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Top Gear USA Is Back Next Month 17
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, News, Top Gear USA on 07 17th, 2012

All of us had high expectations for an American version of Top Gear, and most of us were disappointed when the series premiered in November 2010. It was different than the British series in every regard, and the chemistry between hosts Tanner Foust, Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood was all but non-existent. A few of us stuck it out through the first season, and even gave the show a second chance in its sophomore year.

Season two was a huge improvement over season one, and some of the segments were genuinely funny (like the one on learning to drive 18-wheelers). There was an undeniable chemistry starting to show between the hosts, and the dialogue seemed much less contrived and more natural. If season one was a C-, we’d grade season two as a B-, since there was clear progress made towards entertainment value.

Now Motor Authority reports that the show is back for a third season, beginning on August 14th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. As with previous seasons, it will run on The History Channel, but those lacking cable TV should also be able to view it online. As with the second season, a total of sixteen episodes are planned, and you can bet that features like “Big Star, Small Car” and Stig-driven “Power Lap Times” will return.

What’s your take? Did you bail after season one, or did you watch season two? Are you looking forward to season three, or would you rather watch something like “Dancing With The Stars?”

Top Gear USA Is Back For Season 3: Are You Watching? 1
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Top Gear, Top Gear USA on 02 1st, 2012

The American version of Top Gear is back for its third season, beginning on Tuesday, February 14 at 9:00. All three hosts return, so expect to see more drifting from Tanner Foust, more jokes from Adam Ferrara and more flannel from Rutledge Wood. If the clips we’ve seen so far are any indication, it looks like the series’ budget may be creeping upward with its ratings, and that’s a good thing.

Yes, we know the show isn’t the equivalent of it’s English cousin, but keep in mind that Clarkson, May and Hammond have had a decade longer to perfect their version. The U.K. show’s seemingly unlimited budget helps, too, since nothing draws in viewers like expensive cars, bodily-harm-inducing stunts and exotic locations. Given what Foust, Ferrara and Wood have to work with, we’d say they’re doing the best they can.

Besides, with the demise of The Car Show, Top Gear USA is all we have to call our own. It improved from the first season to the second season, and we’re expecting it to do the same this year. We’ll be tuning in, but here’s the question – are you watching the third season, or have you given up on the show entirely?

Top Gear USA Gets More Episodes For Season 2 29
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Television, The Car Show, Top Gear, Top Gear USA on 09 29th, 2011

Top Gear USA's cast of characters. Image: The History Channel

When Top Gear USA debuted in 2010, many Top Gear fans slammed the U.S. take on the popular British docudrama. Top Gear USA struggled for ratings in its first season, thanks in part to an odd dynamic between the show’s hosts. There was Tanner Foust, a pro driver with (seemingly) little sense of humor; Adam Ferrara, a genuinely funny guy with little ability to drive a car at speed; and Rutledge Wood, whose biggest claim to fame appeared to be the world’s most extensive flannel collection. How could these three guys compete with the likes of Clarkson, May and Hammond?

The correct answer is “they don’t need to,” since Top Gear USA is a completely different show than the British original. In season two, the hosts seem to have found a way to work together to produce entertaining television, and stacked up against Adam Carolla’s The Car Show, it’s readily apparent which one has the bigger budget (and the better writers). While Top Gear USA may not be the equal of its British counterpart, it’s pulling in solid (and increasing) ratings, which Inside Line says is good enough to score eight more episodes for season two. Production should begin soon, and the new episodes are expected to debut in early 2012.

As for the competition, The Car Show has shed former NBA great John Salley and cut the format from an hour to half an hour. While the elimination of Salley will help (he’s a great guy, but didn’t add a thing to a car-themed show), the show still needs less Carolla and more Farrah / Neil. Matt Farrah has a television-friendly personality and Dan Neil is arguably the smartest auto journalist on the planet. Carolla, on the other hand, doesn’t really seem to know much about cars, and pulls the show down with his cheap shots at hosts and guests, not to mention his odd rants. I say improve the writing and give more air time to Farrah and Neil, otherwise I’d call The Car Show’s long-term prospects bleak.