The Amazing Race 17 Season Wrap-up

Season 17 of The Amazing Race ended with history being made. Nat & Kat are officially the first all-female team to win the original, American Amazing Race. 17 seasons, almost 10 years and finally an all-female team crosses the Finish Line first.

This is definitely a big deal, after many less than stellar, maybe undeserving, or worse unlikeable winners, we get a team that fully deserves the win. A great ending to one of the better post-All-Stars seasons. Having Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire as Teams 1 and 2 couldn’t have been a better way to cap off the season. Two teams who have not only done well, but dominated the Race. Two teams who didn’t just fall onto the Mat at the Finish Line, but worked their butts off the entire Race to get there.

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The Amazing Race 17 Season Wrap-up

The Amazing Race 17 Wrap-Up

Season 17 of The Amazing Race ended with history being made.  Nat & Kat are officially the first all-female team to win the original, American Amazing Race.  17 seasons, almost 10 years and finally an all-female team crosses the Finish Line first.

This is definitely a big deal, after many less than stellar, maybe undeserving, or worse unlikeable winners, we get a team that fully deserves the win.  A great ending to one of the better post-All-Stars seasons.  Having Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire as Teams 1 and 2 couldn’t have been a better way to cap off the season.  Two teams who have not only done well, but dominated the Race.  Two teams who didn’t just fall onto the Mat at the Finish Line, but worked their butts off the entire Race to get there.

Actually, Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire finishing so strongly could be enough to push TAR17 over TAR12, arguably the best post-All-Star season that was ultimately marred by the eventual winners.

The season as a whole was enjoyable.  Despite others out there saying this was a lackluster season, on the contrary, I think TAR17 started off very strongly and was able to maintain a brisk pace through the entire Race.  A surprisingly good mix of teams with some new locations and even marginally inspired tasks helped make TAR17 feel a little fresher than the last couple of seasons.

The Twists
Two new twists to the Race were introduced this season.  The first was the Express Pass.  Phil hyped the Express Pass the entire Race as a huge, game-changing power.  But it really is just a Fast Forward only not.  I don’t see the drama they hoped the Express Pass would add, nor the game-changing… no, game-shattering consequences of it being used.  Jill & Thomas used the Express Pass and it didn’t really make a difference.  It saved them from Elimination, but so could a Yield or even more so a U-Turn, and both of those help contribute to the drama.

Since TAR has basically devalued the once powerful Fast Forward (I still resent them doing that), they needed another un-harmful jump to the front power?  I don’t know.  Does TAR really need an incentive to get first on the first leg?  I guess the Express Pass helps save money since it takes the place of a trip from Travelocity or the previous first leg prizes of $20,000 or cars.

So I could take or leave the Express Pass.  It did not add a single thing to the Race, enjoyment-wise.  Sure it was great for Jill & Thomas, but not all that great for entertainment purposes.

The second new twist was the Double U-Turn.  It has been very fascinating how they’ve been able to take a twist (the U-Turn) and twist it some more.  After the Blind U-Turn, this Double U-Turn is actually very interesting and I think a good twist.

While the full extent of the Double U-Turn has not been explained, it can be a great source of drama.  Brook & Claire became the first U-Turned team not to be eliminated that same leg, but only because another team was U-Turned after them.  That can certainly bring some good drama and tension.

My question is, can the first U-Turned team U-Turn another team to ultimately help save themselves?  That would be an interesting thing to find out by having the Double U-Turn show up earlier in the Race.  We’ll see if that happens next season.

Back to Basics
The season had some great and memorable tasks.

Of course, the season’s first Road Block was a literal smash.  One thing to fully commend TAR and the CBS promo department was releasing the video of Claire’s watermelon smash.  It was a certified viral hit.  People who didn’t watch The Amazing Race were spreading the video and linking to it, tweeting it and posting it on Facebook.  I was surprised to see several of my Facebook friends, whom I know could care less about TAR, actually post the video and enjoy it.

Creating that eventual viral video was a genius move and it definitely brought some new eyeballs to the show.

One complaint I’ve had the last few seasons has been the lack of cultural and location-specific Detours and Road Blocks.  Increasingly in the last few seasons, we’ve gotten uninspired, generic tasks that could be done in California or the French countryside, New York or the streets of Vietnam.  Doing that totally defeats the purpose of traveling around the world.  Even TAR’s Family Edition had better cultural and location-specific tasks than we’ve had in recent seasons.

Having cultural and location-specific tasks also allow for teams to interact directly with the locals.  Again, one of the selling points for the show, having Americans interacting with a variety of cultures around the world.

So it was good to see that change in TAR17.  From selling in the streets of Ghana and  sitting with Ghanaian school children to mushing sled dogs and setting up traditional dwellings for the Sami in Sweden.  Playing a traditional Russian game to experiencing daily life in Oman.  There were plenty of great tasks that opened our eyes but were also fun to watch.

The route was good as well.  Having teams go from the heat of Ghana to the cold of Europe and Russia and back to the oven in Oman.

