The Amazing Race 19 Season Wrap-Up

The Amazing Race 19 Wrap-Up
       
Ten years, 19 seasons.  The Amazing Race may be getting older, but it is certainly not slowing down.  TAR19 was a solid season and a huge improvement from the fun, yet uninspired Unfinished Business.  Though far from perfect and classic, TAR19 had a great set of teams, excellent use of destinations, tricky riddled clues, and best of all, one of the best winners the series has seen. 😉

Good Set of Teams
On paper, none of the teams really stood out.  But as the Race went on, the teams actually delivered quite well.  Early boots like Lisa & Kaylani and Liz & Marie were able to leave their marks in the short time they were in the Race.  First boots Ron & Bill and the shocking Ethan & Jenna made an impact in the first two legs.  Justin & Jennifer and Zac & Laurence stood out for their lack of trying and direction.  Bill & Cathi defied expectations to become one of the stronger, most consistent teams.  Andy & Tommy dominated by default most of the Race, but were still no doubt the team to beat.  And the final three teams each solidified their place in the finals with steady, sometimes bumpy Race.

I’d say this was the best post-All-Stars group of teams since TAR12.  Though definitely not close to the casts of the early TARs, it was still a great, distinct full cast that we’ve missed these last couple of seasons.

Great in Theory…
Now on the other hand, what did look good on paper, ending up falling short.  TAR19 had a couple of great ideas that suffered in execution.

Right of the bat, the Starting Line task in which teams had to figure out their first destination by looking for umbrellas with a set of letters (TAI) to add to the provided WAN and PEI was genius.  It required teams to be at the very least aware of the world and really think.

Or not.  It ended up being a guessing game with teams grabbing an umbrella and taking it to Phil and hoping it was correct.  Trial and error is certainly not what Bertram and Co. had hoped for when designing the task and certainly not what many fans were hoping for either.  Other than Jenna who was shown to actually say “Taipei, Taiwan,” it appeared 2/3 of the teams, at least, did not even know they were going to Taipei until they got into their cars.  A huge disappointment.

And I guess to bookend the season, the Final Task, which looked absolutely epic in the previews, ended up being easier than most Final Tasks we’ve gotten in the past.  At the very least it wasn’t setting up a trailer park front yard.  But the task here wasn’t all that physically nor mentally challenging. The previews made it look like it would challenge TAR12’s Final Task/Road Block as the hardest but really wasn’t even as hard as TAR8’s puzzle.

The Final Task was especially disappointing because…

Where are the clue boxes?  Where are the Pit Stop signs?
The disappearance of the majority of clue boxes on the Race as well as the Pit Stop signs were odd enough to signal, maybe it would all play out in the Final Leg.  Instead, the disappearance of the familiar green boxes can probably be chalked up to TAR cutting costs and saving money from having to transport the extra cargo of a few little green boxes and yellow and red flags.  Or maybe the money went into…

The U-Turn, sponsored by Tablet Computers Everywhere
…buying those four brand new tablets to make the U-Turn more high-tech.  Gone are the sticker pictures, in with the touchscreen U-Turning.  

Non-Hazard
The one new twist this season ended up being half of a Speed Bump.  After continuing the Starting Line challenge (which they need to keep), they decide to throw in a penalty for the last team to complete the task.  That’s fine and when you look back at it, the Hazard/half-Speed Bump where only one person completes the extra task and a task that is fairly easy, is alright considering you don’t necessarily want the last team on the Starting Line task to be essentially eliminated right off the bat.

So a penalty for that team is okay, but the way Phil and TAR were hyping up the Hazard as some game-changing, Race-altering twist, you can’t help but feel let down.

And there was actually also the first ever double elimination on TAR, which after 18 seasons really was a long time coming. 

The Express Pass
On the other hand, the Express Pass has actually been doing okay.  One thing I had realized is that every single team that’s won an Express Pass so far (TAR17’s Jill & Thomas, TAR18’s Gary & Mallory, TAR19’s Ernie & Cindy and even TARAu’s Sam & Renae) have all made it to the final 3.  Interesting coincidence, strong contenders right out of the gate, or TAR luck?  

