Top Gear: Come back Jeremy... all is forgiven

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Top Gear: Come back Jeremy... all is forgiven

May 29, 2016 - 12:43
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17 reader reviews
Average: 1.4 (468 votes)
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“The engine’s revving,” boomed the Beeb’s breathless continuity guy. “An exciting new adrenaline filled journey is just beginning. Thrill seeking high octane stunts and surprises with a new driving force for Top Gear.” Okay, we get the idea.

Top Gear

“The engine’s revving,” boomed the Beeb’s breathless continuity guy. “An exciting new adrenaline filled journey is just beginning. Thrill seeking high octane stunts and surprises with a new driving force for Top Gear.” Okay, we get the idea.

His supply of full throttle clichés exhausted, we cut to the studio where shouty Chris Evans was jumping around yelling: “Brilliant! Amazing! Beautiful!” No one knows why.

Presumably, the staff of our ginger hero’s local Indian restaurant were there purely so he could crack a weak joke at Jeremy Clarkson’s expense about not mentioning catering. Hilarious.

So far so average. But then the new host’s first big mistake. Starting the proceedings with a terrible Clarkson impression. After that, it was impossible not to compare and contrast. And to reach the sad conclusion we were watching the extremely poor man’s version.

In the torturous 11 month build-up to this eagerly awaited series, Chris promised it would be “less blokey” than before. If by that he meant “less funny” mission accomplished.

Controversial Clarkson’s sardonic biting humour has given way to Evans’ juvenile drivel. TFI Friday meets The One Show.

Of the seven presenters we only really saw dire double act Evans and Matt LeBlanc, who have all the chemistry of Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage.

Bad idea as the gruesome twosome’s first road trip turned out to be a shameless reworking of Clarkson, Hammond and May’s many comedy romps in Reliant three wheelers. London to Blackpool… the USA versus the UK. Who won? Who cares?

After his old banger broke down, morose Matt spent the rest of the race yawning on the back of a pick-up truck. As Evans trundled ahead, the American actor sighed: “Frankly this was getting a little suspect.” Suspect? It was awful.

“By the time we were north of Birming-ham,” he added. “Morale had hit rock bottom.” And that was just the audience. The whole pointless odyssey was as derivative as it was dull.

The new show is like the old show without the laughs. If it’s true that Chris blew his top over the low quality of the scripts I can see why.

Test driving the Dodge Viper ACR in Nevada, he declared: “It’s about as cutting edge as a rusty crowbar.” Not good. A great writer and brilliant broadcaster, Clarkson would have come up with something so much wittier.

But good to see token female Sabine Schmitz hurtling down the runway so fast she made her Top Gear pilot passenger throw up. Sabine commanded about 30 seconds screen time. It was all about Chris ‘n’ Matt.

Star in a rally-cross car isn’t a patch on star in a reasonably priced car. And Evans’ interviewing technique is more Radio Two pop quiz than BBC2 Top Gear. Another blatant rip-off that came up woefully short.

Too much of the born-again format is merely a pale imitation of Clarkson and Co. They’ve made no attempts to plough their own furrow.

Intrepid LeBlanc’s random sojourn to Morocco was the best bit as he roared across the desert in a Nomad off-road vehicle trying to escape the pretend paparazzi. All rather contrived, but as long as he’s not with Evans, likeable Matt’s pretty watchable.

But then – oh God – it was back to Blackpool for more of the interminably unfunny UK v USA thing as they pitched a Willis Jeep against a Land Rover and gave a couple of drag queens a lift. No one knows why.

And finally they tried to tow their clapped out Reliants up a hill in the Lake District. Chris cheated, Matt won and it simply wasn’t remotely entertaining.

As this dreary nonsense carried on and on and on, LeBlanc sighed: “Abysmal at best.” Which pretty much summed it up. Come back Jeremy… all is forgiven.

