Opinion: Top Gear USA Strikes Out As ‘Regular’ Top Gear Is On Deck

By | January 19, 2011

Top Gear USAThat’s probably the first and only baseball analogy you will ever see on this site. But just like the title suggests, Top Gear USA winds down with one season under its belt while the 16th season of the original Top Gear is set to go January 23rd.

Now, anyone who has frequented The Daily Derbi over the last year or so knows that we’ve given Top Gear USA more attention than a drunk and driving Justin Bieber would get from MADD. During this time we tried fully preparing you with warnings that the first season was going to be rough and awkward, the hosts would be stiff, and that the show would try very hard to recreate its British counterpart with a patriotic American spin. And, sadly, all of that was true.

It’s a shame to admit this, but we didn’t even fully buy into our own warnings. Of course we preached that you should expect the worst, but deep inside we wanted this show to be Top Gear. We wanted Adam Ferrara to be Jeremy Clarkson. We wanted a non-digital picture of ‘The Stig’. And now, at the end of the first season, we didn’t get any of that. Instead, Top Gear USA was chalk full of scripted jokes and horrible laugh tracks. Sure, it had the right cars and the cinematography was very, very good. They even incorporated some of the best classic segments from Top Gear (bike vs car, parachuter vs vehicle, etc).

Where it came undone was the actual delivery and that starts with the hosts. Adam, Tanner, and Rutledge aren’t bad presenters per se, but they’ve been tasked with recreating Jeremy Clarkson, and that means lots of personality and lots of analogies. And THAT resulted in lots of forced enthusiasm and some really, really horrific comparisons (example: “It sounds like a bugling Elk charging through the woods”). We’re willing to bet that Top Gear USA would work much better if they didn’t feel forced to be funny and instead went for entertaining.

But besides the three hosts, other aspects just have no life. The live audience is a joke. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from regular Top Gear, its that LOTS of people make it feel more popular and fun. The ‘Big Star, Small Car’ segment is virtually lifeless, despite having some pretty big names for ammo. And ‘The Stig’ is the most overlooked and forgotten aspect of the show. Honestly, why does he exist there? Besides a minute driving a car (or Lamborghini tractor) around the track, heĀ it is put on the backburner for the entirety of every episode.

We’ll heed our own advice and try not to make our final judgement after just one season, however, with the 16th season of Top Gear on hand and the return of Clarkson, Hammond and May, it’s going to be hard to once more turn on the American adaptation of our favorite TV show. Speaking of season 16, here are some teaser photos of what’s in store:

[Chad Waite, TopGear]


Sam on January 20, 2011 at 12:27 am.

Yeah, I was totally unimpressed by Top Gear USA. I much, MUCH rather watch the original. Nobody can compete with Jeremy Clarkson.

Eran B on January 20, 2011 at 12:53 am.

The show sucks for anyone who has seen the original. I have a coworker who loved the USA version but he has never seen the BBC’s. nnI agree with Sam… Jeremy is bombastic.

AJ Wilcox on January 20, 2011 at 1:43 am.

You know what, I’m going to defend TGUSA here. Although I agree with all the points you made, Chad, I also find it really entertaining. I put up with a lot of the hokiness for the info about the cars. It’s also really cool to see real driving talent from a host. I love the show intros where they make fun of other American TV shows, and I love Adam Ferrara. Anyways, I hope it will get better as the seasons go on, and I’ll always keep watching themm

Chadwaite6 on January 20, 2011 at 6:34 am.

The show has had its entertaining moments. I really like the Ferrari California episode with the Panamera and the X6M. I do agree that Adam Ferrara is by far the best of the presenters, too. nnAs far as driving talent is concerned, though, I’d say that Clarkson can hold his own pretty dang well. Watch the Fiesta vs Corvette segment and you’ll see what I mean (ebrake, anyone?).

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