“Who Won The Amazing Race Season 16?”
May 9th, 2010
I don’t know if it’s because this season of Survivor has been so full of twists and turns, or whether it’s just the format showing its age, but I really can’t say I was invested in the conclusion to The Amazing Race’s sixteenth season (or in the episodes leading up to it, as I’ve fallen away from reviewing the show). The show has remained engaging this year – I haven’t stopped watching, after all – but it just hasn’t felt like “must-see” TV. The people running the race didn’t seem to have a lot of energy, and there wasn’t the sort of tension that we’re used to seeing on the race.
If I were to look at just the teams themselves, this finale seems pretty exciting: you have Jet and Cord as the fan favourites who have remained endearing and positive throughout the race, you have Dan and Jordan as a scrappy team who have a good story (Dan participating so that Jordan can achieve his dream of running the race), and you have Brent and Caite as the young and attractive team that we tend to root against. However, the show never quite figured out how to tap into these various roles, and spent so much time on Caite’s self-centered attempts to prove herself to the world that they missed creating any other narratives. I understand that Carol and Brandy were bitchy enough that they needed to be featured, but I don’t feel like the series’ narratives have been well drawn in the editing room this year (which isn’t something I’d normally say about the show).
However, tonight’s finale still managed to bring enough tension to keep me on the edge of my seat, as there were enough strategic moves and enough clever bits of race logic to keep things interesting as the race gets its sixteenth winners – unfortunately, the episode stumbles at the finish line, stumbling with late clues and allowing the drama of the race to spoil the ending.
March 28th, 2010
Most weeks, The Amazing Race is a show which tends to expand rather than create our knowledge of the various locations it visits. The value of the show as a representation f different cultures is always a little bit limited, translated as it is into gimmicky challenges and pit stop stereotypes, but it’s usually just an expansion – rather than the a creation – of knowledge. And so the show is rarely expected to be providing any substantial cultural education, and while I think that we might visit countries vicariously through the race, we don’t necessarily except to learn about them.
However, this week The Amazing Race went to a place that most of the contestants, and many viewers, may have never heard of: the Seychelles, a series of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, was a place that I had no previous knowledge of, and if I were to take the Race’s word for it the islands are defined by a sedentary lifestyle represented by tortoises and stubborn oxen. While the Race richly captures – sadly in standard definition – the beauty of the islands, and drops a mention of a large number of shipwrecks, the hectic nature of the race means that you spend more time with the people who are struggling with their new surroundings than you are with the surroundings themselves.
And while it is possible for this to make some sort of statement, for the players’ struggles to adapt to local customs to tell us something about the challenges facing their populations, this week’s episode was so filled with bone-headed mistakes that I wouldn’t be surprised if the people of La Digue island weren’t considered coconut Nazis by the time the hour is over. Finally living up to the potential indicated in the first episode of the season, this season’s group of racers has officially won the title of “Dumbest Season Ever,” and the poor Seychelles were just the setting for their clown-like farce.
“Nanna is Kickin’ Your Butt”
Februrary 14th, 2010
When CBS sends out the season premiere of The Amazing Race to critics, it kind of ruins it.
Not only will this review be infinitely later than Fienberg’s, thus making it at least a tiny bit irrelevant, but their previews of the season (and even the press that Phil Keoghan did ahead of time) also ruined the two surprises that were in store for us. Sure, it’s not a big deal that we knew in advance that the teams would be forced to take public transportation in order to get to LAX from Downtown LA, or that a number of teams would make stupid decisions, but it meant that we knew exactly what we were getting, and thus it feels less “noteworthy.” I doubt it affected my enjoyment of the episode, but it makes writing about it kind of uneventful.
However, I want to highlight a few things about the leg, including both the public transportation and the stupidity, and at least give some sense of what appears to be going down at this early stage in the season.
“It Starts with an ‘F,” That’s All I’m Saying!”
November 29th, 2009
Do you know what word starts with F? Fail.
Before tonight’s episode of “The Amazing Race,” where a team had a Speed Bump that I thought would be erased by bunching within the first ten minutes, I expected to be writing thoughts on how annoying I found the manipulation of the race in terms of controlling competition.
However, through a strange and unthinkable series of circumstances, I am instead writing about how one of the racers was so convinced of this sort of producer intervention that they risked the entire race on being able to predict their next move.
They bet zig, the race zagged, and the final three was set in stone after only thirty five minutes of a frustrating, if fascinating, hour of television.
It’s an hour of television, though, that you won’t be able to find a review of here: I’m filling in for Dan Fienberg over at HitFix tonight, which means that my review can be found over at their fine establishment:
Recap: The Amazing Race — “It Starts with an ‘F,’ That’s All I’m Saying!” @ HitFix.com
[Looking for details on The Amazing Race Season 15 finale with Meghan and Cheyne, Sam and Dan and Brian and Ericka? Find out who won, and whether they deserved it, here!]
