As ScreenCritics attracts plenty of American readers and I feel particularly sorry at the moment, I should explain that in the UK, we do love a Christmas special. Unlike over there where you seem to spend the day watching basketball if anything at all, TV shows like to save their best until the Yuletide season knowing we can’t move after eating our own body weight in turkey. It’s one of my favorite annual traditions. So with this episode, we get to see The Grand Tour roll out its Christmas episode.
Maybe because The Grand Tour is more international in its outlook, this isn’t the big Christmas episode you’d expect. In fact, other than the fact it is in Lapland, Finland there’s a brilliantly funny segment where the trio recommend the best motoring related gift for the holidays, it isn’t really relevant. The big special is coming next week, while this is the most standard and ordinary episode The Grand Tour has done since its start.
That’s because the main film doesn’t even have James May, but was still potentially interested. The Ford Mustang is being sold in the UK for the first time this year, and Richard Hammond took the first to arrive on these shores out for a drive. Then Jeremy Clarkson shows up and says the Mustang is pointless over here because we have the Ford Focus RS. This could be a fascinating film, showing whether bringing a car that is brilliant in another country with completely different roads to ours can be a success now that it is here.
Unfortunately that doesn’t happen and this ends up being one of the most mediocre car tests they have done on the show. Clarkson basically follows Hammond about in his Mustang, tells him the Focus is better and then Hammond drives off. Rinse and repeat. There’s a couple of laughs, but even if you do get into this segment, it just sort of ends without a proper conclusion and it feels a bit weird. Maybe it was a bit of a rush job or that they didn’t have much faith in the segment, but it just felt off and that they just wanted to push it out there.
However, everything in this episode is rescued by the final segment. James May takes us through the story of the Ford GT and how Henry Ford and his team made it simply to spite Enzo Ferarri after he ended a deal to buy his famous company at the 11th hour. The whole thing is stunningly made, with May’s love for the cars involved coming out and the story of Ford Vs Ferrari at Le Mans feeling like an epic tale which I really got into, even though I knew the outcome. Honestly, this is a story worth a movie and I hope it get mades as a proto-Rush sequel.
It’s a good job this episode has that segment, otherwise it would end up being very week. In a similar way to the Operation Desert Stumble episode where the main film was poor, but the rest of the episode had good stuff that was able to drag out the quality. But even with the stunning Ford GT documentary, this episode is less like a Christmas special, but more of a show they made in the final hours of the Friday afternoon before the festive break begins.
- As mentioned above, the tent is in Lapland. To be more accurate, it is in Kakslauttanen which is a very hard word to spell.
- The drone was taken down by a reindeer. I suppose that was Christmassy,
- The guest for Celebrity Brainsmash was Kimi Raikkonen, who died after drinking himself to death. The dullest way they have killed someone.
- The opening graphic in Conversation Street sees the trio all have cue ball heads which turn into cowboy hats. I may have been on drugs.
- In Conversation Street, the trio discuss one of their staff crashing on the way to the filming, the frankly ridiculous speeding fines drivers in Finland get, whether a flake or a double decker is the worst chocolate bar to eat in a car and how the advertisements for The Grand Tour end up cutting out both Richard Hammond and James May.