Fans of the Brit car series “Top Gear” can tell you when that show hit its stride, and list a string of memorable moments from it that generally correspond with that.
The show took off when the erudite and whimsical polymath James May became the third wheel, joining Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond.
And while their bits involving vintage cars and their shortcomings in “challenges” could be a delight, “Top Gear” only hit top gear when they put these three on the road where there were no roads — epic, breakdown and accident filled misadventures across Africa, Asia, Australia, the Arctic and the Americas.
When Clarkson was fired — more for lying about an international incident he ginned up in Argentina than for reasons given by the CYA BBC — and the other two joined him in taking Amazon’s blank check, the trips were what their titled sequel, “The Grand Tour,” promised.
The show they delivered wasn’t that, not nearly to the extent many of us wold have wanted. Car reviews, gag “tests” and fast laps? Meh. A live audience in a traveling tent? Whatever.
Give us three aging Anglo Saxons coping with the wilds of the world in various vehicles of unreliable vintage, always British and often failing in their special xenophobic ways.
So now they have finally figured that out, before the cast is too old to risk malaria, mauling and other maladies as three flummoxed funnymen abroad.
Here’s an interview with former “Top Gear” producer Andy Wilman that acknowledges that.