So since I started doing regular reviews of The Grand Tour back in November, I’ve been pretty glowing about the show. Sure, my opinion of each individual episode has varied, but I’ve really been enjoying the return of the trio as while none of this has come close to matching the golden period of Top Gear, it is still a very fun show that’s as close to the ‘killer app’ that Amazon Video have ever had. But there was one bad review I did of this show and it was all the way back at the 2nd episode. I can’t remember it’s name, but it was when the trio tried to be the marines but failed. This time the trio fight on a canal.
If you categorize The Grand Tour episodes, and the Clarkson era of Top Gear, it would have been classed as the trio cocking about with minimal amount of cars. They split the audience, because the loyalists who have been watching Top Gear since Noel Edmonds was prattling about in a Ford Cortina want everything to be about cars while the families who started watching after their trousers started to set on fire a lot like these messing around segments. So I feel for the trio when they produce this sort of film because they know they have to do them to appeal to their audience, but will get it in the neck from their long term fans.
So here we are with this episode. A real problem in the world is that the world’s coral reefs are dying out because of pollution and something must be done. Because sinking boats have actually helped replenish the reefs in recent years, the trio assume that cars must be able to do the same. So they plan to make a car reef in Barbados.
And what happens is exactly what you’d expect. It’s as they’d say, ambitious but rubbish. Clarkson gets a small boat to transport the cars to where they need to be and the boat immediately sinks. James May is on crane duties and is crap at it. And most of the cars get lost anyway. It’s basically a farce in action.
Now it goes without saying that a lot of this will be scripted, because something on this scale has to be. But the art here is that it all should seem off the cuff and natural. And for the most part, it does. Yes watching it, it does seem obvious that the boat at the start is meant to sink so they can use a proper boat with a proper crane later on. But when it is happening, it seems like it was not to meant to sink. Clarkson and Hammond’s reactions are natural and most of all funny as instead of saving themselves, they bicker. That’s simple but effective comedy.
I’m not claiming it all works. One bit which causes the tumbleweed to roll across the sea is when they let Clarkson to weld the cars to the sea floor. Firstly if they wanted it to go well they would never let Clarkson near a welding iron, secondly the deep red blood that soon appeared was not very funny and thirdly, the fact we never saw Clarkson do any actual welding show that he probably never did a bit of welding and having the cars wash up on the beach the next day was fairly predictable and not that funny.
But if you are going to have the trio messing about, this is how you have the trio messing about. There is a real point to doing this, showing one of the things blamed for the coral reefs dying can be used to help save the reefs, but they do it in a funny way which will probably stick in your mind for far longer than a lecture from Greenpeace would. So yeah, it’s amusing, if nothing special.
The only other film in this episode was a car test, but this was a nice change. Instead of being stuck in the limited setting of the Eboladrome, they take the Alfa Romeo Giula Quadsplitaudio out to Wales and drive it around there before ending up back at the track. It’s a nice change of pace and if you aren’t into the technical details of the Alfa, you can still easily fall in love with the sheer beauty of the thing. My only issue is that I feel the sublime beauty of the Alfa clashes with the harsh beauty of the Welsh scenery. The two things just don’t fit right in the eye, and it would have been far better if the test was done somewhere in continental Europe.
But despite having some flaws, this is another fun episode of The Grand Tour which I admit, is something I am saying a lot. That is because this series is not trying to produce great pieces of art each week, but to give you a bit of escapism on a Friday night, something to enjoy after a hard week at work. And while nothing yet has been a truly amazing episode, with the Namibia special being the closest we’ve got to that, I am always happy with a show that gives me a lot of laughs each week.