Wednesday, March 25, 2015

No Gear

Top Gear was a show I came to watch in the early summer of 2013. We get BBC Canada, and there was a time where it was broadcasting reruns of the show a lot, to the point even my mother was watching it. I didn't see why my mother would be interested in what looked to me, at least from a viewing distance, to be a car or machine-themed show. Often I'd see a big, wiry-haired guy sitting in a chair interviewing what turned out to be a celebrity mixed with scenes of cars being driven through the British countryside.

It was my mother who encouraged me to watch it, particularly a sequence wherein they were doing a cheap car challenge. The three - not one - three presenters took a van and made it into a makeshift convertible, taking it up to 100 miles per hour, driving through a safari park, and finally putting it through a car wash. The fact that they willingly went through an automated car wash only to have it ruin the makeshift roof, get tangled up, and catch fire intrigued me to watch more, because obviously they weren't being serious and rather going for the lighthearted, entertaining aspect. So I started taking an interest.

It led to an obsession to keep me occupied during times of boredom. I'd surf YouTube for pieces of challenge segments. The car reviews were not something I looked for particularly, but they were still entertaining in the sense that all three of them - Jeremy, Richard and James, though mostly Jeremy - would have an entertaining way of describing the drive and performance.

The true nature of the program came out at me pretty quickly. Three presenters doing "ambitious but rubbish" stunts and challenges and the odd semi-serious car review. The quirkiness of their presentation style, all free-form and casual, made the show seem like an entertainment program mixed with some interesting information. I have several of the series on DVD.

But now it's all done. Jeremy ended up doing what he apparently did, and now the BBC have exhausted their patience and chances with him.

There are two big sides to this - Jeremy's behaviour and the diehard fans who think it's not much of a big deal and isn't worth firing the star of the program over. Apparently, the show generates the most revenue for the British corporation. There isn't a way in any reality Richard Hammond and James May, the two co-presenters, would go on rowing without him. They have a shared common ground and chemistry that makes them work brilliantly together.

I'm in the middle. I don't think it's the end of the world, and no, I don't think the star of the program should be preferentially treated when he assaulted another person over a matter so silly. I love the show. It's fun to watch and can fill hours of time. But it isn't like they can go on forever anyway; two of them are in their fifties, the third nearly there. The older they got and the longer the show went, it seemed to me that the show got more and more clownish. It's one thing to be whacky once in awhile (i.e. the police car challenge) and consistently interesting (the three BMW 325i challenge) but it seemed that the more whacky features and challenges began to outnumber the reviews and other features. An entire episode of this past season was dedicated to the three of them making ambulances. It was one of the funniest episodes I saw, but at the same time, they're starting to look too juvenile for their age. The amphibious car challenge wasn't juvenile. It was a great chronicle of an accomplishment through dedication.

I read a long interview with James May awhile ago. He mentioned in it that he couldn't possibly see the three of them continuing into their fifties as they have, as he felt they couldn't take it. They were taking it. I would have liked to have seen an end to this series, not a cancellation three quarters of the way through, and then be fine with the end. Nothing lasts forever, after all.

As for Jeremy Clarkson, sometimes you just have to accept a person for who he is. Someone at his age is likely going to be set in his views and ideas, and to fight it is to get nowhere or just add to the misery. However, to treat someone like hell just because the chef went home (which is out of his control) and then punch him for that is ridiculously childish and stupid. In that sense I agree he should be at least punished or made to apologize. They should have let the show run the last of its course, and then dismiss him. Having an outspoken opinion is one thing - if everyone disagrees they simply don't have to listen to it - but making it physical is another serious thing altogether.

It was a great show - and of course there are twenty-two seasons and numerous road trip features (Botswana, Vietnam, America, India, etc.) and I think all three are great presenters and have a good sense of humour most of the time. But all things come to an end, and as I said. It shouldn't matter who you are - yelling is one thing, throwing a punch is another.

Red Cloud
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