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All Episodes Talk: Black or White Stig?

On 5/30/2016 at 10:53 AM, Athena said:

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I was hoping for more Sabine, but it's clear they will only bring her when Matt is unavailable. The first ep was all about the two men doing challenges. Neither of them are enough for me to be entertained during the challenges.

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Clarkson has a lot of issues, but something I did appreciate about him was that he actually had some really thoughtful and insightful car reviews when doing the challenges. Even if he was to say the experience was fun or how the experience in the car reminded him of a memory. I remember one review where he talked about driving with a rotisserie chicken to his Mum's when his Dad was sick and how after a few hours, the chicken was still warm when he got there. This did not happen all the time, but there was sincerity. Not getting that here yet, but I may have to watch a couple more episodes down the line to get that kind of thing from Evans or Leblanc. I don't know. The guys goofed around a lot, but I never doubted that they didn't enjoy each other's company.

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It was great to see the Stig again ("We got custody!"), but he really is the only thing I will miss from this "old" show. Bring on GT.

I only half watched the aftershow but you should check out the last couple of minutes. The perky host went to Germany, where they filmed at Sabine's racing garage and "Canadian" cowboy ranch. I loved her farm animal pets and she looked so vivacious compared to her brief appearance in front of the studio audience.

That story he told of driving to see his father on his deathbed was so heartfelt and given the car model's relative availability, I've always sided with Clarkson on the license plate matter. I've long wondered how much of what we see on screen is Clarkson the character and Clarkson the person. He's implied recently that we only get bits of his real self on TV. For all his intentional TV buffoonery, Clarkson's also a gifted and thoughtful writer with highly educated references. Plus he knows how to deliver effective narration.

Ok, that Spy Hunter/Knight Rider bit with Stig driving the trailer made me laugh. I don't know if Matt wrote his Ariel narration or if he's just delivering other people's lines but I see promise there.

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1 hour ago, halopub said:

I only half watched the aftershow but you should check out the last couple of minutes

That's a shame, since the Aftershow, which supposedly is only existent to supplement the main show, was actually far better done than the main show.  THAT host really knew what he was talking about with cars, unlike Evans. He's doing his own remote segments and interviews, not just analyzing things seen on the main show, and probably doing them better.  

I even made a topic to talk about the Aftershow: 

I also made this other topic to talk specifically about the idea of what (if anything) can be done to repair the show (keeping in mind how early in the process it is):

Edited by Kromm.
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I loved the old Top Gear so my expectations going into the new series were low. Honestly, I didn't think it was that bad. Chris Evans (I'm an American so he's new to me - what's his background?) definitely was forcing some of the bits when he was trying to enthuse the crowd, but it was overall better than I expected given the controversy and criticism. It's not going to be the same show and I did appreciate them making some changes to the celebrity lap circuit. Apparently they have cut "the news" segment entirely - is that what the Extra Gear show is intended for? Bottom line for me is that I had a few laughs and saw Blackpool & the Top Gun training center. I LOVE Sabine - we need way more of her.

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Did the original crew take all the experienced sound people with them? I couldn't understand anything Chris was saying when he was in a car, with a top on or not. Or in the studio, come to think of it. Thank heaven for closed-captioning.  Don't know how well known he is in the UK but he didn't make a great first impression: small, squarish head on a smallish body, slicked back red-ish hair and unattractive square glasses. Wearing a t-shirt, worn jeans and boots. Totally forgettable. I can see the enthusiasm, but they need to package it better. He also needs to stop trying to be Jeremy lite. LeBlanc? Eh. Not a Friends fan, never thought any of that crew had much talent or personality. If they were going to bring in an American (if even for this one episode) they should have brought in on of the US Top Gear people. Or Jay Leno - except I doubt he would have done it.

I was confused about the first airing being 2 hours long and the later being 1 1/2, so I recorded both and managed to see Extra Gear, which was not repeated later.  That was totally the show I was expecting to see as a replacement.

Edited by Quilt Fairy.
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1 hour ago, phantom said:

I loved the old Top Gear so my expectations going into the new series were low. Honestly, I didn't think it was that bad. Chris Evans (I'm an American so he's new to me - what's his background?) definitely was forcing some of the bits when he was trying to enthuse the crowd, but it was overall better than I expected given the controversy and criticism.

