The first trailer for Top Gear’s 29th season is out and, you won’t believe this, but the boys at Top Gear have once again been out doing zany things with cars.
This is coming from someone who is a fan of the show, but: There is something that feels undeniably dated about Top Gear in modern times, and it’s not just the fact that it’s three guys doing silly stunts.
That’s because beyond that everything feels a little forced, the show in its current form a dutiful re-creation of a different, older show that felt like it had a reason to exist. This isn’t the fault of the current presenters, Andrew Flintoff, Paddy McGuiness, or Chris Harris. Watch the final few seasons of Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, or watch The Grand Tour — fresh ideas in this format have been in short supply for a while now.
If you don’t believe me, watch the first several seasons, when Clarkson, May, and Hammond were still relatively young and the budgets weren’t so big and they didn’t have reputations to live up to. The three hosts all still liked each other back then, too, and, more importantly, were oozing with chemistry. They also seemed genuinely interested in making compelling television, whereas the current Top Gear seems content to be making television, full stop.
This is all to say I don’t really know how to make a good car show in 2020, but this is how they describe the new season of Top Gear:
Which of course involves sending Paddy, Freddie and Chris around a giant WALL OF DEATH constructed inside an empty Alexandra Palace, in a triumvirate of old insurance write-offs.
Elsewhere, our intrepid trio attempt to RACE DOWN A SKI SLOPE in Cyprus via the medium of rental cars, spend 24 hours inside their cars in Bolton, and conduct a triple test of the finest 322 km/h supercars from the Eighties and Nineties. It involves a Ferrari F40, a Jaguar XJ220, and a Lamborghini Diablo. It also involves a CRASH.
Hovering a microscope over the exponential new world of electric motoring, Paddy, Freddie and Chris also test out three little electric cars… by RACING THEM AROUND an empty Alton Towers, while Paddy showcases his latest project: an all-terrain, fully-electric ICE-CREAM VAN, obviously.
Oh, and The Stig drives a tank.
Supercars from the ‘80s and ‘90s and some pointless stunts? That’s still Top Gear for sure, but how many times can they keep trotting out the same playbook?