Top Gear NBC must succeed in the US

This is a bit off the topic of leasing, but it’s been on my mind as of late so I thought I would vent.

I’ve long been a fan of Top Gear, and to an extent Fifth Gear, which both air as separate TV series in the UK. For the sake of simplicity I will focus on Top Gear in this rant.

Top Gear… it’s the best car show on TV in the world. Combining real world tests, comedic skits, daredevil stunts, segments such as the “cool wall”, and a mysterious racing driver who simply goes by the name “Stig” all combine for a terrifically entertaining and informative hour of television. Is it available in the US…. Ehhh sort of. You can watch 10 month old episodes on BBC America. And sometimes an episode may show up on another cable network. But for diehard fans your only real choice is to keep up with the series on where you may or may not find a link to a questionably legal recording of the show. Do I download these episodes as soon as they are released? Yep. Have I seriously looked into whether or not this is truly legal… No. I don’t care.

Here in the US we have a few TV series which TRY to cover the same type of material. They mostly focus on fixing up hot rods, drag racing for pink slips, installing huge wings on rice rockets, and in the case of a show with a name similar to Motorweak (WEAK being the focal point) try to test, review, and pass on opinions of new cars. My problem with these shows, especially the ones that review new cars, is that they all seem to have skewed opinions. The persuasion of sponsors and pressure from the US automotive industry seem to have a negative effect on our US based Car shows. Rather than really calling a car out as being a POS they will meander around the fact that the car is crap and try to focus more on the “excellent value” or how much better it is than the previous generation. Top Gear… they call it as they see it. The three hosts of the show speak their opinion without the pressure or persuasion of the big three here in the US. They are the Simon Cowell of the Automotive Industry. They call it as they see it and have no regret for making a car company cringe when their new car is called out for being “rubbish”.

Enter Top Gear US (NBC). The first episodes are to be aired on NBC this fall. Adam Carolla has been chosen as the host. Adam seems to have a good taste in cars and has the aggressively opinionated attitude needed for this type of show. My main concern is with the sponsors of the show and in particular with the American automotive industry. The show will have commercials. And the majority of those commercials will be automotive related. Now the question is… can Top Gear US stay true to its British roots? Can it call out Chrysler for whoring its dreadful interiors across every single one of its cars… only to be followed by a commercial for the all new Chrysler Challenger?

This is a critical time for the automotive industry. The transition from big trucks and SUVs to smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles is happening today. Consumers are looking to the media/internet to provide them with the information they need to make that next purchase. NBC has a great chance to capitalize on this transition with a successful import of a good TV series. So will it be “The Office” of car shows or will it be a prime time version of MotorWeak?