The first episode of Top Gear UK I ever watched featured Richard Hammond in a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S racing a wingsuit diver on the island of Cyprus set to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. It's understandable, then, that I wasn't terribly impressed with last episode's trip to fabulous Detroit. I was, however, impressed with the setting of the this week's opening segment.
Tanner reviews the new Morgan Aero SuperSport, and for this he sojourns to the land of its birth: England. International Travel Alert. The car is rare, something few enough Americans have even heard of. Tanner even has a surprisingly honest moment of nerves after topping out the steampunk supercar. But if you're hoping for an appearance by
Morgan Aero owner Richard Hammond, I'll spare you. Top Gear America probably needs a bit more stability before a US-UK presenter mash-up.
Up next is a race, and it's actually original (sort of). The trio must rocket from Miami to Key West, each in a different vehicle type. Tanner chooses a seaplane (and later a Honda Ruckus), Rutledge picks a drug-running speedboat, and Adam defends the car with a Lotus Evora. The race is original and American enough to avoid a UK comparison, close enough to keep up the suspense, and even educational- the Evora is just as foreign to our shores as the Morgan. A few shots even feature the crew, a Top Gear staple.
Latina switchblade Michelle Rodriguez shows up for a lap time, and Adam's interview is funny, though it doesn't seem as genuine as past efforts. Perhaps it's an American problem, though. I notice the same thing when Yanks sit down with Clarkson in the UK version.
The news makes an appearance, as well, and still seems too scripted, but it's funny enough.
This week's episode was the kind that keeps me watching Top Gear America. My fears of boring, NASCAR-centric content have been allayed. I think Tanner jettisoned them over the Atlantic. His trip means the show has a budget, and this, combined with the appearance of an original race idea, means it has plenty of potential. 4 out of 5 stars.