Chris Evans started as a radio host where he did a lot of celebrity interviews, then went onto producing and TV hosting. He's primarily done music shows. I'm not a big fan of his style, but he seemed nervous even though he's been hosting for years. I think having Leblanc there really showcased how Evans has less charisma on TV. Another thing to consider that Evans was the highest paid radio personality in the UK and he is extremely rich, about £55 million net worth. Both the hosts are costing the BBC a lot of money.

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On ‎6‎/‎1‎/‎2016 at 2:08 PM, Athena said:

Chris Evans started as a radio host where he did a lot of celebrity interviews, then went onto producing and TV hosting. He's primarily done music shows. I'm not a big fan of his style, but he seemed nervous even though he's been hosting for years. I think having Leblanc there really showcased how Evans has less charisma on TV. Another thing to consider that Evans was the highest paid radio personality in the UK and he is extremely rich, about £55 million net worth. Both the hosts are costing the BBC a lot of money.

Thanks Athena! That makes sense - it was clearly not Chris' first hosting gig but he didn't seem totally comfortable with the material. I will say that Evans' accent is stronger/different (to my ear) than the previous hosts so I had to rewind a few of his bits to catch what he said. I wasn't a Friends fan so basically only knew Matt LeBlanc from silly "Joey" sound clips. It's good to know he's not going to play a buffoonish character on Top Gear. I liked some of his dry humor, though it was not spontaneous. That's what I'm waiting for - for the hosts to get more comfortable with each other so the interactions are more natural and less rehearsed. Whether that will happen or not is up in the air. But I'll say again: more Sabine! She's the career car/racing enthusiast the show needs right now.

I was disappointed with Matt's Reliant being hoisted on a tow truck so quickly. The old show made a huge point of sinking or swimming based on the host and crew's ability to fix things on the fly and get back on the road. It only reinforced that the hosts have very limited knowledge of car mechanics.

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LeBlanc is doing a sort of buffoon. It's just that his new buffoon isn't intellectually challenged like Joey, it's a version of the character he's been doing for years on the show Episodes. Even though that show represents a fictionalized version of him, since it was always a joint venture between UK and US TV, it's how the UK audience knows him currently. That version of Matt is basically kind of a slightly seedy Lothario. My sense is that the Top Gear scripted Matt is (so far) kind of a bit of that, and a bit of "Haw Haw, that American doesn't know that Bristol and Blackpool are actual places!" 

Evans accent is fairly tame IMO, but I suppose my ears may be more accustomed. He does talk FAST as well as LOUD though, and while the second should help people at least hear him (it's annoying though) I think the speed means he does swallow parts of words. It's not an accent thing really, I think it's just bad diction--a funny thing for a famous radio personality to have--but maybe bad stagecraft too.

Wait.  Listen to him interview this person you might recognize. He's SO loud, and yet it almost seems like he doesn't know how to properly speak into a microphone.

Edited by Kromm.
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Chris Evans was a radio host? Odd. I find his voice annoyingly shrill.

Not enough Sabine.

Never could get into Friends, and now I remember why. To counter annoyingly shrill, we have mind-numbingly dull.

How can you make a Reliant road trip boring? That's serious anti-talent. At least give one to the Stig!

When the Mini Cooper ad is a more interesting car segment than anything on the show, you're in trouble.

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21 hours ago, Jamoche said:

Chris Evans was a radio host? Odd. I find his voice annoyingly shrill.

Literally for like... 30 years+.

And as hard as it is to believe given his apparent lack of skill at it, he's got years of TV in the bag too. 

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The second episode was less painful for me, but I think that's just because I weirdly enjoyed Sharleen Spiteri's buddy comedy with Eddie Jordan.

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I thought the second episode was deeply schizophrenic. The South Africa segment was actually okay, but virtually everything else was as bad or maybe even worse than Episode 1.  The lame banter. The Rally Car segment (most egregiously how exactly they parrot the old hosts setting it up and narrating it). That first segment with Evans. It was all total rubbish.

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8 minutes ago, Kromm said:

Well that just made the show at least SLIGHTLY better (since unlike Evans and Joey Tribiani, this guy actually seems knowledgeable). 

Rory is certainly more personable and less yelly. And hey, like Chris Harris, he does know something about cars. The Focus film was solid.

