So season two of The Grand Tour (Jeremy Clarkson’s Amazon ‘vehicle’ – see what I did there?) started yesterday. The Guardian reviewer characterised the whole thing as sexist, puerile schoolboy stuff. Well, it is… but only sort of. The show is of course tongue-in-cheek, rooted in self-aware caricature (since the witty, plain silly and hilarious squabbling our three friends indulge in is all overtly staged in skits like ‘Conversation Street’), so in many ways it subverts its own macho stereotypes. Indeed, the way that the ‘race’ in Switzerland is set up is extremely satirical and insightful – Jeremy represents the (the ghost of Xmas) ‘past’ by driving a gas-guzzling Lambo, James May represents (the ghost of Xmas) ‘present’ by driving a hybrid Honda sportscar and Richard Hammond represents (the ghost of Xmas) future by driving an all-electric Croatian supercar called the Rimac. Jeremy is presented as a dinosaur throughout, especially when Hammond books them into a wellness hotel, with a menu of lettuce leaves, a no alcohol policy and colonic treatments! Poor Jeremy simply cannot cope with clean modern living. His misery when eating the salad and being lectured by Hammond is priceless – I was fully expecting the joke about Jeremy having punched someone for not serving him a steak (but it was probably edited out by the lawyers). Naturally enough, Jeremy then fights back with his humour, referring to Hammond’s car as the lady-shaver to wind him up (you can’t get away from the fact that Rimac sounds like Immac), for example, but that’s all part of the dinosaur character.
Not a second of it is stupid stuff, then. It’s well-written, intelligently-put-together and superbly performed. And it offers something more. It’s all carried off with verve, an engaging energy (despite their claims that they’re three ageing rockers), panache and elan. It is entirely refreshing (especially when compared to the woefully dull and worthy Top Gear of BBC2). So if you wanna rev up your Fridays, give The Grand Tour a spin!