If we made a Top Gear for gadgets, would you watch it? In two weeks, you’ll have your chance.
Nearly ten years ago, when I first ran Gizmodo, gadgets were as niche of a topic for news and debate as could be. It was such an insider’s topic, in fact, that all it took for me to first get the gig was to send our publisher an instant message and ask him if he was hiring. (You should try that now; he’d love that. Be sure to wait until late at night.)
Today Gizmodo and its many spiritual offshoots, from innovative publications like The Verge to thousands of enthusiast blogs all over the web, aren’t any sort of lonely backwater when it comes to media. We’re all right in the middle of a world where nearly everyone has a little computer in their pocket, where the niche conversations about social etiquette are the ones that don’t involve gadget protocol.
But there’s one area of media that gadgets haven’t yet conquered from the inside out: mainstream television. And that’s why I’m tickled to finally be able to share with you the culmination of over two years of work between the team at Gizmodo and BBC America: the debut of our first hour-long television special, “Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers,” on Monday, March 18th, 2013 at 10:20PM ET.
Why 10:20PM? Because we’ll be debuting the show right after the season finale of Top Gear on BBC America, which runs longer than your typical American program. That slot’s no coincidence. When we first started working on this show internally with our production partners at True Entertainment, the shorthand pitch almost always came back to a single reference: “Top Gear for gadgets.” Anyone who has spent enough time in a bar with me talking about hopes and dreams has probably heard me yammer on about Top Gear. “If I could have one job,” I’d slur, “it’d be to host Top Gear.” To be one of the hosts of a show that will run next to Top Gear is as close as I’m ever going to get to getting my dream job—and it’s far closer than I ever expected I’d be. Thank goodness that BBC America—our first choice for a partner network—instantly saw how our ideas could mesh with their existing shows like Top Gear and new endeavors like Nerdist.
I’m not hosting alone, though. (Thank goodness.) I’m joined by three friends of Gizmodo: Greg Foot, O.J. Borg, and (your friend and mine) Veronica Belmont. And those are just those of us involved in testing the gadgets hands-on; Gizmodo Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Joe Brown and Nerdist‘s own Chris Hardwick also stop by to harangue the Gizmodo team while we test the world’s finest gadgets in the world’s dumbest ways.
Now if you’re reading this, I’m certain you’re going to notice a few things about this show. For one, the gadgets we’re testing are a few months out of date. That’s because we shot most of the it before CES. If we were to make more of these—a television series, let’s say—turning production around faster would of course be a priority.
To be perfectly candid, there are definitely things we’d want to tweak if we are able to go to series, like working with technology companies to gain access to their latest-and-greatest cameras with which to shoot the show—then doing a David Attenborough-style segment at the end of episodes showing how we got our most ridiculous shot. I’d like more explosions. I would like to have more opportunities for my co-hosts to be injured, since I was the only one that crashed my [redacted] this time around. And while BBC America is going to call this show a “special,” I don’t think it’s a big secret that it’s going to function as a pilot: if enough of you actually watch the show on the 18th, we’ll get a chance to make more of them. (And if that is a big secret, BBC America, you know where I live, so you can come yell at me if you like! Especially if you then tell me we can make a television series about testing gadgets.)
Working on a Gizmodo TV show has gone from strange to surreal to back to just another gig to (now) kind of surreal again. I certainly wouldn’t have thought we’d get this chance when I was a fat, smart-ass little blogger sitting in my apartment a decade ago stuffing my face with cheap Chinese food and trying to figure out how to explain to readers what an MP3 was without making a dick joke. (Still trying.) And if this is as far as we get, so be it. I’ve had a hell of a good time in my many tours with Gizmodo, and I’ve been honored to work alongside so many great talents, many of whom are among the leading lights in technology writing today. We haven’t nailed it every time. (I still owe Gray Powell a personal apology for the way things went down during the iPhone 4 scoop.) But we’ve tried to keep Gizmodo from becoming the type of publication we were rallying against ten years ago—the kind of publication that said there wasn’t something strange about being passionate about technology—and I think that for all our flaws, there’s still no tech site out there quite like Gizmodo.
And I know there’s no television show out there like Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers. So if you want to help us get a chance at making the television show about gadgets that I think we’re all ready for—the best one…in the world—tune in Monday, March 18th at 10:20PM ET and cheer us on.