Who Won The Amazing Race Season 14?
May 10th, 2009
In what began as one of the most promising seasons of The Amazing Race in recent memory, with some slick new editing and the much-loved pairing of Mike and Mel White, tonight’s season finale was in some ways a let down before it even began: while there are reasons to appreciate or even admire the three teams who have made it this far, they have all done things that have kept me from actually liking them. This isn’t to say that any of the three teams are objectionable, or that they don’t truly deserve to win, but rather that all of them feel at least a little bit problematic from an analytical perspective.
However, there needed to be one winning team, and after traveling tens of thousands of miles and visiting what seemed like even more individual countries than ever before (until the end, anyways), the winner of The Amazing Race Season 14 is…
“He Made Me Look Like Alice Cooper”
May 3rd, 2009
At the beginning of tonight’s penultimate episode of The Amazing Race’s 14th season, Kisha and Jen are elated to find out that they’re still racing, that last week’s cliffhanger meant the leg wasn’t over yet. Jen, in particular, is pleased: she had let the team fall behind with her fear of water creating a gap between them and the other teams, and she didn’t want that fact on her conscience should the team be eliminated.
The story that unfolds after the fact is an epic tale of Amazing Race karma, and results in an ending that needs to be seen to be believed. The rest of the episode, meanwhile, is more fuel on the fire for those who feel the race is unfair based on its current location and the language skills of one of its teams. And while I don’t necessarily agree with this assessment, I do think that some things need to be discussed in further detail…as soon as I run to the bathroom. I’ll be back after the jump, promise.
“I’m Not Wearing That Girls Leotard!”
March 1st, 2009
The major change that we’re getting during this season of The Amazing Race is that there is no rest for the wicked – while before there were often legs which were constructed so as to require no planes at all, staying within one city or one country for a second leg, this year they’re mixing things up. Just as quickly as the racers had flown into and raced around Germany and Austria, the teams were back on a plane to Bucharest, Romania, and off for another leg of their adventure. It’s something that is going to catch up with teams very quickly, the spectre of killer fatigue preparing to play an even more substantial part in this race than in years past.
Unfortunately for one team this week, though, it’s not early enough yet for this to start to happen. And when it comes down to flying at the start of the leg, there are various problems that can crop up, and when things add up just wrong for you the leg isn’t going to give you a chance to catch up – there’s no suspense in this one, and it’s a sad story for a team that really didn’t deserve to go home at this stage.
But this isn’t to say that this is a momentum killer for the season, in fact quite the opposite: there is still plenty of heartwarming moments from Mel and Mike, finally a chink in the armour of too perfect Kris and Amanda, some redemption of sorts for two all-female teams who proved they’re not quite as incompetent as we first thought, and one team even gives the editors a freebie to be able to make it seem at least theoretically competitive. It’s a very even field right now, and despite the unfortunate loss there’s a lot to look forward to.
“You Look Like Peter Pan”
December 7th, 2008
After last week’s heartbreaking exit of Toni and Dallas, this finale is bittersweet. You have one team that’s been dominant, one team that’s been a bit tough to watch, and one team that for all rights shouldn’t even still be there. The season never really picked up much steam after a certain point, the explosive rivalries ending up being both early and driven by stupidity more than emotions (no offense, Kelly and Christy, but REALLY.)
Going into this leg, I believe that this can only be satisfyingly be won by Nick and Starr – yes, I think there is some type of story to be found in Dan & Andrew’s potential triumph, and Ken & Tina’s marital position would make for (at least) not an entirely boring victory, but I want to see good racers win for running a good race.
Or, perhaps to satisfy my demands, Nick and Starr can get the race-equivalent of pixie dust and fly to the finish line.
Season Finale Preview
[The race is over? Check out Cultural Learnings' cover to find out who won and how they did it!]
It has been a few weeks since I last reviewed an episode of The Amazing Race, but you’ll have to forgive me. After this past week’s tragic events, and the previous week’s predictable non-elimination episode, the end of this season has been without anything even close to suspense. This isn’t to say that it has been bad television, or that the show has been off its game, but a series of circumstances outside of its control have led to a final three without anything approaching intrigue.
It’s also a final three, unfortunately, where I will only really be happy with one team’s victory. While Ken and Tina’s story of a marriage on the rocks would certainly make for a potentially emotional victory, her shrill attitude has been frustrating throughout the race and I don’t know if I necessarily want that to be their happy ending. Although Dan and Andrew want to make themselves out to be the underdogs, they really are the “Only left in the race because of sheer luck” dogs and don’t deserve to win a million dollars because of it.
No, Nick and Starr are the team that deserve this. And while some might feel that their prior dominance sucks all the fun out of their victory, I’d like to see a team with The Amazing Race that, well, actually ran a good race.