REVIEW: Top Gear episode 2 turns down the shouting and steps up the fun factor
Following the popularly watched, if widely criticised, first episode of Top Gear season 23, we suspected that a large proportion of last week’s viewers had simply tuned into the motor show’s much talked about premiere to watch the unpopular new presenting duo of Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc crash and burn. We therefore knew that the real test of the updated show’s success would be in its second episode, which aired on BBC Two last night (Sunday June 5th).
Going into the episode, some were outright dismissive:
Not sure if I should A, watch #topgear tonight or B, smash my testicles with a sledge hammer
— Handsome Goat (@HandsoemeGoatie) June 5, 2016
While others were more patient and forgiving:
And, to give credit where credit’s due, those who gave the new Top Gear‘s second episode a chance were rewarded by a little more fun and a little more balance than the show’s first outing.
We couldn’t help ourselves at being amused by Chris Evans’s self-referential opening monologue, addressing last week’s criticisms with: “Tonight, I get even more ‘shouty’. And Matt has a ‘serious’ word”. Ol’ Trump hair then entered the studio on a stretcher – supposedly sedated after getting too over excited.
As you can see from their poker faces, the studio audience wasn’t all too impressed by the gag, which was used to introduce Evans’s spin in a £10 million McLaren 675LT with Jensen Button. At this point we were glad to see that in spite of the lame jokes, the show’s still keeping fast cars at its core. And we were soon after treated to the other main reason we’ve stuck on as viewers (for now, at least): the globetrotting.
When Eddie Jordan, Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc were paired with Sharleen Spiteri, Seasick Steve and Tinie Tempah for a series of romps through South Africa, it was obvious whose car was the most fun to ride along in:
I mean really…
We’ve gotta admit, this segment was nicely entertaining, with the seemingly random pairings bringing some light, family-friendly fun to our Sunday night.
Headed back to the studio, we were forced to question why, when they’d managed to snap up hot property/Evans’s fellow ginger Damien Lewis for the new ‘Star in the Rallycross Car’ challenge, they had to dilute his potential by sitting him with Spiteri, Steve and Jordan. And also why they’ve continued to have guests introducing guests with that awkward auto-cue reading suffered by Gordon Ramsay and Jesse Eisenberg last week. Nevertheless, as Lewis tried to make up for his ‘slowest lap time of all time’ achieved in the Clarkson era, the good spirits of all involved and Evans’s slightly toned down presenting style made this component more enjoyable viewing than last week’s. Even if we couldn’t care less about Texas’ new album…
As we returned to the South African challenge, we delighted in the teams’ awe at the exotic wildlife, and were once again enamoured with Tinie and Matt’s bromance, which only made LeBlanc and Evans’ lack of chemistry all the more evident. It seems we weren’t alone in wishing the two of them were a more regular partnership:
Tinie Tempah should replace Chris Evans i think him and LeBlanc would make a grrrreat team #TopGear
— Jess (@Alright_Blondie) June 5, 2016
Just look at how much Matt bloody loved it when Tinie later took to the stage:
Like a kid at Christmas…
In all, as the episode drew to a close, we realised this new Top Gear isn’t so bad as we’d first feared. Ultimately, the show is still providing us with the cars, challenges and holiday destinations we used to love it for, even if the presenters haven’t quite figured out their equilibrium yet. It certainly seems like they’re working on it, though.
Top Gear continues on BBC Two this Sunday at 8pm, with guests Chris Harris, Anthony Joshua and Kevin Hart.