Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Car Show Premiere: Off To a Good Start!

The Car Show goes to show that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I say this as the US version of Top Gear has already been tried, and by the looks if it, isn't coming back (I argue this is for better because of the hosts' lack of chemistry and humor that is expected with anything with "Top Gear" in the title).

Yet what separates The Car Show from a cheap Top Gear knock-off is the variety and uniqueness of the show's segments. There was a game show, a segment about the 24 Hours of Lemons in Reno, Nevada, an interview with Jimmie Johnson, a segment called "0-60" in which the hosts have 60 seconds to talk about the given car or issue, a ride in a Rolls-Royce Ghost at Pebble Beach, and a race between an aircraft and a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Never for the duration of the show was there a moment of dead air while in-studio, convincing me of the hosts' awkwardness as was the case for Top Gear USA on multiple occasions.

The Car Show is a perfect argument for why there is no need for an American version of Top Gear. Rather than being an unfunny carbon copy of the impossible to recreate recipe that is the UK version of Top Gear, The Car Show is genuinely funny in its own right and I believe will have far more longevity than a show with an Italian guy, a southerner and a drifter all trying to be funny, and all failing miserably at the same time.

Albeit Dan Neil is the tastemaker, gentlemanly type à la, Richard Hammond, Adam Carolla is the spearhead of the show, and is the funniest as Jeremy Clarkson, only Carolla's much less as appropriate with his sense of humor as Man Show enthusiasts can attest. And unlike any of Top Gear's regional offshoots in Russia, Australia, or the USA, The Car Show features four hosts, creating a strange middle ground for any James May comparisons. The most oddball of the four hosts is easily John Salley. Firstly, given that he was a professional basketball player, he seems to in few ways warrant the title of 'most credible automobile commentators in the nation' as Carolla introduced his co-hosts. Sure, he may admire the way cars sound and look, but he was very ill-advised for whenever he made a criticism. He may own a Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, or what have you, but those were not earned for his professional driving prowess, or his auto journalism for that matter. His only real involvement in cars is casual ownership and admiration. But if that's what it takes to be a show host, why not make me one? I actually know what a differential does, what a coilover consists of, my first word was "car", I digress.

The Car Show is in many ways the same as Top Gear as it features in-car reviews of cars with astronomical pricetags that are useful for little more than entertainment, although they're entertaining nonetheless.

My only complaint is the cinematography. Top
Gear USA, while having frankly boring presenters, had some of the most impressive shots of cars I have ever seen before, including the the original Top
Gear, with its postmodern camera filters. On it's own though, the car shots are professional and don't make you notice there's any room for improvement.

Ultimately, it's a good thing Carolla never hopped aboard the Top Gear USA train, and instead made a show of his own to allow himself more free reign to create something that stands apart from the rest of the new generation of YouTube and commercial-based Top Gear copycats. And it's going to be Carolla to have the last laugh, not Foust.

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