Drive on NBCSports: Does it Have What it Takes?
A TV show with three men, lust-worthy cars, and a road trip to somewhere spectacular in Europe? Stop me if you’ve seen this one before. The Top Gear comparisons are inevitable, but Chris Harris and the cast of Drive have created a motoring show that stands apart.
The Top Gear comparisons mercifully end there. There is no petulant curmudgeon, and the humor most often comes across as genuine, and non-forced. Granted, these three have been together before in one form or another, and it shows. Each host has their strengths, and made the wise choice to not attempt to be funnier than they are. It doesn’t feel like there’s a star, which is a relief when you just want to check out cars and gorgeous scenery.
Besides Mr. Harris, who’s arguably the most internationally well known of the group, there’s also Jalopnik founder, Mike Spinelli, and The Smoking Tire’s own Matt Farah. They all are regulars on Drive’s Youtube channel, either together or in their respective series. Each comes across as affable and equally knowledgeable, making them well matched for each other.
So here's the premise of the first episode — the trio drives down to Monaco in order to give the viewer a glimpse of where the F1 race will occur. We quickly learn this is just an excuse for the chance to drive a supercar through Europe. Considering that they didn’t even make it to Monaco until the show is more than half way over, and even then we only see a little bit of the place, the focus is very much on the cars. Each of the three hosts picks up supercar made from an F1 team’s manufacturer.
Chris gets to wheel a Ferrari F12, Mike, a McLaren 650S, and Matt, a lovely white Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series. While Chris was outside Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, he never made it inside the club. The reasons for this are probably well known to Harris fans, and need not be rehashed here. Unfortunately, while on seemingly good terms with McLaren, Spinelli doesn’t seem to make it much farther at that company’s headquarters in Woking, Surrey, England. Although, it would have been great to see more of the MTC campus and company.
One of the best decisions made was to broadcast the show on NBCSports, and then post it online for everyone to see less than 2 weeks after it aired on cable. Drive started out on the internet, and until they build a secure audience with television viewers, having the new show in both places is a smart plan. Not everything translates to a television audience. There are an additional 9 episodes coming, and if the excitement after the first one aired is any indication, they’ll do well.
Do I have a few gripes? Sure, but they are so minimal, they’re barely worth mentioning. Compared to early Top Gear episodes, this first episode was practically a virtuoso performance by each host. The music, which I enjoyed, became overwhelming as it ran in a constant stream throughout. Like I said, gripes barely worth mentioning. Your 22 minutes of viewing time will not be wasted on this very fresh and new series on cars.
So does it have what it takes? In short— yes, and we'll surely be looking forward to many more episodes.
The first episode of Drive on NBC Sports, can be viewed here: