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Old November 22 2010, 07:03 AM   #1
Mr. Adventure
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Anyone watch US Top Gear?

So Top Gear was on tonight on....The History Channel.

It's a very close clone to the original, you have three guys cars, sticking the best times on the pole, a Stig, a celebrity in a reasonably priced car (called Big Star Small Car on this one), a near identical set, the same theme song and graphics.

The three guys are a lot younger than their British counterparts and don't have near the personality. I think though that I like that they didn't try to force this too much because I think that would have come off badly. They also didn't overdo the Stig at least to begin with.

The premiere saw a nice piece on the Viper SRT-10 emphasizing what an American car it was with a whole lot of power and very little finesse and no electronics (the last of its kind). There was a cheesy segment with a Cobra helicopter trying to run it down across a small town but not out of character with its predecessor.

They had Buzz Aldrin driving a cheap Suzuki but I found the segment a bit lacking.

They ended with a showdown between three Lamborghini models which focused a bit too much on top speed but wasn't bad.

All in all it's not bad though you will have a serious case of uncanny valley deja vu (or whatever) if you are familiar with the British incarnation. I could certainly understand those people ripping this one but I thought it worked better than expected. The worst part is that the hosts are not Jeremy, Hammond and James but that goes without saying.
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Old November 22 2010, 07:25 AM   #2
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

They'd have been better off making an entirely new type of show, instead of knocking-off the original. Not that we need another car show anyway.

Like you said, the segments were directly copied from the original show. The overdub during the Stig's lap, the reasonably priced car bit, the set, etc.

From what I watched of it, I felt the 3 hosts had absolutely NO personality of any kind. It really felt like 3 Americans trying to be the 3 Brits, and failing miserably.

This....will not last...thankfully.

That's my 2¢ anywho.
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Old November 22 2010, 07:39 AM   #3
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

Didn't watch it... kinda don't want to... I just can't imagine it would be as good or better than the British one. And if I can watch the British one, why would I accept any less?
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Old November 22 2010, 01:44 PM   #4
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

It was better than I expected, but still nowhere close to the original. It really comes down to the hosts. They seemed really flat when doing bits from the original series (interviewing the star, narrating the US Stig's laps), but they were better when they were allowed to be themselves a bit more. There were some flashes of banter during the Lambo segment that gave me some optimism that they could grow into a decent comradery.

The Buzz Aldrin interview just seemed pointless, almost like they didn't even know why they were doing it. Instead, they just checked off things from the British series - Run down a list of cars he's owned, drive a lap, now go away. I suppose it would have helped if he actually had a project to talk about.

I'm guessing we're not going to get any real car reviews, particularly with car companies sponsoring the show. Yes, they kind of reviewed the Viper and the three Lambos, but they said they were all great. Instead, it looks like the show is going to be stunts, challenges, and puff pieces about how fantastic certain cars are.
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Old November 22 2010, 03:30 PM   #5
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

As someone who's maybe seen 30 minutes of the British version (no BBC for me), I enjoyed it. I particularly enjoyed the Viper/Cobra segment, seeing it as a high-powered game of tag. Yes, it does have a little way to go to be really good, but most shows take a few episodes to hit their stride and get comfortable with things.

As for them using the same graphics/set/etc., well, there are Australian and Russian versions of the show too, so why not?

I agree that I'm a bit nervous about getting any real reviews. Jay Leno also voiced this concern a couple years ago, what with the BBC version being produced with public funds and the US version is sponsored.
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Old November 22 2010, 04:24 PM   #6
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

I'm not defending the US version because I think it's good, I haven't even seen it. But go back and watch season one of modern Top Gear and tell me that that the chemistry they've developed over the last decade was there. It wasn't, it's like trying to watch season one of TNG. May wasn't even on the show back then. To be honest, Top Gear didn't start feeling like the Top Gear we've grown to love until about the end of the second season and then more so in the third.

All I'm saying is that it's a bit early to be judging the chemistry of three people who just started working together and then deciding that that's why the show sucks and will fail. They'll (hopefully) figure out what works for them and what doesn't, just like the originals did.
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Old November 22 2010, 05:58 PM   #7
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

Anyone else notice that the gray Lamborghini (Murcielago? I honestly can't tell them apart.) had the driver's shoulder belt coming over the *right* shoulder? I'm sure it doesn't really matter which way it goes, especially in a seat like that, but it would probably bug me if I was driving. I think I'd rather have a 5-point harness instead of a single shoulder belt going the "wrong" way.
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Old November 23 2010, 02:13 AM   #8
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

I saw it... for the most part it was painful to watch. I know one shouldn't expect much from the pilot, but it just doesn't come anywhere close to the quality of the original. Hopefully a good chemistry will develop among the presenters but I won't be spending my time waiting a couple seasons for that to happen... assuming the show lasts that long.


...and it was so sad how they bungled Aldrin's appearance. He's very personable... and he went ot the moon... it shouldn't be that hard to keep things interesting for a few minutes.
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Old November 23 2010, 05:24 AM   #9
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

I watched it. It has great potential. The thing is that a lot of people elsewhere bash the show since they want Clarkson, Hammond, and May - and their unique level of daftness. The thing is that it's just the first episode, and I see that there are things that, if honed correctly, will make TGA a great series - but only if people will take this series for what it is and not continually compain that it's not original TG. TGA has the right level of craziness and quasi automotive reviewing - but the lack of chemistry and comedy will be addressed in time. It's only the first episode out of a ten week run, so they are just getting started.

