Monday, May 18, 2009

Top Gear Australia Season Two, Episode Two: Once More, With Feeling


So, we’ve just witnessed the second episode of the second season of the second Top Gear franchise. Was it any good? As it happens, the answer is both a thumb-raising “yes”, and a head-shaking “no”.

While my colleague Steane was generally happy with the improvements made in the last episode of TGA, I was a little more critical. The dialogue is still stilted, particularly during the studio segments; James Morrison seems a little uncomfortable in front of the camera and the challenges need to be devised by someone with a better eye for drama.

Those concerns were still at the back of my mind during Episode two, and while it was markedly better than the first it still seems like Top Gear Aus is lacking polish.


Morrison is still an awkward character, and, being forced to spout some real clangers, this episode certainly didn’t help his cause (”Mid-life Chrysler”? What were they thinking?). The banter between Warren Brown and Steve Pizzati during the Model T tutorial was much more natural however, and something that TGA needs more of.

This week’s big challenge was between Brown and Pizzati, and involved both converting a conventional petrol-powered car into an all-electric number. It had great potential and was entertaining to watch, but it was brutally cut short by one of the cars suffering a catastrophic failure. In the end, it didn’t really go anywhere, didn’t prove anything, and didn’t give the pair much scope for hijinks.


The reversing camera challenge too was a bit oddball, and seemed like a flimsy pretext to deliver a PSA about reversing cameras. I can’t help but feel that it should’ve been scrapped and the precious minutes it consumed transferred to the stillborn electric car challenge.

On the flipside, the HSV Clubsport R8 vs. Walkinshaw Performance R8 segment was a good one, and allowed Pizzati to properly show off his knowledge of all things performance.

Warren Brown has the potential to be a good interviewer, but unfortunately this week’s guest - Ian Moss of Cold Chisel fame - didn’t really give him much to work with. That being said, it was good to see a guest who wasn’t an ‘obvious choice’ in the hotseat.

So yes, it’s another step in the right direction for Top Gear Australia. A baby step, but a step nonetheless. It’s got definite potential and the hosts seem to be up to the challenge. It still seems to be let down by the producers and writers that decide what they do, what they say and how they say it.

We’ll still be tuning in next week though.