• Sep 20, 2009
Drew Barrymore takes the wheel in Jay Leno's Green Car Challenge - Click above to watch the video

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that NBC, apparently incapable of producing compelling scripted television not named The Office or 30 Rock, has nuked its entire 10 PM primetime lineup (and effectively thrown Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show under the bus) on the gamble that Jay Leno can carry that hour every weeknight. The Jay Leno Show indeed debuted to boffo numbers on Monday (18 million viewers), and went on to win the 10 PM timeslot for NBC every other night as well. (The real competition starts this week, as the other nets roll out their new Fall schedules.) On Friday, 7.7 million viewers witnessed the first edition of the much-hyped Green Car Challenge segment, a regular feature of the Leno show that will put a celebrity guest behind the wheel of an electric Ford Focus ST to see how quickly he or she can run two laps of the circuit painted on the backlot behind Leno's soundstage.

First up was Drew Barrymore, who explained to Jay that she was currently without a driver's license as she clicked into the racing harness in the driver's seat. The segment goes like this: lap one is unobstructed -- the celeb simply tries to get around the course as quickly as possible in the electric Ford Political Correctness Capsule. Lap 2 adds a healthy dose of lameness, with dangling cardboard cutouts of Al Gore and Ed Begley Jr. that try to impede the driver's progress. These are to be avoided if the celebrity doesn't want to take a 1-second penalty for each strike. (We're hoping someone aims right for the stupid things in a future segment.) In addition to tree-hugger avoidance maneuvers, the second lap also features cannons that shoot ping-pong balls and party streamers at the car. It's about as dopey as it sounds, and despite all the hoopla (NBC has the Goodyear Blimp capturing the overhead shots, for crying out loud) it just comes off as a cheap imitation of Top Gear's "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car", which, of course, it is. Watch and judge for yourselves after the jump, where the segment is embedded in a Hulu player.

[Source: Hulu]





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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 81 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      She did it in heels? Wtf?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Jesus. Can we haz Euro Focus, pleaze? Don't make me go to Mexico and get one.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Take a listen to the latest Autoblog Podcast.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thankfully I dont have to watch it while I dont live in the US
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yea, because you know we only have one TV channel here in the U.S....
        • 5 Years Ago
        The great thing about living in the US is that I don't "have" to watch it :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, I didn't realize that Autoblog was for US consumption only. I'll go ahead and delete you from my bookmarks now...
        • 5 Years Ago
        A lot of US stations block online content in Canada. God knows why - it kinda sucks. It's not Autoblog's fault - it's NBC's. Or Huhu's.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I watched the segment in complete horror. First problem, edit the celeb getting in and out of the car. The show is on a tape delay, so cut out the parts of Jay helping clueless helpless celebs fasten a five-point and getting out after the end. Second, streamers and ping-pong balls turned what could be a fun, competitive segment into an abouslute disgrace. Third, lengethen the course and throw in penalties for driving out of the lines, Drew going straight through the chicane illustrates this problem. What happens when a driver who actually stays in the lines posts a higher time but follows the rules vs. Drew's "cheating" time? I think an easily solution to that is to review the course layout w/ the driver before they leave and explain track and explain to stay in the course.

      Its hard to believe that a car guy like Leno and such an avid fan of Top Gear would sign off on this abortion. I hope they fix the segment quickly because otherwise it will be a total mockery.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I realize he's borrowing from Top Gear but that's a very bad segment. Jay's demo couldn't give a rat's ass about celebs driving cars as most aren't gear heads.
        • 5 Years Ago
        He's borrowing the concept...what he has done was take a quality idea (celebrity in a car without much power...on a real track), shrunk the track (she wasn't even between the lines most of the time!) and threw in a teaspoon of barnum and dash baily.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I
      o-nics
      • 5 Years Ago
      Even though I'm not the biggest fan of Top Gear's SRPC segment (some interviews are good but most are bland, maybe cuz I dont always know the star) this was not nearly as good as TG. I think alot of us, being TG fans, were biased going in as we know most things that copy TG end up falling flat.

      They should just let the star go to Leno's garage and pick one of his cars and do a lap....make things a bit more interesting.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The track is too small, not to mention she should have gotten penalties for going outside the lanes/cutting corners.

      I dont mind the 'green' aspect, but it wasnt even challenging. Hopefully this segment will be cancelled or be completely re-worked.

      We should all go to the NBC site and copy our gripes there!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yawn... I was expecting a little more of this course and celebrity course drive... unfortunately, this looked too boring. I'm sure that the show will continue being this way...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nothing like taking someone elses great idea and making a complete mockery of it.

      I hope Jeremy Clarkson and company see this and sue the pants off Jay Leno, NBC and GE.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I can see why you would want Top Gear to sue Leno. Leno's version totally kicks ass compared to the Top Gear version and no one will ever want to watch the TG version again, ever. (note; Sarcasm.)

        Who really cares if TG thought of it first. This will never go anywhere for Leno due to its lameness, which is a shame. The irony in all of this is that Leno has the power to get real stars behind the wheel, While TG has such stars as the man responsible for painting road markings in deferdshire, or the drummer for that great 70's band, The Mungly Pungly's.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The cornering speed seems pretty high considering how tight the track is
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well that was exactly what I thought it was gonna be, TOTAL LAMENESS!! First clue to lameness? Using an Electric Euro Ford Focus. Don't get me wrong, I love the Euro Ford Focus, love they are attempting an electric car for those that don't want combustion engines, but I immediately knew it was a car that could NOT BE WRECKED! Imagine the cost to replace it!! I wish they would have bought a Chevy Aveo, threw up some tire barriers at least, hell even some cones! Make it a little more challenging than watching a celeb drive STRAIGHT THRU IT! Ignoring the road course all together, no wonder Drew doesn't have a license! LOL! I know NBC has a huge production going on and I know they can throw out some more cash on this segment, Hell make everything foam, at least if it had obsticles and they hit em, it would be funny, like driving threw a foam brick wall barrier or driving under a foam bridge they could take out, anything other than this crap!

      Number two hint to lameness, well this is America and we all know in a country of capitalism, the all mighty dollar rules, so advertisers will rule the content. That is unfortunate, but reality. In the UK, for those that don't know, BBC is a TV Licensed company, basically if you wanna watch the BBC, you pay the governement to watch BBC. No ads, no anything. So a show like Top Gear is only possible in a country like the UK where their television is not ran by advertisers. That way the hosts of the show may freely express their opinions about what ever product or car it is they are reviewing. BBC has nothing to lose. If you ever get to UK, even their home BBC.co.uk (does not work like this if you live in the US and view it) but their home website is completely void of any advertising. Not so with CNN, NBC, CBS, take your pick. So for those of you wishing for a great US version of a Top Gear-like show, it won't happen because the way our television system is set up. It is set up for pure, 100% ,money making, profit machine. If you want an opinion you usually have to go to a newspaper or a magazine. TV won't let it be, cause if Jay were to say, "Wow, that Ford Focus' electric motor is as slow as a snail!" It would get edited out because you can only praise it since Ford paid $15 million to buy up the advertising spot in the show.

      I love my country of America, but I have always hated television here, completely ruled by the advertising dollar!
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