Flying a rather dated flag for middle-aged, white, car-loving men everywhere, The Grand Tour Presents: Lochdown continued its well-oiled schtick on Amazon Prime on Friday.
Essentially Top Gear renamed – does anyone still watch actual Top Gear? – this sees Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May driving clapped-out cars in foreign climes for our amusement.
But, lockdown… so the petrolheads were forced to stay in the UK – but out of hotels and shops – instead of, say, gallivanting up a volcano on a donkey.
Of course there must always be an Important Car Question. This time they asked: “Why have American cars never caught on in Britain?” The implication being, they’re crap.
Cut to Jeremy Clarkson in a 19ft long Lincoln Continental, Richard Hammond in a 1971 Buick Riviera and James May in a 20ft Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
Their plan? To drive across Scotland to the outer Hebrides.
We all knew what was coming as we’ve seen it so many times before.
Choreographed mayhem, occasional peril, broken down vehicles, hairpin turns, eye rolling, juvenile pranks and car talk (I ignore that bit).
I have a love-hate relationship with this trio. On the one hand, it’s all so unbelievably staged it’s painful.
And why am I watching three manchildren playing bumper cars on a Scottish field or covering a caravan in tin foil?
The clichés came thick and fast. Clarkson talked about the “McRain” in “McScotland”, then drank Irn-Bru before they all ate deep-fried food for dinner.
But their unique style of petrolhead banter is strangely comforting because it’s so familiar. Sure, the cars are all going to fall apart – but that’s part of the fun. At some point, Clarkson and Hammond will gang up on May (this time, they filled his caravan with water).
Then… got a text!… the producer messages some added drama about accommodation or building a bridge.
Precisely every ten minutes, a car’s engine overheats or explodes.
At one point we were lucky enough to see Hammond’s caravan tip into a ditch.
“I’ve never seen anything like it!” exclaimed May. Has he not watched the previous 17 billion episodes?
In a grand finale, they drove one-by-one across their makeshift bridge to the finish line… and got stuck.
This was both completely predictable and strangely watchable.
But, if I’m honest, the set pieces were too long and it all fell flat at the end with a poor joke in a fake American sports bar.
Despite having a decades-long legacy and there being no rival to beat it, I fear this format is starting to rust.