Amazon’s The Grand Tour is here at last, and our favorite Top Gear hosts are at the wheel. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May are back on screen track testing to their hearts’ desire in a new format that frees them to be as colorful and wisecracking as they dare. After weeks of teaser trailers from Amazon, the pilot doesn’t disappoint: Daily Express reporter Neela Debnath describes the new show as “Top Gear on steroids.” We’ll try not to spoil the first episode- but you should know that it may just be the best. Thing. Ever.
For the series premiere of their new globe-trotting-car-shredding-bonanza, the boys have upgraded their digs to a desert tent outside of Los Angeles, CA. The format is similar to Top Gear, with an audience, plenty of banter from the trio, and motoring shenanigans galore. But the show also brings viewers a fresh and terrifying racetrack in the UK, and a new “tamed” racecar driver, NASCAR racer Mike Skinner. California’s Lucerne Valley desert is the first unusual shooting locale in what promises to be a wild ride around the world. This season’s filming spots are projected to span from South Africa to the Netherlands, Germany, and Dubai, UAE.
If you watched BBC’s Top Gear and recall the show’s no-nonsense production values, then prepare to be blown away by this series. Director of Photography Ben Joiner’s work is impressive, especially when viewed in 4K resolution and HDR, says Arstechnica. But even without a fancy screen, the visuals push the first episode of The Grand Tour into Mad Max blockbuster territory. Producer Andy Wilman of Top Gear is really bringing his Hollywood A-game and making the most of the nearly $200 million budget for this gearhead extravaganza. The landscapes and explosions in the Amazon previews are inspired by classic films like The Italian Job, Lawrence of Arabia, and Spectre. The Telegraph also claims A-listers Charlize Theron and Matt Damon will be guests on the show. Apparently the guys will also become special forces soldiers, enter a secret training base in Jordan, and even visit the opera.
For fans of the old Top Gear, this show has everything they ever wanted and more. No longer tamed by the BBC’s broadcasting standards, Clarkson, Hammond, and May can be themselves, and the screen really loves their old school camaraderie. Meanwhile, the major increase in funding has allowed this series to become much more than just a show about cars. With the near-deafening buzz around The Grand Tour, it would be truly sad if the series flopped. But there’s little chance of that happening. As Hammond puts it,
“We’re not going to disappoint because we can’t. We’ve got to make this good or they will come and torch us, and rightly so.”
Image by Amazon Prime