With a 1 star out of 5 rating, The Independent has slated the first episode of The Grand Tour’s Season 4 in their review. “The tension has curdled into outright dislike,” Fiona Sturges writes in the headline.
Now, as we told you in our social media roundup, we didn’t think the episode was perfect compared to previous examples, but is it worth 1 star? Not at all. Let’s take apart this review bit by bit and see where Sturges is coming from. But before we start, this is of course an opinion, and should be treated in such a way. We aren’t here to hurl abuse at anyone and want to approach this with the greatest of respect for the writer.
Firstly, Sturges obviously ins’t a fan of Jeremy Clarkson. She describes the trio as an “explosion of egos” that isn’t afraid of offending entire nations. Now, this isn’t entirely false, as the three aren’t exactly afraid of causing the odd controversy. take the Falklands War example in Argentina, or the time when Hammond said ice cream is only for homosexual people. I think it’s fair to say they’re not afraid to rock the boat – excuse the pun. Sturges then makes a joke about the wheels falling off in regards to them using boats.
After questioning The Grand Tour’s definition of ‘Special’, the writer notes the obviously large budget spent on this episode. And yes, obviously a lot of money was spent just on the boats, with Jeremy explaining that his boat alone cost £100,000. But with only two episodes a year and no tent, celebrities, or car review segments, it’s no surprise that they have more money to play with. She explains Clarkson as being ‘self-important’ regarding bringing the historical joke back to Vietnam. I believe she’s taking it too seriously.
Sturges goes on to disregard Clarkson’s historical piece that many of us loved, and calls the trio’s accident-prone boating, where they crash a number of times into other smaller boats and themselves, arrogant and imbecilic. While I don’t know for sure, do you really think that wasn’t all planned? Of course it was. They knew exactly what they were doing, as did the other boaters involved in the film. It’s a testament to the show that Sturges thought it was real.
To conclude the brief review, Sturges writes about the trio’s chemistry:
“There is no chemistry or camaraderie; even the pranks are half-arsed. At no point does anyone look happy in their work. When they hit the South China Sea, where they are met with crashing waves and relentless, painful spray, all three appear positively ashen.”
I don’t think she’s entirely wrong here. Personally, I felt like they weren’t feeling themselves, but on hearing about how dangerous and problematic filming for this episode was, I’m not surprised that they weren’t completely feeling it. This however, reflects the danger of the trip and how difficult it was to actually pull off. And it did mean that some parts of the film weren’t filled with laughs, but neither was the filming.
“The Grand Tour on wheels has its problems,” she says,”but this one’s dead in the water.”
As someone who writes about The Grand Tour most days and keeps up with all the latest news and rumours, I’m not surprised the first episode wasn’t perfect. But if I didn’t know everything that went on behind the scenes, I think it’s realistic to feel the way Sturges is coming across in her writing.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts on the episode and if you agree with any of the points made here.