Thursday, November 4, 2010

Second Take on "Top Gear Comes to America"

Before I start, I should make something perfectly clear.  I need to do this because I think it might color my take on the American Version of Top Gear, and I think everyone should be aware of this potential bias.  I'm old.  Not "where's my AARP card?" old, but by internet standards, ancient.  Mid 40's.

In an earlier post Fred explained his reservations about the state-side version of TG, and I have to tell you, I agree with him.  But I'd like to take it a step further, and to do that I think I need to explain what I think it is that makes the UK TG so good.

First, you have 3 middle age guys (my age) whizzing around in high end sports cars (what any man my age would like to be doing) giving their opinions as to what makes each good or bad.  Often humorous, sometimes hyperbolic, but always entertaining.  Why is this so?  Well, I think in part, it's because they've started with intelligent people who are old enough to have gained the life experiences necessary to be able to relate their experiences in a well thought out, creative manner.

During their challenges and stunts, they're like 14 year old boys who've been given license to misbehave, and they relish in the opportunity.  And they take us along for the ride.  Every asinine trick they play on each other, every ill-conceived idea, comes from that license to be mischievous.  It is because you know this is a departure from their normal stodgy British life that it makes it so much fun to watch.

The US TG crew are guys in their late 20's early 30's tops.  They're only a short hop away from having been one of those 14 year old boys.  Based on what I've seen, I'm not so sure they've ever stopped acting like 14 year old boys to start with.  In short, they are missing the life experience that makes a step back to that mindset a glorious and yet silly trip.  Their always teetering on the edge of that mindset anyway!  You won't be coming along for a special ride, you'll simply be witnessing their normal behavior.  The difference might be subtle, but I think it's meaningful.

During the tests of high end super cars I'm afraid what we're going hear a lot of high pitched yells of "wooooo", and shouts of "that was awesome!"  Afterward, we'll be treated to lots of fist pumps, high fives, and knuckle bumps and even more declarations of  "dude, that was awesome".  Hardly inspiring and generally the type of thing associated with people I tend to avoid.

One of the funniest things I ever heard Jeremy Clarkson say was when he was talking about the Audi R8, and how smooth it handled:  "It's like smearing honey on Kira Knightly."  We'll never hear anything so clever or evocative from Tanner Faust.  Instead, we'll hear "Whoa, this is sick."

Should I lighten up?  Probably.  Am I a stick in the mud?  I'm afraid so.  Are we likely to be uninspired and left wanting by US TG?  Man, I hope not.  But I'm not holding my breath.

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