“I Think We’re Fighting the Germans, Right?”
March 14th, 2010
It’s been three weeks since I’ve been able to review The Amazing Race, which is pretty unfortunate. It just so happened that one week was the Academy awards, and the week before was the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics. I enjoy this show enough to keep watching it when these sorts of conflicts arise, but blogging about it is another story. There just isn’t enough time in the day, especially when the last few weeks have ultimately been what one would call predictable: there was no doubt that Monique and Shawne were too far behind two weeks ago in Argentina, and last week’s episode smelled like a non-elimination even before the fairly predictable conclusion (even if the nice Beatles touches were pretty enjoyable, and even if I was glad that Jeff and Jordan were not done in by an errant taxi ride that wasn’t their fault).
So, I figure I owe it to the show to put some thoughts on the table in regards to this week’s episode. Thus far, the cast is more or less living up to our early expectations: there are no teams that I abhor (although there are times where Carol/Brandy cut it pretty close), there are no teams I really love, and there are no teams that are running a really intelligent race.
However, there is one team that I like much better than I expected to, and that is running a far better race than I expected them to, and those sorts of underdog stories (See: Hippies) are the sorts of thing which keep my engaged all season long.
“When the Cow Kicked Me in the Head”
February 21st, 2010
At this early stage of The Amazing Race, there are two primary ways for teams to be eliminated. The first is to make a critical mistake, like when Zev and Justin went out early last season over a missing passport, or when teams drive by the Roadblock convinced that it couldn’t possibly be the right location. The second, meanwhile, is not being willing to take some risks to rise to the front of the pack, choosing to remain complacent and basically non-competitive. There is something tragic about the first example, certainly, but at least it was a mistake that was born out of racing too quickly; the latter point, meanwhile, isn’t actually racing at all, and there’s something about that which I consider to be honourable but, well, crazy.
So it’s telling that, despite a fairly substantial bunching situation mid-leg, this week’s leg ended up coming down to what teams made the least critical mistakes, and more importantly which teams were hungry for victory. In the end, despite fairly big mistakes from a couple of teams, the elimination came down to who wanted to race, and who wanted to enjoy their experience.
And while I have a great deal of respect for those who enjoy their time on the race, and wish more people prescribed to that particular mantra, trying to race solely on that principle is maybe the worst Race strategy I’ve ever seen…and I think they’re probably okay with that.
“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.