Okay, I've only seen two episodes so far, but Top Gear is quickly becoming my favorite show on television. I'm contemplating TiVoing the old episodes that BBC America is airing along with the new ones so that I can see more of it. Frankly, truth be told, I'm considering re-watching last night's episode because I enjoyed it so much.
But why is that? What about the show is just so wonderful that I'm falling in love with it? Well, it's not the supercharged cars. I'll give you that the cars are very cool, but I'm not someone obsessed with cars, so that's not why I'm tuning in. It's the hosts. It all comes down to those three brilliant, wonderful, wacky, zany men. For those of you who don't recall, they are Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. I don't care what they pretend to be or not be, these are three smart men who go out and act like complete and total buffoons, and that's funny.
Last night the men were charged with repeating a task they had done in the past — making an amphibious car. As explained to the audience, the producers didn't feel as though they had taken the task quite seriously enough the first time and they were to redesign their vehicles. Rather than watching the tedious work that goes into such a thing, they fast forward to the finished products and take a few moments to explain their designs as they read what their task will be — to drive to Dover and cross the English Channel in these wrecks of car-boats.
And there it is, smart men doing stupid things. These cars were all designed in – excuse the language – a half-assed manner and now they'll have to navigate the English Channel, the busiest shipping lane in the world, in amphibious cars that don't drive particularly well and may or may not float. What's more, these guys actually go along with it — it's brilliant television! The viewer is treated to a goodly long video of their mishaps on the highway getting to Dover and their misadventures with cars that turn out to make wretchedly bad boats. It was hysterical and had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.
The thing of it is, however, they're clearly all smart men. They seemingly know all there is to know about cars and related items, and decide, repeatedly, in their tasks, to go way over the top. I've been trying to come up with a reference point on American television for these guys, and I think I've finally done it. They're smarter versions of Tim Allen's character from Home Improvement. They approach all their tasks with the same enthusiasm and desire to go all out. The difference is (outside of the brains), these guys are doing the stuff for real and he was just a character.
It's bloody brilliant and I love it. Of course, I've only seen two episodes and it may turn out that's just the same thing over and over again, but I doubt that.
The thing that did disappoint me last night, at least partially by being the same thing over and over again, was Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. They aired two episodes back-to-back and used the exact same trick in both episodes. Both times out the characters proceeded as though they knew who an unidentified individual was, only to be wrong. The first time around they thought they were watching a specific woman be murdered (turned out it was a different person) and the second time they thought they were dealing with a specific gangster (who turned out just to be a henchman). Why they didn't learn from their mistakes I can't fathom. Perchance it's because the series was rushed into production due to the writers' strike and the season had to be shot with what they had in terms of scripts and those weren't quite as polished as one would have hoped for.
That's also why the “cliffhanger ending” wasn't so much of a cliffhanger. Everything just sort of had a “to be continued” feel, without generating any real excitement about what had taken place in the final scene (which I won't ruin in case you haven't yet watched it).
I still hope that the series gets ruined for season two, and hopefully they'll have more time next season to polish the bits and pieces that go into constructing a Terminator.