But even with the Express Pass, I still, still miss the days of the Fast Forward.  And now it seems like the Fast Forward is officially dead on TARUS.  🙁

Use Your Brain!
One of the best tweaks this season is the challenging clue riddles that have been lacking on TAR for a long time.  TAR’s gotten soft the last couple of seasons.  TAR17 seemed to signal a change, but TAR18 was probably the worst offender of uninspired and easy tasks and clues.  TAR was spoon feeding clues to teams instead of having them work for it.  This season, that definitely changed.  From looking up at balls, to tricky sounding clues, to full on riddles and WTF is this? clues, TAR19 stepped it up in terms of challenging the teams mentally.  Especially when TAR’s been going soft on the teams’ physical challenges, the mental challenges are definitely a welcome part of the Race.

Improved Leg Design
In addition to the more mentally challenging clues, Leg design was greatly improved this season with the help of bringing back extra tasks each Leg.  For a couple of seasons, the Legs of TAR were becoming too linear and cut and dry; Pit Stop-Route Marker-Detour/Road Block-Road Block/Detour-Pit Stop.  That was becoming old and boring.  With the return of those extra tasks during a Leg, teams don’t know what to expect (and in turn, the audience doesn’t know what to expect either).  It also allows for more opportunities for slip ups and comebacks, which again, makes the Race more exciting and unpredictable.

Hopes for TAR20
And that brings us to the milestone 20th season of The Amazing Race.  TAR19 started this 10th anniversary year off well and TAR has great momentum going into TAR20.  

With an exciting confirmed team (Vegas!!!), there will definitely be a lot to talk about for TAR20.  But I definitely hope Bert & Co. freshen up the show a little.

The brand new, enlarged U-Turn and Speed Bump signs were nice to see.  It would’ve been even nicer if the on-screen graphics matched the spruced up signs.  TARAu, Israel’s HaMerotz LaMillion and even TAR: Latin America have excellent brand new graphics as well as fancier opening credits.  I’d love for TAR to do some freshening up for their 20th season.  New graphics, glossy opening credits maybe a new remix of the iconic theme song.

I really, really hope they do something to freshen the show up for TAR20.

Overall
But back to TAR19, overall, it was a good, solid season.  With just enough freshness to help elevate above the show’s most recent seasons.  Every leg found a good balance.  The teams were great, what the show lacked in tasks, they made up for in highlighting the destinations and vice versa.  Definitely one of the better seasons in a long time.

Here’s to TAR20!  And again, Happy 10th Anniversary to The Amazing Race.

ALL-TIME RANKINGS
OVERALL SEASONS
1. TAR3
2. TAR5
2. TAR8
4. TAR1
5. TAR11:AS
6. TAR12
7. TAR19
8. TAR17
8. TAR2
8. TAR6
8. TAR4
12. TAR18: UB
13. TAR16
14. TAR14
15. TAR15
16. TAR10
17. TAR13
18. TAR9
*huge gap*
19. TAR7

FINALES
(regardless of winner)
1. TAR3
2. TAR12
3. TAR8
4. TAR5
5. TAR2
6. TAR1
7. TAR16
8. TAR15
9. TAR14
10. TAR6
11. TAR19
12. TAR17
13. TAR11: AS
14. TAR4
15. TAR18
16. TAR9
17. TAR13
18. TAR10
19. TAR7

GROUP of TEAMS
1. TAR3
2. TAR8
3. TAR5
4. TAR1
5. TAR11: AS
6. TAR2
6. TAR12
8. TAR6
8. TAR4
8. TAR19
11. TAR17
12. TAR18
13. TAR16
13. TAR15
13. TAR14
13. TAR13
13. TAR10
13. TAR9
*gap*
19. TAR7

MY ALL-TIME TEAMS
1. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS)
3. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS)
4. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
5. Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
6. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
7. The Linz Family (TAR8)
8. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS)
9. David & Margaretta (TAR1)
10. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
11. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
12. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
13. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
14. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
15. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)

NON TOP 3 TEAMS THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE FURTHER
1. Ron & Christina (TAR18)
2. Teri & Ian (TARAS)
3. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
4. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
5. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
6. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
7. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
8. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
9. Gary & Mallory (TAR17)
10. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
11. Bill & Cathi (TAR19)
12. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
13. Mel & Mike (TAR14)
14. Toni & Dallas (TAR13)
15. Steve & Allie (TAR16)

