There follows an appeal by Jeremy Clarkson
April 16, 2007 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Save Top Gear! Top Gear has become an internet phenomenon, or at least a YouTube phenomenon (previously on MeFi). The larking about of Clarkson, Hampster and Captain Slow on the BBC's most-watched show have entertained millions, despite the fact they're from a show that's supposed to be about car reviews. And there's the problem. In the next series, do the program-makers continue the escapades of the modern-day Compo, Clegg and Foggy, or do they go back to reviewing everyday cars? [Warning: This posting is YouTube-heavy].
posted by humblepigeon (35 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Better yet - repackage Top Gear as a cross between Junkyard Wars and MythBusters; each week, Jamie and Adam would go against CarTalk's Click and Clack in stress-testing/demolishing viewer-requested vehicles.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:26 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jeremy Clarkson... Appeal...Hmmm....There *must* be a joke in there somewhere.
posted by Jofus at 9:26 AM on April 16, 2007


Save Top Gear = "We are basically too stupid and caught up in our own popularity to come up with any new ideas so you do it."
posted by peacay at 9:40 AM on April 16, 2007


Let's not save Top Gear.
posted by rhymer at 9:44 AM on April 16, 2007


I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere recently that Clarkson, May and Hammond are going to the USA to produce Top Gear for the American market.

Something about it here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:46 AM on April 16, 2007


My immediate impulse would normally be to really loathe Jeremy Clarkson, but unfortunately I tend to loathe the sort of people who hate him even more. Which leaves me in the unfortunate position of having to like him in order to distance myself from all the rest of his dislikers.

Oh and before anyone beats me to it, your favourite car review programme presenter sucks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:51 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, Top Gear deserves it's popularity. It is an astounding combination of real talent behind the cameras, outstanding production values (for TV or otherwise), and entertaining on-air talent. They come up with good stories. They talk about cars while doing things with them that most of us will only ever experience while watching them do it, with appropriate amounts of hyperbole. I don't think there's anything wrong with the formula. If they throw in a few more car tests, it's not a big deal. I'll sit through James May testing a VW Polo if it means I can still see Richard or Jeremy shooting cars off a cliff into a giant target.

Jeremy, Top Gear, etc.. STOP LISTENING TO THE INTERNETS.
posted by ninjew at 9:52 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


escapades of the modern-day Compo, Clegg and Foggy

Actually, I think Clarkson is more reminiscent of Nora Batty. A Nora Batty-Boy, perhaps?

Boom bye bye
Inna Nora Batty bwoy head
Rude bwoy no promote the nasty man
Dem haffi dead
Boom bye bye
Inna Nora Batty bwoy head
Rude bwoy no promote no Nora Batty man
Dem haffi dead
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:59 AM on April 16, 2007


Cars are boring. Leave Top Gear as it is.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on April 16, 2007


I will do everything in my power to keep Top Gear on the air.
posted by parmanparman at 10:02 AM on April 16, 2007


the only fat that needs to be trimmed, imo, is when they veer off into "monster garage" territory, like when they built a rocket-powered mini or a space shuttle or a car/boat or even a boat/car. sure it's entertaining, but that stuff just doesn't really do it for me.

it's really picking nits, though. and frankly, i think the best part of the show is just the interplay between the three of them. without the chemistry, the show would be pretty dull no matter the production values or the wacky hijinks or the "look-at-me-i'm-flogging-a-hypercar" hoonage.

plus, the stig rules.
posted by the painkiller at 10:06 AM on April 16, 2007


I will do everything in my power to keep Top Gear on the air.

It's the only programme that will bring me to the TV nowadays. All other BBC output is just sub-par, and I don't even bother with ITV any longer. Top Gear and Grand Designs and the only programmes I watch. Oh, I got hooked on Dog Borstal too.

Something's gone really very badly wrong with British TV. New comedy is embarrassingly shite, current affairs has been dumbed down to tabloid level (Panorama is a joke), and every other program (every bloody one!) is a reality show.
posted by humblepigeon at 10:15 AM on April 16, 2007


Normally I let dull macho TV get on with its stuff, but Top Gear is specifically propaganda for massive-engined climate-killers.

