The BBC show “Top Gear” has been reviewing cars for over 33 years. It re-launched in 2002 to a familiar, Emmy-winning format. Building on this success and popularity, the History Channel launched an American version. As an avid viewer and fan of the original, I was skeptical to say the least. The tries to copy the British format almost exactly. The show is even filmed in a remarkably similar studio. While the BBC hosts meld the show together in a wonderful showcase of quirky British humor, the American version appears to be just a limp imitation.
The British version’s Jeremy Clarkson has a voice that I would want to lull me to sleep, encourage me at work, and generally narrate my life. This fact is utilized well when various segments are narrated with Clarkson’s dulcet prose. The American version’s narrative style feels like a perversion, especially with host Tanner Foust’s almost whiny voice.
Fans of the British show will be unimpressed as the Americans repeat BBC stunts such as “testing” a car by racing skiers down a mountain. Although it is entertaining and provides a nice spectacle of the Mitsubishi Evolution’s capability, I can’t help feeling they’re attempting to recreate BBC’s “Top Gear” to the letter. I love that I am finally seeing cars actually sold in America, but the producers really need to let the show become it’s own entity and develop it’s own dynamic. I see a great show simmering under the surface it definitely had some laugh-out-loud moments but it’s not there yet.
Top Gear airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on the History Channel