The New Season Of Top Gear Once Again Has Men Doing Wacky Things In Cars

Gif: Top Gear

The first trailer for Top Gear’s 29th season is out and, you won’t believe this, but the boys at Top Gear have once again been out doing zany things with cars.

This is coming from someone who is a fan of the show, but: There is something that feels undeniably dated about Top Gear in modern times, and it’s not just the fact that it’s three guys doing silly stunts.


That’s because beyond that everything feels a little forced, the show in its current form a dutiful re-creation of a different, older show that felt like it had a reason to exist. This isn’t the fault of the current presenters, Andrew Flintoff, Paddy McGuiness, or Chris Harris. Watch the final few seasons of Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, or watch The Grand Tour—fresh ideas in this format have been in short supply for a while now.

If you don’t believe me, watch the first several seasons, when Clarkson, May, and Hammond were still relatively young and the budgets weren’t so big and they didn’t have reputations to live up to. The three hosts all still liked each other back then, too, and, more importantly, were oozing with chemistry. They also seemed genuinely interested in making compelling television, whereas the current Top Gear seems content to be making television, full stop.

This is all to say I don’t really know how to make a good car show in 2020, but this is how they describe the new season of Top Gear:

Which of course involves sending Paddy, Freddie and Chris around a giant WALL OF DEATH constructed inside an empty Alexandra Palace, in a triumvirate of old insurance write-offs.

Elsewhere, our intrepid trio attempt to RACE DOWN A SKI SLOPE in Cyprus via the medium of rental cars, spend 24 hours inside their cars in Bolton, and conduct a triple test of the finest 200mph supercars from the Eighties and Nineties. It involves a Ferrari F40, a Jaguar XJ220, and a Lamborghini Diablo. It also involves a CRASH.

Hovering a microscope over the exponential new world of electric motoring, Paddy, Freddie and Chris also test out three little electric cars… by RACING THEM AROUND an empty Alton Towers, while Paddy showcases his latest project: an all-terrain, fully-electric ICE-CREAM VAN, obviously.

Oh, and The Stig drives a tank.

Supercars from the ‘80s and ‘90s and some pointless stunts? That’s still Top Gear for sure, but how many times can they keep trotting out the same playbook?

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.


Steve Harvey Oswald

The problem (and they finally learned this on The Grand Tour and pivoted to only travel “specials” instead) with Top Gear in 2020 is that it offers essentially nothing unique. You can watch “Top Gear”-ish content 24/7 and more of it is uploaded every week.

Youtube is full of interesting car channels. Builds, races, test drives, comparisons. These homebrewers are even getting their hands on super and hypercars for their videos. There is no shortage of dudes out there offering takes on the newest autos, wildly exaggerating their UNCONTAINABLE LAUGHTER at acceleration that feels just like the last 10 sports cars and electric cars they drove that month.

Channels even use the same track over and over and have a hot lap leaderboard. Sounds familiar, right?

I enjoy some of these and find others to be either boring or annoyingly over the top, but you get the point. The main thing that made Top Gear worthwhile to watch for so long was the amazing ability of the Big Three (or rather, Big 2 and Little 1) to make scripted dialogue and challenges seem unscripted and spontaneous. Without them, it would have been just another anonymous car show buried in the TV listings. Also, at the time they were doing it, they were essentially the only show in town as far as wacky car hijinks, travel pieces with cars, and sports car test drives/reviews/lap times went.

Now, we’ve already been through like 25ish seasons of their show and its Amazon counterpart, several seasons of a rotating host cast of new BBC Top Gear, and a million other people are doing Top Gear videos in their free time. Just let BBC Top Gear die already. It’s like trying to make Sportscenter relevant in 2020, and that’s another obsolete dinosaur that is living a zombie existence way past its expiration date.