Watch Kevin on Radio 4's Today http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wqk1m

There are 17 Comments

RyanReview's picture

The Top Gear theme kicks in. For a fan, a very familiar warm feeling. You are going to be entertained. Camera pans into the Top Gear studio but not as we know it.
Straight off the bat let me say- I'm a Clarkson Top Gear fan. My feelings for new presenters of my beloved Top Gear was not a positive one.
Chris Evans is now the main presenter with his wingman Matt (how you doin?) LeBlanc. An odd choice by the beeb. They do still need to flog this to America so Chris alone just would not do.
The first episode is business as usual with a very mild 'look we aren't we different, honest' twist. Gone is the celebrity in a reasonbly priced car. Now we have a new mini Cooper going through a muddy puddle!
The filming as always is beautiful. Top Gear production is a finely tuned machine, that knows what looks great.
It was more of the same. I could not help but feel I was watching Top Gear in a parallel universe. This is new Top Gear. The first show has been good. I even cracked a guilty smile but felt I was betraying my tv friends Clarkson, Hammond and May. I wish the new team good luck and I will be watching to see how the new dynamic works. I did miss the three amigos... but not as much as I thought.

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

Do they supply ear plugs for this crap series, why do they feel the need to shout like school kids, it will never match up to the originals. The ginger headed mouth needs a volume control. Or best just switch off.

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

Should be renamed LOW Gear. The whining voice of Chris Evans gets on your nerves. The first show is terrible miss the old team when top gear was TOP

Niamaya's picture

i confess...I didn't watch all of it. I couldn't bring myself to sit through the whole hour. From the 'we're not talking about catering' comment to 'we got custody of The Stig' pronouncement it smacked a bit like smugness from Mr Evans. I thought he'd told us it was going to be totally different from the previous incarnation of the show. It wasn't. In fact it was far too close and made it too easy to see that Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May were superior in every way. They at least had on screen chemistry, where Evans and Le Blanc have none.
Love Matt Le Blanc and actually think he would be the better main man.
I don't condone Jeremy Clarkson's behaviour to Oisin but I do think he is by far the better presenter. Will start saving up for my Amazon prime subscription I think.

Loppy's picture

And so the competition begins. Top Gear Vs Grand Tour. Remembering the first series of "new" top gear (with poor Jason Dawe) this was oddly familiar. A lack of chemistry between the presenters and unfunny gags. However the biggest problem was Chris Evans rather ddesperate attempt to imitate Jeremy Clarkson, dramatic pause, not very relevant comparison, bootful of right foot on the loud pedal. Shouting throughout.

It's like it can't decide whether to split completely, or just give the same. Sabine Schmit I'd brought in and barely used (I'd have had her do the hot laps, Stig, BBC money machine though he is, is intrinsically linked to the old regime)

Big positive in Matt Le Blanc though. On the prerecorded segments he was original and fresh, although the "you brits" joke wore off very quickly. In the studio he struggled. Scrap the studio, make Le Blanc #1, have original ideas. It might just work. Suspect the last 3 enjoyed tonight most though...

BoundsGreen72's picture

The new rebooted Top Gear at last made our screens on Sunday night after what seemed like several years of promotional material - and while there were some teething problems, it showed some potential.

It should be remembered that the last reboot needed some time to bed down. Who remembers motoring journalist Jason Dawe being part of the first post-Chris Goffey/Quentin Wilson series in 2002? There was no James May then, he appeared in series 2, and even then it took a while for everyone to establish the format of more stunts and less reviews of Austin Montegos.

That format is the one thing that strikes you about the new Chris Evans fronted version - it hasn't changed. This gives some familiarity to the show, and why reinvent the wheel anyway? It would maybe have been a step too far to mess with the format as well as have new presenters so it was nice to see that apart from a few minor tweaks to the studio setup, there was a lot that was just as you remembered. And what certainly hasn't changed is the look of the filmed reports, which are still small masterpieces of editing.

And what of the new hosting team? Chris Evans seemed to be chanelling Jeremy Clarkson at times in delivery and shouted a bit too much. However, given his other TV work, he seemed most comfortable interviewing the star guests. Matt Le Blanc was a bit stilted in the studio (in particular, the 'bantz' with Evans seemed a bit unnatural) but he opened up during his filmed inserts and came across extremely well. Sabine Schmitz was only seen briefly which was a shame - she seemed a natural and would have made a welcome third face in the studio. Although maybe having three presenters there was the one change that the BBC wanted to do?

Overall, it was a reasonable start, with a little bit of new mixed in with plenty of the old. Given the hype surrounding the series, it would be unfair to dismiss this new interpretation straightaway as there was enough there to suggest something to build on. The tabloid editors were probably hoping to use the 'Flop Gear' headlines they'd prepared, but they may have to hold off using them for now.

bohnanza's picture

There seems to be a few rose coloured spectacles around when it comes remembering the old Top Gear. I felt it had become a bit samey and complacent and needed a bit of a change.

