'The Grand Tour:' Critics and Fans Welcome Jeremy Clarkson & Co Back With Open Arms

The Grand Tour
Amazon car show "The Grand Tour" has opened to critical acclaim. Amazon Prime Video

Jeremy Clarkson's new car show The Grand Tour has launched on Amazon Prime, more than 18 months after his infamous firing from the BBC's Top Gear, and is already receiving acclaim from critics and on social media.

The series reunites Clarkson with former Top Gear co-stars Richard Hammond and James May. The trio signed a rumored £160 million deal spanning three years with Amazon in 2015, following an intense bidding war from various broadcasters and streaming platforms.

But the gamble has apparently paid off. Early reviews for the first instalment, titled "The Holy Trinity," praised The Grand Tour for having a humorous familiarity and commented on its cinematic scope in comparison to Top Gear.

The Guardian said the new show left "the BBC in their dust," adding that "fans of old Top Gear are going to be happy." The review continues: "Because more than format, more even than the amount of money you throw at something, what really gives a television show its personality is the personnel. You can pour something into a different container, but it still tastes the same. And, like it or not, this tastes of Clarkson, Hammond and May."

"The scale of the production, the quality of the cameras, the epic sweeping shots and the pastiches of old movies—it seemed the show was aimed at the big screen, not the telly," said BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz, praising the filmic cinematography.

"Petrolheads can rejoice," said The Daily Telegraph in its review, making reference to the poor start BBC's Top Gear reboot with Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc had earlier in 2016. "The BBC may wonder how Matt LeBlanc and whoever joins him next year can possibly compete," said the newspaper.

Reaction on Twitter was also positive, with many car enthusiasts watching the first episode in the early hours of Friday morning.

Filmed in the California desert, the first episode features Clarkson and Hammond road-testing supercars, including the Porsche 918 Spyder and the McLaren P1. A new segment sees test driver The American, who Clarkson identified as Nascar driver Mike Skinner, taking laps around the show's new racetrack, dubbed the Eboladrome (so called because it's shaped like the virus).

Guests in the initial outing were U.S. actors Jeremy Renner and Armie Hammer, and U.K. television personality Carol Vorderman.

The opener made many tongue-in-cheek references to the trio's former show and Clarkson's firing. It began with Clarkson leaving a building that looked suspiciously like the BBC's headquarters in a cloud of disgrace. "It's the end of the road for motoring presenter Jeremy Clarkson," a news reporter is heard saying.

Later, the presenters joked about the concept of having celebrities drive race cars and creating a leaderboard of the fastest times—a reference to a popular Top Gear segment. "I don't think it would work," said Clarkson.

The Grand Tour is available now on Amazon Prime. New episodes air every Friday.