There have been critics and fans who have not been as enthusiastic about The Amazing Race its last couple of season. And admittedly, the last couple of seasons have been less than memorable, especially in comparison to the series’ early years.
All the criticism culminated last year when the seemingly impossibly happened at the Emmys. The Amazing Race finally lost.
The shocking defeat to Top Chef (also admittedly far from its peak) should be a wakeup call to Bruckheimer and Bertram van Munster and Co to find a way to rejuvenate what is still one of the best hours on television.
And maybe all they have to do is cross the Pacific and look at its Asian sibling, The Amazing Race Asia.
The Asian franchise of The Amazing Race (the largest international version of the Race) completed its 4th season last December and it showed that even as a pared down version of the American mothership, it can be just as exciting.
The Amazing Race Asia 4 may be the best season they’ve had yet, getting the right mix of good casting and good destinations.
Though they remained in Asia and Oceana this season (TARA went to Europe and South Africa in season 2), they were able to visit countries that TARUS hasn’t yet visited or haven’t visited in years. That’s an interesting fact considering TARUS has been repeating destinations (to unexciting results) the last couple of seasons.
The Amazing Race US needs to find fresh destinations which in turn will produce fresh Detours and Road Blocks. Safety is of course the main concern when deciding on the route, but the next concern is logistics. However, if TARA is able to handily deal with would-be logistical nightmares, then TARUS should certainly be more than capable of dealing with those problems as well.
TARUS needs to be more creative and imaginative when coming up with tasks and new destinations and destinations they haven’t visited in years would be a start.
TARA also proved how important casting is. TARUS needs stay away from gimmicks and focus on casting teams who genuinely want to travel the world, who are competitive, but aren’t on the Race just to get their 15 minutes of fame. Teams that have personality (good and bad) but aren’t famewhores.
TARA4 did just that and provided some great entertainment and a competitive Race.
The Amazing Race returns this Sunday with the Unfinished Business teams so we’ll have to wait until TAR19 in the fall to see how the Emmy wakeup affects casting. (It certainly did not affect which teams they decided to bring back. Ugh!)
The destinations aren’t particularly exciting on paper, but let’s hope TARUB shows signs of improved imagination and creativity.
Because while The Amazing Race continues to be exciting and fun, a little more effort can help keep it a real AMAZING Race.