It still isn't perfect, but we can see the show improving already.
As you could probably tell from our review of the first episode of new Top Gear, we weren't excited for round two, especially after watching the boring trailer that showed Matt LeBlanc, Chris Evans, and Eddie Jordan driving three everyday family SUVs. So did the second episode of Top Gear manage to beat our expectations? If you haven't watched it yet, you may want to wait until you have seen it to read this review.
Despite our rather sour prediction, we actually ended up enjoying the second episode of Top Gear. One of our major criticisms of the show was that the segments lacked that key element of "why are they doing this?" that the old show always had. With this second episode, that missing element is back. The Good: The show starts off with a Chris Evans review of the McLaren 675 LT with a special appearance by the original McLaren F1 Long Tail. Not a bad way to kick the episode off. Chris Evans also gets to drive the F1, which was a truly amazing moment.
The 675 LT review was much better than the Viper and Evans makes some intelligible comments. The review even calls on F1 racing driver Jenson Button who we think deserves to be a regular on the show. As with last week, Extra Gear (even without Chris Harris) manages to shine as we see a piece of footage that was cut of Evans driving a "regular" McLaren F1. He is actually brought to tears by how good the car was. It is in moments like this where we can see how much a Top Gear host is attached to certain cars and this moment of vulnerability from Evans definitely endeared him to us. Too bad it didn't make the final cut of the main show.
The team test of the three SUVs managed to impress us as well. The Porsche Macan, Mercedes GLC, and Jaguar F-Pace are all cars that "regular" people will probably buy, and taking them off-roading in South Africa was a great film. These cars can go off-road, but 99.9% of owners will never leave the mall parking lot. The challenges with these SUVs actually made sense, unlike that jumbled US vs UK Reliant challenge from last week. The Bad: While the second episode of Top Gear was an improvement, it wasn't without its faults. That McLaren review, for instance, still featured a ton of excessive screaming from Chris Evans whenever he hit the accelerator. Unfortunately, we might have to get used to the screaming.
We get that he was excited to drive a car that is worth millions of dollars, but the jokes about not affording the insurance may have been funnier if we didn't know how many expensive cars he has at home. On the SUV review, we liked that the three presenters had to each bring a singing star with them to help compete in the challenges. This was a fun way to create some interesting dialogue in the film. However, we were less than impressed by Top Gear's host Eddie Jordan. He wasn't particularly bad, but he barely talked during the duration of the piece.
We would have preferred to see any of the other presenters take part in this trip, and we're sure that the Mercedes GLC that Jordan almost destroyed would agree with us. Your opinion may differ, but we admire the fact that the BBC covered three SUVs that people can actually afford in an interesting way. We didn't know if this move would pay off, but we think it worked. If you swore that you wouldn't watch the show after last week, we suggest you give this second episode a chance. If you still hate it, then there's always The Grand Tour.