughs. Then if that does not good, find us three more guys. So far the three seem to be cookie cutter copies of each other. The videos looked good. The cars looked good. No excessive electric guitar soundtracks (thank god) like the show I watched on another channel the other night. Constant tearing electric guitar solos.I get it, trying to make the show tough and manly. I get it already… GRIN!

  • avatar

    @ Cammy “WORD”; seriously, what were the producers smoking when they decided on these goons? come on….tanner foust looks like a teenager who’s scared of his own shadows, adam ferrara who? (small part in rescue me), and ruthledge wood totally reminds me of a thinner version of al borland from tool time. The show was flat! Totally lacks humor, knowledge, chemistry, and swager.  

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Watched the first episode and hope the guys grow some personalities. Other than that the show has a chance. Not enough banter. All three guys seem to be cookie cutters of each other so far.
    Good luck to them, I’ll keep watching.

  • avatar
    Theotherguy

    I would say this is another case of a has been trashing a successful endeavor out of anger, but Jack Baruth has never done anything. He was a shitty BMX racer and is now a shitty part time racer and his envy is so transparent in this article it’s pathetic.
    Top Gear is the most popular car show on the planet, How you can attack it because they poke fun at Americans is a RETARDED as saying Soccer is shit because the US is not any good at it. If you can’t take a joke keep watching non-offensive 30 minute dramas on the Oxygen network! The rest of the public like Family Guy and South Park which are rife criticism about this country. Too bad all those falls in your BMX days didn’t thicken your sensitive skin!
     
    If the show fails it will be because the personalities on the show continue to be robot like and the series will continue to try and be a copy of the British version. Where is the 4X4′s and hot rods? I want to see someone racing Trophy Truck around! There are all kinds of things we can do here they can’t do over there.
     
    At any rate continue you bashing something that you could never hope to come close to accomplishing.
    P.S. Maybe you should look at the magazine rack when your next at the grocery store before you suggest the US has no celebrity culture. And your online video reviews are not much better than those on MOTORWEEK.

  • avatar
    Mcfly013

    It seems the general consensus is on target with the the UK Top Gear having a chemistry that is very entertaining amongst the hosts.  The first mistake this new  US series made was using the Top Gear name, but, the U.S. entertainment industry has become incapable of imagining something new.  That’s why there are 2, 3, or 4 sequels to almost every successful movie made, and remakes are more popular than ever.  TV shows are cookie cutter formats, with different people. (e.g. Reality Shows)
    It is only fitting that a US car enthusiast show format be copied from another successful one.  The problem here is the show they’re ‘biting off of’ has a large following, a following that never wanted a US knock off, because they’re happy with what they’ve got.  As long as BBCA has the original series on US TV, it’s unlikely they’ll ‘woo’ any viewers, or even grab much interest for that matter.  Sad thing is they thought they could do better than the other failing knock offs.
     

  • avatar

    After seeing Rutledge Wood in a bogus boat race on some track’s infield lake, I noticed he was too terrified to advance the throttle more than about a third. Given that, and his lack of personality, and only attribute being (justifiably) a butt of jokes, I’m wondering why he is employed ANYWHERE! He isn’t representative of any demographic that NASCAR needs, and offers no wit or insight into anything automotive. WHY IS HE THERE?

  • avatar
    Samskara

    No, no no — the US version of Top Gear is likely to fail, but the reasons have nothing to do with automobiles.  The Brit version, while it does go overboard sometimes, maybe even frequently, has an element of surrealism and charm.  The presenters manage to sound as if they’re ad-libbing, and Jeremy Clarkson, with his Colonel Blimp bombast is the main source of humor.  I doubt if many people are in the market for the cars discussed on the show, but that’s, in large part, what gives it its charm.
    In contrast, the American presenters simply sound artificial, as if they’re reading from a teleprompter.  There’s none of the chemistry of the original, none of the playfulness and humor.  Since the show isn’t likely to be a useful source of shopping advice for most of it, and the cast seems as natural as a drama club production of An Inspector Calls, why bother?
    FWIW, has anybody watched Castle on ABC or NCIS on CBS?  There’s nothing special about either show, but the casting director got people who work and play well together.  If I want to watcxh crash test dummies, I’ll go to Mythbusters.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen two of the American version ‘Top Gear’ programs so far. Just saw the one where they use up most of the show dealing with car sales people. What a waste of time.
    My opinion of the show is that it should fail because it is cruder and crueler than the original. The hosts on the American version say some cruel things now and then and it takes a lot of the fun out of the show. It’s like we’re waiting for someone to get punched.
    I like the original Top Gear because the guys there really love cars and driving. They also have basic respect for each other, though they taunt each other. The original show gives viewers more information and more of a sense of being there at the test, in the studio, etc.
    I thought perhaps I was being too tough on the USA version, but in seeing the show with the car salesbeings, I agree that the USA Top Gear should either vanish or go through some major re-thinking.
    The Producers should look again at the UK version and try to very nearly copy it. I don’t know where they’re going to get three charming Americans who have decades of experience driving and assessing many different types and makes of cars.  I wish I could be part of the ‘adjustment’ team.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Dan Lewis – let me know if you get a call. I’d like to join the readjustment team too. I’m just an average guy but I know I could be more witty and creative that the three dudes on TG-USA. They need to learn to laugh and tease a little. More smiling might help too.

  • avatar
    owb

    Jack Baruth is acting just like the person he dosen’t want to be; Jeremy Clarkson.

    This article COMPLETELY misses the point of why Top Gear USA will fail, and it strikes me as nothing more than an anti-European rant with a chip on his shoulder. As a Brit, I’d like to inform Mr Baruth his stereotype of weather conditions and driving in this country is nonsense, but unlike Mr Baruth I won’t jump to conclusions about an entire nation. I respect America and I am totally with the other commenters here – dissapointing article from a ranting man who has an ‘expert’ opinion with no basis in fact.


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