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One More Thing Lawyers Have Ruined

February 10th, 2017

The Grand Tour Fails to Reach its Potential

It’s funny how you can sometimes detect the activity of lawyers without being told they’re at work.

I’ll give some examples.

I have bought key lime juice. There are two brands available where I live. One is labeled “Mrs. Biddle’s Key Lime Juice.” The other is labeled “Key West Lime Juice.” Why? Obviously, the second one isn’t made from key limes. If it were, they would use the phrase “key lime juice” on the label. In order to get around the illegality of selling Persian lime juice as key lime juice, they invoke the name of Key West, which has nothing to do with lime varieties.

Here’s another one. Have you ever bought a junk food item with a label that says it contains “creme”? It said that because it didn’t contain cream. “Creme” doesn’t mean anything. It could be lithium grease. Real cream comes from a cow and costs a lot of money.

I’ve watched all of the episodes of Amazon’s The Grand Tour, and I see lawyer footprints all over it.

First of all, no Stig. The BBC owns the Stig (perhaps literally). Amazon found a legal way to replace his vibe on the show. They hired an American driver named Mike Skinner, and they call him “The American.” He’s not as good as the Stig, because the writers who write his material aren’t good, but if he had better lines, he would be a fine replacement.

He has a lot of potential. The constant jokes about him being American could be funny. Problem is, they’re very weak. Maybe bad British writers are to blame. Someone who actually understood American Southerners could write very funny stuff for Skinner.

Second thing…no celebrities. This is a major problem. I suppose it’s possible celebrities are boycotting the show because of the odor of racism, but I doubt that, because they do appear in short, generally silent cameos in which they die horribly. They don’t give interviews or drive laps.

Somehow, lawyers have interfered with the practice of putting celebrities on the show. I don’t know what the issue is. One would think that it would be impossible to protect the concept of interviewing celebrities about cars, but the BBC must have found a way, because there is no other plausible explanation for cutting out a huge part of the fun of the show.

Instead of stars in a reasonably priced car, the show has a feature called Celebrity Brain Crash. It’s supposed to be a quiz, but the gimmick is that every celebrity is killed while making his or her way to the studio. It was funny the first two times, but now it’s annoying, and surely Amazon knows that and wants to fix it. Because they never did, lawyers must be getting in the way.

I guess it’s possible that the creators of the show are just incompetent, but how could anyone be that bad at his job? It’s the kind of decision a producer would make if someone were secretly paying him to fail.

I like the show, and I’ll keep watching it, but it’s in danger of turning into the American Top Gear, which was terrible because it had no celebrities and a hosting team headed by a hipster sissy.

Overall, the show is pretty good, but not quite as good as the original. The writing is weaker; that’s the main issue. Bezos needs to hire some people from Top Gear or some top sitcoms. Male Republicans, if possible. Whether Bezos wants to admit it or not, 90% of the fun of Top Gear was the persistent lambasting of political correctness.

No one really cares whether the Porsche 918 is as fast as the Ferrari Enzo. People want to see the boys make fools of themselves, and they want to see them have interesting interviews with famous people.

A reviewer from The Guardian says people don’t like the “scriptedness” of the new show. He’s right. With the old show, it was always nearly possible to make yourself believe the things you saw on screen were simply things that had happened on their own. With the new show, the action is about as spontaneous as The A-Team. The Grand Tour punches you in the face with its artificiality.

Maybe they need to hire Ted Nugent. That would help.

The Grand Tour doesn’t have a home city. They have a tent they fly around the globe, and they put it in a new place almost every week. Fun idea, but you have to wonder if the work and expense of moving around makes it hard to keep a good staff together and get things done. Here’s something strange: the show doesn’t make much use of its locations. If they were to put the tent in the Bahamas, they might very well film most of the show in Egypt. If you’re not going to use the location, why go there?

One of their locations disturbed me pretty badly. They went to Scotland. Most of my ancestors were Scottish. When they stood in front of the studio audience (tent audience?), I noticed that there wasn’t a single good-looking person in the crowd. I’ll be honest; they looked WRONG. Like someone had hushed up a radiation accident in the 1970’s. Their Dutch audience looked way better. Maybe I need a gene transplant.

If I were running the show, I would find a way to get some celebrities to talk to. I would also beat the writers with a stick and hire some new ones. After that, I’d find a studio in England and stay there. What they’re doing now is like moving a tomato plant from one pot to another every week and expecting it to grow.

It’s still better than the BBC’s offering.

I have to wonder if the hype about Amazon’s giant budget is true. The Grand Tour looks like it costs a lot less than the old show. The projects are much less ambitious.

Top Gear itself is returning soon, with Matt LeBlanc still in charge. Unfortunately, his ineffective co-host Chris Evans will be replaced by the soon-to-be-proven-equally-ineffective Rory Reid and Chris Harris. These guys are not even a little bit funny, and Top Gear is a comedy show. No one at the BBC seems to understand that. They think it’s about cars!

I plan to watch the new season. I’ll do what I did last time around. When LeBlanc or the Stig is on the screen, I’ll watch. I’ll fast-forward past the plastic twins. I should be able to get through an episode in 15 minutes.

4 Responses to “One More Thing Lawyers Have Ruined”

  1. Stephen McAteer Says:

    Glad I wasn’t alone in thinking it was a bit over-scripted. I watched last weeks episode and thought it was reasonable but not great and certainly not as good as the original. Someone told me the viewing figures are crashing too. Part of the reason might be that it’s on the internet and not normal TV. I have to watch on my desktop PC for example.

  2. Stephen McAteer Says:

    PS there are some good-looking Scots to be found here and there. We might not be as glamorous as, say, the Italians but we try our best.

  3. JPatterson Says:

    Just curious – have you read this? http://a.co/5eSwZLy

    It delves into the European population sources of the various areas of the U.S., and how that impacts today’s culture. You’ve mentioned your Eastern KY and now, Scottish, history over the last couple of posts, so I thought you might be interested.

    Or at least, not as disgusted by it as you have been with the recent literary classics you’ve been reading. I would count that as a win.

  4. Steve H. Says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. My aunt, who still lives in Kentucky, recommended a book called Hillbilly Elegy, which is about the screwed-up culture that produced my failed family and me. I don’t really want to dig into a unpleasant subject I’ve already experienced from the inside.

    I have a pile of books I can’t wait to read, but Don Quixote just will not end. My new strategy is to limit myself to 10 pages of the classics per day. I have to read Paradise Lost next, and it’s over 300 pages. I am no longer willing to cut back on books I actually like in order to finish my quest to do my college reading.