Admittedly, I have watched roughly 45 seconds of Top Gear America. That was the amount of time needed for Rutledge Wood to describe the Lamborghini Aventador as being capable of "handling like it's on rails" and me immediately changing the channel in cliché-fueled disgust. I have watched even less of post-Clarkson British Top Gear. Have I been missing anything? To date, no one has said I have.
Yet, today's news of yet another Top Gear America cast has me intrigued: actors Dax Shepard and Rob Corddry, plus British automotive journalist Jethro Bovingdon who currently appears in various Motor Trend video productions. TGA, perhaps not coincidentally, will "air" on Discovery's Motor Trend streaming service.
For starters, Shepard is a legitimate car person with deep roots in the industry. He basically grew up immersed in the world of General Motors, as his mother worked in fleet and event management in Michigan. He even worked for her at events in his teens. His love of cars is also evident -- anyone who owns a 1994 Buick Roadmaster wagon with a 700-horsepower supercharged Chevy crate engine is our type of guy. Ditto anyone who owns a previous-gen Mercedes E63 wagon, which as you can see below, he happily saved $8,400 on by performing his own brake maintenance.
He also directed and starred in a pretty solid car movie in Hit and Run alongside his delightful wife Kristen Bell. I attended a press preview of that film with Shepard in person and he came across as quite a nice person. As such, I would enjoy watching him on Top Gear.
Rob Corddry? Always funny on The Daily Show back in the day and in just about everything since, including a personal guilty pleasure, Hot Tub Time Machine. He's also a car guy. That's good news, but lots of people are car guys. How much knowledge and experience he has is what matters more. The original Top Gear cast worked in part because they were experts before being on the show.
Bovingdon is certainly that, having been a journalist and car reviewer for many years in the U.K. before migrating across the pond for MT video duty. He can provide the invaluable comparative knowledge and insight that should hopefully prevent any "handling on rails" drivel.
Now, whether all these promising cast members come together to form workable on-screen chemistry is another thing entirely. That's the other main reason Clarkson, May and Hammond worked so well then, and to a lesser extent, now on The Grand Tour. Similar magic has yet to come together with another cast, but perhaps this one will be different.
The new series will launch next spring.