“Top Gear” isn’t just the biggest car show in the world — it’s the biggest show, period.
So fans were understandably concerned last year when former host Jeremy Clarkson punched a producer, leading to always controversial Clarkson’s resignation.
Co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond followed him — straight into the arms of Amazon, which is paying the trio handsomely to create a new show that will debut later this year.
The BBC, which owns “Top Gear,” scrambled to pull a new cast together for the next season, singing up British radio celeb Chris Evans and American actor Matt LeBlanc, well know for his portrayal of dimwit latter-day Casanova Joey Tribbiani in the 1990s and early 2000s prime-time ensemble comedy “Friends,” in addition to a passel of other journalist, broadcasters, and people who actually know how to drive hot cars.
Now it’s all gone horribly wrong, with the unpopular Evans leaving the new “Top Gear” after one season.
This means Joey from “Friends” is now running the show.
There was unsubstantiated chatter before Evans stepped down that LeBlanc and his co-host weren’t having a lot of “Hey … How ya doin?” moments.
This creates a weird new world of “Top Gear,” with an American is charge of a show renowned for its charming and at times offensive Britishness, while the Brits responsible for the successful BBC series are now, effectively, coming to America — or at taking advantage of the very deep pockets of an American company.
“Top Gear,” it’s now safe to say, is officially in crisis. Fans have responded well to LeBlanc, and everybody seems to like Chris Harris, a YouTube star who has always seemed like he should get a shot at the big time.
But although Joey from “Friends” is charming, he’s hardly some funny looking lanky buffoon, nor is he a fusty long-haired professorial type, and he certainly isn’t a peppy little guy who become sullen when he wrecks a fabulous car on a racetrack.
And Harris is enthusiastic and British, but he’s just so darn competent. It’s had to see why anyone would want to make him look foolish.
What we have, then, is the prospect of a much more responsible, Americanized “Top Gear.”
And Matt LeBlanc, it seems, will control its destiny.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.