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Magazine / Motor Week

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"Hello, and welcome to MotorWeek! We're glad to have you with us."

Motor Week (stylized as a single word: MotorWeek) is a long-lived American TV automotive magazine series produced by Maryland Public Television and featured on various PBS affiliates nationally since 1981. Billing itself as "Television's Original Automotive Magazine", it is basically formatted as a car magazine for television. Accordingly, the show features automotive news segments, mini-reviews (the "Car Keys" segments are a brief introduction to the features of a recently introduced model that might receive a more in-depth review in the future; the "Long-Term Updates" are updates on how well a car has held up after the review and many miles of use), a DIY repair segment called "Goss' Garage" (hosted by Pat Goss) and most recently a news segment on how automotive technology is catching up with municipal and federal "green" initiatives. It can be considered a Transatlantic Equivalent to Top Gear (UK), at least in its original pre-reboot form when it had a more serious and educational tone. Recently, their reviews and conclusions have been criticized for being "soft" and non-objective in their criticism.


Jalopnik holds a regular introspective feature on the magazine, mostly focusing on the earlier years but looking back at recent episodes as well.

MW has an official YouTube channel here. It's not a complete archive - they add new "old" features one roadtest at a time several times a week.

Compare to Top Gear (UK), Car And Driver and Motor Trend (the latter two now mostly known for its Dead Tree-print products but also having both short-lived television series on TNN/Spike TV and now on YouTube).


Come Trope With Us:

  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: MotorWeek bills itself as "Television's (Original) Automotive Magazine", though this isn't exactly accurate since it is pretty much an Americanized version of Top Gear (UK), which started airing four years prior. In fairness, MotorWeek added the word "original" to the slogan in response to Motor Trend and Car And Driver launching short-lived copycat programs in the late 1990s; but, from a purely American perspective, the slogan does make sense.
  • Annual Title: From season 7 (1987-88) to season 12 (1992-93). Since the new fall TV season coincided with the North American car industry's new model year, MotorWeek '89 first aired in 1988 and covered 1989-model cars (for example).
  • Boring, but Practical: The whole reason why they eventually ditched the indoor studio filming was because they outgrew it, and thus it was much easier to simply film outside where they had all the space they'd ever need. Similarly, Pat Goss' Garage outgrew several custom-built sets, all of which were fully-functional garages (save for the one used in the pilot, which was just the borrowed backlot of a local gas station).
    • Many, *many* of the cars themselves. Particularly in the early years which coincided with the pit of the Malaise Era of cars.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Hello, and welcome to MotorWeek! We're glad to have you with us!" (Recent shows, however, have John Davis introducing it with "Hi, I'm John Davis, and this is MotorWeek!")
    • "(So) Come drive with us! Next!"
  • Cool Car: There are many cool sports cars throughout the show, like the Dodge Viper RT/10, the Lamborghini Diablo VT, the Lotus Esprit and the Acura NSX.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: During the show's first six seasons in the 1980s, the show had more of a typical "newscast" look with an indoor studio and newsdesk-style presenting. By the start of season 7 in 1987, the show is now presented outdoors with John Davis walking among various cars (used to be the ones actually reviewed in the show, now seemingly random leaning towards high-end, high-performance luxury models).
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The show is a weekly review of motor vehicles.
  • Flanderization:
    • The car reviews were more thorough in earlier episodes, with even a specific list of "hits" and "misses". In recent years, MotorWeek has been criticized for being too non-objective in their car reviews.
    • Similarly, the Goss' Garage segments used to be more in-depth and for a while revolved around Goss giving advice to viewers who would write in with their car problems in a manner similar to Car Talk, while today they revolve around general car care advice and how not to get scammed by a shop. In fairness, when Goss' Garage premiered it was common for laymen to work on their own cars, a practice that has faded over time as cars came to require less maintenance and have generally become too advanced for most people to service themselves. Now that a scan tool is required to diagnose most problems, Goss would wind up answering most letters with "Take it to a professional."
  • Follow the Leader: In the late 1990s Car and Driver and Motor Trend magazines launched short-lived TV shows that were copies of MotorWeek; hence the addition of the word "Original" in their slogan "Television's Automotive Magazine" as aformentioned in the Aluminum Christmas Trees entry above.
  • Logo Joke: For a time in the late '80s/early '90s, the fully-formed "Viewers Like You" logo of the time appeared on the license plate of an actual car that the camera zoomed in on as the announcer recited the obligatory credit.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: To Top Gear (UK). MotorWeek is arguably an American copy of the original TopGear. In recent years enthusiasts tended to compare MotorWeek unfavorably to TopGear, though this is less than fair given that TopGear was rebooted in 2002 as a personality-driven edutainment program while MotorWeek has been continuously in production with the same staff and presenters and both programs generally have different objectives.


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