Was it just my imagination or did he and Chris Harris not have HD cams for the car interiors?

As we see with this episode, I think the producers are pushing LeBlanc to do more hosting duties in the audience segments. The interactions aren't fully natural but it's a definite improvement whenever Evans' screentime is cut. Now they have to cut down on the American in UK storylines.The dude's spent a bit of time across the pond, which is how he got on their radar in the first place.

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Show description: "Evans struggles to keep his lunch down while riding with Sabine." OK, rerun... nope, it says episode 3.

If you get carsick going around Laguna Seca with Sabine, you don't belong on Top Gear. On the plus side - Sabine at Laguna Seca and, finally, in the studio.

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When's LeBlanc have to leave to do one of his OTHER two full time jobs anyway?

Now I don't know if next season of Episodes is going to be set in L.A. or Britain, but even if it's Britain, it's likely a long workweek if he's doing that AND Top Gear simultaneously.

And I have to think his new CBS sitcom, likely premiering in September, has to start filming by mid-Summer. 

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Don't they film the out of studio stuff before the show starts to air, so Matt is fine on that. I don't know that they have to have him in the studio. Hell, they could even shoot the studio stuff early, nothing says that has to be live.

Was the third episode any better?

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There were some decent parts and it might be worth checking out a few segments. Luckily the best contributors, Chris Harris and Rory, will now be participating in future mothership episodes.

  • Audi R8 - another irritating, shouty film by Evans. It was interesting to see Sabine briefly lap Laguna Seca with and without the R8's computers.
  • Ferrari F12 TDF- a solid contribution by Chris Harris and a beautiful film. Something felt missing, though, that prevents it from being a true classic. Maybe they should have included that bit of the side mirror falling off the car instead of putting the blooper on the aftershow.
  • The audience segments - led largely by LeBlanc, rather than Evans. He wasn't 100% natural, but he was much more successful at interacting with his co-hosts than Evans. One gets the sense that Harris, Sabine and Rory actually get along with him in real life. 
  • SIARPC - Skippable. Kevin Hart was his usual self and was a game enough guest but this ran way too long. Maybe 15 minutes?
  • Ford Focus RS review - a straightforward, well-produced hatchback segment with likeable Rory. Something that'll appeal to both motorheads and more general design fans.
  • LeBlanc's tour of London in Ken Blocks Hoonicorn - it had some promising elements - a dramatic intro and a cinematic view of London on closed streets. But it felt long, soulless and pointless. It needed a better story to justify its existence/cost.
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Just saw my first Top Gear ever. I'm not into cars. Didn't realize how much fun the show is even for people who aren't into cars!

It was the one with Gillian Anderson.

The host is brilliant. Loved the sadomasochistic interplay with the short guy. Loved the race to rescue a guy with the guy who kind of looks like the host. I don't know who anybody is.

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9 hours ago, Milburn Stone said:

I don't know who anybody is.

That's good, because they've fired all the guys you saw (well, fired one and the other 2 left) and hired a new cast.

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19 hours ago, Quilt Fairy said:

That's good, because they've fired all the guys you saw (well, fired one and the other 2 left) and hired a new cast.

D'oh! Well at least I have 22 seasons of reruns to catch up on.

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Just wanted to add...one thing that impressed me about Clarkson was the writing of his piece about test driving the two Lexuses on the Gillian Anderson episode I saw. Sure, he's quick on his feet and has an engaging off the cuff manner. But that piece was written, and written superbly well. I assume by him.

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On ‎6‎/‎19‎/‎2016 at 2:20 PM, Milburn Stone said:

D'oh! Well at least I have 22 seasons of reruns to catch up on.

Yup, look on the bright side. Be sure to catch some of the specials like Botswana, Bolivia, Vietnam, the Middle East and the North Pole. Also the 2 different shows where they try to build an amphibious vehicle.

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The electric car episode had me peeing in my pants. Full disclosure, I watched it when I was 7 months pregnant and I gave birth to a 10 pound 2 ounce baby so I was huge and my bladder was, well, very, very small.

But it was a funny episode

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On 6/20/2016 at 6:42 PM, Quilt Fairy said:

Yup, look on the bright side. Be sure to catch some of the specials like Botswana, Bolivia, Vietnam, the Middle East and the North Pole. Also the 2 different shows where they try to build an amphibious vehicle.

