The Great Escapists is a documentary style TV series starring Richard Hammond and Tory Belleci. The series follows Hammond and Belleci whom are ‘shipwrecked’ on a remote island and must put their engineering and scientific heads together in attempt to survive and escape. The series is an Amazon original, exclusive to Prime Video.
The premise of The Great Escapists is brilliant; two well-known science loving TV presenters, renowned for their engineering know how, stranded on a remote island attempting to survive and escape – sounds great doesn’t it? Sadly The Great Escapists fails to deliver and whilst there are some great moments, it’s a disappointing show.
The Great Escapists’ biggest issue is its style. Both of these presenters are best when they are just themselves, take Richard Hammond in Top Gear/The Grand Tour for example, but for some strange reason, both Hammond and Belleci play characters of themselves. This results in awkward dialogue and at times felt as though neither character had any freedom within the role. For a show which was supposed to be focused on the difficulties and surprises of being on a remote island, it instead becomes a scripted mess.
Hammond plays a character who is quite enjoying island life and embracing the challenges, whereas Belleci plays a character determined to escape. At times the relationship works well and there is a good dose of British vs American banter between the two, which is when the show feels at its most genuine. For the majority though, the forced scripting overshadows their relationship with the audience getting an all too familiar tennis match of Tory constructing a plan to get off the island, before Richard coming along and quashing it.
In addition to the forced feel to the show, it also suffers with pacing issues at times. The first episode is a good introduction the series, but the following episodes are painfully slow at times. The entertainment does pick up again further on in the series in the later episodes, albeit with a few tedious scenes.
Despite the shows flaws, some of the inventions they construct truly are magnificent. From the bamboo treehouse (which would give Swiss Family Robinson a run for their money) to the fireworks made from urine, hay and chicken faeces, this inventions were truly impressive and I really wanted to see more of this! At times it was hard to tell whether their crazy inventions were made just using the resources available on the island or whether there had been some ‘off camera help’. As the show progressed this questioned was posed more and more which was disappointing as you wanted to believe they were just working with the resources they had.
The idea of the show is great and you can see where they were trying to take it with some of the brilliant inventions applying science and engineering, it’s just a shame it feels so flat. I really wish the show was more challenge based, in the sense of Richard and Tory being set specific tasks and creating inventions to complete said tasks. We do get this to some degree but the weird acting and ‘story’ leaves this promising show a little stale.
The Great Escapists is a great concept, it’s just let down by its execution. Whilst there are a few good moments, the style and nature of the series end up leaving it a little tired.