Tuesday, 11 January 2011

International Top Gear

The British motoring show Top Gear is arguably one of my favourite shows.  I've followed it passionately for the last several years, despite the fact that no Canadian network I receive broadcasts it, at least not in it's original hour long BBC run time.  I've always liked British shows.  My Dad raised me on Monty Python, Mr. Bean, and numerous other British comedy shows.  Unfortunately the Americans have a habit of taking good British shows and making US versions of them which fail miserably.

A prime example of this is the British show Scrapheap Challenge, known in North America as Junkyard Wars.  The first few seasons that were produced in the UK saw a lot more ingenious inventions.  The show was hosted by creator Cathy Rogers and actor Robert Llewellyn of Red Dwarf, another great British Show.  The show eventually migrated to the US, and saw a bunch of bullshit "Megawars" spin-offs and such.  I remember that in later seasons the challenges generally ended up resulting in teams pulling mostly working vehicles from the dump, getting them running, modifying them slightly and then completing whatever challenge it was through excessive use of the skinny pedal.  Compare this to the first season where teams built water recovery cranes, it is a bit dull.  This culminated for me with Cathy Rogers second show, Full Metal Challenge, where teams from around the world had to build vehicles that could take on challenges they were not informed of.  This saw many ingenious vehicles, but the American teams vehicle was just an old chevy with an exo, and poorly done at that.  The producers had to inspect their vehicle and make them rework it due to safety reasons.

Anyhow, the point of that rant is that such shows and their Americanization have left a bitter taste in my mouth.  So when I heard a couple years ago that Top Gear was going to release a US version, I was annoyed and sceptical.  However I've just finished watching the last episode of the first season, and I must say I am very impressed.  The show started off a bit slow and seemed to lack chemistry between the hosts, but as the season progressed I really got into it.  What I love most of all is that they just made Top Gear for the US, they didn't try to recreate and mimic what made the UK version popular, namely the types of hosts and the unique, long running jokes.  I could go into detail about what I like and dislike about the US version, but I won't.  Good job US Top Gear team!  You've got yourself another fan!

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