We gave a summary of the first part of “The Beach (Buggy) Boys”, The Grand Tour’s first ever 2-part special, in this post. Now that both parts are available on Amazon Prime, we figured we provide our honest review of the entire thing right now. But beware, there are SPOILERS, spoilers so massive GT3 cars would blush
To thoroughly enjoy The Grand Tour’s Namibia Special you’d have to suspend your disbelief for about two hours. In fact, this applies to just about any Grand Tour episode that has aired so far. This is not a factual television show, it’s pure entertainment designed to make you laugh, cringe, and laugh again. Your ability to suspend logic and reasoning determines how you will like The Grand Tour, this two-part special especially. You didn’t think three old fools could survive several nights of the Namib desert by themselves did you?
That’s what the Boys exactly tried. Accepting a challenge by their producer, Andy Wilman, they were tasked to take their beach buggies from their starting point along the coast, all the way to a beach one thousand miles north.
The resulting trip was a meandering and truly rigorous test of man’s integrity and fortitude. No one should try this by themselves as every mile contained hazards that will get you stuck, and getting stuck meant certain death. Yet these three old Top Gear trio managed to complete the one-thousand mile trek, with the help of their butler Giovanni. The disbelief was there staring at you in the face constantly. But you ignore this, because you don’t care, and this is a television show.
With that said the first two-part special is a highly enjoyable and entertaining piece of film that also documents the beauty of Namibia, something you don’t often see outside of documentaries of our planet earth. If the first part of the show was filled with intense moments of frustration and helplessness, the second part was filled with gut wrenching laughter, which peaked when James May’s rubber dildo went flying and hit Jeremy Clarkson in the face.
Complementing the excellent camera work was the excellent writing. The banter between the three gentlemen reminded us of a Whose Line Is It Anyway show, where the actors are all doing improv beyond the simple contextual plot. This is the difference between the new Top Gear and what Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May can do. New Top Gear, now led by Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid, could not function beyond the script, often producing a stiff and robotic atmosphere. Whereas the trio, who has worked with each other for more than a dozen years, could effortlessly dance and glide through the script as if it was second nature.
Both parts of The Beach (Buggy) Boys presented the trio with plenty of these off-the-cuff moments where the show felt a lot more like a reality-tv show than a scripted movie. Moments like rushing through the disappearing coastline, or Richard Hammond suddenly driving into a desert abyss, make for amazing entertainment that justifies just how much money these guys are making.
In part two of the show they actually took a break from their rambunctious quest to shed light on a serious problem, rhino horn poaching. The Grand Tour boys don’t often hesitate to sympathize with the plight of animals, in fact they’re usually quick to emphasize the irrelevance of animals as witnessed by their “Enviro-Mental” and “Moroccan Roll” episodes, both which have enraged animal activists around the world and may have become a major source of controversy. This portion of the film felt a bit alien. Seeing Jeremy Clarkson having a soft spot for the hornless rhino felt manufactured, but seemed completely necessary if only for the purpose of shooting Richard Hammond with a tranquilizer. This was long overdue.
Seeing the three beach buggies and three older men slog through a desert should not be this entertaining and funny. It should be the premise of a horror-survival story of how three men barely made the deadly journey by the skin of their teeth. Instead it is a laugh out loud riot, highlighted by the tongue-in-cheek butler and larger-than-life size tent furnished with a comfy bed, nightstand, and a bath, in the middle of Namibia. Disbelief is the keyword here. If you haven’t learned to cherish it by Operation Desert Stumble, then you wouldn’t enjoy these two episodes.
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