By: Aidan Clarke, Staff Writer
Competing with Netflix and Hulu, Amazon knew from the beginning that its streaming service would need big names and excellent content. To achieve both of those goals, in 2015, Amazon brought in Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, along with their favored producer, Andy Wilman. Together, this group had turned the BBC’s middling “Top Gear” into the most successful car show of all time. Now, Amazon gave them a bigger budget and a clean slate to shape their new show “The Grand Tour” as they saw fit.
What they have done, to those unfamiliar with the premise of the show, is use a tent as their studio, while traveling around the world to film the program in a variety of exotic locations. Seasons one and two saw them travel to a variety of locations across the United States, Africa and Europe. In season three, they have made a few changes. The tent now stays in England, but the series still features challenges around the world. Celebrity hot laps and interviews are now also a thing of the past. The result is a more streamlined and smooth tv show.
Now in its third season, the Grand Tour has delivered on all expectations. The basis of the show is the close friendship between Clarkson, Hammond and May, who take to every episode with a boyish glee. They appear to have taken on the saying “men don’t grow up, their toys just get bigger” as their modus operandi. The results are nothing short of hilarious.
While the Grand Tour is a car show, the cars are really tangential. Reviews are limited to the rarest of sports cars, and are designed to be more entertaining than they are informative. The show’s success is built around the comedic rapport of its three stars, while placing them in a series of eccentric and amusing competitions. Over the course of season three, the hosts build their own RV’s and drive them in the American Southwest, drag race muscle cars through the heart of Detroit and even take up wildlife photography while driving across Columbia.
Even when the show does a review of a normal car, a small affordable hatchback, Jeremy Clarkson simply satirizes the entire review. Instead of answering the questions a consumer would ask, he chooses to focus on whether or not the car would make a good police car, or whether Hannibal could use it to invade Italy.
Having said that, it is clear that Clarkson, Hammond and May know what they are talking about when it comes to cars. Those who are interested in comparing performance numbers and road tests will not be disappointed as the series features a cornucopia of high performance vehicles from the Mclaren Senna to the BMW M5. Those who are relatively uninterested in the world of cars will not be lost however, as “The Grand Tour” generally avoids technical language or complicated metrics.
While it is not the most complex or intellectual show, I would argue that “The Grand Tour” remains one of the most entertaining shows available on the primary streaming services. Even as its hosts have gotten older, their humor has only improved, and paired with the enormous budgets Amazon has provided them, they have found a recipe for success.