Top Gear – TV for Car Geeks
On Sunday November 21 at 10/9c, The History Channel will premier the US version of Top Gear. I’ve mentioned before that there’s lot’s of different kinds of geeks in the world, and this show promises to speak directly to the Car Geeks among us, including yours truly.
Let’s go over the origin story. Top Gear was and still is a hit show on the BBC in the UK. First and foremost Top Gear is about cars, fast cars to be precise. You won’t find consumer reviews of the latest family sedan, or saloon as it’s called in the UK. You’re much more likely to see one of the three hosts maniacally thrashing a car that costs more than most of our homes around a racetrack, or watch them compete against each other in some ridiculous automotive inspired challenge.
But it’s really the hosts that make the show what it is. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are the main attraction. Think of them as brothers of a sort, different personalities in many aspects, brought together by the common love of machines that turn dead dinosaurs into velocity. Jeremy is the boisterous one, Richard the handsome one and James, well James is the slow one (you’ll get that joke once you start watching). With these hosts, the show has been able to transcend the boundaries of a typical car show, it truly appeals to much wider audience.
The typical episode consists of one of the aforementioned hosts presenting whatever hyper-car is being covered that week, followed by the car being taken around their test track by a mysterious race car driver known only as The Stig. The gents then sit around to discuss the latest car news, which again is bent towards entertainment rather than useful consumer information. A staple segment is called Star in a Reasonably Priced Car (SiaRPC). In this segment, they interview a celebrity ranging from D List TV personalities to major film stars. Then they put the celeb in an economy car and have them set a lap time on the test track. The other big portion of the show is the challenge. The producers set up outrageous challenges for the guys, like racing professional snowmobilers down a mountain in a supercharged SUV.
You can catch Top Gear on BBC America, they usually air the season a few weeks after it’s ended in the UK. Check out a few episodes, I guarantee you’ll like it or your next blog post is free.
Top Gear has since branched out to other countries, there’s Top Gear Australia and there was even a short-lived Top Gear Russia. And now for Top Gear USA! The US has already gone through one failed start. Pilot episodes were filmed for both Discovery and NBC, but never saw the light of day. The show has now been picked up by The History Channel and it premieres Sunday November 21 and will be airing every Sunday night.
The US hosts are comedian Adam Ferrara, rally and stunt driver Tanner Faust and car fanatic Rutledge Wood. Personally, I’m very excited about the new show and I have high hopes for it. They’ve got big shoes to fill, and will probably never reach the level of the UK version, but if it’s anything like the sneak peeks we’ve had, it will be fun and enjoyable. Hopefully, this version will also appeal to more people than just Car Geeks, and I think they’ve got the right formula to do just that. If you’ve watched the UK version on BBCA, make sure to give the US version a try. If you haven’t, then now’s a great time to check it out.