Top Gear USA: Another failed British import series.

I was shuffling through channels and stumbled upon the American version of Top Gear that airs on History Channel. Not even 5 minutes into watching I thought to myself: Why is the American version so bad?

Hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, Top Gear UK started in 2002 and is known around the world as one of the most visually stunning, outlandish, engaging, and humorous automotive series, and its must be true. Top Gear is has an audience of over 350 million viewers a week, and is viewed in over 170 countries in the world, including America on BBC America.

Even though the cars seem like the stars of the show, they wouldn’t be as interesting without its three host. Clarkson, Hammond, and May have a

UK host Hammond, Clarkson, and May
UK presenters Hammond, Clarkson, and May

chemistry that is like no other. One of the best parts of the series is when they relentlessly rag on each other during challenges if one loses, or brings back a car for a challenge that the other two don’t agree on. James May is usually the target of all the ribbing, and takes it like a champion. In addition to the immense chemistry the presenters have on-screen, you can tell that these guys are having fun doing their jobs. How couldn’t they? Theyre getting paid to drive a wide array of cars from all over the world in the most interesting, and sometime dangerous situations that only the producers of Top Gear would be able to think of. Even in the worst of situations and challenges – rather its a challenge of driving a Toyota truck up an active volcano in the dead of winter, or converting old cars and converting them into amphibious vehicles to drive across the 21 miles across the English Channel (they made it all the way across too!) – these three Brits know have to have fun, and it shows…they have 350 million viewers a week!

I’m a huge car guy. I would watch the original Top Gear years ago and just hope there would one day be an American version of the show that showcased American cars on American roads. I almost got my wish in 2008 when NBC announced a pilot would be made for the American audience. Plans were cancelled, and it wouldn’t be until 2010 when Top Gear USA premiered on the History Channel – too much excitement of every car nut in America who was in love with the British series.

Well, we found that the American Top Gear was nothing like the original.

USA Presenters Ferrara, Foust, and Wood

Hosted by Pro Racing Driver Tanner Foust, comedian Adam Ferrara, and racing analyst Rutledge Wood, all three of these guys act as if there is somewhere they’d rather be. Wood, who is the main presenter on the show (in the same fashion of UK’s Clarkson) is unfunny, talks way too much, and tries way too hard to appeal to the audience. Ferrara acts like he doesn’t like either one of his co-presenters and seems like he doesn’t want to be associated with the show, and Foust is just way too quiet, often getting lost in between the other two. There is absolutely no chemistry between the three, and makes this adaptation just plain un-watchable.

There’s a lot in me that wants to like the American Top Gear, but I just can’t find a reason to. Even though it’s based in America, and features American cars that we see everyday, the show has to be a flop if my uninterested-in-cars-mother recognizes the British version is more superior than the American version.

Its something about the transition of TV shows across the Atlantic Ocean that taints great British TV shows and turns them into terrible American shows. Skins, Free Agents, Absolutely Fabulous, Prime Suspect just to name a few. Unfortunately, Top Gear USA can be added to this list.

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