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Normally people talk about a 4 episode test for new shows - but I feel the truncated length of Top Gear series, ( usually 8 episodes ), means making you're mind up quickly could be important.

When Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May left Top Gear, there were campaigns, petitions and protests to get them back.

But that didn't happen.

Instead, the trio, ( along with long term Top Gear producer Andy Wilman ), are headed to Amazon with The Grand Tour


THE NEW PRESENTERS

The BBC had decided to go ahead with Top Gear with some new presenters - naming Chris Evans as the first one.

His appointment was met with a mixed reaction.

If you're not from the UK, you may be unfamiliar with Evans, but during the 90's he was very popular for few years - breaking out on breakfast TV with The Big Breakfast, moving on to even bigger popularity with quiz shows, chat shows and radio work ( at one point he was the most listened to DJ in the UK ).
His production company was hugely successful - when he sold it in 2000, its estimated that he earned around £35m from the sale

But he self imploded.

Complaints about his behavior began leaking to the press.
Apparently success was going to his head.

He was getting more attention for his partying, and the ego he was displaying, than for the quality of shows.

The public began to switch channels, and his career stalled for a few years.

After some time out of the limelight, he went back to radio - building up a decent audience on Radio2, - before popping up on various TV shows as a guest.

One of which was Top Gear.

He's been the star in a reasonably priced car a few times, revealing himself as a serious car collector - particularly Ferrari's.

He seemed like a petrol head.

So when it was announced that he was going to be presenting Top Gear, it seemed like a reasonable choice.

When the BBC announced Matt LeBlanc as another presenter, and reactions seemed to be more pleasantly mixed.

LeBlanc had been one of the worlds biggest TV stars, the faded away for a while, before getting a career resurgence by playing a twisted version of himself on Episodes
But like Evans, LeBlanc was the "Star in a reasonably priced car" - and recorded the fastest ever lap time :



He was also a self confessed petrol head.

But some people raised concerns about his lack of presenting experience, and the fact that he was American might change the tone of the show.

Additionally there would be some guest presenters - Eddie Jordan and Sabine Schmitz have appeared in the first 2 episodes.


SO WHATS THE "NEW" TOP GEAR LIKE?

Wellll......its not awful.

But it has a big problem.....and that's Chris Evans.

Before the first episode even aired, trouble was brewing, with stories about Evans making headlines

( There are a few more articles but you get the idea. )

Then May 29th arrived, and I checked it out for myself.

And I was left with concerns.

Evans is painful to watch - and listen to - when he is doing links to various segments.

It took a couple of minutes for me to figure it out - the complaints about his being shouty are valid, but that wasn't it.

Eventually it struck me - his "enthusiasm" just seemed fake.
I initially brushed it aside as nerves on his part.

But he didn't improve as the episode progressed.

His chemistry with LeBlanc - and the live audience - is very mechanical, as was his delivery of the technical specs during a review. There was no enthusiasm, or engagement with the script.

Then the "star in a reasonably priced car" section came up - and it turned into a low point of the episode for me.

This season they've decided to change the format of the section - with 2 guests and adding an off road section to the lap.

But that wasn't the problem.

They still talk about cars before the race - and this was the highlight of the episode for Evans, he seemed a lot more comfortable just having a chat with his guests about their automotive history.

Then the lap started, and it went to shit.

Evans commentary during the lap made me feel like my ears were bleeding.
He talks WAY too much, about stuff he seemingly knows little about - and does it in a very smug manner.

Like I said earlier....Evans is painful to watch, and listen to.

The episode long segment involving Robin Reliants was very stilted - again highlighting the co-hosts lack of chemistry - and not particularly funny.

Evans segment with Sabine Schmitz was equally bland.

But there was a bright side - and that was Matt LeBlanc.

And concerns about LeBlanc's inexperience presenting faded away very quickly.

He seemed very at ease doing the links, but more than that - he seemed to know what he was talking about.
Clarkson, Hammond and May had the same quality - they seemed to know what they were talking about.

When LeBlanc had his own segment about an off road vehicle, his confidence when talking about technical specs, manufacturing history and how the car actually handled was a stark contrast to Evans.

