The Essential Starter Guide For Top Gear USA

By | November 20, 2010

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Top Gear USA

After months of pre-show hype and speculation, the American adaptation of Top Gear is finally making its long awaited debut tomorrow night. We at the Daily Derbi got lucky and were able to sample the first three full episodes before hand to get a taste of what the show was like.

There have been plenty of Top Gear offshoots in the past (“Top Gear Iraq” and “16th Gear” – you’re next) and none has come anywhere close to the awesomeness that exudes from the current British series. Truthfully, we didn’t expect our long awaited American series to be better than or just as good as British Top Gear (TG UK).But being better isn’t exactly the point now, is it?

After viewing the first three episodes, we’ve put together the essential starters guide for Top Gear USA (TG USA) to give you an idea of what not to expect and what you should count on so that you can be adequately prepared:

What Not To Expect:

  • Jeremy Clarkson – As much as you want to hate the man for his giant ego and his prickish attitude, he’s a rockstar. His knowledge, experience, camera presence, and especially his analogies make TG UK what it is. At this point, no one on TG USA comes close to matching wits with Clarkson.
  • Fully Developed Chemistry – The British blokes have a chemistry that’s impossible to match. On the other hand, the chemistry between Adam, Tanner, and Rutledge is in its infancy and will require time to develop.
  • Experience -  Clarkson, Cap’n Slow, and Hamster  have been doing this for 16 seasons now. The TG USA folks? About 16 weeks.
  • British Top Gear – If the expectation for TG USA is that it’s going to be the British version, it’s not going to happen. You can’t copy genius.

Ok, so we’ve established that it’s not original Top Gear. But don’t fret yet, because here are the things you can expect:

  • Great Hosts- Fine, we’ll say it- they’re awkward as hell at points. But we honestly think that TG USA picked the three perfect guys. They all have different personalities that work well with each other and it’s just a matter of time before their comfortable and completely natural.
  • Excellent Cinematography- We’re surprised that even in the first episode the cinematography and editing is literally on par, if not better, than the Brits. It is astoundingly good.
  • Expensive, Exotic Cars: There are just tons of them! We can’t believe how many they’ve packed in this series. In fact, when the first episode starts, Adam is standing in front of a Shelby Daytona, a car that is represented by only 6 units.
  • Originality – Aside from the same Stig formula, and the “big star – small car” segment, TG USA has made it clear that they aren’t going to try to copy the charisma of the UK version. The personalities are completely different and TG USA will create its own charisma.
  • High Budget…we assume – With a show about exotic cars, money apparently grows on trees. The attack helicopter in episode 1 proves that.
  • 2 is better than 1 – No one is suggesting that with a TG USA that we’re going to stop watching TG UK. We fully intend to watch both, and the more Top Gear we can get, the better.

Come Sunday night, you’ll now be a bit more prepared for what TG USA will offer. The reccuring theme in all of our past articles covering this new series has been that is not trying to replace the original Top Gear or compete with it. Instead, it is meant to bring Top Gear to a whole new American audience who thinks that Camrys and anything Buick are the high point of luxury.

Yes, it has it’s flaws. The hosts are still getting comfortable in their skin and the narration in the first episode will make you cringe at times. But the bad is easily outweighed by the good, and, even better, you see the potential for TG USA to evolve into a truly entertaining show.

No, Top Gear USA is not British Top Gear, but it can and definitely does live comfortably in a parallel American universe. Watch tomorrow night for the premiere!

[AJ Wilcox & Chad Waite]


4 Comments

Feldman on November 20, 2010 at 6:01 pm.

Watch UK Top Gear season 1, its pretty terrible! Thats what i’m expecting for a while

Peerlesskid on November 20, 2010 at 11:14 pm.

It’s a moot point comparing season 1 of TG USA to season 1 of TG UK, TG UK was allowed to be terrible because they’re the original one, if you’re going to start a francise you pick up from where the original has brought the product to, it’s how it works… but anyways good article! I’m a Brit and fully expecting to enjoy both versions :)

Chadwaite6 on November 20, 2010 at 11:47 pm.

Sure the framework is already set for the franchise but I think Feldman had a point in terms of interaction and character charisma. It wasn’t perfect the first season or the second season. It took about three seasons for all presenters to really get where their at now IMO.

Bryan C Sanders Cochran on November 23, 2010 at 2:57 am.

After having watched the first episode… I have to say that I like it! It is a little quirky, but I found myself laughing my ass off watching Rutledge screaming in the Viper.

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