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September 2, 2015

The cancelled Top Gear USA... who loves ya baby?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 6th 2009 2:09PM
The announcement of the death of the remake of one of the world's most beloved car shows, Top Gear, was followed with an obvious reaction. Practically everyone who had heard of the original BBC show celebrated its passing with the same fervor as the Ewoks when the Death Star exploded.

It's a natural reaction. It's hard not to assume that once we Americans get our grubby remaking mitts on something, we're bound to mess with it too much and screw it up. We've done it too many times to count. The last three Fawlty Towers remakes were the combined equivalent of the sinking of the Lusitania, only with a lower body count.

But just like anything in life, there were pluses and minuses to us Yanks getting our own Top Gear. Now that NBC has ensured that we won't get one this season, here are the lovers and haters of what could have been the second greatest car show that may never be.

Loves Ya: NBC - The network may have had enough confidence to commission a pilot or two, but pulling the plug so close to the finish line shows they worried the production costs would outweigh the response. An American version of the show seemed doomed to succeed from the start because its very nature goes against the grain of network television. It's got to be brutally honest and genuine or it won't work, and there isn't much room in primetime for brutally honest television. Besides, what would happen if NBC helped Americans realize that the Ford Lightning is just a huge piece of plastic crap? Well...

Loves Ya: The automakers - Let's be honest, America doesn't create that great of a car. So how can a show that prides itself on its brutal honesty be that way when it's wedged in between commercials for the Pontiac Solstice or the Hummer H3? Plus, the auto industry is more strapped for cash than a college student whose daily diet depends on whether or not he has running water that week. It would be hard to convince a car company to keep what little ads they are running on your network when one of your shows is ripping their latest gas guzzler to tiny, confetti shreds.

Hates Ya: American Top Gear groupies - Admit it, as much as you thought it was a bad idea to remake it, part of you was excited to watch it. Top Gear has been remade and reproduced around the world and just about all of them have been a success. The same potential for success still thrives in the New World if it's done right. America, the nation that brought you the Thunderbird, the Mustang and the classic 1969 Dodge Charger (without which The Dukes of Hazzard would have been completely unwatchable), deserves a version of Top Gear to call their own.

Hates Ya: Adam Carolla - Some say his eyebrows can change the direction of the tides, and that his role on Buzz Lightyear: Star Command as Commander Nebula convinced NASA to give the Mars colonization project another go. All we know is that the former Man Show and Loveline host has not had the easiest transition from cable to network television the way his buddy Jimmy Kimmel has. Sure he's got his nationally syndicated radio show to put some heavy coin in the bank, but his time in the spotlight has dwindled somewhat since he left Comedy Central to pursue other interests. This show would have been a perfect way to get him that spotlight he deserves because he's a gearhead at heart, a brutally honest opinion churner and damn funny. His all denim wardrobe alone makes him a perfect American version of Jeremy Clarkson.

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Top Gear USA was bad. Period. Uninteresting, boring hosts that act as if they know autos and driving but know nothing about either. Boring subject content and oh yes did I mention the dismal performances of it's hosts. What a waste.

June 08 2011 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Top Gear USA was bad. Period. Uninteresting, boring hosts that act as if they know autos and driving but know nothing about either. Boring subject content and oh yes did I mention the dismal performances of it's hosts. What a waste.

June 08 2011 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Adam Carolla as Jeremy Clarkson? Perfect! Why didn't anyone at the network think of that? Tanner Faust was OK in taking a role as Hammond, but who decided to cast Rutledge Wood? Horrible, horrible choice. And where is my favorite, "Captain Slow," James May? Who though for a second it was a good idea to replace a well educated, soft spoken, long haired, middle aged man who despite all the teasing, always seems to win more than his share of "the challenges." with Rutledge Wood? As a long haired, middle aged "gear head" myself, he is the perfect foil for Clarkson and Hammond, not some buffoon as played by Woods. (My Christmas gifts from my wife and daughter this year included "I am Captain Slow" and "I am the fat american Stig") The concept of the show translated well, although I though copying the more famous challenges was a bit much. America is a big country, with lots of roads to travel, classic and modern cars to play with, and challenges to overcome. But the casting of the show just killed it!

February 14 2011 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why DL from mininova, all those that can't watch the BBC?

January 11 2009 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Carolla has the snarkiness to pull it off but he lacks the delivery that Clarkson has. The Brits just do that whole put down thing (even when they are playing American like Hugh Laurie) much better than US hosts. Clarkson, Cowell, Laurie, Palin, Fry all have that ability to be brutally honest without making me hate them. I can't think of a single US personality that fits that bill.

January 07 2009 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Count me among the extremely disappointed. Love Adam Carolla, love cars, and was really looking forward to it. Adam would have ensured that they were honest when it comes to American cars - he rails against American cars all the time on the radio. Come to think, maybe that didn't help.

I'm sure others will blast me for this, but I've watched the UK version numerous times and just don't care much for the hosts. That's why I had high hopes for this one.

Sigh, NBC F's it up again.

January 06 2009 at 9:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that the American version would have been a disaster, but I don't understand why people like the British version so much. It seems to me that for every minute of useful and/or entertaining material there is three
times as much useless padding. If they made the typical episode five or ten minutes long and left out all the efforts to stretch it out to fill more time, I would be a big fan. As it is, I gave up after three or four episodes.

January 06 2009 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have no doubt that Foust and Carolla would have kicked ass, but NBC has a proven record of hiring talent and churning out crap (phil hendrie anyone). I hope that a network like Spike or Speed picks it up. Since the US automakers are hemoraging money, losing their adverts shouldn't hurt a cable network that much.

January 06 2009 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Corolla is no Clarkson. That one negative outweighs any other positive you can think of. In the mean time i will happily get brand new episodes every sunday night from Final Gear.

January 06 2009 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was intrigued, yet terrified, of what the US version of Top Gear was going to look like.

I'm actually happy that they canceled it, because then I won't have to be terribly disappointed by how much they screwed with the original.

I also am happy, because now all my rantings in my office about how great the UK version is, won't go for naught because the US can't make a good TV show.

January 06 2009 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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