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Top Gear USA has its premiere on the History Channel tonight.
This is a far cry from the NBC timeslot it was originally supposed to receive.
Instead of DIY show host Eric Stromer and radio host Adam Carolla presenting with racer Tanner Foust we'll see the History Channel air this show with comedian Adam Ferrara and Speed channel host Rutledge Wood. They keep Tanner Foust as their "in house driver"/host though.
The BBC and NBC had high hopes for the original USA incarnation which was intended on appearing mid-season 2009. Unfortunately it didn't test well with focus groups and was dropped.
Jay Leno was asked to host the show but turned it down with concerns that the USA version would lack journalistic integrity amid fears of sponsorship loss over bad reviews.
Top Gear has "franchised" to other countries. Theres been an Australian version and a Russian version. While the Australian version has continued, the Russian version hasn't been as successful and was dropped after just over a dozen episodes.
Most of the features from the original Top Gear will remain. The car challenges will remain. The "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" will remain and they'll be using a Suzuki SX4 as the car. Also, US version will have a segment on customization. Something the BBC version does not.
Oh, and they'll have their very own Stig.
I've read on another forum that The Stig was spotted in costume at a SoCal track during filming and is a tiny, tiny person. No taller than 5'5. I have no idea if this is actually true but it'd be interesting if it turned out that the US Stig was in fact female. (Danica Patrick is like 5'2 or 5'3). Other rumours put Stig as being F1 driver Rubens Barrichello who is 5'8.
Theres an article on Jalopnik talking about the first three episodes of the show. Its not exactly rife with "spoilers" per-se, but it does give away what happens in the first few eps. Don't read if you want to save it for a surprise.
Anyhow. The fanboy in me wants this to do ok. While I was a big fan of having Adam Carolla and am a little saddened he wasn't invited back in it's second incarnation but I'm willing to give this one a chance.
I'm trying to be objective when watching this show but it just seems so sterile.
The show looks the same and sounds the same. The same gorgeous tracking shots. The same sound effects accenting the visuals at the right time. The same in-car confessionals from the same angles.
But it doesn't feel the same.
The hosts seem so uncomfortable. They look like they're reciting their lines instead of injecting personality into their presenting. I'm watching them take turns in a series of Lambos and frankly I'm bored. I can read stats on the internet. I can look at pictures of the car on a track.
If you've been hired to do this job, be excited about it. If you're driving a fucking supercar, be excited about it.
This is the first episode and I know they're working out the kinks but honestly, this is the second incarnation of this series. I don't know what was so horrible about the original pilot but I'm horrified to know that it came off blander than this.
Racer Tanner Foust seems to be doing the Jeremy Clarkson role here. Hes the one with the voiceovers and the most amount of dialogue. While he has some decent technical knowledge and is obviously track-experienced hes just a giant piece of cardboard. Hes wooden and flat and is probably the reason why the original Top Gear wanted their in-house racing driver to be mute. Hes just not a presenter.
Rutledge Wood adds nothing to this show from what I can see. Hes like a slimmer version of Kevin Smith and honestly, would you watch a car show with Silent Bob in it?
I dunno. Did they just need to fill out the cast or something?
Surprisingly Adam Ferrara is pretty decent in the role. For how little they let him speak he does try to add a little levity to the cast. If you were to match his enthusiasm to a TG classic member, he'd be Richard Hammond... almost.
I think we'll see a change-up in cast members come season 2 of this series (if they make it that far) and they'll drop Rutledge Wood as they did with Jason Dawe in the original and hopefully pick up someone with a little more charisma.
Anyhow, this was it's inaugural run. Maybe it'll get better. I've got lots more nitpicky complaints but really, having seen Top Gear Australia in it's early episodes, I'm waiting to see more before I really make a judgement call here.
Adam Ferrara was the funniest in the Bull portion of the show. The interview with the Big Star in the Small Car was pretty awkward, it's a given being the first interview of the show. It looks the same, the nice shots of the cars the track etc but like you said there was something missing. The three hosts didn't look all that excited when introducing the stigg, the UK hosts usually say something funny and obnoxious about the stigg. I was dismayed they didn't have stig's fat american cousin.