Last week, Intern Mike wrote an informative review of the first half of The Grand Tour’s inaugural season. While I won’t go into that here – you can read it for yourself in the link above – what I can say is that episode five was the best episode yet.
Called “Moroccan Roll,” this episode had two major parts. The first one, and the largest, was a comparison of pure sports cars in Marrakech, Morroco. The second was a full-scale game of Battleship between James May and Richard Hammond, using cars as ships – and as missiles.
One of the biggest gripes about GT so far was that it’s a little too scripted. We all knew that Top Gear was scripted, but they did a decent job of hiding it, at least until the last few seasons. The sports car challenge hearkened back to old-school Top Gear, and even had a part that was completely unscripted (even though it looked like it was).
For the challenge, it started out as a battle of sorts between James and Richard. Richard, who brought a Mazda MX-5 Miata, said that the Miata was all the sports car that most people need. James, in a bit of a flip from his usual practical self, brought a less practical Zenos E10S, saying that the elemental sports car was more of a true sports car experience, as it had no creature comforts to weigh it down.
Jeremy Clarkson, however, crashed the party with an Alfa Romeo 4C, which was completely out of context with the other cars.
To prove his car was lighter, the trio used a makeshift scale and used live animals – and later, bits of slaughtered animal carcasses – to see how heavy they were.
This is where the unscripted part comes in. Clarkson himself confirmed that the part of the show where Richard’s Miata falls of the scale and gets damaged – and when he angrily peels away and leaves Jeremy in a cloud of sand – was completely unscripted.
The sports car challenge ended with a timed lap on a course created at a studio lot, where prop structures from shows like Game of Thrones still sit. It was a thoroughly engaging segment, only slightly ruined by Richard’s power slide into a fake Egyptian statue, but the feeling of being there and experiencing the track with the boys was palpable.
In between was the Battleship segment, another scene that brought back some of the best of old Top Gear.
In it, a full-size Battleship board was set up using shipping containers to block the view, various sizes of cars as ships, and a bevy of G-Wiz electric cars – the bane of the trio during their Top Gear days – as missiles. I won’t spoil who won, but it was a highly entertaining segment that had everything that was great about Top Gear.
The show still had its slow spots, though. The Celebrity Brain Crash segment just needs to go away. It needs to die like the fake celebrity deaths that are the bit’s calling card. The scene in which Jeremy drives the 4C in a black-and-white montage was unnecessary, too.
Still, this is by far the best episode and hopefully portends well for the rest of the season. It was thoroughly engaging throughout – minus some of the negative bits – and it was the first episode I wanted to immediately watch again.
Check out this TFLtruck video where we have our own showdown between four midsize trucks and featuring our own tremendous trio – Roman, Nathan and Andre – and special guest Mr. Truck: