And while it is much improved, it still lacks that certain spark that will transform it from a pool of amino acid into a bubbling cauldron of life.
We're the first to admit that we persevered with the first season of Top Gear Australia until the very end. Not because it was brilliant, must-see television, but because a lot of curiosity, a very Australian strain of tall poppy syndrome, a dash of hope and liberal servings of schadenfreude proved to be an irresitible mix.
Judging by the first episode of the second season, some of our reasons for watching might need to go and have a shower, maybe help clean up the study or, at most, remain on standby. For one, the new boy James Morrison is a far better host than the now departed Charlie "I've got scheduling conflicts" Cox. The rather neat flow on effect from this is that the interview section, now hosted by Warren Brown, is now streets ahead of Rove's interrogations.
Although a lot of the banter still feels forced, Cox's departure coupled with the lack of a focal host has improved the dynamics considerably, with the three no longer seemingly jamming themselves tightly into jars labelled Clarkson-, Hammond- and May-wannabe. Best of all, the copycat Stig introductions, which were more cringeworthy than a thousand nails running down a thousand blackboards, are now a thing of the past.
Still, though, there are plenty of improvements to be made. The Top Gear Australia test track, although now fully explained, is on camera still more Susan Boyle than Kate Beckinsale. Ignoring the small matter of the show's hot lap times, they really should decamp to Oran Park, which is not only a real track but also offers far greater scope for eye-catching filming. And it's the track where most of their head-to-head tests are done anyway.
If by season three, they've given Steve Pizzati the flick, or at the very least enrolled him in intensive speech therapy to make him sound a little less like an awkward combination of Ian Healy and Mark Taylor, Top Gear Australia might actually become a show we laugh with, not at.
Top Gear Australia airs 7:30pm Mondays on SBS.
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