 

On 6/19/2016 at 3:20 PM, Milburn Stone said:

D'oh! Well at least I have 22 seasons of reruns to catch up on.

There are so many fantastic episodes to add. Off the top of my head, I'd like to add the time Jeremy reviewed the Peel P50; his review of the Ford Fiesta in shopping mall; James May learning the Scandinavian flick; the bullet train race across Honshu; the Toyota killing challenge; the time the hosts' moms reviewed some cars; when they taught some grannies to do donuts; and just a classic review of three cars on the Isle of Man. Beyond the fantastical and the gorgeously filmed travelogues, the last one covers cars and demonstrates how May, Hammond and Clarkson click.  

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I finally caught part of one of the new episodes--I was half watching but it was some kind of challenge to get to Italy and they were cooking food in their vehicles. I think Sabine won. It was just so weird--there was none of the spark and whimsy and cleverness that TG with James, Jeremy and Richard had. The banter in front of the live audience felt forced and awkward, as well.

Let's just say, I'm going to be waiting for The Grand Tour to debut.

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7 hours ago, emma675 said:

The banter in front of the live audience felt forced and awkward, as well.

It's probably only fair to give the chemistry some time to develop, but I just don't like LeBlanc or Evans, and after the first episode I was done with them. Sabine I haven't seen enough of to have an opinion. Chris Harris, who hosts Extra Gear is much more personable and watchable. If as advertised he comes into the main show and Evans' role is reduced I might give the show another chance.

And this is coming from someone who thinks Clarkson is an arrogant prick and was happy that the BBC had the balls to fire him.

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On ‎06‎/‎21‎/‎2016 at 8:11 AM, ProfCrash said:

The electric car episode had me peeing in my pants. Full disclosure, I watched it when I was 7 months pregnant and I gave birth to a 10 pound 2 ounce baby so I was huge and my bladder was, well, very, very small.

But it was a funny episode

Geoff!

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I've been watching the new season and the re-revamped show is miles better than last year. They've gotten rid of the annoying Chris Evans and promoted Rory Reid (sp?) from Extra Gear to the main show.  They've kept Matt LeBlanc and although I always wonder if he actually is that knowledgeable about cars or is just reciting a script, he's a lot more relaxed and natural this season. Those 2, along with Chris Harris, actually seem to be developing the kind of chemistry that made the original trio so successful.

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For what it's worth, I think LeBlanc knows a lot about cars but I don't know if he gets to write all his own scripts. He sounds much more natural when he is speaking to the in-car cameras than in his voiceovers.

Stateside we haven't gotten the much-talked about video game segment yet but I think the much improved show is pleasant, rather than must-see immediately. The reviews are fine but need clearer, memorable points. (I did like the clear side by side comparison of the nearly identical Alfa and Mazda, which TGT told us but didn't illustrate so clearly). Plus they are still getting the hang of promising segments like the random construction equipment showcases and the lengthened guest interaction. I want to like the bits of cranky Chris teaching the stars to drive the Dunsfold circuit but it's not quite there yet. It was hilarious how Tamsin managed his yelling.

Rory - why wouldn't you go around the ring at least once before getting in the car with Sabine?!

I need to get used to the new host of Extra Gear but I am geuninely digging all the behind the scenes footage. Like how the camera operator mounted the mini cam to the Audi R8's exterior to trail the car being reviewed and get that cinematic wheel footage.

We're going to be getting two more "car" shows. US Top Gear is getting a reboot and the former US hosts have been working on a new project.

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On ‎3‎/‎29‎/‎2017 at 9:21 PM, halopub said:

I need to get used to the new host of Extra Gear

Yes, he's definitely an acquired taste.

 

On ‎3‎/‎29‎/‎2017 at 9:21 PM, halopub said:

US Top Gear is getting a reboot and the former US hosts have been working on a new project.

That's interesting news and I'll have to see what I can find out about it.  I really liked the US hosts, but it turned into an all-gimmick show.

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True, but the show was better for dropping the studio format.

  • Hollywood Reporter: BBC America Doubles Up on 'Top Gear' With New U.S. Version
  • Autoblog: Top Gear USA trio returning in a non-Top Gear role
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