Matt LeBlanc seems knowledgeable able cars, while Chris Evans does not.

In the Robin Reliant segment, LeBlanc was at ease griping to the camera, while Evans had a smile plastered on his face most of the time - and that, to me, just highlighted the differences between them.

Evans seems like he is in "presenter" mode for most of the show, but LeBlanc comes across as real person.

IS THE 2ND EPISODE ANY BETTER?

Yeah....but that wouldn't be difficult.

Evans seemed less nervous, but still had problems.

The first segment was uneven.
Evans is test driving a McLaren, and when he is caught up in the moment of speeding around a disused airfield he is fine - but once again, when he starts talking technical he becomes stilted.
Jenson Button joins him in the McLaren, and the segment becomes interesting again - mainly because Evans is terrified while Button lets loose with the car.

The South African episode long challenge segments - which included Eddie Jordan, three singers and took up the majority of the episode - were a lot better than the Robin Reliant ones in the first episode, and the overall vibe during the challenge segments seemed a lot less forced.

The "star in a reasonably priced car" segment followed the same formula as the first episode - Evans is fine when interviewing, but awful on commentary.


OVERALL:

I know its only 2 episodes in, but I'll be sticking with it for this series at least because it has shown improvement.
They may need to add a third host to take some of the pressure away from Evans.

But most importantly, the BBC need LeBlanc to stay - I know he has a new sitcom coming up, but right now Top Gear really needs him!
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Jun 27, 2016
Honestly knowing that a true successor with the legit team is inbound sometimes soon , i don't even understand the need to go above this litmus 2 episode test .

Like you said Leblanc comes across as genuine , but that's not nearly enough to save the show . And actually if you never watched top gear , there are better shows , at least around the world , than this new mediocre version
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Jun 09, 2016
I began with an open mind, but this version is awful. Evans is dreadful, the whole 'Clueless American in foreign land' stuff from LeBlanc got old REALLY fast, there's zero chemistry between any of the presenters and it's all cheesily and obviously scripted. The Great Tour can't premiere too soon.
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Jun 09, 2016
Evans has been hated by most people in the UK since he crawled out from under a rock in the 1990s. He is a disgusting egotists/narcissist with a hateful, arrogant attitude.

His presenting style got stuck in the 90s and has never progressed. The recent rerun of TFI Friday was a stinking failure - as is this egregious version of Top Gear.

Anyone in the UK who has sen TFI will have asked themselves 'how long before forgotten/irrelevant 90s singer Sharleen Spiteri appears on Top Gear'? and the answer was 2 episode.

Evans is not funny. He has no charm. He's a ridiculous caricature of himself. Top Gear exposes him; he doesn't have the paid lackeys to laugh at him. All the things that came naturally to Clarkson, Hammond and May.

Evans' ego could not resist the idea of taking on Top Gear; he looked at the viewing figures, he saw the adoration the presenters had from a global, divers audience and he wanted it. The audience doesn't want him. And it's not just because he isn't Clarkson, Hammond or May; it's because he's a horrible individual devoid of wit or charisma.

His pathetic Twitter ranting about audience figures is a window into the arrogance and narcissism that fuels this hateful person's desire to be liked and loved.

This is not going to happen with the Top Gear audience because by copying the format that CHM and so successfully nurtured, he just reveals his lack of talent for not just television, but for Top Gear.

The old Top Gear is dead, but this hasn't stopped Evans kicking the body and trying to get it to give him a big hug.

His arrogance is matched only by that of the BBC which thought it was the brand that sold the show and not the three former presenters.

He's failed. The BBC's failed. It's over.
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Jun 09, 2016
No no, don't hold back, tell us what you really think :)
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Jun 08, 2016
My take is that if you NEVER watched Top Gear, or even it's lesser known spawn 5th Gear, then this new version isn't "that" bad. However, if you were a Top Gear fan...this New Coke version is an abomination.
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Jun 08, 2016
A lot of people are saying Evans is trying to be Clarkson, but I think he has always been this way - except this time the crowd aren't buying it.

The episode long challenge in the first episode was fairly weak, but I enjoyed the one in the 2nd.

