By Casey Liss

Remember, way back when, a month ago, when I said this:

Top Gear The boys are back, and I’m so excited to see what comes next.

I, um, well, hm.

As I write this, The Grand Tour posted episode 4 just a few days ago. My summary of these episodes is, roughly:

1: 😂
2: 😱
3: 🙂
4: 😕

I was tentatively excited—thrilled even—after the first episode. Boy was I in for a shock in episode two:

Episode three was closer to the Top Gear I used to love, but still not quite there.

Episode four was, at best, watchable. Which led me to this very uncomfortable feeling:

I had my attention called to a spot-on article in The Guardian reviewing the season so far. It summarized, so well, some of my thoughts so far:

Worse, with the pool of cash Amazon provides, it’s cranked up these irksome indulgences to the point where bolts are popping out. The kernel of what made Top Gear a phenomenon – three men bickering, driving around and being rubbish – is almost entirely absent.

The author, Luke Holland, seems to have come to the same conclusion as I have:

One of the most acute mistakes Clarkson’s iteration of Top Gear increasingly made was its blurring of the line between presenter and actor. May, Hammond and Clarkson are good presenters; they were never good actors. And it was the show requiring them to act that resulted in its most tiresome segments.

And in a fitting summary:

It’s frustrating, because this is such an easy show to get right. Three men, talking about cars, mocking one another, and going on adventures. That’s it. Stop scripting everything, and stop throwing money at pointless explosions. It’s tiresome.

I take some issue with saying it’s “easy” to get right. I think the formula is easy, and has few ingredients. The three hosts, a general outline of a plot, and then stand back and get out of the way. The execution, however, is far more challenging.

Today, Erin said to me:

I used to look forward to the banter between the three of them. Now I dread it.

Nailed it.

By no means am I giving up on The Grand Tour. As many are quick to well, actually point out—as though I’m not acutely aware of it already—the first two seasons of Top Gear were, well, quite rough. Here’s hoping we’ll look at this season of The Grand Tour in the same way: ambitious, but rubbish.