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James May: Our Man In Italy – Review


“James May: Our Man In Italy” was released this month on Amazon Prime and the six-episode follow-up to the inaugural show, “James May: Our Man in Japan”, is decidedly a mixed bag.

The former “Top Gear” co-host and current “The Grand Tour” co-host has some well-known idiosyncrasies to both those worldwide audience segments and it was both discouraging and disappointing to see the director and production team intervening unnecessarily in some cases – such as preventing May in a show with his own name on it to visit the Campagnolo bicycle factory and sending him instead to a cringe-worthy Tyrolean Krampus-fest.

The pros still outweigh the cons for the most part in the series with highlights being visits to – naturally – the Ferrari factory, the mountain where Carrara marble originates, a parmesan cheese factory and a nougat factory. Along with those visits come some scripted highlights which generally do not disappoint, including a soccer-and-English tea segment, the creation of an English Breakfast pizza and a fashion segment where James gets to pull out his favorite purple-and-pink striped shirt from his “Top Gear” days.

The cons were the blatant absence of a bocce ball segment – what could be more Italian than bocce ball? – and segments which included violin-making [boring…zzzzz….James’ train videos are 10 times more entertaining than this], a scripted Dante’s Inferno performance, a scripted gladiator school segment, all robot segments [that idea should have remained with the Japan episode], a meandering excursion to Venice and the aforementioned Krampus segment.

Overall, AutoSportsNation would give this a 77 out of a 100 – knocking 10 points off just for the absence of bocce ball – but it had just enough of James’ humor and personality to compensate for the general lackadaisical efforts of creating more interesting segments to highlight James’ assets instead of making him jump through a myriad of show business hoops.

Hopefully, the next locale will be good and interesting and the segment ideas will match those attributes.

About Alex Bean

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