If changing the presenters worked, why have more than half of the foreign versions died after 1 series? What made the old TG work was the interaction between the presenters and that May and Clarkson had been reviewing cars for years before TG. I listened to Chris Evans pronouncing on the Dodge Viper and all I could think was "What do you know? You are a disk jockey with a few Ferraris. That doesn't qualify you to tell me about cars".

If there is a second series the BBC will have to be brave and try being original, rather than hoping the old stuff will be acceptable for ever.

MM's picture

Well I'm probably in the minority but I thoroughly enjoyed it - it actually made me laugh in places - never did at the old series. I'm sorry but I've never been a fan of Clarkson and the program has needed updating for years. I thought Matt Le Blanc was a great choice - see him on Graham Nortons show last week to see why - he was made for it. My only criticism is that Chris Evans should tone it down a bit - he was like a hyper child. All the haters should remember it took a long time for Clarkson and co. to gel.

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

A disappointing start to say the  very least.  Chris Evans shouted his way through most of the  programme....when he wasn't shouting, he was hyper, and babbled non stop. Matt LeBlanc was at least a little laid back. ...and quieter!!!  To be honest my brain switched off half way through - it could not take any more of Evans  voice.

My husband ploughed through it, with sporadic tutting and sighing, but I doubt he will make it through another programme like that. There was no chemistry, no magic , the 'jokes' sounded scripted,  These two will never fill the boots of the famous three, so sadly missed.

The first improvement to make is to tell Evans to stop being so smug, and most of all....put a sock in it! There should be more of LeBlanc and a lot less of Evans. As for a star rating....it deserves a zero rating, but I have to click one!

joshbosh's picture

Top Gear, by Joshua Okai
Is this running long? Do I have to punch myself in the face now? I’d better do it hard, because I’d give anything to be unconscious right about now. This is what I thought when I started watching the new era of Top Gear last night.
New Top gear more like low gear.
Chris Evans: Rubbish in the studio, rubbish in cars.
Matt Le Blanc: Good in films, good in the studio and in cars
I am a big fan of Top Gear, it’s one of my favourite shows. I thought that for the new show to be as good as the old one they would have to really top their game. But it was kind of disappointing.
I thought that Matt brought a lot of fun energy whereas Chris was quite dull and doesn’t really know about cars – their different parts, their history, different types of cars etc.
I thought it was boring they weren’t really using Matt that much. Also I think there should be three people instead of two like they had had in the past. If one person crashes they leave them behind so they have to fix the car themselves or they have to use the back up car which is funny. With two people there’s not enough banter. The jokes aren’t funny.
They used to have a bit when a star drives a reasonably priced car like a Vauxhall but now they have a really fancy Mini Cooper, which is not as much fun.
The old series with Jeremy, Richard and James was better because it was funny, there were different competitions like when they had a Bugatti v a helicopter somewhere in France.
In this new series I am not learning anything for example instead of using the word over steer they say a “little slip.” I learned more about cars when it was Jeremy talking about them. I didn’t understand why they had the people from the Indian restaurant on car it seemed rude to me.

The parts I liked were;
When Matt drives into the back of Stig’s truck to get away from the bike guy.
The competition with the drag queens in Blackpool.
The race to the mountain when Matt got stuck and his big friend lifted all the boulders and threw them away like they were nothing.
Conclusion
I wish they would change it to like it was before. Last series was much better byyyyyyy faaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Llwynog45's picture

I think Chris Evans is very talented. He's been innovative for years. The problem is what the hell do you do? Copy, or be original? The juggernaut this is demands one answer. I've always hated cars anyway. Seeing Gordon 'fucking' Ramsey tell us how rich he is isn't entertaining, but it wouldn't have been even if bully boy Clarkson had been at the helm. My advice, get a life and watch 'The Great British Sewing Bee' instead. Bee a real man.

Claude's picture

Not at all what I was expecting, I really thought there would be a new format. What idiot thought the same scripts would work with different mouthpieces, but I'm going to stick with it even though this first series is in the "can" and hope that the BEEB comes to its senses and changes the show for next year.

Anna May's picture

There was so much controversy surrounding Clarkson’s departure from Top Gear and, being the upstanding (cough) company they are, I don’t think the BBC could have possibly supported him given the circumstances.

