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Hooniverse Asks: What do you want out of an automotive TV show?

Jeff Glucker March 5, 2018 Hooniverse Asks 25 Comments

As far as automotive shows go these days, it seems networks just take any shop, add a deadline and drama, some poor hair choices, and they’ve got a hit on their hands. Manufactured build shows are seemingly in endless supply, and I’ve yet to find one that captures my attention. There’s more to our shared passion than these shows provide, and someone has to be able to tap into an underserved segment of our community.

Recently, a producer friend asked me to take a look at an episode of a new show he has coming out. It’s all about trucks, and I expected to… not like it, based on the trailer above (Moved to this link, so it won’t autoplay).

However, I watched one episode and I’ll share my exact notes from that experience (minus anything that gives away the outcome of the episode):

  • Wish you didn’t call the course the [REDACTED… that’s the [OTHER COURSE WITH THAT NAME
  • Cool jump footage
  • Lovely aerial shots, Nice titles, feels cinematic
  • Names of the trucks are funny – could help create a following from fans
  • Gloss over the fact that the nose is from a WWI-era Bugatti?!?!
  • Honestly expected to not be that into it… but it’s not a straight build show and it was pretty funny. I was legit interested to see who could fling the [REDACTED] the farthest.
  • Don’t care for the trivia bits.
  • The build bit passed on knowledge though, try to avoid the deadline aspect though – which you did a good job. Just reminded of a time limit but didn’t overly stress on it.
  • Good driving shots in the trees during that portion of the course
  • Didn’t like the 360 shot. If you started and did maybe a 180-degree swivel or a less, that shot would work?
  • Even though I don’t like the name, that’s a hell of a course…
  • Come-Along part was awesome.
  • Very pretty static shots in the swamp
  • 2nd 360-cam shot was better
  • Genuinely nervous dude was about to break that [REDACTED]…
  • Aw man… he [REDACTED]
  • That poor [REDACTED]
  • Some good drama here!

I started slow. But by the end I was legitimately rooting for two of the drivers. This show is called Truck Night in America and runs on History starting later this week.

So I went in to the first episode knowing what I didn’t want to see. I wasn’t ready for the fact that this show contained things I didn’t know I’d care about. So maybe I don’t actually know what I want in an automotive TV show.

But you probably do… so let me hear it in the comments below. Well, read it… you know what I mean. What do you want to see in an automotive tv show? 

  • smalleyxb122

    Fun. The show should be fun. The hosts should be fun. The cars should be fun. They should all be having fun. Manufactured conflict and arbitrarily tight deadlines are not fun. If you need conflict, a friendly feud will suffice. Television should be an escape. I should want to live vicariously through the hosts/guests/contestants. If there is a competition, I want to root for everyone (or at least anyone). There doesn’t need to be an antagonist.

    • onrails

      Fully agreed. Different approaches to the same goal are good too. But for crying out loud no manufactured drama. Show me something I could do if someone was paying me a little bit to do it, and let it be a little silly. I have done track weekends where it’s a thrash from getting ready at the last minute all the way to unloading when we come home, and track weekends where I’m relaxed and prepared from start to finish. And there’s fun and silliness all the way through both kinds with the right mindset and people. Smiles all around beats fake tempers every day of the week.

    • I agree that it should be friendly and fun. I should feel like I’m hanging out with friends I like being with IRL. I don’t like hanging around with posers, BSers, drama queens, and übercompetitive dicks.

      • crank_case

        Half the time though, it’s not the people, it’s editing. Not automotive, but the US version of Gordon Ramsays kitchen nightmares (or whatever its called) has way more “drama” than the UK version. You can make everything seem way more confrontational with some jump cuts, close ups, editing out bits of a conversation and needlessly dramatic voiceover.

    • Maymar

      Not even remotely automotive, but I enjoy The Great British Bake-off – it is quite possibly the only reality show I’ve seen where no one has ever said “I didn’t come here to make friends.” Something like that, but with cars would be kind of delightful.

      • crank_case

        The Great British Brake-Off

  • Alff

    I’m boring. I want auto shop training videos with high production value and a bit of humor… and not that sponsored to the teeth crap you can see on Saturday morning.

    • So, would Project Binky count as “high production value” or “a bit of humor”?

      • caltemus


  • tonyola

    An off switch.

