Sunday, 29 May 2016

May Bank Holiday – Monday ramblings...

It's Bank Holiday Monday, a day normally characterised by bad weather, but not this morning. The whole weekend has been brilliant so far and, as usual, it's coming to an end miles too quickly for my liking.

I spent most of yesterday in the back garden, mowing the lawn and then cutting back the edges, which I'd allowed to get a little overgrown – a bit like the top of the garden where I need to cut down the long grass and get rid of the branches and twigs that are lying around. The day involved basking in the sunshine, drinking tea and then, after dinner, settling down to the new Top Gear, the long-awaited continuation of the programme not so long ago vacated by the great Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, who, sadly, have moved on to Amazon Prime.
Le Blanc, Evans and the Stig – the jury's out...
Well, they say that nobody is indispensable and they're right, but there are times when the task ahead for the person challenged to carry something successful on to greater heights is a little tricky. Chris Evans has found himself in that position and yesterday was judgement day.

When the programme started it was, in my opinion, a little shaky, with Evans and Le Blanc delivering phrases immortalised by Clarkson, but without the great man's gravitas and panache. I felt that they should have moved away from the old format, but they'd stuck with The Stig and they'd kept the 'some say...' jokes, which I thought was a mistake as they're so closely associated with Clarkson. They kept the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car too, which is when I thought the programme picked up a bit, Evans being good at the celebrity interview, and then I realised that the real star of the show was Matt Le Blanc. He will, I'd imagine, carry the show forward and I feel confident that future shows, as we go through the series, will improve.

I think the best way to describe the first of the new Top Gear shows is by way of an analogy with the movie Liar Liar, starring Jim Carrey. I felt that keeping the show's Clarkson format was a mistake and that the 'some say' jokes about the Stig, told by somebody other than Clarkson, was uncomfortable to watch in the same way that, in Liar Liar, when Carrey's screen wife's new boyfriend tries to do 'the claw' for the little boy, it's just cringeworthy.

I felt that the challenges – something Clarkson and Co did so well – need to be vastly improved as they too lacked a certain gravitas. We need some good 'car versus other modes of transport' stuff and I felt that travelling to Blackpool in a couple of Reliant Robins didn't really cut the mustard. That said, it was watchable and I hope it will continue to improve. Evans is good, I've always liked him, but I admit I was a little sceptical about him filling Clarkson's shoes. Perhaps that's an impossible task, who knows, but he's doing a reasonable job as it's not an envious task.

It's all to do with chemistry at the end of the day and, let's face it, Clarkson, Hammond and May had that chemistry. Whether it exists between Evans and Le Blanc is up for debate, but I'm glad Top Gear's back and let's hope they pull it out of the hat. I get a strange feeling that they will.

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