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'Top Gear' recap: Brits are a tough act to follow, but Yanks make it work

Topgear It's been three years in the making. It's involved three different networks. Hundreds of hosts were auditioned.

Well, the U.S. version of Top Gear finally debuted on History last night, and I've got to say: It isn't the abomination I expected. In fact, it's actually good.

Tanner Foust, Rutledge Wood and Adam Ferrara are a solid trio, and the format is a fast-paced and beautifully shot mix of clever vehicular juxtaposition and sports-car fantasy, history, stunts and stats.

Although the American version is more fan-boy and less gear-headed and critical of cars than the British original, the three hosts have a genuine on-screen chemistry. And they're different enough from one another that it works. Representing American car culture from three corners of the country, Foust is a race- and stunt-car driver from So Cal, Wood is a NASCAR reporter from Georgia, and Ferrara is a stand-up comedian from New York.

Foust is clearly the most technically adept of the bunch. Without him, "Top Gear" would have absolutely no credibility. An expert flogger of four wheels, who not only drives a Dodge Viper but speaks about the car with authority in the debut episode, he's a pretty boy with a Playboy mouth. Wood plays the huggable, happy-go-lucky sidekick who's just happy to survive riding shotgun as Foust evades a Cobra military helicopter.

Ferrara is best when he's unscripted, dropping killer lines, including this brilliant metaphor: Speeding toward 180 mph in the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera on an open desert highway, he says, is "like being aroused at gunpoint."

Bring on the Bugatti Veyron.

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo credit: History


Comments () | Archives (28)

Worst thing ever!! the show was terrible, complete waste of my time!!! British Top Gear was 10000000 times better then then garbage

Have to disagree with the whole article. Was not impressed with the host selection or their presentations of the new cars. last night was an remake of the original Top Gear just changed out the car and the helicopter. Old was Lotus Vs. Apache and well we all saw the failed attempt that was last night. I sure hope Clarkson, Hammond and Cpt Slow do not approve of this show.

i watch topgear the american version of it and it wasnt what i thought it it would be i thought it would lot diffrent it was very boring and they didnt seam to have any carictor and no soul i rather watch grass grow.i wasnt inpressed i was disappointed in the show

That was a complete waste of time. Stop ruining the Top Gear name. After watching that I wished I was British. Get some real hosts that actually know something and have a personallity. Jay Leno, Tim Allen, maybe Ashton Kutcher that would be a show.

You must've watched a different show because the one I saw was "utter rubbish". I will definitely not be watching another episode. Hell I wish I had never even heard of it so I wouldn't had wasted an hour of my life on a show that was as entertaining as watching paint dry.

What was she watching? I love the UK top Gear. The hosts are hilarious and have great chemistry. I don't know how scripted the UK version is, but the US version felt like it was written by a team of nincompoops. The fact that Adam Ferrara is supposedly a huge comedian makes the fact that I only laughed ONCE during the entire show even sadder. Even being a huge gear head whose dream is to be able to get a Lamborghini someday, I was practically falling asleep watching. Why do British shows always lose the wackiness that makes them so popular when they are remade for American audiences?

I have to say, I quite liked it. It may not be as good as current Top Gear, but if my stash of series one episodes are anything to go on, it is not as dismal as the beginning of new Top Gear either. I am quite happy that the US has finally gotten a decent car show (aka. lacking NASCAR) and am quite interested to see where this is heading.

Whoever wrote this article must have been watching a different show. The 3 hosts have absolutely NO CHEMISTRY. They all seem to be presenting a different show. No one besides Tanner has any idea what their doing and thank god for him because the show would be a total waste without him. Rutledge Wood needs to go and so does Ferrara. They have the knowledge of migrant farm workers and probably cant even drive cars without flappy paddles. Get some real hosts. Is this the best they could come up with after hundreds of auditions???? Please...Its almost as bad as the presidential election choice.

Wait a minute! Why aren't the news agencies covering the story about the worm hole that opened up and sucked the earth into an alternate dimension?! Obviously we now live in a world where retched and horrifying tv shows hosted by scripted baboons are considered good entertainment. Or maybe, just maybe you for got to actually watch TGUS and had to make up an article, hoping that it would be spot on. Seriously, the show was worse than awful. Almost everyone on the internet thinks so. Even on the history channel's topgear page, the twitter feed is filled with negative feedback.

i wonder if she got paid to write that review, because nobody could have enjoyed that poorly scripted unoriginal garbage that they called top gear last night.
omg i wanted to kill myself it was so bad. how can you take such an amazing show(the original uk version) and make such a rancid pile of waste. the austrailia version isnt even this bad. when i first heard that they were making an american version of the show all i could think was please dont get tanner foust to host this, and sure enough when it came on guess who the boring no personality host was..... Tanner "i have never had an original thought, or anything interesting to say" Foust. Thank you America.... for ruining the greatest show on earth.

If you don't like the show, then don't watch it. I don't understand why people want them to find new skits and tests, yet they continue to compare the US version to the UK version. The show isn't as good as the original Top Gear, but there were some good moments. I am looking forward to them testing more american sports cars, and not having aston martin win everything.

Well it looks like quite a few paid attention, that is until they fell asleep ;)
I've been a fan of Top Gear since season 10 of the UK version.
This cast and the producers behind them are taking a lot on trying to follow the UK's show, which is something I don't really understand to begin with. If they are trying to emulate the other, then their first show was a D: the set, the cast, and the track videos were monotone, flat and monotonous. I always root for the underdog, so I'm wishing them well, and hopefully they'll find their footing, and make the show entertaining, which is all we can ask for.

It's lame if they won't give honest critical comments about cars and the auto industry. Truth matters..........I didn't watch it yet and so far don't feel compeling reason to. And the writer of this article clearly seems to be pumping it up for some reason.

If this trio is supposed to be chemistry, then Tang + water is Nobel prize winning chemistry.

They should have stuck with Adam Carolla as one of the hosts. He actually likes cars, can actually talk about them, and he's very funny! Nice job shelving a show for two years after filming a pilot episode, then releasing the show but dumping two of the hosts. I'll stick with the British Top Gear and my Adamn Carolla podcasts.

It lacks three things that made the British Top Gear great. Clarkson, Hammond, and May! Three great host with personality! I'll give it shot and watch at least 5 episodes, but it looks like I'll be adding BBC back on my cable subscription.

All I have to say is WOW. Was it a car show, yes. Was it Top Gear, I'm sorry no. I'm sorry but it was just missing something...

To be honest it seemed kind of like when Kids dress up and try to act like they're Parents. Add bland to it and you get "our" Top Gear, though I'm hoping for a better finish, it being on history channel kind of throws that all away.

I threw up in my mouth alittle while reading this article... Are you on the History Channels payroll? If you are a fan of the UK version then this is horrid. And the idea of seeing more US cars- Top Gear is fun because we get exposed to things that we are not familiar with. One reason the Fiant 500 will be a big hit this next year. Without Clarkson, Hammond, and May it's just a poor look alike to the real thing.

Obnoxious 3 hosts! Try to copy BBC - even format and so call 'challenges' that are coming up. And in-car camera work? Pathetic. When my 13 old daughter asks why is the camera so shaking for in-car shots, then you know it's bad.

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