It's not knee-jerk Clarkson hating. If his TV show was as good as his column I'd feel differently.
posted by imperium at 10:18 AM on April 16, 2007


My immediate response was, "What's Top Gear?"
Then: "Oh." and "Meh."
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:25 AM on April 16, 2007


Bah. Clarkson thinks Clarkson's witty and cute and worth listening to, so put the man in a phone booth and fill it with pound coins. That way everyone wins.
posted by jet_silver at 10:35 AM on April 16, 2007


I was so disappointed by this latest season, only six episodes? On the other hand, they built and launched a replica space shuttle, so I'll give them a bit of a break on that. Even bad Top Gear is easily in the top-5 best shows on TV as far as I'm concerned.

What drives me nuts is the Top-Gear-Hates-The-Earth nonsense. It's a car show, it exists to review not only everyday cars but extreme, silly, and outrageous cars. For every Zonda F that cries out "Stig" at night, there's some obscure micro-car that only exists in Europe that earns top marks for being small, efficient, and quiet. Nobody makes more fun of "Chelsea Tractors" and NASCAR than Top Gear. And frankly, a large chunk of the people Clarkson makes fun of deserve to be mocked for buying a Prius.
posted by Skorgu at 10:38 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Asking people to "Save" the show is a bit much, they're just asking about what direction it should go in.
posted by delmoi at 10:38 AM on April 16, 2007


I was disappointed by this latest series too. Six episodes of lame "comedy" skits were six too many. If Top Gear is ever about cars again, instead of entertaining the housewives of Britain, I may watch again. For now, I could care less if they ever make another episode.

Sad too, as a few years back I'd have listed it as the only TV show I make sure to catch, even tho it doesn't air in my country.
posted by acetonic at 11:08 AM on April 16, 2007


I believe Clarkson has said in previous interviews that they've all sort of gone to the well too many times for a car review shows—after all, just how many times can you roadtest a supercar before the formula gets stale?—hence the decline in actual tests in the past couple of years and the increasing number of gimmicky lark segments like last year's stupid caravanning segment.

On the one hand, Clarkson and co. have a point; testing the same cars over and over can get a bit dull. On the other hand, don't come crying to me when you can't think of interesting ways to spice things up a little; it's your job to figure that sort of thing out, not mine. The biggest problem is the show is resorting increasingly to heavily scripted segments designed to look and sound outrageous. And it's not just stuff like fighting while they're busy building an Espace convertible, or "mistakenly" setting people's caravans on fire.

Two seasons ago the Top Gear crew did a shootout between three sports coupes, the BMW M6, the Aston Martin Vantage, and the Porsche 911. That was a genuinely funny yet informative segment; the three hosts were very good at discussing what was great and what sucked about each car in an old boys club sort of way, like it was just one big pub conversation. This is by far the best thing about the show: it's just three gearheads who love talking about and driving fast cars.

This season they did the same thing, only with the Alfa Brera, the Audi TT and the Mazda RX-8. They spent the entire segment arguing and yelling at each other, only to then tell us at the end that in reality they all liked the Brera and all the childish playground insults were for show. So not only did they turn the roadtest into a yelling contest, they didn't even truly believe much of what they were saying! All the drama was clearly generated just so they could put a segment together, because I guess no one wants to see a shootout where everyone immediately sides with the same car. But artificially forcing people to choose sides and then telling them to yell louder at each other on a golf course (and why the hell were they on a golf course if they don't like golfing? just for the "we hate golf" joke?) isn't the way to make things more interesting.

This would all be easier to take had the main competition, Channel Five's Fifth Gear, not taken an even bigger dive in quality last season, with a new know-nothing co-host, a useless new set and a complete change in tone (more celebrities driving cars! fewer interesting road tests! too much Lovejoy! not enough Tiff!). We've gone from having two high-quality British car shows two years ago to one decent car show and one inane car show today. So hurray for Top Gear—but only by default.
posted by chrominance at 11:33 AM on April 16, 2007


What chrominance said (twice).
posted by infidelpants at 11:43 AM on April 16, 2007


Meh. Its target audience seems to like it - leave it as is. My personal suspicion is, given the absolute lack of anything on british terrestrial TV that isn't soap opera, home development or reality TV, that people with a hard-on for cars would watch an hour of Jilly Goulden driving a Fiat Punto round Swindon's Magic Roundabout, and still wax effusive about the amazing quality of "journalism", "on-screen chemistry" and similar hyperbollocks.

