Overall the first episode (airing on SBS TW last night) was a really good start. Being Aussies, I think a lot of people are going to diss it. But before we cut down the tall poppies, take a step back and compare it to the very first episode of Top Gear Xtra, or what we now know as the Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson/Richard Hammond/James May, it went very smoothly indeed. Through liberal use of the existing format, the studio audience knew what to expect, laughed on queue and it was all pretty good.
Before you mention it, yes I did send in an audition tape, so bag it all you like. That has no reflection on the comments I’m making here. Simply areas that could be improved because this genuinely has the potential to be a kick arse show.
Perhaps the first show was a bit struck for time, particularly since they need to cram commercials into their 1 hour slot. Because they didn’t get time to explain their test track. In the original Top Gear, they explained the purpose of each corner, who designed it and how it was a real car killer. Especially since the Aussie test track looks like it’s extremely tight, it would’ve been good to know why they decided on that layout.
When you saw the Porsche go round the test track, it looked almost idle through some of the corners! I’m at a loss to understand why they made some corners so tight if it’s no so compelling to watch.
Also they didn’t really get stuck into the cars during the review. The Porsche review was great. They took on the very challenging task of explaining the double clutch gearbox and succeeded, but there was none of that knife edge criticism of what’s good, bad and ugly about the car that you know is for all intents perfect. That’s what I love about Top Gear and they could definitely use more of.
The beach to snow review of the soft roaders was as close as they got to criticism of the cars. But again they didn’t really explain the purpose of the sand dune test or get the Stig involved in it to up to the ante and provide a benchmark for the bravado. But hey, they beat the crap out of some soft 4WDs so that is always welcome!
Finally the Maybach review wasn’t actually a review at all. For all the expense of closing down a highway (it was probably the new Eastlink filmed before it was opened to the public who knows…), it didn’t go anywhere at all!
What was surprising was that they took in a great deal of Australia: South Australia, Melbourne, Tassie. Clearly geography is not an obstacle to TV production thank god. This should be good for getting an international audience for the show at least. Which let’s face it, it’s the difference between Ford and Holden now. If you don’t have exports, you’re dead and buried!
With the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car, they just assumed everyone knew Vince Collosimo and his work in Unberbelly. What’s the deal there?! Again it felt a bit rushed and it was hard to tell if he was brilliant or rubbish because we knew nothing about the track.
All in all, now they’ve got the rush of steam out of their system and all that anxiety of the debut, I can’t wait to see it at normal pace. Congrats on a good debut guys. Keep it coming.