Lets face it the debut of new Top Gear was somewhere between less than terrible and less than awesome. Which wasn’t exactly the debut the BBC wanted. Or maybe it was, point is, they should have come out gangbusters and did everything possible to put their absolute best foot forward. It wasn’t the worst thing to happen to automotive television but it wasn’t that great either. It had its moments but it should have been better. Then there was the new feature called “Extra Gear”. It was the afterthought, something whose necessity we all questioned. Here’s the thing though, it was awesome.
Chris Harris and Rory Reid nailed it. They weren’t trying to make their interpretation of what Top Gear used to be. They just went out and did their own thing. You got the absolute feeling that Harris genuinely enjoyed his lap in the Nomad around the Top Gear Test Track. It felt genuine, not at all scripted. I knew absolutely nothing about Reid prior to Extra Gear and he was great. Acting as the defacto host of the 22ish min episode he was great. The interactions between Reid, Harris and their guest Chris Ramsey was genuinely entertaining. As was the walk/drive through of the new rally cross circuit. The episode concluded with a tour around Sabine Schmitz’s home in the middle of the Nurburgring.
This is what New Top Gear should be. Not a revamp of the old format with new players. Keep some of the elements that were successful but allow the new cast to put their own spin on things. I also think it was better because it featured less of Chris Evans. Like I said in my full episode review I’m not sold on Evans. Frankly I think they should adopt a less is more approach to him. All told, I think Extra Gear shows that New Top Gear has potential and hopefully the powers that be can learn from this and apply it going forward.