Oct 012008

Like most Top Gear fans, I tuned into SBS last Monday to catch the inaugural episode of Top Gear-Australia. I was bitterly disappointed.

Granted, it was the very first show, and I am so very used to, and very fond of the Clarkson/May/Hammond style of presentation. That said, I fail to understand why an Aussie version should go out of its way to emulate that style, when Blind Freddy could tell you doing so simply wouldn’t work.

For starters, I have absolutely no idea who Messrs Cox and Pizzati are, regardless of the fact that all the promos are telling us that we do. That said, perhaps Steve Pizzati will grow on me, like a diminutive version of James May, perhaps, but you can take ‘Charlie’ Cox and shove him up your collective arse, SBS Corporation! Too damn loud, too bloody clumsy, too false and quite simply not the style of presenter the show needs. I was happy with the somewhat stumbling, but gradually easing style of Warren Brown, because he’s a non-professional-race-driver-cum-stunt-driver-cum-mug-lair, is a motor car enthusiast, and presents as someone just like you & me. He’s relaxed, funny and plain. Just what the show needs. Just like the ‘real’ Top Gear.

Frankly, I see no reason to copy, segment-by-segment, the UK parent program, which is precisely what the producers were clearly attempting to do. It’s false, un-funny and not at all entertaining. The mini-moke/shark cage stunt was simply over the top. If not for the fact that Warren Brown was the participant, I’d have turned off right there.

Here’s a tip, SBS. Make the show frankly and brutally Australian. Take on the cars we see and drool over here in Oz. Do the comparisons between cars we identify with here. Have a tame racing driver by all means, but please, please, please……don’t call him/her Stig. There is only one Stig and he’s in the UK. Do your Average Priced Car Celebrity gigs on a real race track, not an aerodrome, for crying out loud. Especially one where the viewers can see Cessnas taxiing in the near background. There are plenty of part-time race tracks and driver instruction facilities where vehicle test driving can be done.

In short, follow the basic themes of the parent show, but don’t try to copy it move for move, word for word and please, don’t try to mimic the humour. It doesn’t translate to this country, especially when attempted by ‘Charlie’ Cox. Here’s hoping episode two is a little more relaxed and a much less like the UK version.

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