If you’re a vegetarian, don’t watch the latest episode of The Grand Tour.
Last week’s episode of The Grand Tour was a triumphant return to form after the disappointing second episode. This week’s effort? Well, let’s just say it made the Jordon special forces scene look like a masterpiece. We’ve seen Clarkson & Co. clown around in custom-made cars plenty of times in Top Gear in everything from cars converted into ambulances, to ‘Geoff’ the environmentally-friendly electric car. The latest episode of The Grand Tour took this theme a stage further.
In another environment-themed challenge, the team was tasked to construct their own green cars. It was by far the strangest, silliest, and undoubtedly stupidest segment yet. Hammond’s car was made from flowers and vegetation, while May drove in a literal mud-bath. Being as provocative as ever, Clarkson, on the other hand, decided to make a car out of, erm, animal skin, meat and bones, which is sure to draw complaints from the PETA and vegetarians alike. The BBC would never have allowed this, which was probably the main inspiration. The problem was that the challenge wasn’t very entertaining or compelling.
If anything, it was genuinely revolting to watch at times, particularly when the meat holding Clarkson’s car together started to deteriorate and accumulate flies and maggots which apparently made the filming crew physically sick. You could also see the gags coming a mile away: of course May’s car made out of mud, and then manure and bricks, was going to continuously fall apart. This was exactly the sort of cringe-worthy comedy that began to drag Top Gear down. It lacked purpose too, with the objective to simply cross the countryside before a farcical race against some ‘steel’ cars. The race was hard to watch too because they battered a BMW E39 series in the process which seemed a tad unnecessary.
Like the Jordon shootout, it would have been better as a throwaway segment, but it dominated the episode and dragged on far too long. It wasn’t all bad, though. We got to see the track-ready Porsche 911 GT3 RS put through its paces around the Ebola Drome test track, where it was joined by the BMW M4 GTS. It was a refreshingly down to earth review from Clarkson, devoid of special effects or gimmicks - just two fast cars battling it out around the twisty test track. It was a glorious spectacle, but BMW probably won’t be too happy with Clarkson’s verdict on the flawed M4 GTS.
Meanwhile, the studio segments continued to improve in Conversation Street with some genuinely funny moments, including a sly dig at Chris Evans which raised a chuckle: “I’m trying to think of a metaphor for someone who’s really tried their hardest with something, and it hasn’t worked,” Clarkson quipped. Ironically, the same could probably be said for this episode of The Grand Tour. A random scene featuring Hammond hunched up like a hamster behind the bumper of an Audi TT was obvious filler content, but still amusing – particularly when Clarkson kept sadistically drilling holes into the bodywork much to the horror of the little guy.
Other weak points were the unwelcome return of ‘The American’ racing driver (who was noticeably toned down, at least) and another celebrity ‘death’ sequence, both of which fell flat yet again. Overall, this was a disappointing and disjointed episode and hopefully not a sign of things to come.