I’ve been a long time fan of the BBC series Top Gear, I’ve watched it since it’s relaunch, that’s 19 semi-annual series so far and love the show. I don’t even particularly give a damn about cars, certainly not the supercars that they spend all of their time on, but the show is fun and funny and smart, it doesn’t really even matter what it’s about. A long time ago, some U.S. channel tried cutting up BBC episodes for a U.S. audience and it failed miserably, as well it should. Shows shouldn’t be cut up, just show them straight or don’t show them at all. I think it made it through 14 episodes before they gave up. Yes, I have those episodes.
Then, back in 2010, they announced they were making a totally original Top Gear for an American audience, with American hosts, a focus on American cars, but patterned after the BBC series. Alright, I’m a sucker for something new so I gave it a shot. The first season wasn’t so bad, although I will admit, I couldn’t stand any of the hosts and they never got any better. They had no chemistry together, they didn’t complement each other like the BBC hosts do and frankly, it doesn’t even seem they like each other all that much. However, I had to admit that, as copies go, they were at least trying. They had their own Stig, they put stars in reasonably priced cars, they had contests and news etc., just like the real Top Gear.
But as time went on, most of that went away and it became little more than idiots behind the wheel. Instead of their road trips being one segment of an episode, it became the entire episode. They never talked about cars, especially new ones, they just drove around old pieces of junk for no particular reason. There was no more Stig. There were no more celebrities. They didn’t test cars around their track. Everything that made the show worth watching, even if it was a pale shadow of the BBC show was gone. Now it was just three asshats with driver’s licenses.
They’re not even particularly interesting asshats with driver’s licenses. Pretty much, the only credible car guy on the show is Tanner Foust, a rally driver, but he’s not very good as a host. He’s absurdly competitive, but unlike Jeremy Clarkson, his competitiveness isn’t fun, it’s annoying. Rutledge Wood is a race analyst for the Speed Channel and he’ll throw a couple of technical facts around but he’s not very good at it. Then you have Adam Ferrara, who has no car chops whatsoever, he’s ostensibly a comedian, but he’s just not at all funny and never has been.
I guess it was just too expensive to get half-million dollar supercars to run around the track and maybe the ratings weren’t all that good so that celebrities, unlike on the BBC series, weren’t coming out of the woodwork begging to be on the show. Whereas the BBC show films all over the world, driving cars through Europe, North and South America, they’ve been through some of the highest places on the planet and through the most desolate places you can go. Where does Top Gear U.S.A. go? Southern California. The swamps of Florida. In fact, I don’t think they’ve made it out of the country yet. In the last episode I’ve seen, they made it right up to the border of Mexico and stopped filming. It’s just sad. Either History Channel can’t afford to do this show right or they have no interest in doing it right. Either way, there’s just not enough here to keep me watching week after week.
Oh wait, did I say week after week? Try semi-occasionally. They ran the first half of this season back in August and September, then didn’t bother telling anyone when it was coming back. Episodes started airing in late January again and we really have no idea how many episodes will be in this season, History Channel is notoriously awful about actually providing lists of episodes, or even totals of episodes, to anyone. Will it run 10 episodes, which is as far as they’ve hinted? 12? 16? 450? Who the hell knows! I just checked 7 different online TV listings and every single one of them, including the History Channel site and the BBC Top Gear site have a different number of episodes. It’s a guessing game.
Well I’m tired of guessing. I’m tired of paying attention to this sad, pathetic shadow of the real show. This will be my last season of Top Gear U.S.A., assuming they don’t get cancelled, they haven’t announced anywhere that there will be a season 4. I don’t care if there is or not. It’s just not fun to watch. The hosts suck, the cars suck, the contests suck and every single thing that made this Top Gear has been dropped from the show. You know what else has been dropped?
Top Gear U.S.A. By me.