“Sean Penn, Cambodia, Here We Come!”
October 11th, 2009
The job of being an editor on The Amazing Race is really a tough one. In each episode, you need to turn the unsuspenseful into the suspenseful, and emphasize the zany in the mundane. Of course, it helps that often The Amazing Race is suspenseful, and that it is often extremely zany, and that the cast of characters involved can often enhance both of these elements. As such, it is likely every editor’s dream to receive a team like Zev and Justin, who deciding that Phnom Penh is actually Sean Penn, and who strike up a hilarious and fantastic relationship with their cab driver Thierry.
However, the editors also have to come to terms with how, precisely, they’re going to send someone home. Last week, Marcy and Ron got sent home after struggling with a Detour (they were just too slow, plain and simple), so Marcy got a lot of talking heads about her father’s time in Vietnam. The episode was a sendoff, albeit it a slight one, a last hurrah. In other instances, the editors love playing up irony or the impact of a single mistake, and sometimes they even play a game of Schadenfreude.
But as the teams race through Cambodia, the editors have the toughest job of all: turning triumph into adversity in a split second. It’s a chance of pace the episode handles with the grace of a newborn giraffe, heightening my sympathy for the difficulty of the editors’ job while also lowering my interest in this season, all in one fell swoop.
“Please Hold While I Singe My Skull”
November 2nd, 2008
Returning from the grave we hoped he had stayed in, tonight’s sixth leg of The Amazing Race saw the return of obnoxious, demanding, and in many ways downright unreasonable Terence. In a season where villains are luckily in short supply, it is very clear that he is the one exception, his bullying of Sarah reaching some new lows tonight.
And I don’t think he’s an awful human being by any stretch of the imagination: I just think that these two are in a new relationship, have very different personalities, and are discovering that this race is not meant for his demeanor in particular. As he fights to get Sarah to do exactly what he wants at a well-planned roadblock, at no point do we get the desired moment of self-realization: instead, he only shuts up when Sarah asks him to, and only for a few moments.
It’s a relationship that is being tested to the limits by this race, and even if it makes me cross my fingers for them to be absent from the finale it does demonstrate that the human qualities of this race are still in full effect.
“Do it Like a Madman”
October 26th, 2008
As a race, the thirteenth season of The Amazing Race isn’t all that compelling. The show made very little effort to make the conclusion suspenseful, as they knew as well as we did that there was no other option.
What the episode did demonstrate, though, is that this season’s group of racers is trying their darndest to make a compelling episode of television at every turn. Whether it’s broken down boats, paranoid directions asking, extremely poor hand cranking or an editor’s wet dream of an ironic talking head to start the leg, this group is quite poor at actually running the Race in a way that’s less annoying than it is charming. When even those teams who looked like they could grate, just a little, have managed thus far to prove largely inoffensive, you’ve got the recipe for an edition of the Race that, if not reaching the heights of the show’s best, could prove fun to watch without having to hate someone.