ScreenCritics Adam takes a look at the eleventh episode of The Grand Tour – ‘Italian Lessons’.
If you were to do a one line synopsis of The Grand Tour, you could go for many things. Rehash of a popular BBC2 show would be a cynical one, three men who should know better messing about is another. However I feel the one I would use is beautiful cars in beautiful places. Because that’s what you see most often, jaw dropping cars in jaw dropping locations. So if you want to surprise your audience, why not go for the opposite? This weeks Italian Lessons episode goes in this direction.
The problem posed here is simple though. People may have a bit of cash to spend, but they end up buying pretty boring cars such as Ford Focuses when more exciting ones are available. That’s because the perception is that they would be unreliable and break down all the time. Aiming to prove that wrong, the trio buy a used Masarati each and take them to Northern France.
If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s basically the same test they did when they bought Italian supercars for the price of a used Ford Mondeo and tried to take them across Berkshire and failed. Of course this was over a decade ago, yes I’m making you feel old on purpose, so I’m not that bothered about the trio ripping themselves off. And it is one of the best segments they have ever done, so why return to a well which has given them much success?
And what it leads to is the best episode of The Grand Tour yet as it gives us the reasons why we fell in love with Top Gear in the first place. The mucking around, the fact the trio are obviously close friends with the way they feel so at ease abusing each other over sensitive topics. It’s all great fun. James May has a broken arm, and does he get any sympathy? No, of course not. They take down the roof of his car which needs two hands to put back up again, made worse by the constant drizzle. And when May asks for a knob on his steering wheel to help him drive quicker, the other two give him exactly that, a knob. Yes that joke is very predictable, but it is still funny. Italian Lessons is a fun episode.
And it is a refreshing change from the norm of The Grand Tour as well. Throughout this series, they have been driving brand new cars in some stunning locations which is fine enough, but we are getting the complete opposite here which is just as fun, if not more. While Maserati have produced a lot of pretty cars, these on show aren’t them. Yes, I’m sure they have a place in someone’s heart thanks to nostalgia, but they are ugly beasts. And again, while France is lovely country with a lot of great scenery, northern France is just the bit you drive through to get to either Paris, the Alps or the south of the country. And so it makes a nice contrast from the rest of the series, especially when I was criticizing it for being samey just a few weeks ago.
Of course there is some other stuff, such as Hammond testing a pretty cool Fiat and Clarkson’s latest way to innovate cars using immigrants, which sounds a lot worse than it actually is, and that’s all good. But the Maserati film is such good fun, it dominates the episode but in a good way. Italian Lessons is most fun, the loose, the best The Grand Tour has been since it started in November and I want more of this.
I forgot to do this last week, I’m sorry.
This week they are in Loch Ness, Scotland and they don’t even mention the monster which must be a first. Much like in Germany, they don’t make the obvious joke.
The car tested by the way was the Fiat Abarth 124 Spider which did a time of 1.33.7, making it the slowest car ever to go around the Eboladrome. It was wet though.
The Conversation Street graphic has Hammond attacking Clarkson with a glass bottle which apparently hurt a lot.
In Conversation Street they talk about why they have leather seats in cars, how stupid it is to have cars designed for women when both genders want the same out of their cars and how Scotland invented the electric car.
Sir Chris Hoy was the guest on Celebrity Brainsmash and he was killed when rowing his boat in Loch Ness and he hit a mine.