I'm trying very hard to not say "your favourite show sucks" here... can you tell?

Yeah, anyway - I have a longstanding interest in cookery, and still remember the dark days when the only thing of interest to me on British TV was the utterly dreadful Food and Drink. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, not matter how uninteresting to me their personal obsession is. Keep Top Gear exactly as it (preferably right down to the once a week slot), although hopefully the embarrasing claptrap about it being the pinnacle of human artistic achievement will stop sometime soon.
posted by bifter at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2007


At the risk of earning PeterMcDermott's ire, I have to confess a pretty vehement dislike for Clarkson's persona. I'm sure he's decent enough in person as long as you don't fall into one of the many categories of people he self-righteously hates on, but I guess I really just resent that his (in my view) pathetic men-behaving-badly clowning and vitriolic daily-mail rants have gained such acceptance.

That and the implied undertone of the show that all Decent Ordinary Blokes have the right to drive whatever and however they please and that anyone who says otherwise is the strawman son of some simpering "PC" (ugh) communo-bureaucracy opressing the Last Bastion of the Manly Spirit in the Free World.. mean that I'm not too motivated to save Top Gear, even if there have been some undeniably fun moments in the show.

If you're thinking that I'm exaggerating out of knee-jerk hate, well, perhaps you're right, although I'd point to Clarkson's column in the Mail as pretty good evidence of the stubborn extremity of his views and I don't think he tones it down all that much in the show. But this is one of the things that annoys me about Top Gear and the associated mentality: Clarkson et al start the bombast, illuminating various hippy-stereotype bogeymen to threaten the masculinity of his audience; this prompts enough annoyance that his opponents get snippy and unreasonable. Debate between the two suddenly-divided sides can only really go downhill from there.
posted by Drexen at 11:54 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, anyway - I have a longstanding interest in cookery, and still remember the dark days when the only thing of interest to me on British TV was the utterly dreadful Food and Drink.

You're referring to the age of 'magazine programmes'—back when BBC factual programmes had 'editors' instead of 'directors', back before independent franchises were invited in to make programmes, back when everything was run from various rooms in BBC TV Centre (Wood lane, W12 8QT—knowing that address is a good sign of how many magazine programmes I watched as a child).

Personally speaking, I miss those days. That was back when the BBC was unique. It had to end, and it's definitely healthy that it did. But there was a kind of crappy magic about programmes back then, from the stilted presenters to the jazz-inspired theme tunes.
posted by humblepigeon at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2007


My immediate response was, "What's Top Gear?"
Then: "Oh." and "Meh."
posted by Mr. Gunn


I am so grateful that you shared your feelings with us. For fully 2/3rds of this thread I was anxiously awaiting to hear from you, Mr. Gunn. "How on earth will Gunn react to this," I asked myself, "Will he like it?"

Keep up the good work, my man. Your insightful, significant opinion is what makes MeFi such a great community.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:13 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


My immediate response was, "What's Top Gear?"
Then: "Oh." and "Meh."
posted by Mr. Gunn


I am so grateful that you shared your feelings with us. For fully 2/3rds of this thread I was anxiously awaiting to hear from you, Mr. Gunn. "How on earth will Gunn react to this," I asked myself, "Will he like it?"

Keep up the good work, my man. Your insightful, significant opinion is what makes MeFi such a great community.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:13 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Less comedy segments, please. This last season was almost unbearable. It's painfully obvious when their hijinks are scripted or that a producer has primed a scene for maximum lunacy.
posted by zsazsa at 1:14 PM on April 16, 2007


Huh. Glitch in this matrix.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2007


More three-car comparisons, more challenges, less peripheral nonsense. Less tractors. As in, no tractors.

I can understand why Hammond's accident meant that the producers were stuck, for the most part, with what they'd already filmed; that doesn't excuse the inherent clunkiness of those bits, except to say that they might not have made the final cut. If the short one is fit to drive this year, then there's no excuse.

