'Richard Hammond's Crash Course' Recap: 'Stuntman' (Season 2 Premiere)
That'd be working with fire, underneath the bridge. Rick hands Richard off to Mike, who explains to him (and the audience by extension) the lengthy process of preparing to be set on fire. Richard will have special fire-resistant clothes that are soaked in fire gel underneath his wardrobe, and he himself will need to be covered in it...everywhere. Once Mike is done with him, he looks like he's coated in plastic, which is kind of creepy. Thom reassures Richard that if he has a panic attack while he is on fire, Thom himself will tackle him and put him out. They light Richard up, then get out of his way as he goes through more lines before being thoroughly blasted with multiple fire extinguishers.
Last on the list is car work, which sounds like it ought to be easy for Richard, given that he's been hosting Top Gear for a decade. His car stunt takes him back to the L.A. River, where he's supposed to drive a modified Ford Crown Victoria up a pipe ramp and roll it, with the help of Tom Harper. "I have crashed several times," Richard reflects, "That's always been by accident." While Rick tells Richard that, since Richard is an expert driver, he's not concerned about the driving aspect, Richard is very aware of his horrific Vampire dragster crash that nearly killed him. (In case you're not, the program gives us a quick flashback to that in the form of newspaper headlines.)
This is the most interesting part of the episode, because we're not seeing Richard Hammond the TV presenter; we're connecting with Richard Hammond, the individual who's honestly concerned about not putting his wife, children and parents through another such ordeal. We're able to see Richard as a person, with that fear and also with the determination to pull the stunt off, and thus share that experience with him on an emotional level. When he succeeds at the stunt, it's a cheer-worthy moment, because we've just glimpsed what was in his head that he overcame in order to roll that car. "Get me the hell out of here!" he yelps when it's done, and we can't blame him.
It's the underlying strength of Crash Course: Richard doesn't just try the job, or explain how the job is done, but the audience also gets a real sense of what it means to have that as a career - whether it's what drives someone to choose it or the emotions that one goes through while a part of it. That makes each episode more three-dimensional than other shows of this type, and it helps that the host is Richard Hammond, who's as relatable and charismatic as they come.
At the episode's end, we get to see the completed promo, with all the bits and pieces Richard has filmed for it over the last few days, and others from upcoming episodes. Judging by that clip, it's going to be another great season for Richard Hammond's Crash Course.
For more on Richard Hammond's Crash Course, you can also read my interview with Richard Hammond about what's ahead in season two.