The first challenge was the American version of the UK's Lotus Exige vs. an Apache Helicopter Gunship. The thing is that I liked that TGA used an entire small city as the proving ground and not just the TG test track, and that they used a Viper SRT10 as the vehicle. If you're going to go with a challenge, go whole hog. (I was even yelling at the tv "You idiots, move!" whenever they felt like they were safe and not.) If TGA can take classic TG bits and put their own unique American spin on them, I think it'll translate well.

Also, History is the best place for this series to be, since they know they have support at that channel. Had this been on USA or SyFy, or some other network, they would not have gotten past the pilot, or would be impatient enough to replace the hosts and make it into something even worse. Yes, it may feel like the original TG, but they are just starting out.

Let Adam, Tanner, and Rutledge do their thing. I have a feeling they won't make fools out of History - nor all of us if we support them.

Besides, I'd rather have this than Jersey Shore or many of those reality shows any day of the week. At least they're honest about what they're about.

(Presuming TGA goes one episode per week, it'll end on January 23 - the same day the Original TG returns to BBC2 over in the UK. On that day, we'll double down on Top Gear. Double the hosts. Double the Stigs. Double the level of cocking about.)
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Old November 23 2010, 08:39 AM   #10
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

I watched the episode before reading any of the comments here or elsewhere but I had a different problem with the premiere, namely the crappy editing. Realizing that TGUK's editing and cinematography are second to none, there were parts of this premiere that seriously needed tighter editing, and removal of some parts that should have been left on the cutting room floor altogether (like Tanner's explanation while operating the Lambo's gear shift which went on way too long and seemed out of place). Additionally there were some awkward pauses from the hosts that didn't sound natural either, as if different segments WERE cut together to try to form a more cohesive whole, but the editors just failed. Considering production values in Hollywood are usually overly slick and the fact that they have hundreds of episodes of TGUK to draw inspiration from, I found the awful editing here rather jarring.

I'll refrain from judging the hosts for now, but IMO Adam will need to improve drastically for this to work. Tanner and Rutledge seemed to some decent chemistry, but Adam simply wasn't very good. His interview (if you can call it that) with Buzz Aldrin left me wondering just how awful of an interviewer he was or if they chopped up that segment beyond recognition. Regardless he seemed like the odd man out.
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Old November 23 2010, 09:05 AM   #11
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

I think it has potential. My biggest criticism would be that it wasn't really fun, but that's ok; they tried and I think they'll get better at this. And I actually like that it's very close to the original.
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Old November 23 2010, 09:21 AM   #12
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

Sheep wrote: View Post
I watched the episode before reading any of the comments here or elsewhere but I had a different problem with the premiere, namely the crappy editing. Realizing that TGUK's editing and cinematography are second to none, there were parts of this premiere that seriously needed tighter editing, and removal of some parts that should have been left on the cutting room floor altogether (like Tanner's explanation while operating the Lambo's gear shift which went on way too long and seemed out of place). Additionally there were some awkward pauses from the hosts that didn't sound natural either, as if different segments WERE cut together to try to form a more cohesive whole, but the editors just failed. Considering production values in Hollywood are usually overly slick and the fact that they have hundreds of episodes of TGUK to draw inspiration from, I found the awful editing here rather jarring.

I'll refrain from judging the hosts for now, but IMO Adam will need to improve drastically for this to work. Tanner and Rutledge seemed to some decent chemistry, but Adam simply wasn't very good. His interview (if you can call it that) with Buzz Aldrin left me wondering just how awful of an interviewer he was or if they chopped up that segment beyond recognition. Regardless he seemed like the odd man out.
Pretty much all of this.

I also thought it felt really rushed, myself. That 45-minute format will probably hurt this show more than anything else, which is kind of a shame, because there's definite potential here. The hosts need some work, but they'll probably grow into it (and hopefully Adam will improve significantly), and the spirit is there, but man... that editing. It was just rough.

It wasn't really until the Lambo sequence that it all really started to click for me; that came together much better than the others. But compared to the slickness of your average Top Gear segment, it just felt off, which is too bad.
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Old November 23 2010, 03:36 PM   #13
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

FordSVT wrote: View Post
I'm not defending the US version because I think it's good, I haven't even seen it. But go back and watch season one of modern Top Gear and tell me that that the chemistry they've developed over the last decade was there. It wasn't, it's like trying to watch season one of TNG. May wasn't even on the show back then. To be honest, Top Gear didn't start feeling like the Top Gear we've grown to love until about the end of the second season and then more so in the third.

All I'm saying is that it's a bit early to be judging the chemistry of three people who just started working together and then deciding that that's why the show sucks and will fail. They'll (hopefully) figure out what works for them and what doesn't, just like the originals did.
QFT.

The thing that kept coming to mind for me was that if this show is allowed to last for awhile (at least into a second season), a good chemistry could develop between the three hosts. Right now, it's still very much raw and new as they still don't know each other that well, but I think the potential is there and once they learn one another's quirks and foilbles, it'll be on then...
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Old November 23 2010, 04:42 PM   #14
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

Anyone else think it was a bit bullshit that the Viper made a better laptime than the Lambo's? I mean, this is a car that is not known for cornering.
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Old November 23 2010, 04:46 PM   #15
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Re: Anyone watch US Top Gear?

sojourner wrote: View Post
Anyone else think it was a bit bullshit that the Viper made a better laptime than the Lambo's? I mean, this is a car that is not known for cornering.
Well the course does have that HUGE straight. I'm guessing that's where the Viper had an advantage.

Assuming the on-screen telemetry was not edited and actually reflected how fast the cars were going, it was interesting to see just how much speed the cars got on that straight--all of them including the Suzuki just flew by on it.
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