  • caltemus

    That autoplaying video is mighty annoying

    • Jeff Glucker

      Apologies, didn’t realize it was set to that.

  • outback_ute

    I don’t know any more. ‘Straight’ car reviews get boring for a lot of people (unless perhaps you are actually considering purchase) and sucxsuccelly putting a spin or angle on is incredibly challenging when it seems that everything has been done. The Top Gear recipe of three hosts with three cars and some tests that go just short of ridiculous seems to be the best option. Variety. Come up with twice as many good ideas as you need so you have to leave some good stuff on the table.

    A longer challenge can work well too, whether new or old cars, and can add a travelogue factor and a different theme for setups. It is important that what happens should not be arranged or forced, it just isn’t necessary. Beware of churning out something like the TG India special or TGT Namibia beach buggy run, or the TG home built motor home one that was insultingly contrived and predictable.

    Build shows – outline the entire process, show the bits that are unique or unusual, or some tips of the trade that haven’t been beaten to death. No fake drama or time crunch necessary, a good build that requires some problem solving will work – leave some unknowns to evolve and be solved as things go along so everything is not preordained; that will create some organic storylines. Some build shows do it well, eg some but not all Roadkill and Hot Rod Garage

    • Jeff Glucker

      “‘Straight’ car reviews get boring for a lot of people”

      They’re boring to shoot too…

      • outback_ute

        That is a fair point, if the people working on the show aren’t excited by what they are doing it is probably a sign that it won’t be exciting to watch either. Motorweek anyone?

  • theskig

    African roads and old Mercedes

  • Sjalabais

    I haven’t had a TV for what suddenly amounts to 15 years, so I go to YouTube. TopGear etc have become to “loud” for me, it’s probably the manufactured drama that has been mentioned here already. Straight reviews can be good, but I’d want a choice between a quick take or a thorough one when I need it…25 minutes of doing donuts are just not that interesting. And, first and foremost, the best insight comes out of comparisons. And keep it factual, please:

    • Did he really say, _”The brakes are completely made up of pancakes.”_
      That’s solid gold, there.

  • caltemus

    Best Motoring was a great format for me. I love that they just had a closed road to race and test on in the woods

    • crank_case

      Hell yeah..

      – Japanese girl dressed as a cat or scientist or something for no obvious reason
      – incredibly detailed look at tuning spec
      – Keiichi Tsuchiya and some other driver slagging each others abilities off
      – incredibly nerdy post battle analysis of cars grip/balance, NA vs Turbo response etc.

      Ah Japan, don’t ever change.

  • Harry Callahan

    My two fave shows are Hot Rod’s Roadkill on youtube, and The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime

    Both shows have plenty of interesting cars, plenty of humor, and plenty of dialog between likable guys—and no leftist bovine excrement politics.

    If there is one thing I hate about Jalopnik, it’s the infuriating political snark that seeps in. Felton and Ballaban need to STFU.

  • wunno sev

    i want to see people going around corners without tires sliding.

    i watched a Chris Harris video where he compares the 997 GT3 and the current Camaro ZL1. four shots of the 911 did not include drifting, as did zero shots of the ZL1 not drifting. and this is a ten-minute video! meanwhile, he’s talking about the handling the whole time!

  • crank_case

    I think the current Top Gear formats pretty good these days, decent balance of car stuff and fun. The humour seems a lot less contrived than the Jeremy Clarkson era. and seems to come as much from the people as any script. There isn’t this constant “oh aren’t we silly” thing going on, it’s a bit more natural.

    I mean when they strapped Chris Harris into that figure 8 chain racing car and he’s already a bit nervous and the next thing you hear is Sabine Schmidt saying “Helloooo Buddy” over the radio, that’s pretty damn funny, because you know she’s not pretending to be nuts.

  • JayP

    I just want to watch someone as daft as me try some hard core repairs.

  • CanAm-Chad

    I want something where the people are having as much fun as the audience. But, more importantly I want something I can relate to (AKA, no unlimited budgets). A few british blokes sliding million dollar cars will barely hold my attention compared to Finnegan and Homeless Dave beating the snot out of the Rotsun. If I wanted to, I could go out there and build a Rotsun too. Plus, show the fail parts! Show when the motor doesnt start, a tire goes flat, the hosts get stranded or hurt etc! And please…for the love of god, stop the drama and the fake timelines. Even my 11 year old thinks that part is stupid.