Amazon UK TV review: The Grand Tour Episode 3
Ivan Radford | On 02, Dec 2016Reading time: 3 mins
After The Grand Tour spun out of control into disappointing territory in its difficult second lap, Episode 3 of Amazon’s motoring show sees Clarkson, Hammond and May get back on course. Yes, the Top Gear trio are back where they belong – not just in Yorkshire’s own Whitby, but behind the wheel of some improbably beautiful cars.
There’s a reason why the presenters raced to worldwide success in a car show: they’re car journalists. That’s what they do. Like some of Top Gear’s later specials, Episode 2 demonstrated that their new globe-trotting format benefits from a touch of travelogue, but that when they spend most of the time out of the vehicle, it just doesn’t work. Banter is one thing, but banter on wheels is better.
“We’ve come home!” cries Clarkson to the resoundingly British audience – and there’s a genuine sense of familiar territory that gives The Grand Tour a satisfyingly grounded feel. Celebrity Brain Crash is present and correct, but with a suitably local star, while the backdrop seen out of the gigantic studio tent is grey, gloomy and, after South Africa and California, downright gorgeous.
The crowd inside, too, don’t require any pandering to, as they’re all in on the joke. Even the budget here feels big but in a sensible way – while the opening to Episode 1 was jaw-dropping, it’s even more so when it stands out against this instalment, which devotes several minutes to debating what the correct name is for the leftovers in a bag of fish and chips.
The main video, which takes up almost the entire hour, features Clarkson and May touring Italy in an Aston Martin DB11 and a Rolls-Royce Dawn… only for Hammond to turn up in an American muscle car that requires constant changes of tyres and regular refuelling, and also causes its driver to act like a douche. Hammond’s attempts to play the offensive idiot in Episode 2 felt awkward and forced, but here, he does it with his engine, not his mouth – and it’s a genuinely entertaining contrast to Clarkson and May’s attempts at sedate, mature culture.
There’s driving aplenty to compliment the chemistry, of course, and it’s all edited together handsomely, with the sound playing a particularly brilliant role in most of the laughs. There’s gloss enough to impress – Florence is like a postcard come to life – but enough brains to stop it getting out of hand.
That is, until the finale, which takes us back to a promise made in Episode 1 and sees Hammond and May have far too much fun with a couple of diggers and some dynamite. It’s an amusingly explosive finish, but a controlled one. If you were worried by Episode 2’s extravagant indulgence, rest assured: The Grand Tour is back on course, with both hands on the wheel.
The Grand Tour is available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription – or as part of £79 annual Amazon Prime membership. New episodes arrive at 00.01GMT every Friday for 12 weeks, starting 18th November 2016. For more on how to watch The Ground Tour, click here.