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The First Episode Of Top Gear Season 24 Got Me Thinking…

Season 24 of Top Gear has started airing on BBC America

Having a long-running show is really hard. Be it radio, TV, or even these here internets – it takes dedication and tremendous behind-the-scenes cat wrangling to put out a fresh episode every week.

It’s even harder when the whole thing blows up, but you still need to carry on. The 23rd season of Top Gear illustrates that exact situation. High profile acrimony and a departure of long-timers Clarkson, May, and Hammond threw the show into a turmoil I could relate to better than most.

For years, we had the same, stable group of people churning out Autoblog Podcast episodes. We had an easy rapport, and we had a great run. But then personnel changes started. It happened one person at a time, spread out over months or years. We carried on and learned how to push the new guy’s buttons, but when our host left my role shifted from long-time guano maniac color commentator to mainstay. It was hard, but at least there were still two of us long-timers left. Until there weren’t.

This is the single way Matt LeBlanc and I can relate. Top Gear blew up, last year brought a new cast, a new show, and a new low in critical opinion. Everyone tried hard, but it blew up again, leaving just The Ghost of Joey Tribbiani Past standing.

Chris Harris, Matt LeBlanc and Rory Reid co-host Season 24 of Top Gear on BBC America

A new cast of actual-car-enthusiasts Chris Harris and Rory Reid were built around Matt LeBlanc, and they’re giving it another shot for season 24. I hadn’t even planned to sit through the whole thing. I only had enough time to watch the first ⅓ of the episode for my first sitting, but I came back and finished it. That alone says something good about this new season of Top Gear.

The chemistry between the hosts is better, the new set looks great, they’re putting in solid effort to know their lines and hit their marks, and, as always, the segments are beautiful film-making craft. The Toyota 86 has replaced decades of crapbox precedent for the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment, which has now been updated to Star in a Reasonably Fast car. That’s all promising if you were let down, or, like me, just couldn’t gin up any interest in the first place over the last few years.

Nothing can replace the giddy thrill of discovering the show for the first time when YouTube was a toddler – but the new season is shaping up to be better in a new way. Check it out and tell me what you think.

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