Rather than pretending the Top Gear fiasco never happened, The Grand Tour began by chronicling Jeremy Clarkson’s departure from the BBC in an appropriate, enjoyable, and even touching opening montage.
What followed was an expectedly entertaining, humorous hour of Clarkson, Hammond, and May enjoying having the shackles of the BBC removed, and yet one that ironically unexpectedly focused an awful lot on cars.
That’s no bad thing, because behind the scenes the team that have put together the premiere episode for The Grand Tour have done so via masterful camera work and setting design.
Seriously, the new portable tent that acts as the studio for these three likeable idiots is hugely impressive, boasting a window that will overlook a different backdrop as the boys travel around the world each week.
Nevertheless, it was somewhat surprising for a car show featuring this trio of characters to focus so much on the cars.
Don’t get me wrong, the content is well put together, but the recent, disappointing series of Top Gear proved that the quality of the programme is more reliant on the chemistry of its presenters than it is the cars themselves.
After all, much of Top Gear Series 23 was shot superbly, but few cared when all they craved was the humour that they were used to; something that Chris Evans and co could not bring them.
Whilst this shift in tone will no doubt please petrolheads, hopefully future episodes will also accommodate for more casual car enthusiasts like me who just want to see Clarkson, Hammond, and May taking on some ridiculous challenges rather than feeding us with information about horsepower.
Despite now finding itself under the ownership of Amazon, the show felt very much like Top Gear, with the team even creating scenarios that allowed them to have digs at the BBC show and make references.
In an otherwise enjoyable first episode in which Jeremy Clarkson somehow ended up losing a bet that means his house will get knocked down (not really), the celebrity segment was the most disappointing aspect.
Jeremy Renner was first to be introduced as the debut celebrity to drive around the new Grand Tour test track A.K.A Eboladrome (featuring Old Lady’s House corner and Your Name Here hairpin), before jumping out of an aeroplane and dying. Armie Hammer and Carol Vorderman met the same sorry fate.
The whole sequence left me wondering why they even bothered pretending to introduce the celebrity segment if they weren’t actually going to deliver it. I’m sure it was funny to some, but to me it just felt out of place.
Despite that one hiccup, the first episode of The Grand Tour met expectations and has me looking forward to the troublesome trio’s escapades throughout the rest of the series.