The Mirror, one of London's more reliable tabloids, is reporting rumors from inside the Jeremy Clarkson camp that "Top Gear" may be headed to Netflix. The BBC, which fired Clarkson for physically assaulting a producer in a steak-related incident, controls the brand but not the talent, which is why Richard Hammond and James May and The Stig could decide to keep the band together and jumpstart a new franchise. The rumor that said the franchise could be called "House of Cars" is too great to dismiss — even if it's coming from unnamed sources.
The reason a Netflix tune up makes so much sense isn't just that the streaming site has a notoriously hands-off approach to talent or that it likes to throw money around. The reason is structural. Top Gear is a show that can be watched and re-watched out of order. Richard Hammond and Clarkson's bonhomie is best savored in a horizontal position. And — as many of the show's loyalists will tell you — marijuana helps. It is, in essence, a car show about three men who love each other, a version of the office with more horsepower and a heterosocial Jim-Pam relationship. (This should go without saying, but Hammond is Pam. May has Ellie Kemper's haircut.)
Netflix has gotten a lot of good press for it's bingiest shows: "House of Cards," "Orange Is the New Black," "Marco Polo" (not really), and "Bloodline" (time will tell). But the site has long favored BBC-style content. "Planet Earth" is a staple. Really, anything narrated by David Attenborough plays. This is both why Netflix might want to be in the "Top Gear" business and why the company's brass might hesitate to piss off the boys across the pond. It's a special relationship, and they don't want to end it.
Still, “House of Cars” might be worth the risk.