The episodes were also a step up, with some better editing and mostly exciting and enjoyable weeks.  The best episode of the season I think has to be Episode 11 in Korea that had drama, thrills, comedy, and competition as well as interesting locations.  The premiere was one of the best in recent memory while the only lackluster episodes were Episodes 8 and maybe 9 for having legs that were too linear that didn’t provide much excitement by way of competition.

Need for Inspiration
The finale, meanwhile, was saved by the ultimate winners.  It was sad finding out the Finish Line would be in Los Angeles.  TAR needs to ban Los Angeles from being a Starting Line or a Finish Line for at least four seasons.  There are so many other cities in the United States… MANY other cities that going back to LA is just boring and contributes to the feeling of being uninspired.

That might be the biggest reason the Emmys decided to go with Top Chef this year instead of keeping TAR’s Emmy streak alive.  Maybe the Emmy voters are sensing the Race becoming too complacent and bland.  Nothing fresh or new to offer, adhering to an almost paint by numbers format.

TAR17 was filmed before the Emmy ceremony, so TAR and Bert & Co.’s response to the Emmy loss should (hopefully!) be seen next season on TAR18.  But TAR17, even without the knowledge of the impending Emmy loss, was a step up for TAR and a good sign that maybe even Bert & Co. know they  need to spice things up.

A good start is finally transitioning the show to High Definition.  It has been a long time coming and hopefully the HD era of TAR also brings a rejuvenated attitude to the show.  A new era that revitalizes TAR, even though it has held up incredibly well going into its 10th year on the air.

So all in all, TAR17 was enjoyable and definitely the best season since TAR12.  That puts even more pressure on TAR18 to deliver.  And my worries about TAR18 can (and will) fill up a separate post later this week.

But as for TAR17, it was a good season, but it will be best remembered for making history.  Good history.  And that’s not a bad way to be remembered.

1. TAR3
2. TAR5
2. TAR8
4. TAR1
5. TAR11:AS
5. TAR17
5. TAR12
5. TAR2
5. TAR6
12. TAR4
10. TAR16
11. TAR14
13. TAR15
14. TAR10
15. TAR13
16. TAR9
*huge gap*
17. TAR7

(regardless of winner)
1. TAR3
2. TAR12
3. TAR8
4. TAR5
5. TAR2
6. TAR1
7. TAR16
8. TAR15
9. TAR14
10. TAR6
11. TAR17
12. TAR11: AS
13. TAR9
14. TAR13
15. TAR4
16. TAR10
17. TAR7

1. TAR3
2. TAR8
3. TAR5
4. TAR1
5. TAR11: AS
6. TAR2
6. TAR12
6. TAR17
9. TAR6
9. TAR4
11. TAR16
12. TAR15
13. TAR14
14. TAR13
15. TAR10
16. TAR9
17. TAR7

1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS)
3. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
4. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS)
5. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
6. The Linz Family (TAR8)
7. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS)
8. David & Margaretta (TAR1)
9. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
10. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
11. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
12. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
13. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
14. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
15. Michael & Kevin (TAR17)

1. Teri & Ian (TARAS)
2. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
3. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
4. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
5. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
6. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
7. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
8. Gary & Mallory (TAR17)
9. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
10. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
11. Mel & Mike (TAR14)
12. Zev & Justin (TAR15)
13. Toni & Dallas (TAR13)
14. Steve & Allie (TAR16)
15. Michael & Kevin (TAR17)

1. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
3. Teri & Ian (TAR3)
3. Charla & Mirna (TARAS)
3. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
6. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
7. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
8. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS)
9. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
10. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12)
11. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
12. Ken & Tina (TAR13)
13. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
14. Sam & Dan (TAR15)

WINNERS (subjective; as a team)
1. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
2. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
3. The Linz Family (TAR8)
4. Flo & Zach (TAR3)
5. Rob & Brennan (TAR1)
6. Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
7. Chris & Alex (TAR2)
7. Chip & Kim (TAR5)
7. Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
10. Meghan & Cheyne (TAR15)
10. Tyler & James (TAR10)
10. Nick & Starr (TAR13)
13. Reichen & Chip (TAR4)
14. Freddy & Kendra (TAR6)
15. BJ & Tyler (TAR9)
16. TK & Rachel (TAR12)
17. Eric & Danielle (TAR11:AS)

