This has been on for about two weeks, when I first heard about the idea I scoffed, it’s just Ninja Warrior for cars how original, it’ll have, like, the same obstacles over and over again like Ultimate Beastmaster. it’ll try and be achingly cool to the point of laughability.
Readers, I’m six episodes in and I do actually quite like it.
Hyperdrive sees sort-of professional custom car racers battle it out over a series of courses to become the Hyperdrive Champion. There is apparently no money involved and the contestants are using their own cars at their own risk.
It’s set in an industrial estate, at night, with lots of neon and chrome and lights and a futuristic-y font. It’s fronted by a sports broadcaster, a car nerd, a UK MMA champion (to provide colour commentary) and a woman (occasionally).
It has a slightly odd qualifying set-up, the first four episodes over the first four courses each have twelve drivers – in each round the top three automatically advance to the next stage of the competition, the bottom three are eliminated, the middle six take part in the next qualifier with six new drivers – so some people get four chances, some only one. Intrigued to find out what the criteria was for that.
Obstacles mainly involve hitting targets with the backside of the car (important: the sound effect for this is meaty and tremendous and you hear it a lot), pulling handbrake 180s in limited areas, driving through water, driving very fast through very thin places – it doesn’t sound like much but actually each one is pretty memorable, and each gets twisted as the rounds progress. The star of the show and where clearly all the budget has gone is The Leveler (one ‘l’), a giant see-saw drivers must a) get up and then in later rounds b) level out. It’s a good, visual, challenge!
What I would suggest is that the first six-seven minutes of episode one are quite slow, too much scene-setting, opening with an Inspirational Backstory (TM) yadda yadda, occasionally featuring exec producer Charlize Theron, and I’m not sure it pulls off the emotional failure parts too well, it lays it on a bit thick. And I’m not entirely sure what the point of ending episodes on a cliffhanger is, I’ll just watch the resolution and then stop to resume another time.
For a TV show that’s gone big on trying to tap into The Fast and The Furious style cool, incredibly it just about pulls it off. It looks great, it’s genuinely thrilling in places and the contest feels credible. Worth a watch.