15th Nov2010

Top Gear USA: What to expect

by Michael Chandler

We are less than one week away from the premier of Top Gear on History Channel, and those of you who didn’t go to the screening like Trent and I did might be wondering what to expect? Well, since I can see the description of the premier episode on the guide of my cable box let me tell you. Here’s my take on Top Gear USA.

First, the films. The films on the premier episode are the Lamborghini test (which we’ve seen teased for a while now) and the Viper SRT-10 vs. Cobra Attack Helicopter (which really hasn’t been and is a remake of the original show’s Lotus Exige vs. Apache helicopter film). We saw both in Vegas and both are awesome. No disappointment there… Unless you hate Lamborghinis, Vipers, or fun.

Second, the guest. The first guest is Buzz Aldrin, former astronaut and dance show competitor. To be honest I could care less about 85% of the guests, and unfortunately for Col. Aldrin he falls into said 85%. Sorry Buzz, but this is our first look at the Big Star in the Little Car, which (if I remember right) is a Suzuki SX4 wagon. And it may also be our first look at the track, barring any power laps by the Lambos or the Viper.

Third, the aforementioned power lap(s). This will be the first proper look at the track and our introduction to the tame racing driver, who may or may not have been cloned from the original. We do know the track is 1.4-1.7 miles long and is located at the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Orange County. It doesn’t cross over like the BBC track does, but it does have some (albeit slight) elevation changes and a few places for a celeb to nearly kill him- or herself. It has a long straight where an Aston Martin DBS or Ferrari 599 could really stretch their legs and top 130mph.

Fourth, The Stig. Some say he was separated from his twin at birth, and taken to America. Others say he’s the result of an experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong. All we know is…he’s short. Go look at any photo of him. Height not withstanding, we have a Stig of our own and a place to keep him, and hopefully some people who won’t feed him after midnight. Wait, ignore that midnight part. I’m confusing him with the movie ‘Gremlins’, but speaking of caretakers of something potentially dangerous…

Fifth, the hosts. They work well together from what I saw at the screening. They’re all really excited to be hosting Top Gear, and they’re adamant about not wanting to copy the BBC version or screw up this one. Tanner has all the personality of a wet burlap sack, but he’s got some good one liners (one from the screening. They were coming up with new tag lines for automakers and his was Chrysler: …We’re still here) and he’s overly competitive. Wait for the Lamborghini film, his competitiveness makes for some good moments. Adam is a foul mouthed comedian/actor, and would seem like the one to be carrying the jokes and be light on the automotive knowledge/talent. This would be bad. Thankfully he’s funny AND knowledgeable. Talented driver? Not so much, but he’s hilarious in the car. Rutledge is the pumpkin headed southern boy that everyone was fearing because he’s a southern boy and a NASCAR analyst. You can put those fears to bed. He’s funny, knowledgeable, plays off the others very well, and he’s got a comically huge head!

There is one thing this show isn’t though. IT IS NOT THE BBC TOP GEAR. Don’t try to compare the hosts of ours to the British hosts. There is a Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, just not on our version. If you just can’t stand the fact that our hosts aren’t the originals, there won’t be British accents, or just shudder at the thought of a different Top Gear existing then don’t watch. We’ll watch, we’ll enjoy, we’ll watch again.

-Michael Chandler

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