While it started out a rather mediocre venture, by the end of its first season, Top Gear America had ramped up its quality like Tanner Foust's massive house/spoiler/camper in episode nine. Still, the season ended with a filler recap episode, and no one knew if it would return.
But last Thursday, rumors started circulating. Tanner Foust tweeted that he was leaving the Formula Drift Team to free up his schedule for “television responsibilities.” He wasn't specific, but the blogosphere speculated out loud, and by the end of the day, all three hosts had tweeted about TGA's renewal. Even Jeremy Clarkson commented.
“"Top Gear is our baby so you can understand why Hammond, May and I were anxious about passing it on to the presenters of the US show. We needn’t have worried because Top Gear is clearly in safe hands, even if they do insist on speaking in those stupid accents. Watching an episode from series 1 with Richard and James, we found ourselves in a genuinely heated debate about which of the presenters’ cars was best. We were just three ordinary chaps watching a car show and loving it, which is exactly what Top Gear should be. Bring on series two."
Top Gear America garnered mixed reviews throughout season one, all the while trying to drive out of TGUK's continent-sized shadow, but with such an endorsement from none other than Jeremy Clarkson, the audience can only grow.
I think it can certainly go places. Most TGUK fans, TGA's biggest haters, seem to have forgotten the UK version's first series. At best, it was clunky and unenergetic. And TGA did leave much to desire. The studio applause seemed mostly canned, the interviews felt wooden, and the script constricted the cast like a well-tied noose.
It is a valid point, though, when making the comparison, that TGUK's new format had athirty year opportunity to gather a fanbase. Top Gear America does not share that luxury. This is the cut-and-run world of American television, where you generate ratings or get pitched under the bus.
Since I know the producers are reading this, here's my advice on how to keep Top Gear America afloat
Improve the script. I show like this needs the very best type of writers, since there aren't really any actors. Find the most brilliant minds in comedy, introduce them to the most brilliant minds in automotive review, lather, repeat. Then, if the talent (not called “the talent” without reason) starts to wander from the outline, let them. That's when the most amazing moments happen, anyway
Work with the live audience. The laugh track isn't helping. Television audience entertainment is a science about seventy years in the making. Study and implement. A better script won't hurt, either.
Don't forget The Stig. He's a key presenter and a hood ornament for Top Gear. Start some legends, capitalize on his awesomeness.
Keep everything else. The challenges and races are unique enough, the characters are genuine enough, and the car reviews are honest enough to teach Top Gear UK a lesson.
I'm thrilled that it's been renewed. It can only get more original and funnier. It isn't Top Gear UK, and probably will never be, but the way I see it, the more Top Gear, the better.