Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Who Won The Amazing Race Season 15, and Did They Deserve It?

“Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound!”

December 6th, 2009

For three seasons, I have asked this question, and for three seasons I always wonder why I asked it in the first place.

You see, I like to think myself objective about The Amazing Race, more capable than most of separating my personal feelings for each individual team from my analysis of each individual leg. This isn’t to suggest that I don’t have teams I like more than others, but ever since I started writing television criticism I like to keep my distance to manage disappointment (like last year’s early exit from Mike and Mel and this year’s tragic end for Justin and Zev) and be able to avoid sounding too bitter if something goes wrong.

However, the reason I asked this question in the first place (and why I continue to ask it despite my supposed objectivity) is that the final leg of The Amazing Race always raises this question whether we’re trying to detach ourselves or not. The very nature of the race is that we’ve seen these teams at their highest and lowest, and the editors have done everything in their power to make their inevitable finish in this race as meaningful as possible.

For Meghan and Cheyne, that finish would symbolize the strength of their relationship as evidenced by their teamwork throughout the race (the frontrunners). For Brian and Ericka, the win would symbolize the strength of their relationship and more importantly their ability to bounce back from near defeat (the underdogs). And for Sam and Dan, after intense focus on “dishonest acts” in recent weeks, the win would demonstrate that doing everything it takes to win the Race is both opportunistic and highly effective (the villains).

And for at least some viewers, each of these teams would represent a “deserving” victory of The Amazing Race’s 15th journey around the globe – for me, I’d say that any one of them would have deserved it, but I think it’s tough to argue that the “right” team didn’t win.

So, time to found out: who won The Amazing Race?

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Season 6 Premiere: Top Chef Las Vegas – “Sin City Vice”


“Sin City Vice”

Season 6, Episode 1

You might remember earlier this summer when I suggested that I would be spending my free time this summer writing about my first run-through of HBO’s super-serious Western Deadwood, but the lack of posts on the subject would indicate that this plan changed. You see, things got busy at various points in the summer, and during those moments I struggled to find time to sit down and deconstruct/unpack incredibly subtle and evocative hours of television in a style that David Milch truly owns. It was just too much for me to handle, and while I do intend on getting back to the project once my academic projects are finished it just wasn’t the right recipe for when I needed to take a breather from the drudgery of completing a major research thesis.

However, speaking of recipes (oh aren’t I clever), the show that ended up filling that gap (along with some catchup with The Big Bang Theory as well as indulging in the down under stylings of Project Runway Australia more recently) was Top Chef, Bravo’s cooking competition series. Considering my position as a critic, this makes a lot of sense: the show has been quite well-regarded by critics, recently garnered its second straight Emmy nomination, and even got a name-drop on 30 Rock at some point in the last couple of seasons. That’s a solid combination of factors to convince me to track down the first five seasons of the show in preparation for this week’s sixth season premiere.

Of course, there’s one problem…I don’t actually, you know, like food.

I’m aware of how crazy that sounds, but it’s true: I’m an enormously picky eater, my diet consisting of perhaps three entrees and a handful of snack/breakfast/dessert/pastry options, so this show doesn’t appeal to the Foodie or, well, any part of me on that level. While I also lack fashion knowledge, there is a visual element to Project Runway that creates a pretty objective perspective on which to judge the competitors. However, on Top Chef it’s about flavour and about subtle decisions that I really have no context for. I’m (not seriously) considering putting myself out there to the show as a judge under the moniker of the “Paletteless Wonder,” as I really have no context for whether these dishes sound good or terrible until the judges provide their opinions.

But the fact that I not only stuck through five seasons, but also was left frustrated that I couldn’t immediately move onto the sixth which premiered on Wednesday, is a testament to the show’s ability to convey the love of food in conjunction with the personalities of the chefs in order to pull people like me into these competitions. I don’t know if I would have enjoyed Top Chef Masters, where established chefs like Hubert Keller and Rick Bayless competed in the various competitions, as much if I hadn’t already seen other contestants go through it: I may not love food, but there’s something about seeing people achieve greatness in their chosen field that is truly spectacular, especially in the somewhat “out there” nature of Top Chef challenges. Seeing them go where I had seen all of the other chefs go before was a real touchstone for how much I’ve become attached to the show, and how happy I’d be to see it come back for a sixth season.

And as the show takes to Las Vegas, it becomes very clear that this is the same show it was before: sure, there’s plenty of Las Vegas puns (did you hear that the stakes are high?), but at the end of the day this seems like an enormously talented collection of chefs with perhaps the most “notably” established individuals we’ve seen yet. And while I liked the way Top Chef Masters stripped out the tension in order to focus on the cooking, some part of me is glad to see a new collection of oddballs prepared to do whatever it takes to win the title of Top Chef in a very strong premiere.

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Deeply Superficial: Why NBC is the Prettiest Network on Television

[Due to a lot of commitments I’m a little late getting involved, but there’s still time for everyone to go back and enjoy South Dakota Dark’s Deeply Superficial Blog-a-Thon. I might be jumping in at the end, here, but many others have been busy throughout the week, so check out Todd’s index posts for all the details. In the meantime, here is my own contribution.]

NBC: Television’s Prettiest Network

If there is something to be said about Peacocks, it’s that their beauty is pretty much their only defining quality. It’s not as if a peacock does anything interesting outside of being attractive to look at – they don’t seem to have a personality or a story, but rather a lot of pretty feathers.

Now, I won’t say that this is true of the entirety of NBC’s television lineup, of which there are some shows I greatly enjoy (See: The Office, 30 Rock). However, they also have a bunch of shows where people are ridiculously attractive, beyond any sense of reason even. It makes NBC’s series flashy in a way that is honestly disarming – if people were this attractive in my life, I’d probably want people filming it at all times…although I’d probably detract from the process.

[Note: The following are the Top Five Prettiest Shows on NBC, ranked by a combination of level of superficial attractiveness and the level of guilt I would have if they ranked above #3 on any list I ever create. As a result, the most superficially pretty series might not be #1, because it would destroy my soul.]

5. ER

It is no coincidence that George Clooney emerged from within the world of NBC’s central medical drama, a rife location where enormously pretty doctors work in order to save the lives of famous guest stars. What I always enjoy in my brief forays into the world of ER is when they try to depict one of their characters in a gritty scenario, hiding their beauty in order to emphasize the dire situation at hand. However, let’s give credit where credit is due: the people on ER look closer to real-life doctors than say the enormously pretty Grey’s Anatomy cast.

Sidenote: STAMOS!!!

4. Heroes

When Heroes began, its two biggest heartthrobs were Ali Larter, the duplicitous Niki/Jessica, and Milo Ventimiglia, who portrayed the all-powerful Peter Petrelli. And, while I think that Peter has certainly had his moments, it is no coincidence that the series’ two prettiest individuals have become some of its most redundant and frustrating from a storyline perspective. Mainly Niki. Ugh.

Hayden Panettiere, who portrays the young cheerleader Claire, is perhaps the next down the line, and her storyline has been a frustrating fluctuation between great (See: Company Man) and awful (See: Most of the 2nd Season). I don’t really know how her prettiness relates, exactly, but I’m sure there’d be an equation if I had time to really delve into it. On the whole, Heroes is an attractive series, but attractiveness isn’t exactly a sign of an enjoyable character.

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