QOTD: Are You Watching 'The Grand Tour'?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd are you watching the grand tour

Top Gear had been the most popular car show in the world for a decade. It was one of my favorite things to watch — all the way back to the awkward first season where 15 people who liked the WRX showed up to a studio at a rural airport to watch three men discuss cars. (The show unceremoniously exchanged one of those three men in season two for James May).

Watching over the years proved very entertaining, even though toward the end of the run the script poked holes in the Joking Car Guys illusion we’d mostly been able to believe in seasons past. Still, I looked forward to the Cheap Car Challenges and the adventures of the three as they’d drive across foreign lands in whatever falling-apart heap they’d selected from the local Bolivian version of AutoTrader.

And then a one-two punch happened, and Amazon promised us more. More cars, more of the trio, more gags — all the things we wanted, things that made so many rage against the BBC when it fired the controversial Clarkson.

But more is the primary issue with The Grand Tour.

I won’t use my QOTD to go on a tangent with a review of each episode thus far (though I really, really could). I’ll just report that our trio has already been to exotic locations around the world, just as promised. There are lots of explosions, crashes, supercars, comments about immigrants, and a quest to “murder” all of Britain’s celebrities. The show has really got it all!

But that it has it all is not a compliment. Somewhere in the midst of their huge budget and Internet show freedom (insert reference to pleasuring horses here), the show’s forgot what it set out to be — a different sort of car show. Pay special attention to those last two words there. Aside from a few shining moments when the Top Gear of old shines through, the rest of The Grand Tour is a variety show — a nice, cinematic take on an idea that was worn out in 1978.

Pretending to murder celebrities with someone in a lion costume? Yeah, we’ve got that.

Ridiculously scripted studio banter between hosts, complete with pauses for canned laughs? Yep.

One character who must carry on a shtick being dumber than they are for the sake of the comedy? Hey, James May — you’re up!

Another character (NASCAR driver in this case), playing up to every stereotype of “Stupid Redneck American” ever known? Yee-haw!

We already know The Grand Tour will be with us for at least three years, as Amazon has contracted for thirty-six episodes with each lasting roughly an hour. The show carries a shocking 9.4 over at IMDB.

The show has apparently and immediately found a wide audience who’s up for an hour of entertainment filled with tortured sketches that go on too long and overworked characters who’ve been stretched beyond recognition by whichever geniuses are writing the script.

And they are geniuses. By turning The Grand Tour into an extreme sketch comedy show, Amazon is appealing to the widest audience possible and getting the most for its money. The show’s really lost it for me, and I can’t see myself carrying on watching after this first season. It’s only an option when I’ve reached the bottom of the Internet bucket and I’m not quite ready to turn off the TV. The earlier, fun show about car guys is as far in the distance as William Woollard with his foot on the bumper of a Jaguar XJS.

Tell me what you think. Maybe I’m just not viewing it through the right lens here. It’s got to deserve that 9.4 rating on IMDB, right?

I’ll be right back. Amazon Prime is at the door with my Soma.

[Image: The Grand Tour/Amazon Prime]

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2 of 155 comments
  • TybeeJim TybeeJim on Dec 19, 2016

    In a word, this show which was a favorite, now ROTS! Oh the first show was pretty good, the photography top notch. But the schtik has grown stale. While the trio is ok, they don't need to read from scripted takes. The show is supposed to be about cars, some that we own and drive and some that we'd like to own and drive, not weed wagons or vile, disgusting meat mobiles. The trio has distinct personalities and that's enough to add spice, humor. Unless there are serious changes, I'll be one less viewer.

  • Stanczyk Stanczyk on Dec 19, 2016

    These guys have a real passion for cars (Clarkson still writes an interesting reviews in SundayTimes..) , .. but they've decided to make a "poor comedy show" .. ... Only funny thing is brand new (" R U faster than a redneck " style ).. STIG ..>)

  • Carlson Fan I think it is pretty cool & grew up with a '75 Ford window van so I can attest to their utility. $60K is a lot for any vehicle and I'm not convinced EV's are ready for prime time for a number of reasons. It would make an awesome 2nd or 3rd vehicle in a multi-car household but again the price would keep most from considering it.I agree with the other comments that those who have to have it will buy it and then sales will drop off. Offer a panel version for the commercial market, that could have possibilities.
  • Wjtinfwb Panther Black? or Black Panther? Shaped like a decade old Ford detectives sedan? Seems like an odd way to send out your marquee car...
  • Kwik_Shift Instead of blacked, how about chromed? Don't follow the herd.
  • Carlson Fan Nicest looking dash/gage cluster ever put in any PU truck. After all these years it still looks so good.
  • Wheatridger Correct me if I'm wrong, but has the widescreen digital dash usurped the space formerly occupied in every other car by an HVAC vent? I see one prominent vent well right of center, where there should be two. I rely on twin driver's side vents to warm my hands on cold mornings, and I wouldn't give that up for more screen area.