The Grand Tour is a programme I was really looking forward to reviewing after the very poor Top Gear reboot…
but bizarrely, there were no previews of this one available… just like Top Gear. What could be the reason for that? Draw your own conclusions.
This opener is mostly humourless right from the off, as we see Jeremy Clarkson supposedly leaving the BBC building in London after getting the sack, even though that’s not the BBC building. After taking a plane ride, he ends up in a fancy car while The Hothouse Flowers’ cover of I Can See Clearly Now plays in the background, eventually revealing themselves to be performing live. Before long, Clarkson’s joined by James May and Richard Hammond, racing across the desert in California, after which their travelling tent will take them to a different place next week. With all three of them overexaggerating their dialogue as they’ve always done, this really is so ‘up its own arse’ from the start.
And then it heads to other elements of anatomy as Clarkson tells us: “Now I’m on the internet… which means I could pleasure a horse… or a dog”. And because they’re online, the trio swear, but any f-words are bleeped out and mouths are pixellated like a Japanese porn film…. so a man down the pub tells me.
There’s a bog-standard chat section called Conversation Street which just mocks May for getting a speeding ticket at 37mph, and dont’ forget…. I mean, try to forget Celebrity Brain Crash, involving badly-pretending to kill off celebs: actor Jeremy Renner dives out of a plane and forgets to open his parachute, other actor Armie Hammer gets killed by a rattlesnake, while ex-Countdown maths lady Carol Vorderman is dead for no apparent reason. When Hammond observes, “I don’t think this bit is working”, that was something we knew already.
Cue a montage of what to expect over the next 12 weeks included more driving in the desert, uncouth behaviour, shooting guns, explosions, more uncouth behaviour, and casual racism started early, as Americans refer to ‘stick’ what Clarkson refers to a gear lever… even though I’ve never called it a lever, it’s a gearstick. You get the idea of what’s coming.
Occasional bits of the programme ar of interest as we actually learn something about the cars they’re driving, but the challenges continue to have as much weight as those in Channel 5’s The Gadget Show (i.e. not at all), such as an early test between a McLaren vs Porsche on a race track, with Clarkson waffling away as he did on the BBC, while his nicotine-stained tombstone teeth glisten in the sun.
Overall, this programme passes an hour or so, but after all the hype and the millions that Amazon have thrown at it, it’s not a huge amount to shout about – and this is just the first of 36 episodes commissioned over three series. And with most of it being pre-recorded segments filmed elsewhere, what was the point of going to California??!
The Grand Tour is available to watch now on Amazon Prime, with new episodes being released weekly. Also, click on the top image for the full-size version.
Episode 1 Score: 3/10
Director: Phil Churchward and Brian Klein
Producers: Ronan Browne, Colin Bryne and Richard Evans
Series Producer: Greg Vince
Music: Paul Leonard-Morgan
Presenters: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May
The American: Mike Skinner
Special Guests: Jeremy Renner, Armie Hammer, Carol Vorderman and Jerome D’Ambrosio
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.