Clarkson, Hammond and May are back: The Grand Tour season 2 episode 1 critic reviews


THE CRITICS have begun delivering verdicts on the new series of The Grand Tour, which was published on Amazon Prime video last night.

As we know from Driving’s exclusive previews of Season 2, changes have taken place based on viewer feedback. For one thing, the idea of a travelling studio tent, that would pitch up in countries where local fans could get a taste of Clarkson, Hammond and May live, was consigned to the scrap heap due to the logistical complexities involved.

Another change was to sack The American, the not-so-tame racing driver from across The Pond whose constant bashing of any car without a V8 became irksome within a few episodes.


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The three presenters have continued touring the globe, however, with one already infamous challenge involving Richard Hammond turning an electric hypercar into a fireball, and shattering his knee in the process.

Here’s what the critics have to say (updates throughout the day).

Our year from hell: Clarkson, Hammond and May on The Grand Tour season 2, overcoming disaster, ‘that’ crash and ill-health

 

The Times

“This is a show built on laddish pub banter and nearly dying in an accident is no reason to stop. Hammond didn’t even talk us through what went wrong. Maybe the insurance claim isn’t settled yet.

“These three work best when they are out on the road, unscripted, and not sitting around doing rehearsed repartee. Some parts were slightly flat (the museum visits) but mostly it worked, the production values remain high and it has clearly been hit with a juggernaut of money. The matesy bickering drove the episode as they raced three cars — one from the past (a petrol Lamborghini), the present (some kind of hybrid Honda) and the future (an electric supercar Clarkson called “the lady shaver” and which became a charred hairdryer).”

Carol Midgley (read in full)

“The presenters of The Grand Tour are not normal. They’re three florid multimillionaires in wallpaper shirts who only leave the Cotswolds for work and wouldn’t recognise a flat-roofed pub if they woke up drunk on top of it. And yes, they are anti-PC, instinctively sexist and inclined to laugh at people for things like ‘being French’, but none of that is ever the point. They don’t talk like this because they mean it. They talk like this because the alternatives are terrifying. They talk like this because life and existence is a gaping void of nothingness and we are all cold and lonely and going to die. All male conversation — cars, football, politics, woodwork, the merits of the M6 Toll, how you work a tank — is basically the same conversation. It is white noise. It blots out the fear.”

Hug Rifkind (read in full)

 

Jalopnik

“I can see why they put the crash in the first episode… there just wasn’t a lot there! They totally undercut the emotional weight, and it wasn’t as effective as the Top Gear Hammond crash. What a missed opportunity.

“I found the show shockingly mediocre! The new celebrity segment was better, but it ran on for too long. The F-Type on the unfinished course is good enough, I suppose, but still feels derivative. Though I do like the themed celebrity segments now, with “fastest former talent show host” being this week.”

Justin T. Westbrook (read in full)

 

GQ

“The banter. So much banter. The charisma and chemistry of Clarkson’s crew is undeniable, and there are some laughs, but they are coasting, and it is often witless, and endless. Throughout the show, serviceable jokes are milked, again and again, and the humour often seems like a defiant response to critics.”

Alex Godfrey (read in full)

 

Digital Spy

“The show feels like it’s finding its feet. While the first season allowed the trio to keep plenty of their quintessential Britishness, the on-the-road format necessitated a lengthy introduction of each new place they visited. Now, we’re back on home turf and the show has recaptured some of that (dare we say it) budget feel.

“Supercars and globetrotting aside (Amazon have a mammoth budget), the studio scenes feel more grounded and the presenters appear more laid back as a result. Small tweaks are being made everywhere – and it’s working.”

Catherine Pearson (read in full)

 

The Guardian

“‘I know people who eat this stuff,’ Jeremy says at dinner, miserably holding up some kind of salad leaf. ‘Do you know what they’re called? Women.’ Are there any treatments at the Park Weggis hotel for sexism I wonder?”

Sam Wollaston (read in full)

 

The Telegraph

“The writing is still rather ropey. Clarkson’s suggestion of a new nickname for May – ‘Dingleberry Handpump’ – failed to raise a titter even among the super-fans gathered for the London premiere.

“But for each wobble, there are just as many moments when The Grand Tour manages the clever trick Top Gear could pull off at its best: raising a chuckle while sneaking in a bit of serious journalism at the same time.”

Tristram Fane Saunders (read in full)

 

The Express

“There was no lingering sign of Clarkson’s pneumonia, Hammond’s knee injury or May’s food poisoning in a format that’s still alive, despite our three amigos’ fading physiques.”

David Stephenson (read in full)

 

 

 

What do the fans think? The reaction on Twitter

On social media, the response to the second season of the Grand Tour was also a mixed bag. Of course, Jeremy Clarkson seemed happy:

And many of his followers were equally effusive:

 

But others were less full of praise:

And some were just mean:

Of course, some people won’t even give it a chance: