Curmudgeon it up if you like, but the second season of Top Gear America has just launched Sunday night and it was, for lack of a better term, “gut busting.” I really do feel sorry for people who are in the either/or camp of Top Gear. Honestly you can have both the Brits’ and the Americans’ motoring show and not die of shame. No one is checking ID at the door, really folks; it’s cool.
So I sat down to watch the first episode of season 2 and I find that they have broken away from the British format and elected to go with something a little more fitting to their styles. No “Jessica” in the credits, the studio is outside, and the production value upgrade is noticeable. Plus, the three hosts’ personalities are already coming through on camera a load better this year.
Take this great shot of Rut driving his Miata full of S%*t wearing a bandanna, straw cowboy hat, and air-fresheners, for instance. This scene and the entire manure trekking adventure had me laughing so hard my kidneys hurt. Is it juvenile toilet humor? Yes, yes it is — and I loved it.
I dig the Euro Top Gear, but sometimes old Renaults and Peugeots just don’t do it for me. I know that’s terrifically “American” of me, but the fact that the old beaters they get here in the states are rides I might have had a shot of owning — or at least shotgunning in at some point in my life — makes me identify a bit more with the U.S. version. One example is this fine “subcompact” monster truck Ford Maverick.
My point is: I think there’s room for both shows without having to “represent” anything. People who watch U.S. Top Gear aren’t simpletons, and folks who prefer British Top Gear aren’t higher brow. They’re just cars shows — and damn fine car shows at that.
Check out Top Gear on Sundays @ 9 p.m. Central on History.
Top Gear [History Channel]