However, although Clarkson’s assault on a colleague was very wrong, it doesn’t automatically negate his notoriety as the biggest, most loudmouthed car botherer on the planet and the reason so many fans of the show want Top Gear back as it was. Whether or not you disrespect them for that is up to you, but it won’t change how they feel.

You can punish Chris Evans as much as you want for taking the helm, but you can’t deny he’s got some bloody balls for putting himself in the firing line. Love him or hate him, he’s a good presenter and he should have been given the chance to host a brand new car-themed show with a completely different name and format.

To be honest, I actually thought Chris was being a little tongue-in-cheek with his Clarkson impression...and you can’t blame him for trying to make light of the situation with jokes relating to the previous series in an effort to break the ice, as it were. It didn’t bother me...I really don't care...and no, I don't fancy him.

Matt LeBlanc is actually really good as a co-presenter and feisty racing driver, Sabine Schmitz, was very entertaining as she raced Chris near the beginning of the first show. Even her evil cackle as she tried to outwit him added to the moment.

Sadly, though, after the huge mess of media coverage and public outrage in all directions, this show is never going to be free of scrutiny from die-hard fans who will take great pleasure in slating it, no matter what.

When the BBC sent Clarkson on his merry way and then realized his two loyal co-presenters would be following, they should have found a way to let go of the Top Gear title too. Their desperate attempt to claw back viewers by clinging on to the name alone has simply guaranteed years of continued backlash for their decision to sack him.

Mention Top Gear to anyone and their mind will immediately jump to Clarkson, Hammond and May. Regardless of who else has presented it in the past, these three are Top Gear…not ‘were’...ARE.

AngryMan's picture

I cant help but think this was mission if not impossible then damned difficult in the wake of the Clarkson era. I kept thinking of the time and the manager that took over from Sir Alex Ferguson. They were always going to be harshly judged given their predecessor/s formidable record and successes.

That said, it wasn't a total disaster, it just all felt a bit awkward and contrived. It needs time to find its own style and pace. It needs a stronger script for sure but Matt Le Blanc was a success. A tad wooden in the studio arguably but when filming on location he was superb, as you might rightly expect. Chris Evans just oozed nerves and tried to cover the all too obvious signs of this with volume. Relax and breath Mr Evans, you can be enjoyable to watch, just don't try so hard. Less is often more.

When Evans took over from the legendary Sir Terry Wogan on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast show, he was stepping into a very formidable pair of slippers, a virtual institution. His style could not have been more different and on day one it was quite a transition, loud, fast and all volume and bravado. Over time he has slowly found his feet on this Radio show. Given time he will do the same on Top Gear. It is one show people, give the guy a chance to show what he can do. It needs to be its own show, not TFI Friday with cars but Episode One is banked, lets wish them well as they serve up the next episode this weekend.

slbagnall's picture

I think a lot of people have forgotten when top gear relaunched in the early part of this century when it was Clarkson, Hammond and some guy called Dawe. When that first series aired it wasn't that great and they had to change it again and along came May.
I think the first episode of the relaunch was ok it wasn't perfect and I think our expectations are too high as before they didn't have any. I should hope during this series both Evans and Le Blanc will find their feet. I hope Chris stays away from being a TFI presenter and more like his radio 2 host and Matt needs to stop being an actor and be himself. His humour came across and his personality in parts but I am sure there were times he flicked a mental switch and became an actor like Joey out of friends.
I say give the guys a chance, I think they need at least 1 more presenter so its not a 50/50 split between them. Perhaps add new content such as a roving reporter who goes out looking for ridiculous cars and do a 5 minute stint on the people behind the cars and the mods they make. I wouldn't mind seeing a lap of honour, so not just fast cars supercars screeching around a race track but go old school and bring 70's, 80's and early 90's to come back and do a circuit, classic cars is such a big under rated part of cars and I am sure there are many more ideas out there.
Looking forward to the next episode.... don't be Clarkson, Hammond and may be you! Be different

Jolyon101's picture

Clarkson and co are a hard act to follow but I enjoyed the 1st episode. Thought Matt Le Blanc was good just being himself. In fact I thought the BBC could have simply ported the cast of Episodes (Le Blanc, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) as the new presenters of Top Gear. Lets hope we see more of Sabine Schmitz.

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

Submitted by Colby on Sun, 05/06/2016 - 00:49

Couldn't finish it. Evans trying to imitate Clarkson was painful to watch. Loved the original, hate the new. Will wait for the grand tour to come out