Guest Editorial: Clarkson Revision

Editors note: Our colleague Patrick Rall had this column pulled by his normal publisher because somene got butthurt over it, and threatened to go to the publications advertisers over it.  We are publishing it because, even if we do not agree with the entire column, it deserves the space, if for nothing else but to keep the debate open.

It was announced yesterday morning that the BBC has opted not to renew the contract of Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson after the outspoken Brit smacked one of the show’s producers, but all the company has done is effectively execute their most popular show in order to bolster the ego of a producer that could have easily left the show without anyone noticing.

Jeremy Clarkson is regarded by some as one of the most obnoxious men in the world, but to the automotive community, he has become one of the most recognizable faces (and voices) in the world.  Clarkson has offended a long list of ethnicities around the world with little more than a slap on the wrist from the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) for things that would have gotten an American television host a sit-down with the federal government.  However, when Clarkson slapped one of the show’s producers over a catering snafu earlier this month, production of the show was suspended and rumors were floating around the internet that Clarkson would be fired from the show.  This seemed unlikely, as Clarkson as undeniably the nucleus of the globally popular show, but this morning it became official – Jeremy Clarkson is no longer a member of the Top Gear cast.

For those who hated Clarkson for the fact that he could freely speak his mind on TV without facing criminal charges (like he would have in the US for saying the same things), this is a huge victory, but for those who loved Clarkson for his straightforward views on the automotive world and those who loved Top Gear, this is a crushing blow – as it will almost certainly lead to the end of the long running program that has become one of the most popular British shows broadcast around the world.

The Shot Heard ‘Round the World
Earlier this month, news spread quickly around the internet that filming of Top Gear had been suspended when Jeremy Clarkson slapped one of the show’s producers.  Those reports evolved a bit, with the later reports stating that he actually punched the producer in the mouth. Some reports even stated that he had grabbed the hair of the producer and slapped him while in the grasp.

More information followed – seemingly with far greater degree of accuracy – explaining that Clarkson had struck producer Oisin Tymon and the reason was that after a long day of filming, Clarkson came to the hotel for a nice hot dinner, only to find a cold meat and cheese plate.  Evidently, the hotel kitchen was closed and because of that, the production team couldn’t provide the host with a proper hot meal and for that reason, Clarkson blew up on Tymon.

Reports indicate that Tymon and Clarkson had a heated exchange while face to face and at some point, the TV show host took a swing and popped the producer in the face, allegedly bloodying Tymon’s mouth.  After that, the two were separated and they went on with their evening without incident (although some outlets indicate that Tymon filed a complaint of his own), but after being pressured by co-workers, Clarkson notified the BBC management that he had struck the producer.  The BBC quickly suspended filming of the show and began an inquiry into Clarkson’s future with Top Gear.  Today, that future was decided, as the company has officially bid farewell to the man who made the show was it is in favor of a producer who no one cares about outside of his family.

Oisin Tymon has Killed Top Gear
While punching a guy over the inability to produce a decent hot meal seems like a bit much, we have all wanted to punch a coworker from time to time – so leave it up to Clarkson to do what we have all thought about.  However, in the grand scheme of things, Oisin Tymon should have taken the punch with a smile and asked for another while working on getting Jeremy Clarkson a proper hot meal.

While Tymon probably considers himself a key cog to the show’s success, the truth is that if this 36 year old nobody was to fly off into space tomorrow, fans of the show around the world would have never noticed or cared.  Tymon means nothing to the ongoing success of the show and considering his age, he had nothing to do with the show becoming such a global hit.  On the other hand, Jeremy Clarkson has become the face and the voice of Top Gear.  Sure, Richard Hammond and James May are vital components of the show as well, but there is no question that Clarkson is the main attraction.

Now that the main attraction has officially been axed from the show in order to protect the delicate ego (and face) of producer Oisin Tymon, it seems unlikely that the show will continue without Jeremy Clarkson. I expect that the BBC will attempt to fill Clarkson’s shoes and perhaps Tymon will have a solution.  Then again, the guy couldn’t get the star of the show a hot meal late at night, so I don’t expect that he can find someone to replace one of the most recognizable faces in the automotive world.

Worst of all for both the producers and fans of Top Gear, there are rumors that both Richard Hammond and James May have stated that they wouldn’t stay on if Clarkson was removed from the cast.

In the long run, Oisin Tymon’s career will likely take a pretty major hit, considering that he was the one who started the wheels in motion which eventually drove Jeremy Clarkson out of town.  Had Tymon been competent enough to get a hot meal for the TV host, Clarkson would still have a job, Top Gear would still be pumping out new episodes and fans around the world would still love the show.  Instead, fans are outraged, the show seems to be suspended, Clarkson is no longer a member of the cast, the other two hosts may be leaving and Oisin Tymon is still the producer of a show that far fewer people care about.

Really, Clarkson should have punched him twice – once for screwing up that dinner and a second time for ruining Top Gear.

