I have already given my opinion on Top Gear America as it began its first season. Season 2 has started and it is about the same as when it completed its first season. The three amigos manage to perform the same sort of stunts as the British version, and while they are good on camera and get along well there is none of the chemistry that the original Top Gear has.
I suspect that there will be episodes or even segments within episodes that will be entertaining and fun to watch more than once. I don’t expect that there will be a lot of them.
The original Top Gear is great because it is British. The Car Show is great because it is American.
Adam Carolla is a real veteran of television. He broke ground when he and Jimmy Kimmel had The Man Show. He knows how to act in front of a camera and also understands that an audience wants a show, not a script or a formulaic clone of another country’s success.
The Car Show has Dan Neil, John Salley, and Matt Farah to complete the crew of gear heads. I have enjoyed Dan’s write-ups on cars in the Wall Street Journal for a long time and he has transitioned from print to video with ease. John Salley is building a rapport and rhythm with his co-hosts with every episode. At first it seemed like he wasn’t sure why he was part of the crew, but by the third episode he has become an important element of the show. Matt Farah has a couple of Internet shows (Garage 19, and TheSmokingTire.com) under his belt and now that he is on the electronic screen he has revealed himself to be the kind of guy who looks at cars the way you and I do. He knows how to have fun and let you share in the experience.
Adam Carolla has had a long standing love of cars and enough career success that has allowed him to put together a modest collection (isn’t everyone’s car collection modest compared to Jay Leno?) and now this show allows him to share his car side far more intimately. Like Clarkson, he has invested himself in The Car Show with true ownership and that is what makes the difference when comparing it to Top Gear America. The host in the UK “owns” the show, but not so in the spin offs.
The Car Show has a segment where it has a guest appearance of true stature in the world of racing. The third episode featured Phil Hill as that guest and it allowed him to share a lot more in a very short time frame than I have seen before. It made me wish that they would lengthen that kind of a segment, especially when it involves a guest of his stature and historical significance.
The Car Show has chemistry and it is increasing its chemistry. With all its excellent production and reasonable formula Top Gear America still lacks the chemistry that it needs.
Check out the web site that Speed has for The Car Show and view the video clips as will as take the opportunity to interact with the host of show.