Top Gear Episode 4 Continues To Stall

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Has ‘Top Gear’ managed to finally find the right gear?

Not exactly… and it isn’t really helped by the non-existent chemistry between hosts Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc. It’s one of the main concerns raised by ‘Top Gear’ fans since the series returned – what the hell is going on between Evans and LeBlanc?

Although Chris Evans helped matters this week by toning himself down a bit, he still seems to be putting on a sub-par Clarkson impression… and coupled with Matt LeBlanc’s deadpan delivery, it makes for a mostly awkward experience.

Even if LeBlanc did manage to get a laugh for once.

“Some say, he thinks Brexit is a laxative… and that for tax purposes he’s classed as a biscuit.”

And at least there were some genuinely interesting bits.

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‘Top Gear’ jumped straight into it this week, laying off the forced comedy schtick that most viewers find so excruciating. Remember ‘Episode 2’ when Chris Evans was brought in on a stretcher? Most ‘Top Gear’ fans were genuinely hoping the show had flatlined… but this time they’ve traded in the lame slapstick antics for a bit of proper car talk.

And it actually seems to have worked.

Not least of which because Chris Evans has taken more of a back seat this episode, and it allows his far-more charismatic co-stars to get their chance in the spotlight. Most obviously, Rory Reid.

Rory Gets His Own Segment

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It’s a subject that Jeremy Clarkson wouldn’t touch with a barge pole – electric cars. Thankfully, new presenter Rory Reid was given the chance to take a Tesla Model X for a test drive… and he really put it through its paces.

Unlike Clarkson, he gave plenty of credit to the Tesla and made a convincing argument that this might just be the car of the future. It lacks the oomph of revving up a 6.2L supercharged V8… but Rory’s exciting glide through the streets of New York really managed to emphasise all the right notes.

And it gave Rory the chance to shine, too.

It’s clear that he knows his stuff, and his chirpy antics are funny in a way we haven’t seen on ‘Top Gear’ before. He brings oodles of charm and an infectious laugh… and he even delivers some comedy skits that feel natural and unforced – unlike Chris Evans.

Perhaps ‘Top Gear’ should give Rory a bit more to do on the live segments…

The Star In The Reasonably-Priced Car

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Sorry – ‘Rallycross’. It’s ‘The Star In The Rallycross Car’. I’m so glad that rather-forced name change doesn’t riff on something the old ‘Top Gear’ did so well…

At any rate, this week we got two for the price of one – Professor Brian Cox and Bear Grylls.

Whether or not this pair really qualify as ‘stars’ compared to the likes of Jesse Eisenberg and Kevin Hart is debatable. But the real problem with this segment was they spent way too long with their guests. Do we really need Chris Evans to agonisingly question Brian Cox about his all-time favourite car?

To be honest, the best part of this was their witty introductions, where Brian and Bear took turns to take the mick out of each other’s recent projects. “Here’s Bear feeding Barack Obama some salmon,” said Cox. And that really is the high point.

The laps themselves were alright… but the real charm of the ‘Star In The Reasonably Priced Car’ was watching an A-List celeb slumming it in a family hatchback. But this doesn’t quite deliver.

And it’s not the only segment which falls flat.

The Top Gear Race… With Eddie Jordan

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First things first – I can’t understand why Eddie Jordan is still part of the show. It’s clear that he’s supposed to be replacing ‘Captain Slow’, James May. But he just doesn’t have anywhere near James May’s dry wit.

Instead, we’re left watching a very boring bloke trying to be funny, with an awful rendition of Abba classics played on the spoons like the weird uncle nobody in your family wants to talk about.

Yay.

This week’s ‘race’ saw the ‘Top Gear’ team pick up some reasonably-priced, second-hand cars and head off to Venice. And on public transport, we saw Eddie taking the Orient Express in an attempt to beat the team to their destination. So far, so ‘Top Gear’. But while the previous trio of Clarkson, Hammond and May made the most of these detours, this just felt like a sad, cluttered mess.

One of the main things we learned? You can have a car-becue on the engine of an Audio A8 while driving. I’m glad we found that one out. But while this forced gag harkened back to the ‘Top Gear’ glory days, it just wasn’t the right fit… and it all felt a bit weird.

Did Episode 4 of the new ‘Top Gear’ improve on the series so far?

Undoubtedly… but it still has a long way to go. And whether or not it can really outshine the old series remains to be seen. My guess is no… no, it can’t.

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Picture Credit: BBC

What did you think of Top Gear Episode 4? Do you think the series is getting any better? Leave your comments below… and follow Ryan Leston on Twitter, Facebook or my official Tumblr blog for more on the latest TV shows.

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