With the cars and the banter, it all feels a bit familiar; but The Grand Tour combines the best of Top Gear with a much larger budget.
The Grand Tour, the eagerly anticipated return of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, has finally debuted, with the power of Amazon behind them as they aim to better their Top Gear heights; this time being streamed worldwide on the internet.
The show’s opening is surely one of the most incredible starts to a programme ever, in terms of sheer craziness and effort, though living up to the hype of being one of TV’s most awaited pilots in a very long time. With Clarkson leaving the BBC and ending up in LA, he meets up with Hammond and May in a desert, surrounded by every vehicle with wheels imaginable; a fitting introduction of themselves and The Grand Tour. As was traditional with the more recent Top Gear series’ (I promise I won’t compare them too much, honest), a series montage showed the trio haven’t lost their appetite for ridiculous ideas involving a plethora of imaginative challenges – but this time, the financial clout and backing from Amazon truly shows, with an obvious step-up in the sheer magnitude of concepts.
The main body of the pilot episode centred around the hosts in three 7-figure-costing hybrid hypercars, tearing it up around a racetrack in an exotic location – the Algarve in Portugal. This gave another ample opportunity to show what Amazon are bringing to the table in the partnership, as the breath-taking visuals wouldn’t have looked out of place on Planet Earth II, and the use of drones adds a new dimension to the main star of the show – the cars. A brief but by no means forgettable look at the technology of these ground-breaking hybrids emphasises this shift in the quality of the visuals, excellently showing the inner workings of some of the most technologically advanced cars around. I was slightly apprehensive in the lead up to The Grand Tour that there would be less on the cars, and more on the ridiculous, but this segment showed that the trio have thankfully stuck to their roots – it is a car show after-all!
Incredible cars supported by breathtaking visuals? Tick. The trio’s ever-expanded success over the years has been their ability to combine their love of automotives with the borderline-ridiculous antics and banter. The trio’s chemistry shone out brightly as we all expected it would – simply put, it’s three friends showing us their love of cars while bickering, just as we’ve grown to love them for. Just like when they were on Top Gear, they have created a track to test out the latest and best new cars the industry has to offer, and they’ve left no holds barred with their track design, in a segment that left me in hysterics. The undervalued presence of the fourth member of the trio, producer Andy Wilman, is shown in volumes here; in comparison to the new Top Gear, the character of The Grand Tour has definitely moved away from the BBC. Signified by the outrageous named ‘EbolaDrome’ track (more Knife-Party song than race track), featuring, but not limited to, an unexploded bomb, a ‘crazy nascar-driving Yank’ (Mike Skinner) and an old woman’s house within the confines of the track. Classic Clarkson, Hammond, May, and Wilman.
The studio audience, the constant picking on May, the genuine chemistry between the trio, the cars, the controversial undertones – it all feels rather familiar, but with the addition of a bigger platform and a higher ceiling to reach, this is could be the start of something truly definitive in the era of internet streaming. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next.
The Grand Tour‘s first episode is available now on Amazon Prime. The remainder of the season will be released weekly on Fridays.