Can Top Gear America Be Successful with Three New Hosts in 2020?
The last two versions of the show had mixed results, to say the leastby Kirby Garlitos, on
Top Gear America is returning for a third iteration. The popular automotive show is set to come back in the U.S. with three new hosts — Dax Shepard, Rob Corddry, and Jethro Bovingdon — and a new viewing platform.
Previously distributed by NBC and A+E Networks, the new version of Top Gear America will be offered by the BBC Studios in partnership with the MotorTrend Group. The show will air on the MotorTrend App, the latter’s streaming service, starting in the spring of 2020. You’ll need to pay a $4.99 monthly subscription fee to gain access to the show, but it’s not just Top Gear America that you’ll have access to. A litany of Top Gear content will also be available for viewing, including more than 170 episodes of the parent Top Gear show.
Host lineup looks promising
While cars remain the backbone of any Top Gear show, the hosts are the engines that drive it. If they stink, the show doesn’t even get off the line. But if they show great chemistry, the show can take off to heights unseen.
The hosting trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May is the perfect example of a well-oiled hosting machine.
Their personalities meshed and they all had enough comedic chops to make their long-running version — it spanned a decade of rollicking fun — of Top Gear UK the gold standard among all Top Gear shows.
On the opposite end of that spectrum is the hosting trio of Antron Brown, William Fichtner, and Tom Ford. The trio were fine individual hosts taken separately, but they had the chemistry of a cardboard box. That’s why the second iteration of Top Gear America bombed mercilessly, lasting only one season and eight episodes.
As important as the cars are, the success of the third incarnation of Top Gear America will rest on the shoulders of its three new hosts: Dax Shepard, Rob Corddry, and Jethro Bovingdon.
It’s an odd mix at a first glance, but once you look into the personalities and respective backgrounds of the three hosts, there’s a reason for optimism that this incarnation of Top Gear America will be the best one yet.
The most recognizable name is Shepard, who, admittedly, is mostly known as the husband of Kristen Bell. But Shepard has a slew of acting credits, too, notably appearing in shows like CHiPs, Hit and Run, and Netflix’s The Ranch. He’s also an established comic, so he’s capable of bringing that dynamic to the show.
Rob Corddry is another known name in both Hollywood and comedy circles, having starred as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He has also appeared in other shows, including Arrested Development, Community, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He’s been presented with four Emmy Awards and even has a Peabody Award to his name. Having him and Shepard on the show could make for great comedy, something the previous two versions of Top Gear America sorely lacked.
Any Top Gear show should feature a host who’s firmly entrenched in the automotive world. Jethro Bovingdon will fill that role alongside Shepard and Corddry. He boasts more than 20 years of experience as an auto journalist, including writing stints with Car and Evo, and a host of other automotive media platforms.
He also has an established racing career, having won his class three times at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.
Knowledge and Chemistry Wins the Race
Knowing what we know about the three hosts and their respective backgrounds, I have high hopes for this iteration of Top Gear America. Part of what made the trio of Clarkson, May, and Hammond so successful was that even without any significant racing backgrounds, each brought a wealth of knowledge of the industry to the table. They also had their on-brand of sense of humor that complemented one another, and that combination worked so well that with them at the helm, Top Gear UK became one of the most-watched shows in the world.
The new hosts bring something similar to the table. That’s why I’m optimistic about the show’s chances. Bovingdon is the undisputed car guy of the three so there’s no question that he has cache in the business. I don’t know how funny he is on camera or whether he meshes well with other people, but I do know that Shepard and Corddry will have no problem in front of the cameras. Both are self-professed car nuts, and while this is typical PR talk whenever a show of this nature is announced, Shepard is well-known for boasting a collection of vehicles that include a 1967 Lincoln Continental, a 1994 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon, and a Mercedes AMG E63. For his part, Corddry is also a certified car enthusiast. His first car was a 1975 Ford Pinto wagon with rusted floorboards, which he bought for a not-so-princely sum of $5. These days, Corddry owns several envy-inducing vehicles, including a Porsche 911 S and a Datsun 280Z.
As optimistic as I am about the show’s three new hosts, there’s no way of knowing what the show will turn into until it starts airing. The third iteration of Top Gear America launches in the spring of 2020 on the MotorTrend App, which you can gain access to for a monthly subscription of $4.99, around the same amount of money that Corddry used to buy his Pinto. Let’s hope for the franchise’s sake that this version of Top Gear America succeeds where the first two versions — the second one more than the first — faltered.