Kurt Verlin
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Review: The Grand Tour Season 2 – Episode 1

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The Grand Tour S2E1

From left: Richard Hammond with the Rimac Concept One, Jeremy Clarkson with the Lamborghini Aventador S, and James May with the Acura NSX

The Grand Tour is back on Amazon Prime with its second season, marking three old stooges’ continued effort to dick around in cars and stick it to the BBC. For the most part, it was a success.

Several changes were made to the show. First, the traveling tent is no more. The tent itself still exists but it will now stay put somewhere in the Cotswolds in south central England and no longer tour the world, which makes the show’s name seem less appropriate than before, though Jeremy Clarkson was quick to remind the viewers that he, James May, and Richard Hammond would definitely still be traveling the globe in their aforementioned quest.

Another change was the removal of Celebrity Brain Cash, a joke segment that involved unconvincingly killing celebrities and lost its humorous appeal about halfway through the first episode of the first season. “We’re not doing that anymore because too many people died,” Clarkson said, before Hammond added: “And also because you all hated it.”

Ricky Wilson and David Hasselhoff

From left: Ricky Wilson and David Hasselhoff

Instead, TGT replaced it with Celebrity Face-Off: two celebrities from the same career field will go head-to-head in a Jaguar F-TYPE on an unnamed track—part tarmac and part gravel—to see who is the fastest. “Tonight we are asking the question everyone wants answered,” Clarkson posited. “Who is the fastest former talent show judge?”

The episode pit David Hasselhoff against Ricky Wilson before returning to its main segment. Overall it was very straightforward—probably too straightforward and still too obviously scripted. Besides the main feature—a comparison of the Lamborghini Aventador S, Honda NSX, and Rimac Concept One that Hammond famously crashed, supposedly representing the past, present, and future of cars, respectively—the episode devoted time only to Celebrity Face-Off and to Conversation Street, one of the few segments that was carried over from the first season.

Jeremy Clarkson's Smug Face

Jeremy Clarkson “deploys his smug face” at Richard Hammond

It’s hard to tell at this point if this is the format the show will take on for the rest of the 10 remaining episodes or if this was just the case for the first. In the past, the trio would usually focus on a few different car topics at once. Even the show’s debut episode, which featured the long-awaited comparison of the Porsche 918, McLaren P1, and LaFerrari, cut to more segments than this week’s episode, though this was to introduce the Eboladrome circuit and “The American,” which has been discontinued.

We’re not sure if the Eboladrome will return or if The Grand Tour has hired a new test driver (several “auditions” were uploaded to its YouTube channel), as neither were mentioned in the episode. It seems unlikely in the case of the former given the introduction of a new track for the guests, but at the same time a part-gravel track and three enthusiasts aged 47-57 don’t provide the ideal conditions to make a fair comparison of vehicle lap times—one of the staples of the show. We’ll have to wait for the second episode to see.