WINNERS (with respect to final 3)
&nbsp  &nbsp Winning Team
&nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp Who I wanted to win
1. Dan & Jordan
&nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp Dan & Jordan (TAR7)
2. Uchenna & Joyce
&nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
3. The Linz Family
&nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp The Linz Family (TAR8)
4. Tammy & Victor
&nbsp &nbsp Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
5. Nat & Kat
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Nat & Kat or Brook & Claire (TAR1)
6. Rob & Brennan
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Rob & Brennan or Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
7. Chris & Alex
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Blake & Paige or Chris & Alex (TAR2)
8. Chip & Kim
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Chip & Kim or Brandon & Nicole (TAR5)
9. Tyler & James
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Tyler & James or Lyn & Karlyn (TAR10)
10. Flo & Zach
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Teri & Ian or Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
11. Meghan & Cheyne
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
12. Nick & Starr
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Nick & Starr or Ken & Tina (TAR13)
13. Reichen & Chip
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
14. Freddy & Kendra
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Kris & Jon (TAR6)
15. BJ & Tyler
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Eric & Jeremy or Ray & Yolanda (TAR9)
16. Eric & Danielle
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Charla & Mirna or Dustin &Kandice (TAR11:AS)
17. TK & Rachel
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Ronald & Christina or Don & Nicolas (TAR12)
My Final Subjective Team Rankings

Nat & Kat Nat & Kat – I criticized their sometimes lack of urgency, that they need to push themselves a little more.  They had fallen behind the several times they didn’t.  But I guess a calm and collected Race is just as fine.  That’s not to say they didn’t fight, because they definitely did.  When they were running on all cylinders, they were unstoppable.  They get major props for conquering their fears and doing anything to win the Race, Nat for her fear of heights and Kat for eating meat despite being vegetarian for 22 years.  Take that Rob Mariano!  They fully deserve their win and I am incredibly happy they are the team that made history. 
Brook & Claire Brook & Claire – But! I would’ve been just as happy if Brook & Claire had won the Race.  It was very awesome having two strong, very likeable female teams on the same season.  Not since maybe the BQs and Mirna & Schmirna have there been a better combo of all-female teams?  B&C were not only strong competitors, but they had the energy and spunk that really helps on the Race.  That positive attitude that can help you get out of anything.  It is a shame they won’t be on TAR18, but it was great to see them finish 2nd.  Maybe in the future, they can get the chance to go all the way.  But a wonderful Race from them as well. 
Michael & Kevin Michael & Kevin – Being a fan of them already pre-TAR, Michael & Kevin (or Team Jumba) was one of my favorite teams and I definitely hoped they would go far.  But it seems Kevin’s inability to have more faith in his father made their Race more sloppy than it could have been.  They Raced well, but they didn’t step it up when they needed to.  Add to that Kevin always having to think his father can’t do something, it was only a matter of time before they were eliminated.  I still like them and they certainly are doing quite well on YouTube, but I only wish we got to see that growth between the two of them, Michael proving his son wrong and Kevin being a bigger motivator for his father.
Gary & Mallory Gary & Mallory – Another team that was very strong, but them not stepping it up when they needed to.  Gary & Mallory were a great team, great teamwork and positive attitudes (especially Mallory’s bubbly personality).  But they lacked the drive, especially in their final leg in Oman.  They shut down that leg when in the Race up to then, they were on fire, getting better and better each week.  It would be nice to see them Race again, and learn from their mistakes this season.  I wonder if they’ll get the chance like Mallory asked at the Finish Line.  *wink*wink*  
Andie & Jenna Andie & Jenna – They would have been an interesting team to watch over the course of the Race.  Their interesting circumstance was definitely a fascinating dynamic to follow.  Sadly, it didn’t seem like they were destined long for the Race, but they were a nice team that would’ve been nice to see go further.
Connor & Jonathan Connor & Jonathan – The singing was getting old, but they were basically harmless the rest of the time.  Their Race was far from stellar though especially compared to performances from other teams.  It seemed like a matter of time before they were eliminated as well.   
Ron & Tony Ron & Tony – So little from them even for the first elimination.  It sucks when a genuine TAR fan doesn’t do well on the show.  I don’t really know how well they would’ve done.  They made a huge mistake right off the bat, so maybe that wasn’t a good sign for their Race prospects. 
Chad & Stephanie Chad & Stephanie – Chad & Stephanie were incredibly schizophrenic.   One week, a typical bickering couple the next week a happy-go-lucky, bumbling couple… which was it?  Their starring leg in Oman was incredible.  Almost like it was planned.  From the oversleeping to the engagement to the first place win, it was really unbelievable.  But really that was their only big moment in the Race. 
Katie & Rachel Katie & Rachel – Their bad attitudes slowly surfaced week after week until they were eliminated and they were on full display at Elimination Station.  I have to say I’m happy they weren’t the ones making history.  They didn’t Race particularly well and top it off with their bitterness and sour attitudes, I wasn’t sad to see them eliminated.
Nick & Vicki Nick & Vicki – Absolutely hate quitters on TAR and Nick was really the main reason for their team’s downfall.  His negativity was too much for Vicki’s positivity and apparent strength.  Vicki was awesome for being very good at tasks as well as being very social and positive throughout the Race.  But it was Nick that dragged that all down, all culminating in him falling asleep during the Detour in Hong Kong.  Unprecedented. 
Jill & Thomas Jill & Thomas – Typical couple.  Boring.  And sometimes offensive (thanks to Thomas).  Might sound mean, but it was fun seeing them just out of it in the final leg.  I wonder if Thomas has apologized to the Ghanaian children and the elderly yet.
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