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Hooniversal Opinion: Top Gear Season 24 Episode One

Jeff Glucker March 13, 2017 Featured, Top Gear 7 Comments

 

Top Gear returns for its 24th season, and the trio picked to lead it all has taken the shape of its final form… we think. Gone is Chris Evans, and in his fiery wake we’re left with Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid. This seems like a proper group of chaps heralded to lead this beloved ship into fresher waters.

So what’s on tap for the first episode of Season 24? Right off the bat you’re going to be hit with an insane visual feast of an insane car that arrives in the shape of the Ferrari FXX K. After that it’s a bit of old-school Top Gear, but it’s done with those three aforementioned folks attacking the challenge at hand.

Here in the Hooniverse, we had a chance to preview the episode before it arrived for airing on BBC America. We all gave it a watch, and we’ve decided to chime in with our thoughts on the new series here.

To say the new series looks promising, after only one episode, would be a *massive* understatement. There’s a chemistry to them that simply didn’t exist during the Chris Evans era, and while it’s not the same prod-your-best-friend-in-the-ribs-with-a-stick type feel, the new trio of LeBlanc, Harris, and Reid has a good-natured and upbeat feel to it that’s been long missing from the TG leads. It seems as if they’re already comfortable with each other, and comfortable taking things in a slightly different direction from where the show used to be. The modified format, return of the original test track, and quick-paced nature of the first episode gave off a good impression and looks like it will work well going forward. Not to mention, the production quality, sound editing, and storytelling/narration is as good as ever. The FXXK segment very well may have been the best TGUK has ever put to film, and that’s coming from somebody who is by no means a Ferrari fan. Harris is a gem, LeBlanc’s enthusiasm is palpable, and Reid’s excitement is contagious. It was like they came into this series with a fresh minds, free and clear of the Chris Evans failure, and they absolutely fucking nailed it. To me at least, it was everything The Grand Tour wasn’t. I can’t wait to see what comes next. -Ross Ballot

Let me start by saying, how good does the new set look! This first episode was great start for this rejuvenated Top Gear series. Last season was good but Chris Evans was just too much to deal with and now he is gone, Thank God. The relationship between the three hosts is really good and they work well together.

It is great to see Chris Harris and Rory Reid get a promotion to the main series after strong performances from them last year. Matt LeBlanc is ever funnier than last year and his on camera presenting is even better than last year. Did you ever see him in those Top Gear specials he hosted? Yes well lets just say he has come a long way and it’s all for the better than. I am looking forward to see him drive the new Ford GT later in the series….

The Ferrari FXXK was an amazing segment and so well shot at Daytona, if only we could get access like that to a race track for a day to shoot a car like that. Love that they have upgraded the celebrity car to something a bit more sporty and also rear wheel drive. Should be good to watch to see how they handle the car.

The guys first challenge with the high mileage cars was brilliant and very entertaining to watch. The commentary by the guys was just fantastic throughout the segment and LeBlanc’s voice over at the end of the segment was just fantastic.

Bring on the rest of the season as it looks action packed and I can not wait to see what else the guys get up to. -Joel Strickland

I’ve never enjoyed the first episode of a Top Gear reboot or spin off as much as I have with this one. I was expecting to feel awkward watching three relatively new people on the Top Gear stage as it usually is at this point, but it wasn’t awkward at all. It was thoroughly entertaining and at many times breathtaking to watch the first car review of the season and follow Matt, Chris, and Rory through their first adventure together. The FXX-K film may have been Chris’ – and even Top Gear’s – best work yet. I was at Daytona for the Finali Mondiali (which you should read about here!) where he drove it and his masterful presentation and his passion reminded me why it was so special to even be around those cars. It’s a next level car and he’s a next level presenter captured perfectly by an expert camera crew, as expected from BBC.

And the rest of it… well, without going into too much detail, you get to see three great personalities argue about whose car is best, screw around, sometimes crash into each other, and still maintain a friendship after enduring for thousands of miles – and it wasn’t just for some useless reason, it was to drive home a message us Hoons would definitely agree with. The chemistry is already there and the relationship between them is rapidly approaching Clarkson, Hammond, and May levels of epic. It only took a few minutes for the whole “new presenters” thing to take a backseat to the wonderful journey they took me on. Please don’t let the absence of CHM be the only reason why you sit this episode out. Matt, Chris, and Rory have commanded my full attention for this season and hopefully many more. -Greg Kachadurian

 

Season 23 showed flashes of brilliance, but didn’t quite find its feet by the final episode. With the equivalent of a full broadway production sitting in as occasional hosts, there wasn’t a consistent voice for the show. For season 24 they’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff and kept the three best hosts, almost as if they just filmed auditions for season 24 and released it as season 23.

Harris’ Ferrari piece to open the new season is effing brilliant, and the challenge is at least on-par with anything Clarkson/Hammond/May accomplished. In fact, I’d argue that the last few seasons of CHM-era Top Gear were getting long in the tooth (Grand Tour suffers from the same) as the trio were genuinely starting to hate each other.

