When we first heard about Richard Hammond joining Tory Belleci for a new desert island survival show, we were hooked with the idea. But then the trailer was released for The Great Escapists, and we quickly turned off the idea. Now, I’m not saying the trailer was bad, but it was fairly obvious that the show wasn’t targeting viewers of my age, 25-35. Instead, it was targeting children.
Let me put it plainly before you start raging at me in the comments – this is fine! Hammond has always enjoyed producing children’s TV, and Tory was perfect as his partner in this role. But, as we expected, the negative reviews began to roll in. Here are some highlights (or lowlights, I suppose).
This site writes that they were open to what Hammond and Belleci had to offer. But quickly they realised it was a very scripted show that was finding it very difficult to sell itself. Not only did it have to be entertaining, but it had to sell the idea that the two presenters were stuck by themselves on a desert island. Of course, they weren’t really, they had the full camera crew and production team with them, but while The Grand Tour is quite good at covering that truth up, The Great Escapists wasn’t as lucky.
The end their article with the following conclusion:
“SKIP IT. As cool as some of the machines Hammond and Belleci create (or are depicted creating), six episodes of their schtick on The Great Escapists feels like a lot. This would have made more sense as a 90-minute special, and we’re not even sure that would have worked, either.”
Commenting on how Hammond’s show is a mix of Bear Grylls’ The Island, Scrapheap Challenge, and Lost, the review starts on a low point. “If it were sincere, it would be insane, but joyfully it is anything but,” the writer begins. They explain that the whole ‘survival’ idea is forgotten when the duo start pulling everything they could ever want from the wreck they came in on.
They also explain the first episode as “dreary lapse into Top Gear-style alpha-male drag racing”, but circle back at the end of the review:
“Honestly, it’s delightful,” it ends.
The headline says it all… “Richard Hammond’s castaway series is excruciatingly cringey,” it reads above a rating of one star. The review begins with a basic synopsis of the show, but quickly falls to complaints as it describes the show as “painfully scripted”.
“While Hammond and Belleci play themselves, the show is painfully scripted (“I’ll give you a war you’ll never forget!”), with every decision, thought and plot point painfully relayed to two actors playing cops in a bare police interview room. It truly is a marvel of exposition.”
They describe the relationship between Tory and Richard as “strained” and the banter between them falling flat.
“Worst of all, the entire show just felt fake. Whether we’re supposed to believe that two blokes off the telly built a palatial island getaway (complete with a water wheel, a lighthouse, an automatic fishing machine, two vehicles and a brewery) all on their own is unclear, but it’s certainly frustrating to watch them make use of materials they would never, ever find in a shipwreck. At one point, Belleci wears a welding helmet, for goodness’ sake.”
It’s fair to say, they didn’t like it.
“The Great Escapists is a true dud”, it ends.
What did you think? Do you agree, or did you enjoy the expansion of of the Clarkson, Hammond and May world?