Last night was the premier of The Car Show on Speed Channel, 10PM EST. I watched with renewed vigor, having only seen one promo, when I chatted with my old Automobile Magazine colleague Aaron Robinson the day of the premier. Aaron now writes for Car and Driver and was asked by Dan Neil, co-host of The Car Show along with Adam Corolla, John Salley and Matt Farah, to come on for technical support. Aaron spent four days in the studios helping craft the first few episodes as a writer.
• First off, is The Car Show a Top Gear America wanna be? No, says Adam.
• Was Adam up for America Top Gear host? Yes.
• Did he get passed over because he is too raw for a BBC show with tremendous history then brought to America. Probably.
But what Adam lacks in finesse, Dan Neil more than makes up for in a “trying to play-it-hip while always believing he’s above you” sort of way. Their combination was rounded out by John Spider Salley, The Car Show’s Ed McMahon, and Matt Farah who brought solid opinions in an easy relaxed way. This was my first introduction to Matt and my only comment was: way to not dress up for your premier TV show. Doesn’t anybody watch What Not to Wear?
The show had a 60 second segment to rehash current events, a game show and then some coverage of events like 24 Hours Lemons, 1 mile race and the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach by way of a Rolls Ghost. For a show trying not to be Top Gear, they certainly hit it right on the noggin’ with the air plane/Porsche GT3 race. But what are you going to do? It’s hard to not repeat the thousands of skits Top Gear has covered over the years. Hopefully well placed opinions and new twists will set them apart. Because I doubt they have the budgets to compete on the likes of an expedition across the Andes.
What makes this show unique is the raw mouth of Mr. Corolla. Some like it, some don’t. I rolled my eyes a few times at the sexual innuendos that I felt strained the flow in an attempt to by funny. At this point in my television viewing, I like cleaver as better.
I’ll watch the show again. Not because I loved it but because I know a writer and I’m a car guy. Most importantly, it happens to fall on Wednesday night at a time when I’m not doing anything else.
I listen to Carolla’s podcast almost every day because I like (love is too strong a word) to hate the guy. He has spoken on why he was not doing Top Gear US several times on his show and discussed it yet again today – he loves repeating himself. He was asked to do Top Gear US but couldn’t because he was making a pilot for CBS at the time they re-cast Top Gear for the second time. He was originally cast for the NBC version of the show, but it was cancelled. The version picked up by Speed is the second go around for the show. So according to him he wasn’t “passed over” he was just unavailable. Then again, he may just be saying that to paint himself in a better light.
My review of the show: better than MotorWeak (see what I did there?), worse than Top Gear US. The out of studio stuff was ok but the stuff shot in studio, specifically the sets and layout of the studio, look too ESPN or like some kind of a weekly NASCAR wrap up show. The appeal of Top Gear UK and to a lesser degree Top Gear US is that they have a shot on film kind of look to it whereas The Car Show looks too shot on video. The production value on and cinematography (sic) of the Top Gear shows is top notch. The Car Show looks like a Chinese knock off of the real thing. And Carolla tries too hard; he’s not as funny as he thinks he is. They need to tone him down because his constant interjections can become annoying – and this criticism is coming from a guy that actually likes Carolla. I could see him becoming very annoying to those that haven’t been exposed to him to the point where people stop watching the show. The fat guy and the metrosexual were better all around hosts.
Paul "Groosh" Grusche
MotorWeak, good one.
Your view on Carolla is spot on with my take. But first shows are hard and finding the sweet spot with chemistry takes a half of season or more typically. Let’s hope he finds it.