03 June 2016

New Top Gear - A bit of a mixed bag

Mixed reaction from viewers. Here's what was good and bad about it...

IT is back on television with a new series and a line up of new presenters. Reactions to the revamped were mixed. Many were quick to slate the show. Whilst others thought it was OK, a bit of a mixed bag and willing to give it a chance. Many expressed their thoughts on social media.

Carol Vorderman though made no secret that she didn't like the revamped Top Gear. Which the former Countdown and Loose Women presenter tweeted about the show.

BBC Breakfast and Football Focus presenter Dan Walker, believes that people need time to get used to the show's new format. But he also suggested that it has potential to be successful.

Following the negativity and mixed reactions. Top Gear host Chris Evans, has hit back at the critics on Twitter in the manner that Rafa Benitez would have done.

After watching it myself, I wasn't really sure on what to make of Top Gear given it was the first episode. On first impressions of watching it, I personally thought that it was hit and miss.

Firstly the bad bits, and I'm going to start with Chris Evans. It was as if he was shouting at you. Then there was the petty and tasteless Jeremy Clarkson references he made as well. With the clean slate and all that, it really wasn't needed. I got the impression that Evans tried too hard from playing up to the camera, didn't relax and be himself like he would do on TFI Friday. At times, he did even try to be a bit like Clarkson.

Evans' review of the Dodge Viper and the Chevrolet Corvette was somewhat underwhelming. You see, Hammond, May or Clarkson would probably get all wax-lyrical about these cars. Brash American muscle cars that are quick and uncompromising. Evans' analysis of the cars lacked humour. It was a bit cold - and I'm not saying that because of the colour of the Viper.

When the Viper and Corvette were shown. Presenter and racing driver Sabine Schmitz, was behind the wheel of the 'Vette while Evans was in the Viper. But she never really talked about the car's performance or handling for example - the stuff us geeky petrolheads want to know about.

What was seen in the footage of Sabine, was her concentration of trying to keep up with the Viper. I would have liked to seen more of Sabine - especially in the studio with Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc because that would have been interesting. It was as if she had a minor role in the show on this episode.

UK vs USA Challenge was a great idea but poorly executed.

There doesn't seem to be much chemistry between Evans and his co-host and former Friends actor, Matt LeBlanc. It all looks a bit staged, but that could develop over time and that remains to be seen. It was evident in the road trip with those Reliant Rialto 'cabrios' painted with US and UK flags.

Let's be honest though, they could have taken a better route and go from Land's End to John O' Groats - instead of London to Blackpool. I must admit though, seeing LeBlanc in the Reliant with a American helmet to complement the car looked hilarious.

The UK vs USA challenge between Evans and le Blanc was a good idea, but it wasn't well executed. They should have just ditched the Reliants that were being towed with Evans in the Land Rover Series 1, and LeBlanc in the Willys Jeep. Leave it between the Land Rover and the Jeep on which is the ultimate off-roader from either side of the pond.

Despite it being rubbish and mediocre in places, there were some plus points. Matt LeBlanc though, was the biggest surprise. Initially, the thought of having an American presenter on Top Gear was a recipe for disaster.

But no, LeBlanc's review of the Ariel Nomad though, was actually pretty good. He managed to be informative and entertaining. Saying the Nomad was 'the most fun you can have with your clothes on' was a cracking one-liner.

Unusually for an American, the guy known as Joey in Friends, has a rather dry sense of humour. LeBlanc was a lot more relaxed, and I believed he was being himself more in front of the camera in contrast to Chris Evans. But he also strikes me as a knowledgeable guy when it comes to cars.

Matt LeBlanc's review of the Ariel Nomad was one of the show's plus points.

Elsewhere, the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment was OK. I did like the new track where celebrity guests do a bit of racing on mud as well as as tarmac. That will be a tester on how good (or how bad) the guests' driving skills are when they get behind the wheel of the MINI Cooper.

This time round in the new Top Gear, they have two guests on the couch for the Reasonably Priced Car. On the first episode, it was chef Gordon Ramsay, and actor Jesse Eisenberg. Ramsay was funny on telling the story of how he embarrassed his daughter by picking up in Ferrari laFerrari. Eissenberg though, came across that he was bored and didn't want to be on the show. Maybe he was expecting to be interviewed by Jeremy Clarkson - not Chris Evans.

As always with Top Gear (before and after Clarkson), the cinematography was excellent. The graphics, and the camera work was brilliant. Especially on the segments when LeBlanc was reviewing the Ariel Nomad, and Chris Evans and Sabine Schmitz racing against each other in the Viper and the Corvette. Nothing's changed there.

In summary, the first episode of the new series of Top Gear was very much hit and miss. Sure it wasn't as entertaining when Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May was on it. But lets face it, it will never be the same now they're gone.

Chris Evans just needs to relax and chill. Not play up to the camera, shout at it and try to be like Clarkson. He should try and be himself. It's a leaf he should take out of Matt LeBlanc's book. I would've liked to have seen more of Sabine Schmitz, and see her review a car as well.

It's too early to say how the new series will fare, because I will need to watch a few more episodes of the post-Clarkson Top Gear to see for myself. On first impressions from watching the first episode, it needs improving and polishing in places.

There was some good ideas made for the show -  such as the US vs UK challenge. But there's definitely room for improvement on how they're executed. Top Gear can become a good show in its own right, providing the BBC don't try to pick it up where it left off.

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