[02x06] August 28, 2011

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Basticle

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Tanner, Rutledge and Adam race along the Pacific Coast Highway to see who's $500 clunker is best. Tanner puts the new Subaru Impreza WRX STi through its paces by racing a biker through a deserted town.
 

t_simmers_jr

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ANOTHER cheap car challenge? Seriously?
Given the economy in this country and the desire of the average viewer to be able to relate to what's happening on-screen when watching TV, I think the number of cheap car challenges is a cunning move on the part of the producers. Also, with the fear that everyone had about the show having to bend to the whim of every advertiser, what better way to get around it than by featuring cars which are 10-15 years old and which do not need to be sourced from car-makers or demo fleets. These cars also provide a much higher chance of drama in the episodes due to their unpredictable nature, and in the battle for American viewership, the game is won and lost on hooking the audience. The show may end up having a game show feel to it at times, but I don't think that's an immediate reason for dismissal.

I also suspect some of this goes back to analyzing the ratings from season 1. I can only imagine that the episodes for the Moonshine Challenge, the Car Dealer Challenge, the GM revival, and the Alaska Challenge are probably ranked #1-4 in viewership. You give the customer what they want.

I would love to see a higher focus on the "unattainable" cars featured in many episodes of the British series, but if the people behind the American version are doing this as a calculated move, I completely understand their logic. Part of the reason the UK series can get away with their brutally honest reviews is that they have a cult of personality and a clout in the car industry which can't be equaled through other means (in addition to their being funded with public monies). Many car companies are happy simply to have their new models featured on the show for the exposure. If the American version can convince enough people to watch, then begin branching off into the exotic stuff, they have a better chance of creating the same kind of enthusiasm from the American marketing departments and will hopefully end up with the same kind of freedom.
 

Wragie

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Second that as well.

I think they have looked at what made the ratings or has the popularity for TGUK and took a serious look at what segments are a bit slower/less entertaining to the NA audience and are revising the format. For instance I have a gut feeling the big star small car segment is either going to disappear or get revamped somehow. I love the exotics (and after winning the lotto later today hope to enjoy them) but they can't make a show out of look what you can't have. They can do the stuff like second hand super cars and so on and have it entertain. Personally if they get into the stage where it is Look what I did using only a credit card and a handy team of mechanics I'll find something else to watch. From the comments here I'm not the only one who grimaces a bit when they come back overnight with car converted to 4x4 supposedly by the hosts and so on.
 

theiceisalie

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The downside to this is that your gonna either:

1. Run out of ideas very quickly. Or go back to the whole "TGUSA is ripping off TGUK" comparisons again. Or, we'll get some bizarre challenge that even the die-hard TGUSA Fanboys will have to agree, is the "Jump the Shark" moment. ("............The final challenge is sticking a freshly dead pig corpse into the car and let it rot in there.")
2. Start to piss off a rabid fanbase even worse than the Morris Marina Fanclub. I can already see this happening given the number of specific forums for mostly every single car or marquee ever made out there. And we're talking about the USA alone. Heck, some of them are outright nutso if the TGUSA boys destroys a particular car.
3. Run out of cars to mess up. I know they shoot in California, but there has to be a limit in how they acquire cars.
 

t_simmers_jr

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All valid points, but I will simply defend the other side. Not playing Devil's advocate, but I just believe the thoughts you expressed are framing a lot of people's negative fears for the show...

The downside to this is that your gonna either:

1. Run out of ideas very quickly. Or go back to the whole "TGUSA is ripping off TGUK" comparisons again. Or, we'll get some bizarre challenge that even the die-hard TGUSA Fanboys will have to agree, is the "Jump the Shark" moment. ("............The final challenge is sticking a freshly dead pig corpse into the car and let it rot in there.")
Sure, I guess. Though, to be fair, I also don't think a society hell-bent on destruction and violence (reference our love of demolition derbies, monster trucks, or any other motorsport with a high probability of things going poorly) will turn down a show in which three guys simply hoon around in cars 10-20 times a year. Especially cars in which many of us have fond memories of our own hooning around. Given the relatively low number of niche manufacturers in this country, I can't see how they are ever going to fill enough airtime with legitimate reviews. Even TGUK struggles to do this in 12-15 episodes per year, and the list of "built-in-a-shed" manufacturers they have to choose form is much more extensive than ours. I would actually be surprised if they didn't start highlighting personal customization jobs a couple times a year (a la the Red Victor 1 and Hill Climber-in-the-kitchen episodes of TGUK), given the clout of our grassroots society.

2. Start to piss off a rabid fanbase even worse than the Morris Marina Fanclub. I can already see this happening given the number of specific forums for mostly every single car or marquee ever made out there. And we're talking about the USA alone. Heck, some of them are outright nutso if the TGUSA boys destroys a particular car.
I was actually kind of annoyed when they destroyed a VW Caddy during the first cars segment, so I know where this is coming from. However, no one ever said they have to outright destroy every car, or even do it in an outright senseless manner. We are a country equally attached to the feel-good story. Want to test pick-ups? Spend a week helping Habitat for Humanity. Want to test the sportiness of cars from a specific decade? Contact an organization like ICY Racing and have the teens work with the presenters to prep the cars for a race. Will the vehicles be the victims of mishaps? Absolutely, but when it's all done in the name of helping someone else, it will quickly be forgiven. I don't think it's hard to come up with a means of entertainment which is at least forgiven by most. (Remember the end of the America trip, where the cars -- well, two of them, at least -- were given away in New Orleans?)

3. Run out of cars to mess up. I know they shoot in California, but there has to be a limit in how they acquire cars.
At most, even if they do ridiculous challenges in which the car gets destroyed, they will have to source 30-60 vehicles per year. I live in a semi-rural setting and drive 10 miles to work each day, and I would suspect that the number of cheap/pathetic/interesting/charismatic/commonly-owned/envied/entertaining cars I see on a daily basis just during my commute could keep the show going for a year or two. I don't see any way they run out of cars anytime soon.
 
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ja404

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There's no doubt that the cheap car challenges are usually the best entertainment value, but also keep in mind that all shows on History try to put some sort of historical spin on their content, probably further contributing to the abundance of older cars.
 

flyboynm

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I actually like the cheap car challenges. For me, they are showing cars that I can actually go out and buy after saving for awhile. While I like the idea of someday having a car that costs more than my current home, I know myself well enough to know that I will never own something that expensive to get from point a to point b. I actually have driven the Pac Coast Highway from LA to Washington and am looking forward to this episode. That drive is one of the best in the US in my opinion.
 
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