Top Gear is one of the funniest, smartest, most artistic shows put together. Stateside, you will need BBC America to see it, but it is worth going through its 1:20 running time each week.
Yes, it is a show about cars, but you will learn very little about automotive science in it. Instead, you will see exactly what you want to see: can car X beat car Y in a drag race, especially if the cars are filled with grape jelly? And can car X survive being dropped from a weather balloon? And what happens when the hosts of the show attempt to host a black-tie garden party with no preparation?
Over time, you will begin to see the magic behind the show. Yes, you might not know it here because it has a virulently right-wing bent to it. But if you are new to the series, you need to give it about two weeks and you will be hooked. (And yes, women love this show just as much as the men…because although it is a car show, it spends very little time talking about cars specifically.)
But Top Gear USA? Is this needed? Is there some reason the UK version would not play well here? It seems to be doing a commanding job in the ratings! Is it because the Brits call the Prius the “pry-us,” and not the “pree-us?”
The Czar gives this one season on the History Channel before it gets axed. When the original is so perfect, anything else is imperfect.
Okay, comedy shows do well as imports, right? From Steptoe and Son to The Office, Americans like their comedic set ups a little more domesticated. There are good sociological reasons for that. But Top Gear is more social commentary than it is comedy, and part of its magic happens through the three totally imcompatible personalities on the show.
That sort of magic is hard to reproduce.