When I started reading Puck Daddy, Yahoo Sports’ hockey-centric blog, I knew nothing about its founder Greg Wyshynski. As big of a hockey fan as I am, I admittedly turned to ESPN.com for most of my hockey news and analysis. I know, I know. ESPN really just does not care about hockey and it shows. That’s why I went out searching for a new hockey site to dive into, and Puck Daddy was what I found.
Not weeks later, Wyshynski announced the start of his brand new hockey podcast, Puck Soup, co-hosted by his buddy and avid Internet hockey presence Dave Lozo. Their immediate rapport and hilarious banter, their obsessive use of movie and pop culture reference, the fact that they often talk little-to-no serious hockey, all of this hooked me in right away.
NOTE: I’m mostly joking about the little-to-no hockey thing. They get to it eventually. Usually 40 minutes into the 90 minute episode.
What separates their podcast from most other hockey shows out there is Lozo and Wyshynski’s unabashed criticisms. They aren’t afraid to call out nonsensical rules and regulations, irrational hockey fans, players, and even the Commissioner. More members of the hockey media need to be calling out Commissioner Bettman on a regular basis like these two do.
They have no fear. Or if they do, they just ignore it for an hour and a half every week. It makes for an authentic, fun, and unpredictable show. But that’s only part of why I listen to every episode.
Most weeks, Puck Soup has a guest. It’s usually a celebrity, musician, or personality who is an avid hockey fan and it usually makes for some very interesting conversation. Lozo and Wysh joke that they’ve never had a major celebrity guest — you’ll get Margot Robbie one day, boys — but I think that’s part of what makes their guest segments work so well. You’re not going to hear your obvious celeb hockey fans like Vince Vaughn, but you’ll hear from much more interesting fans like John C. McGinley, complete with his stories about palling around with John Cusack and Chris Chelios in the 90s.
Or you’ll get Kelen Capener, the bassist from one of my favorite bands The Story So Far. An avid San Jose Sharks fan, Capener had a great segment talking about his hockey upbringing and fandom, even cracking jokes at Lozo and Wysh’s expense. Every guest just seems very relaxed when talking to two of the more influential hockey bloggers and podcasters out there. It all seems so natural and its a credit to the hosts being loose, funny, and engaging throughout it all.
I won’t name names but I’m used to hockey podcasts with the old guys, the same guys who have been doing hockey analysis for decades. And they’re great for analysis, for writing, but they’re just not that fun to listen to in a podcast format. Greg and Dave have taken the concept of a hockey podcast and flipped it upside down, focusing on the comedy in hockey and in life.
If you’re a hockey fan, do yourself a favor and check out Puck Soup. And also check out Greg’s other hockey podcast Marek vs. Wyshynski, which has a similarly loose style and an awesome cohost in Jeff Marek of Sportsnet.
First off, yes this isn’t typically what you’d see on my sports blog. It’s a review of a show about cars. But, hey, have you have heard the term “motorsport?” Also, you don’t run my life. This is my blog and I’ll write what I want to write. Don’t hold me down. Gattaca! Gattaca!
Um…where was I?
Oh right. So the first episode of The Grand Tour, the new car-adventure-nonsense-review show from former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, premiered on Amazon Prime this week. As a huge fan of these three middle-aged gear heads (petrol heads, if you’re from the other side of the pond), I couldn’t wait to dive right in and absorb every second that Grand Tour had to offer.
Right off the bat, the first sequence is actually pretty heartwarming, as it shows a lonely Jeremy Clarkson getting off a plane alone in the States and hopping in a Mustang. Eventually, while driving down a lonely road, Clarkson is met by two other Mustangs, one with May behind the wheel and the other featuring Hammond. It’s a feel good sequence that makes you understand that, through all Clarkson’s issues that led to the end of their Top Gear era, it was clear to the three of them that they would stick together and continue doing what they love to do.
From then on, the episode plays a lot like Top Gear, complete with some less-than-subtle jokes about how similar the formats are. As their new track is introduced midway through the episode, so is their new racing driver. No, it’s not the Stig. He’s called The American, and he’s not as anonymous as the Stig. Although, unless you’re a big NASCAR fan, you probably don’t know much about Mike Skinner. He provides some added humor, including a in-car review of the BMW M2. “This car wouldn’t pull a greasy string out of a dog’s ass,” he quips.
The back-and-forth banter that made Top Gear so popular is still in full force. A revelation that Captain Slow himself wound up getting a speeding ticket, followed by the punchline that he was clocked at 37 MPH, was a high point for that segment.
And of course, I can’t forget about the cars. The focus of this first episode was on a trio of stunning hybrid “hypercars.” The McClaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari, and Porsche 918 Spyder were put through multiple tests by the hosts, culminating in the ever-important timed lap test. After an ill-conceived bet by Clarkson and his McClaren P1, the P1 was revealed to be the slowest of the three hypercars, and now his house is going to be demolished by May and Hammond. Classic.
The only major difference with The Grand Tour’s format is the lack of a “celebrity in a reasonably priced car” segment, another staple of Top Gear. While it’s clear, and refreshing, that the trio didn’t want to copy every single thing from their old stomping grounds, it was great to see them poke fun at the situation. Without giving the entire joke away, Clarkson introduces a new celebrity-based segment and it results in three celebrity deaths.
As Clarkson, May, and Hammond fans, I think I speak for us all when I say that we were sad to see the end of their Top Gear Era. However, if episode 1 of Grand Tour is any indication, we’re going to get an even wackier, more over-the-top version of Top Gear, complete with larger budgets and better production values. Count me in.
The Grand Tour has a 36-episode order. Based on the premiere episode, you can bet I’ll be along for the entire ride.