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Season Premiere: The Amazing Race Season 14 – “Episode One: Switzerland”

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“Don’t Let a Cheese Hit Me”

February 15th, 2009

While we just ended the last season of The Amazing Race a few months ago, a lot has changed over the short break between seasons. The editing has changed, the maps have become Google sponsored, the font is different, and they even went and remixed the show’s classic theme song to give it a driving rhythm for some reason. Combine with a shinier opening title, and some shinier graphics, and you have a very different kind of Amazing Race.

Okay, that’s a lie: the game is actually pretty much the same, here in an actually even more frantic and challenging version that tests people’s abilities to travel via three modes of transportation plus complete two tasks that test both psychological and physical strength. There’s just a lot of room for people to make mistakes here, and while the episode actually felt oddly impersonal and detached for a few reasons that I’ll get into, the transfer of the drama from the airport decisions to the actual completion of the tasks gives us a better sense of what kind of racers, as opposed to just people, the teams will become.

And I like the group of people: there is some humour, there are some people who clearly are on an adrenaline rush the second they start the race, and there’s enough differences in strategy and personality that one can see themselves watching these people race around the world without wanting to throw things at their television. So for all of the changes (both cosmetic and, in one case, actually kind of offputting), this is really the same race in the end: a frantic, often heartwarming, always exciting, trip around the world.

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The Amazing Race Season 13 Finale – “Episode Eleven”

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“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.

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Season Finale Preview: Who Will Win The Amazing Race Season 13?

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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.

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The Amazing Race Season 13 – “Episode Eight”

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“I’m Like An Angry Cow”

November 16th, 2008

As far as basic human capacities go, thinking logically and reading comprehension appear to be the first to disappear when people go on The Amazing Race. Last week, Kelly and Christy finally saw their inability to read clues (or even think that what they were doing made absolutely no sense) prove their undoing, getting sent home to leave five teams standing. And while Nick and Starr and Toni and Dallas seem to be mostly capable of avoiding these particular concerns, and Ken and Tina’s few reading mistakes can be explained (but not excused) by the tense nature of their relationship, the two teams that find themselves at odds with these basic human capacities are the ones caught in a battle of who’s headed home.

The result of that battle, ultimately, is the one that feels right. At this stage, so close to the end of the race, I’m concerned with one thing: having teams in the final three that, if they win, I will not want to throw things at the television. And, if that’s our barometer, then this week’s episode has us on the right path (even if there’s one more team to go).

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The Amazing Race Season 13: “Episode Two”

“Do You Like American Candy?”

October 5th, 2008

The second episode of The Amazing Race is always one of the most awkward: there isn’t yet any really compelling stories yet between teams, within teams, or within the race itself. And yet, unlike the first episode, there isn’t the need for a lot of exposition, so the producers have to hope that in the distance between one spot and another in close proximity the racers fall into every possible cliche.

Well, the producers lucked out: while some of it disheartened me to see, as personal favourites took a turn for the race, everything from airline drama to clue misreading turned up for a leg that, even without anything close to a suspenseful ending, told us a lot of things about these teams, defined some new relationships between them, and even gave us a couple of lessons about Karma. In the end, it’s an entertaining second leg that bodes well for the season ahead, if not quite blowing us away with anything particularly mindblowing.

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