NBC Brings Top Gear To America!

In one of the best and worst moves of 2008 already, NBC has ordered that a pilot be made for an American version of the BBC British show Top Gear by the BBC. If you are reading this website and you don’t know what Top Gear is, I feel very sorry for you, because you are missing out. Top Gear has been one of the most controversial shows I think in the history of television. It was first aired back in 1977 on the BBC in England was had a number of different hosts including Tiff Needell (now host of Fifth Gear in England) and Jeremy Clarkson (still the current host). Clarkson left in 1999 along with the producer at the time Jon Bentley (who went on to help start Fifth Gear) and the show went down hill, being cancelled only two years later.

The show was back however in 2002 with the same name, a new format (a big garage space), which is still currently used, and a team of new presenters to stand alongside Jeremy Clarkson who decided to come back. Richard Hammond and James May (May was on the original Top Gear for a few episodes). The crew of course have lots of fun doing random sorts of things with cars and while still being edgy, funny, entertaining, informative and as I said earlier controversial. Besides the show being boycotted and criticized by many of people around the world for different comments Clarkson has made, whether they be about German, gays or the likes the comments have been argued as just a vital part of the humor of the show.

There is no doubt that the American version will lack the drive and hysterical approach of the real Top Gear, but, it shows that we are at least getting some real television instead of more American Idol or Big Brother 67. The good thing about the American Top Gear is that the head man of NBC’s reality shows, Craig Plestis, is actually a fan of the show, which is a huge plus. Maybe this means he won’t allow the show to be butchered.

The show could be the worst show ever, but, as long as it has one entity of the British Top Gear I will love it. The Stig. The Stig is the man behind the racing suit and helmet. He doesn’t talk, doesn’t placate around with the others, he just gets in the cars and drives the piss out of them to show what they can really do. He is introduced usually by Clarkson and sometimes by Hammond or May, and he is introduced in some very special ways with little quips about him. All this is done on a Top Gear test track which I’m sure they will have a similar one for the U.S. version. The Stig has been probably the most popular host from Top Gear. As well he should be, he is a fantastic driver.

There have been two Stigs. The original Stig in the black racing suit and helmet that was killed off and the current white suited Stig who has proven that he is the faster and better of the two. Top Gear invited different current and retired Formula 1 drivers to drive their reasonably price Suzuki Liana (which was originally used for the “star in a reasonably priced car” segment as well) and no one was as fast as The Stig. Except Lewis Hamilton who set a lap time 3 tenths of a second slower then the Stigs and his lap was done on a very wet track. The Stig proves to be one of the best drivers in the world as he drives every major car on the series to show how fast it is and to have the time put up on the “power lap” board. Who will be the U.S. Stig? God let us hope it’s not some stock car driver. Ugh, that would be the end of my life right there. Maybe we will be graced with the honor of the real Stig on the show? I hope so.

Who will present the U.S. Top Gear? There is no official word as of yet, unfortunately. I don’t know, we all know they need some people to replicate the real presenters from Top Gear. What do you think about me going out for it? I am controversial at times. Just read my Cadillac CTS article.

One great thing that NBC has announced according to is that they are keeping a number of the different challenges of the original show. Such as the star in a reasonably priced car, road tests, doing the Top Gear races, where the hosts have to use different modes of transportation while one host is racing them in a car to a certain area of the world. Some of the other notable parts of the series they want to keep is where the hosts have different challenges to create different things out of cheap cars they have to go and buy for a specified amount of money. Let us hope that they won’t wimp out on the racing each other across the country part in different modes of transportation.

One thing I love about Top Gear that I hope they bring to America is the energy. The energy that makes me sit there every time and wonder how they are going to get out of this crazy problem. I love the show a lot, and hope the integrity is not lost. I know just like any other American auto enthusiast that there are certain things that the BBC and England lets Top Gear get away with that we won’t be able to have over here. Like, when Clarkson makes fun of many different individuals and gets tons of hate mail because of it, and also the different balls out methods of driving they use to display the cars’ abilities. Unfortunately, we don’t have those types of roads over here that we are allowed to do those sorts of things. One thing that will remain I’m sure is the love for all things automotive. Let us hope it focuses more on the European and Japanese aspects of cars more so than the American ways. I like NASCAR as much as the next guy, but I prefer to see real cars, real challenges, real racing and such on this show in order for me to watch it.

Just in case you haven’t seen a lot of Top Gear or don’t really understand it, I will leave you with a few videos to make you see the joy that the program brings to automotive enthusiasts all over the world.


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