UNITED STATES—Next summer automotive enthusiasts around the world will finally know whether their long deprived automobile addictions are going to be satiated or not when Amazon Prime releases its greatly anticipated car show, which began production last week. Fanatics have been suffering from withdrawals ever since the popular, long-running car show Top Gear went on indefinite hiatus last March during its 13th year of production. Yes, it’s 13th year, as in unlucky number 13. For over a decade, motoring enthusiasts had lived vicariously through Top Gear’s three presenters as they competed in asinine cross-country road races across the globe and attempted to solve imagined 21st century problems using even more asinine solutions. Amazon Prime’s new car show will star ex Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. There is still no word on when or if the BBC can revive Top Gear.
Those of you unfamiliar with the skirmish that initiated the death knell of the most popular car show (if not the most popular show of any kind) the world has ever seen, please read on. If you are already familiar with the back-story, please skip to the fifth paragraph to find out how I would have saved Top Gear.
Though Jeremy Clarkson has always been in and out of trouble with the media for various lapses in judgment, the final nail in the coffin was hammered in when in mid-March Clarkson assaulted one of Top Gear’s many producers over cold cuts. Yes, cold cuts. According to British newspaper, The Telegraph, after a long day of shooting, the three Top Gear presenters kept their helicopter waiting to go have beers at a local pub.
Meanwhile, back at Clarkson’s hotel, all but one producer called it a night and went to bed when it was clear the highly opinionated presenter was AWOL. Producer Oisin Tymon, waited up for Clarkson. This turned out to be a mistake, as Clarkson was furious upon arrival when he discovered that there was no hot meal waiting for him, just cold cuts. Clarkson took out his frustrations on Tymon, whose job it was (according to Clarkson) to arrange such things. Supposedly Clarkson accosted Tymon with an onslaught of insults capped off by a punch that sent Tymon to the hospital. For the BBC, this was the last straw. Clarkson was canned, leaving the show’s fate in limbo. As it is now clear all three of the show’s popular presenters will not be returning to the BBC, most enthusiasts are doubtful Top Gear will recover.
As I mentioned above, Top Gear could have been saved. This incident did not have to mean the end of the world’s best car show. “How?” you ask. That’s easy. The situation just needed to be seen from a Hollywood producer’s point of view.
Hollywood producers and networks seem to be able to turn ideas completely devoid of substance, cast with people completely devoid of talent into goldmines seemingly overnight. Had Top Gear been under the control of a Hollywood-based network, things might have turned out differently. This is how it might have gone down had I been in charge:
First Step: Turn Lemons into Artificially Flavored Lemonade
Not that Top Gear needed one, but this incident could have been turned into one big publicity stunt. You see these all the time in Hollywood, some controversy designed to drum up renewed interest in a fading star’s career. For the most part, everyone recognizes it as a publicity stunt, but coverage is coverage, good or bad. In the case of Top Gear, the challenge would have been to convince the public that this real incident was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
To do this, I would have taken the “Celebrity Grudge Match” approach, something like this:
A few days after the incident, a story would be “Leaked” to the press. The story would report that Jeremy Clarkson has challenged Tymon to a boxing match. Better yet, Clarkson and James May have challenged Tymon to a tag-team no-holds-barred wrestling match. This tactic would have a two-fold affect.
First, it would drag one of Clarkson’s fellow presenters into the mess, thus placing strain on Clarkson’s relationships with his previously acquiescent colleagues. Second, it would require Tymon to recruit a tag-team partner. Obviously, there would already be someone cast to play this role. This “someone” would have to be two things: 1) a professional fighter or wrestler, 2) a woman.
Second Step: Write the “Grudge Match” into a future episode of Top Gear
Can’t you just here it? “Tonight on Top Gear: Richard laughs, James looks concerned, and Jeremy taps out.” Of course rules would be established requiring that Jeremy be first in the ring with, not Tymon, but Tymon’s tag-team partner, whether it be Ronda Rousey or Laila Ali. The obvious result being that neither James May nor Oisin Tymon would ever have to set foot in the ring (I’m assuming James would ignore Jeremy’s attempts to tag out). Once the bell rang, comedy would have ensued leaving Jeremy as the butt (soon to be sore butt) of the joke. Now, who wouldn’t want to see that?
You never know, Jeremy might have actually learned to control his temper after going a few rounds with a pro. He might have even learned some humility if he was forced to submit to the fairer sex. I’m sure Tymon would have enjoyed watching Jeremy take a few healthy slaps to the face and might have even let bygones be bygones.
Granted, I am no lawyer. My idea may have needed some grooming with Legal’s fine-toothed comb before it was ready for prime time, but you have to admit, it’s an intriguing idea, to say the least. Should it have been put in play, imagine how big Top Gear could have become. It would have ushered in a whole new audience, especially in America. The trash TV lovers, those who live off Jerry Springer and the like (a sizable portion of the U.S. population, no doubt) would have fallen in love with Top Gear. Top Gear would have finally conquered the U.S. market, the only significant market the show had yet to infiltrate. This could have been the beginning of Top Gear, rather than the potential end.