Mustang Launch

Sure you’ve watched cars pull massive wheelies when they launch on a drag strip, but how many do you see get up in the wheelie bars at the 1/8th mile!!  I think this car is making a bit of boost about 700 feet out!

Even Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson yelling POWER might say, oh, that’s a bit much maybe.

Movie Review “Love The Beast”

There are truly, very few movies for car people/petrol heads, that really communicate the passion and emotion that our obsession means to us.  In the US what we get for “automotive lifestyle” programing are really bad reality shows that aren’t much more than sixty minutes, well forty to forty two minutes of advertorial programing, the rest commercials, many of those for the products you just saw used in the show.

True gear heads in Hollywood are few and far between, and the ones that are mostly keep quiet because most of their colleagues are screaming about being green, and in a town that makes the high school cheerleading squad seem non cliquey, if you want to pay for your hobby and keep working, best to keep it on the down low. 

There are of course a few exceptions, Jay Leno, Patrick Dempsey, Tim Allen, a few others, but you didn’t hear much about it till they were very successful, and their names were enough to sell tickets, get ratings etc to make sure everyone else was making money to keep them happy.

Eric Bana is an actor from Australia that you may have seen in Ang Lee’s “The Hulk” the 2009 re-boot of Star Trek, Troy, and a few others.  Since his early days, he has been a gear head, and from the age of 15 he has had an obsession, it is his 1974 Ford Falcon XB Coupe.

Through good times and bad Eric has kept this car, first as his daily driver, then as a race car.  He mad a documentary about his obsession with the car called “Love The Beast” and for me, it is the best car movie I have seen in a very long time and the best movie I saw in 2009.  

Looking at some of the reviews you see comments from people who aren’t gear heads talking about how they weren’t into this movie that much but it did explain the obsession well.  That to me is the key point here.  Even non car people can begin to understand what drive us, to a point at least.  Here are two clips from the movie I’ve spliced together of Jeremy Clarkson, explaining this better than I’ve ever seen done before.

The turning point for Bana’s Beast was running the car in the 1996 Targa Tasmania, a road rally in the spirit of the old Targa Florio.  It runs for five days on the Island of Tasmania, and in Australian motorsports importance is rivaled only by the Bathurst 1000 in importance, and the Bathurst race is said by Aussies to be their version of LeMans.

The movie is how Eric completely rebuilt his Falcon to run once again in the race, as a full on race car and his experiences of elation and of depression after he has an accident on the fourth of the five days of the rally.

Through his own voice overs, and interviews with Jay Leno, Jeremy Clarkson and Dr. Phil (who for the first time ever comes off as intelligent and likable rather than a full on douchebag) they talk about what the car means to him and if he will rebuild it after this incident.  Will the car be written off, or once again become the campfire by which he and his mates gather around once again to rebuild once again.

The movie has a very limited release after being shown at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, and while the DVD is on sale in Australia and the EU, it is NOT available here in the US.  Now, depending on how you feel about the subject you can download the movie here.

There is also work that this will be shown on the SPEED channel on December the 18th, check your local listings, but having this go to commercial every 5-7 minutes I think will really kill the flow of this movie.  It’s only 90 minutes in length, but communicates a lifetime of love and obsession.

Here is the official movie trailer 


Top Gear V12 Vantage

This post isn’t to talk about all the nonsense floating around about Top Gear being over, because it’s not. It’s about the segment, or film as they would call it about the Aston Martin V12 Vantage.  For the final show of each series they usually do something big, trip through VietNam, a run off against the Germans at the Nurbugring, etc..  This time it was a something different.  This bit on the V12 Vantage is stunningly beautiful.  If Aston Martin didn’t pay for this segment, then they should because it’s better than ANY ad agency could put together.  The visuals, the colors, the sounds, the music, the editing, just stunning.  If Top Gear does not win some sort of award for this segment then there should never be another TV award given, period, end of story.

Enjoy and leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Top Gear Is Back

Sunday the 21st at 8PM on BBC 2 in the UK everyones favorite show about cars and motoring is back. Top Gear returns for it’s 13th season. For those of us in North America they run two (usually) series of 8-12 shows a year, but each is classified as a new season.

For viewers in the US I’m sure BBC America will get around to showing this in September or so, but if you want it on Sunday, say about 5-6PM EDT, check out the Final Gear site, they should have the link to download it by then

As per usual they have a couple of great promo for the season posted up. Enjoy!

Official Top Gear America D.O.A.

In a stop in Sydney Australia for a Top Gear Live appearance, Jeremy Clarkson confirmed that Top Gear America would not be going forward.  It is a pretty good clip with some of the usual stuff you’d expect from Clarkson and Hammond.

I’m torn about this.  In some ways I’m sad that we won’t have our own version of the show, in other ways, I’m happy because the chances of the show not being totally screwed up for America TV were pretty slim.

Anyway, enjoy this.