Hosted in the UK, in the city of Whitby, Yorkshire, the new episode of The Grand Tour was a laugh riot of motoring themes. Quaintly named ‘Opera, Arts and Donuts’ (notice the American spelling), episode 3 went back to the roots of what made motoring enthusiasts love this sort of show. Rather than spend their massive Amazon-backed budget on ridiculous parodies of Hollywood movies, they spent their £100 million-plus budget talking about some amazing cars. I like the fact that at the beginning of every episode, they’ve had a drone that fell out of the sky; a little joke on Amazon and their new drone delivery service.
It seems like coming back to the UK has helped to realign the team’s focus on cars. The two-part main event covered the idea of grand touring and related to the reason for the show’s name. Planning to take a traditional grand tour of Italy, Clarkson chose the new Aston Martin DB11, May chose the Rolls-Royce Dawn, while Hammond had the unlikely Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The bantering threesome did their usual “my car is better than your car” bit and set off on their journey.
While the back-and-forth between the three musketeers in the first two episodes was not bad, they really hit their stride this time as Hammond’s Hellcat bugged the hell out of May, Jezza put Hammond in his place as his DB11 beat the Hellcat around the brilliant Mugello circuit, and Clarkson and May get thrown into the apparently sewage-filled waters of Venice.
The segments like Conversation Street (that begins with jazzy music and Clarkson wearing high-heels), continues to be hilarious and cover local news; in this case the cost of reducing the size of a roundabout in Oxfordshire. The need to distance themselves from Top Gear’s and the BBC’s format has resulted in the fifth ‘celebrity death’ since the show began, this time it was Simon Pegg.
While Mike “The American” Skinner and the Eboladrome didn’t feature in this episode, they weren’t really missed. Even though the blowing up of Jezza’s house (which incidentally was going to be demolished any way) didn’t really add much to the episode, it was still funny. The camaraderie and on-screen chemistry between the three hosts, in addition to re-focusing on cars, was what made this episode a hit in my eyes, something that the second episode somewhat lacked. The new sign-off “And on that terrible disappointment…” was hilariously apt.