You know it would be kinder to put the wretched beast out of its misery, but you hesitate, finger poised on the remote. For you have a soft spot for this animal. You want so badly to see it rise to its feet, become the majestic beast of yore. But in your heart you know all too well it's a forlorn hope.
Put bluntly, the format has run out of steam. Last night's show consisted of an amble - there is no better word to describe it - an amble through the Australian outback, where the trio were supposed to ultimately round up some cattle. So, they drove down some very long, dull roads in three sports cars. Sound familiar?
Put it this way: If TG was a football player, on last night's performance it would have found itself on the bench long before the half time whistle had blown.
It was all a little underwhelming. Even the addition of a crocodile, which duly arrived on cue as our trio fished a bilabong, failed to create much excitement. An attempt to create a bit of good old telly jeopardy when Clarkson created a campfire which broke every 'elf and safety rule in the book, also failed to catch fire. Yawn.
It looked and felt like one of their 'specials.' Studio time was minimal, barely enough time for Clarkson to suck up to Kiefer Sutherland - this week's Star in a Reasonably Car. Heck there wasn't even the ususal introduction to The Stig: "Some say...."
And so the trio drove on to a quarry where, surprise, surprise they had a little race. One of them won. The others argued the toss. Zzzzzzz. Then they had yet another race, this time of the straightline variety. Zzzzzzz.
Even the legendary set-ups felt as flat as the Aussie terrain. Apparently the English Stig had been smuggled into Oz unknown to Clarkson and Hammond. He then sneaked into James May's car - unbeknown to pinky and perky - and set the fastest time of the quarry challenge. Clarkson and Hammond were stunned in a sort of we are tryinng to pretend we don't know way. Zzzzzz.
Ultimately they found their cattle. And proceeded to sort of drive aimlessly around, unsure as to what exactly they were supposed to do. Then some helicopters appeared and...that was it. Mission accomplished, I think. Even stranger, none of the trio had tampered with one another's cars! The least we could have expected was a little bit of sabotage to the aircon. Nothing! Bizarre.
And that was about it. Nothing much to report. Even the irreverence isn't working. At one point they drew attention to the number plates of their Australian steeds in a not so subtle reference to the infamous Patagonia episode of a few months ago. "You can't have that!" exclaimed Clarkson pointing at Hammond's registration plate, "It's CC - a clear reference to Charles and Camilla. Not allowed. We might get stoned..."
Hammond and May gleefully joined in, stretching the 'joke' to breaking point; all rather unedifying. Clarkosn and co are still obviously irked by their Argentinian experience. Everybody else had forgotten all about it. Get with it boys.
And so it trundled on like an old banger on it's last legs. The blokey jokes are as worn as the faded wranglers so favoured by the trio. Clarkson too seemed as jaded as his denims, oppresed perhaps by the constant requirement to be irreverent.
"Why should Ford Anglia drivers stop me from speeding?" pleaded Clarkson following a tedious attempt to ascertain which car had the best breaks. But nobody knew nor cared for that matter. JC for his part, looked as haggard and as drained as the programme he fronts.
Every TV programme has a sell by date. That's a fact of life in telly land. Irreverent today, irrelevant tomorrow. They're the rules. So, where do you go when you've done all five continents, done every car, every stunt? Ford Fiesta road tests? Now that would be different...
"Do you want to see the lap?" asks Clarkson every week. Yawn. Just for once I'd like the studio stooges to say, "Nah, you're ok mate. Got anything else? Something interestng? Something that does not involve a pointless race, contest or competition of any description?"
If the BBC want to save this once majestic beast from the knacker's yard, then there's only one solution: a full MOT. And on last night's evidence, it can't come soon enough.