Right now the chemistry between Evans and LeBlanc needs to improve if they want to get out of the shadow of the old Top Gear
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Jun 08, 2016
Agreed on Chris Evans. I don't think he's trying to be Clarkson. If anything, he and the show are changing too much trying to prove they're different.

- The star lap now includes an off road section???
- No interviews, instead comparing past/present cars
- No discussion among the presenters on car news
- And while not saying, "...and on that bombshell" is a running gag, they're keeping the exact same shtick when introducing The Stig?

Either change everything, make it your own and live and die by it or keep the format that made the show a hit. Right now, they're changing all the format elements that worked and keeping all the things that relied on personality and chemistry...and failing badly.

You know there's a problem when Joey is the only one who seems to get it. Chris Evans is trying WAY too hard, Eddie Jordan and Sabine Schmidt, while both great in their own right, need to be used sparingly.
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Jun 14, 2016
Marcusj1973, very well said and I totally agree with you.

You should read my review, you might like it.

Everything in this new Top gear is based on a foundation that isn't there anymore so adding new twists on old segments just adds to the mess and makes them look like a bunch of unoriginal copycats who need to do a full restart of Top Gear.

It's like the producers don't understand that Jeremy, James, and Richard are naturally funny, and legitimate journalists, who also happen to be oil bleeding car enthusiasts and can talk shop at length without a script, and these guys aren't any of that!

The formula for the show was that they all took an opinion, discussed it, diametrically disagreed, and then went down in flames through some stupid challenge standing by said opinion, but now they just have the challenge without the gimmick of the opinion, and it just shows how stupid Top gear really is without the humor of the gimmick! The gimmick literally held those challenges together even when they were stretching it.

Like when Jeremy took a chainsaw to the cool wall because Kristin Scott Thomas drives a Honda Civic and thought a Lamborghini was retarded, when the whole point of the cool wall was based on Jeremy's idea of what Kristin Scott Thomas might like when driven around by him! Hahaha! lolz. They canned that entire segment because the gimmick and foundation that held the segment together was gone after they found out what she really liked.

And they made fun of each other. (It was years before Jeremy let go of Richard getting his teeth whitened).
And they worked as journalists outside of Top Gear.
And the editing was hilarious.

If you can't be funny you should at least be informative. I'd fire everyone and completely reset the show with dominant personalities, brave opinions, and informative car enthusiasm.
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Jun 07, 2016
I totally agree with your assessment, except for the fact that I could not stand to watch Chris Evans any further so I won be tuning in. He was so harfd trying to be an annoying version of Jeremy Clarkson. One could argue the writers are to blame (they give him the same kind of lines), but he is not able to do something with them. And he sounds horrible.
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Jun 08, 2016
But you could also argue that Evans - as producer - can override the writers - SO ITS STILL HIS FAULT!
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Jun 08, 2016
As far as IMDB is concerned, he is not a producer. But maybe theyŕe wrong. I did find an article about a 20 minute rant from Chris Evans because he thought his lines could be better.

Also according to IMDB, the second episide was better then the first one. It's (today) got a 3.0 rating and episode one a 2.3. That's not really good.
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Jun 08, 2016
It was better - the challenge part of the show was a lot longer. If they can duplicate the format of the 2nd episode, (less studio links), the reviews may improve
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Jun 06, 2016
Yep, two is enough. And it is awful.

Chris thinks he is god's gift to television and is trying to out Clarkson Clarkson. He is truely offal.

Matt is phoning it in, clearly just there for the paycheck.

I can't imagine that either of them will last longer than the first series.

Watching Jenson Button having fun in a car was great though.
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Jun 06, 2016
The studio segments are awful right now
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Jun 08, 2016
Yes, you can tell they are reading lines.
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Jun 06, 2016
Agreed, Evans is hard to watch, but LeBlanc does have appeal.
However I do not think it will last long if the ratings stay under 3 million for a "Prime Time" Sunday show.
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Jun 06, 2016
Well its being reported that they lost 1/3 of their audience from ep1 to ep2
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Jun 07, 2016
Yes, and the numbers for ep 1 were very much down from the numbers last season (4.7 mln vs 5.4 mln).
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