I think I have watched every episode of Top Gear since it was relaunched in 2002 - even the ones that features reviews of second hand cars, or the ineffectual Top Gear Stuntman and the lesser seen Top Gear Dog. I have watched many episodes of Top Gear before the relaunch - during repeats of BBC World in the late 1990s. Needless to say, I am a Top Gear fan.
And yes, I did watch the most recent Top Gear series - and also agree with most reviews and other commentary on the general weakness of the series in comparison to the previous series. Series 23 retained the amazing production values in terms of cinematography and video production; but almost everything else was below par.
But to be fair, Season 23 was actually 2 parts - the hour long TV show that tried to be like the previous 22 seasons, and the online Extra Gear. Extra gear was the car nerd special - the one that features car guys talking about cars and motoring - something similar to what the previous 22 seasons of Clarkson, Hammond and May.
Top Gear's previous 21 seasons (leaving aside the first season of the reboot) was more than just a show about cars - it was really a show about 3 guys doing things with cars that other people may have considered; but didn't have the money, time or just creativity to pull off. Be it building hovercrafts, or racing across countries; or playing large scale games with caravans as pieces; it was entertainment that pushed boundaries of what cars could do.
Season 23 on the TV had plenty of car reviews - and on their own; they were quite good. But put them together as a show it seemed to fall flat. There was a race against a train - and the cars lost. There was a race with SUVs; but it wasn't that memorable. There was a race with reliable robins; that just didn't seem to have a point.
There was some madness (both featured Matt LeBlanc - the Ariel Nomad and the Tour of London) but it just wasn't the same. Maybe next season will be better; I will wait one more season out. But if it is the same as this season; there are other better things to watch.