This new era Harris/Reid/LeBlanc have a jokey friendly way of hitting each other, where it always seemed like Hammond was meting out punishment, righting an age-old wrong that May had committed. Yes, season 23 of TG was half-assed, but if this first episode is any indication of how great season 24 will be, it could be Top Gear’s best season yet. -Brad Brownell

 

While I don’t know if this episode quite reached the highs of CHM Top Gear, I was honestly shocked by how well the new, leaner team tackled the show. Top Gear felt new again for what felt like the first time in years, without the gimmicks of the Chris Evans season there ruining what could have been an alright show. The Ferrari piece was pure Chris Harris magic, blended with the amazing production values we’ve come to expect from the BBC crew. And even if the challenge wasn’t the most exciting I found myself engaged the whole time, and enjoying the banter between the three new hosts. I don’t think they’re up to the level of camaraderie and charm of Clarkson and crew yet, but give them time and I can only expect amazing things from this team. Who the fuck knew Joey from friends would be a good Top Gear host? I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store, and that’s not something I could have said about last year’s run. -Patrick Hoffstetter

Jesus… okay you guys enjoyed it. Okay so I did too, but maybe not as much as everyone else here. I agree that Harris’ opening Ferrari piece was wonderful. It was brilliantly shot, spoken, and driven. The new studio is a bright step forward. The in-studio pieces, however, felt a bit unpolished. While the trio seem to enjoy the adventure they were undertaking together, the in-studio bits felt nervous… which is probably to be expected for the first episode of the season.

I’ll be honest here; I do miss seeing the old school three on that stage. And the stage being maybe purposefully dingy to match, along with the Top Gear trailer. Still, I know I can just click on to The Grand Tour if and when I want that classic trio interaction. Also, I’m happy that TG has found its best foot forward and it involves these three gents. I literally laughed out loud at one of LeBlanc’s lines when they were watching Goat Polo in Kazakhstan.

If this is the official Step 1 for New Top Gear (imagining a world where Season 23 was deleted from memory), then I’m in for the journey. Top Gear is the show that made me want to point cameras at cars, and this first episode of Season 24 has me thinking up ways to get better at doing so.

Additionally, I fully buy into the chemistry here. Rory seems like a guy who just loves everything about “the car”. His spoken word review of a Rolls-Royce permanently sold me on his skills. Harris is a skilled mental person behind the wheel, and he can speak to a camera while the insane happens around him. Matt is a legit lover of cars as well, and his brash wittiness should play well against the pair of Brits.

Did parts of the challenge segment drag a bit? Yes, but only in a minor way and any segment would drag after Harris’ Ferrari bit. Was the celeb sitting in for more than an interview odd? Sure. Also Harris yelling at the Star in the Car sounds like a funny idea, but I wasn’t in love with it as I watched it. Regardless, the whole thing added up for a strong return for a great show about one of our favorite topics. -Jeff Glucker

  • Harry Callahan

    The three-against-one interview format can’t work, that is fix #1 hopefully. I am also looking forward to some new ludicrous assertions about das Schtig.

    • Jeff Glucker

      Agreed

  • Brit perspective: It’s good. Far better than I was expecting it to be.

    Observations: The chemistry looks far more natural on VT than in the studio – maybe because the goings on are rather more ad-hoc in the field than retreading a script for the Nth time in front of a live studio audience.

    I’ve now seen the second episode, and I’m really warming to Chris Harris after a fairly sustained period of not really getting him. The fact is – he’s a real enthusiast and likeably obsessive. The FXX-K strand – and most recent Alfa Giulia pieces were fantastic, but whether Harris can sustain his enthusiasm if he has to test something more mundane remains to be seen.

    I’m impressed by Matt LeBlanc, too, though it so happens that I’m two thirds of the way through the Friends box set. Again. He also successfully disguises the fact that in recent years he’s had precious little reason to trouble himself with an ‘affordable’ car. Rory Reid feels a bit like ‘the third man’ – talented though he is, the Lambo vs Porsche piece in the most recent episode felt none the worse for his absence.

    I hope that the Challenges become a little more meaningful – the high-milers piece could have proven far more if it had been allowed to, rather than just acting as a vehicle for comedy and mishap. Also, I grow tired of functional cars getting destroyed – the S60 water-jet destruction was wanton and needless.

    Generally, I’m looking forward to the series developing further. I’m also wondering whether I’ll bother renewing my Amazon subscription. – Chris Haining

  • linkpin

    It was fine, I suppose. I actually was most entertained by the “Extra Gear” segment immediately afterward where Chris Harris trained/berated the five celebrities who came down to put some initial lap times on the board.

  • How do I turn off animated gifs in Vivaldi? The first half of the text is unreadable, too much blitz around it. I’m old.

  • JayP

    Eh…
    They’re using the same formula.
    Crap car challenge: crap cars, have adventures, wax poetic at the end.
    Hoon: Fast car, excellent cinematography, you’ll never drive one much less see one.
    Celeb: Some celeb I’ve never seen who says they don’t have a driver’s license.

    A far cry from when I’d constantly refresh the torrents waiting on the BBC rip right after airing.

  • OK, coincidence got me to watch this one yesterday; I caught it on my TV-thingie so I could skip through the ads and the boring parts, which were:
    * Ferrari LaFKK (spectacular footage of a spectacular car and a touched Chris Harris – I’d be overwhelmed by 300hp already, and it was late already)
    * Everything where the three guys were required to drive for hours, or to race.

    Footage of Kazachstan was spectacular, of course.
    The new, “reasonably fast car” is a good improvement, imo.