As the second series of Amazon Prime's The Grand Tour comes to an end, it must be time for all of us former Top Gear fans to admit that something about the trio still isn’t working away from the BBC.
Season two of the Clarkson, Hammond and May led motoring show saw relatively big changes from the first series. The giant studio tent stayed put in the Cotswold Hills rather than travelling to a new iconic location each week, the cringe-inducing celebrity cameo was replaced by a more familiar ‘versus’ celebrity interview and a timed race round a track, whilst the tone of the show felt less false and slightly more natural.
The sequences, challenges, video montages and track tests felt slicker, more inventive and slightly more like those made under the watchful eyes of the BBC. The continued use of the mega-budget that Amazon provides means the direction, the editing and the cinematography are unrivalled by any non-Attenborough piece of factual programming.
Scenes we used to take for granted, like the opener of a used car challenge ... remained forced and uncomfortable
Yet despite this, season two delivered a series of unimpressive challenges with uncomfortable scripted dialogue. Scenes we used to take for granted, like the opener of a used car challenge where the hosts have to try and seem disappointed with each other's car choice, remained forced and uncomfortable. Clarkson and May seem unsettled but it is Richard Hammond that is trying the hardest (and least successfully) to fit in to their new home.
Yet it’s not all bad news, as highlights of the season include a classic race across New York State with a Clarkson powered Ford GT against May, a chartered flight, public transport and a hobbling Hammond making palatable entertainment. However, with one more season guaranteed under the Amazon Prime deal it must be time for producer Andy Wilman, who jumped with the trio from the BBC to Amazon, to step aside a season earlier than he is contractually obliged and let another producer have a crack at making these three men-children work on the internet stage.