Two seasons ago the Top Gear crew did a shootout between three sports coupes, the BMW M6, the Aston Martin Vantage, and the Porsche 911.

And there was the roadster shootout (TT, 300Z, Crossfire) and the muscle car shootout (Holden Monaro, Chrysler 300C, Jaguar S-Type R). All very genuine.
posted by holgate at 2:34 PM on April 16, 2007


Drexen writes "At the risk of earning PeterMcDermott's ire, I have to confess a pretty vehement dislike for Clarkson's persona. I'm sure he's decent enough in person as long as you don't fall into one of the many categories of people he self-righteously hates on, but I guess I really just resent that his (in my view) pathetic men-behaving-badly clowning and vitriolic daily-mail rants have gained such acceptance."

To be honest, Drexen, I think he'd be *less* decent in person. I think he's a loathesome reactionary creature. But I can't deny that he's often very funny. And I'm prepared to overlook quite a lot in somebody who makes me laugh. And while I'd tax the pants off anybody who wanted to drive any kind of a gas guzzler, making it prohibitively expensive for all but the super rich, there are only two programmes on my 'mustn't miss' list -- Antiques Roadshow and Top Gear. The only presenter I enjoy watching more than Clarkson, is Geoffrey Munn when he's talking about a fine piece of Faberge, or a nice art deco Cartier brooch.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:14 PM on April 16, 2007


I always have mixed feelings watching the show. On the one hand, I do enjoy it - I even enjoy it on repeat, which is what we seem to be getting in Australia at the moment.

On the other hand, what is it but yet another manifestation of lad culture? I don't think lad culture is completely toxic, but it does seem to be mired in the endless repetition of all the most worn-out tropes of masculinity. Small wonder they've run out of ideas on how to freshen up the show.

So I watch the show, enjoying it and simultaneously rolling my eyes whenever they do their whole boys-down-the-pub schtick.
posted by Ritchie at 3:39 PM on April 16, 2007


Top Gear is best viewed through YouTube, where you get to sample only the tastiest bits and ignore the rest.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:43 PM on April 16, 2007


five fresh fish: "Top Gear is best viewed through YouTube, where you get to sample only the tastiest bits and ignore the rest."

Thanks for the tip, my friend. I hope your day gets better.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:45 PM on April 16, 2007


While I do love the new hi-jinks, part of me does wish they would tone it down a little and get back to those wonderfully snarky in-depth reviews.

I'm not sure why they think they need something completely new for the next season - what's wrong with taking an established formula and refining it? Having an episode filled with hijinks interspersed with regular episodes would still keep me watching.
posted by your mildly obsessive average geek at 10:19 PM on April 16, 2007


Top Gear has been one of the best shows on television that I have watched, from any country. They are consistently entertaining and the production values are always remarkable.

If I were to voice one opinion, it would be 'What the Fuck?' 6 - 8 episodes? That ain't a season, my friends, that is a bad mini-series. In your earlier runs you could pull off 12 - 20 episodes. It's not that hard a formula, you show cars, you critique cars, you drive cars fast. You make jokes, we laugh and marvel at the crazy autos that you are given to drive.

I don't need you to be Mythbusters or Monster Garage, I already have those. Give me what you have been giving me. A quality program where you test cars against the worst conditions. That was all I ever asked of you.

This formula isn't hard. You are one of the biggest shows in the world (I've read that something like 350 million viewers tune in).

Just continue what you have been doing a season or three ago, and we can all get along.
posted by quin at 11:12 PM on April 16, 2007


How about a mythbusters/top gear switcheroo? get the mythbusters boys to host a top gear and the three to host a mythbusters...?

Other than the phenomenal BBC Planet Earth, Top Gear is the only TV I will go out of my way to watch, by which I mean: is the only TV I watch.

Yes there are the obvious set-ups: Clarkson finds and mounts a cow to his camaro?!? The rather sad hick-baiting? The inability of May to turn around a caravan? ZOMG FAKE ~ but FUNNY.

What I really would love to see is Brian Blessed drive as fast as is possible in the fastest car TG can afford to give him a crack at.

Please, any Top Gear staff, if you can, BRIAN BLESSED -- ARIEL ATOM.
posted by headless at 2:13 AM on April 17, 2007


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