U.S. Top Gear is Toast

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

NBC's fall lineup is out and American Top Gear (ATG) is too. According to Dark Horizons.com, the pilot for the American version of the British car show didn't light the suits' hair on fire (if only). The decision denies the entire autoblogosphere the chance to say "I told you so" to episodes containing neither the spirit nor the veracity of the original. (It also means that Dan Neil got pissed off at me for outing him for no reason and I needn't have fallen down on the job.) The show's death is probably one of those Murder on the Orient Express deals, where manufacturers (we're not really comfortable with this show), NBC ad execs (we're not really comfortable with this show) and suits (we're not really comfortable with this show) conspired to strangle the program in its crib. On the other hand, ATG may have been, as Dan Neil suggested off-camera, pre-castrated. And then tested with an audience who liked it about as much as every other car show NBC's ever-produced– only less. The move is yet another blow to the beloved franchise. Back in Old Blighty, TG's next season of has been delayed indefinitely. Our only hope for home-grown mass media motor-oriented mayhem now lies where an American Top Gear should have started in the first place: on PBS or a non-commercial cable network.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Hwyhobo Hwyhobo on May 16, 2008
    Not everyplace in the US is as cosmopolitan as the Bay Area And this differs from parochial little towns in the UK how? Is this a car-related board, or is it just a pretext for venting petty hatreds?
  • R H R H on May 16, 2008

    tech98> I have a terrible time with non-american accents. Then again I wear two hearing aides. I really would prefer to have a PASSING chance of understanding the audio if you don't mind, thanks.

  • Beetlebug Beetlebug on May 16, 2008

    Looks to me like they just couldn't take Robert's heat.

  • GabsterUK GabsterUK on May 20, 2008
    'I don’t think the US has a big enough audience for a Top Gear style show to be network material. Maybe on the Speed Channel or something, but not on the networks. The vast majority of ‘mericans just don’t care that much about cars.' Have to disagree with you mate. In the UK, Top Gear is a favourite with both genders and all ages. My 9 year old daughter is a massive fan but the only car she's interested in is Barbie & Ken's 1/12th scale Ferrari. The appeal of Top Gear is in the mix of presenters, the anarchic stunts and the belief that every car, every celeb and any politician is not above lampooning and criticism. As soon as you introduce 'political correctness', or become dictated by manufacturer & commercial interests then you tear out the very soul of the show. Other car shows just seem to consist of a couple of overly perfect presenters reading from a script of 0-60 times and manufacturer's blag. Top Gear tells it as it is and you can sometimes imagine the show's producer grimacing and yelling in Clarkson's earpiece 'cos the guy is a total maverick. It'll be back!