MOST DESERVING FINAL 3 TEAM (NON-WINNERS)
1. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
1. Teri & Ian (TAR3)
1. Charla & Mirna (TARAS)
1. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
6. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
7. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
7. Gary & Mallory (TAR18)
9. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS)
10. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
11. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
12. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12)
13. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
14. Ken & Tina (TAR13)
15. Jeremy & Sandy (TAR19)

WINNERS (subjective; as a team)
1. Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
2. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
3. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
4. The Linz Family (TAR8)
5. Flo & Zach (TAR3)
6. Rob & Brennan (TAR1)
7. Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
8. Chris & Alex (TAR2)
8. Chip & Kim (TAR5)
8. Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
11. Kisha & Jen (TAR18)
12. Meghan & Cheyne (TAR15)
13. Tyler & James (TAR10)
14. Freddy & Kendra (TAR6)
15. Nick & Starr (TAR13)
*gap*
16. Reichen & Chip (TAR4)
17. BJ & Tyler (TAR9)
18. TK & Rachel (TAR12)
19. Eric & Danielle (TAR11:AS)

WINNERS (with respect to final 3)
 &nbsp  &nbsp Winning Team
 &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp Who I wanted to win
1. Ernie & Cindy
 &nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
2. Dan & Jordan
 &nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
3. Uchenna & Joyce
 &nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
4. The Linz Family
 &nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp The Linz Family (TAR8)
5. Tammy & Victor
 &nbsp &nbsp Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
6. Nat & Kat
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Nat & Kat or Brook & Claire (TAR1)
7. Rob & Brennan
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Rob & Brennan or Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
8. Chris & Alex
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Blake & Paige or Chris & Alex (TAR2)
9. Chip & Kim
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Chip & Kim or Brandon & Nicole (TAR5)
10. Tyler & James
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Tyler & James or Lyn & Karlyn (TAR10)
11. Flo & Zach
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Teri & Ian or Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
12. Kisha & Jen
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Gary & Mallory (TAR18)
13. Meghan & Cheyne
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
14. Nick & Starr
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Nick & Starr or Ken & Tina (TAR13)
15. Reichen & Chip
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
16. Freddy & Kendra
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Kris & Jon (TAR6)
17. BJ & Tyler
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Eric & Jeremy or Ray & Yolanda (TAR9)
18. Eric & Danielle
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Charla & Mirna or Dustin &Kandice (TAR11:AS)
19. TK & Rachel
 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Ronald & Christina or Don & Nicolas (TAR12)
My Final Subjective Team Rankings

Ernie & Cindy Ernie & Cindy – A great, great win.  Definitely my favorite winners ever since I was rooting for them from the very start.  They didn’t run a perfect Race, but they stepped it up when they needed to and Raced their best when it counted.  They were funny and sweet, but not without a fire as well.  They definitely have a spot on my all-time favorite teams list.  A well-deserved and hard fought victory. 
Liz & Marie Liz & Marie – It was a rough start, but they turned out to be a cute, fun and breezy team.  They had two horrible legs, but through it all, they enjoyed the Race, had fun and were more than fun to watch.  It is always refreshing to see teams having fun and enjoying the Race and really appreciating what they were experiencing.  I definitely wished they had gone further in the Race.
Bill & Cathi Bill & Cathi – They definitely played too much into the “old folk fodder” role at the start.  A terrible first leg that should’ve gotten them eliminated if not for the double elimination twist.  They made up for it on the next legs and probably had the most consistent Race of any team this season.  Though they did lack urgency a couple of times, especially in their elimination leg, they Raced well overall and were a fun, fiery team. 
Jeremy & Sandy Jeremy & Sandy – Sandy’s resemblance to TAR12’s Jen was this team’s only similarity to the quintessentially loveable bickering couple.   Jeremy & Sandy weren’t dysfunctional and were in fact nice and sweet.  Sandy’s blowups were merely frustration and Jeremy is probably one of the most level-headed guys ever on TAR.  I wouldn’t have been upset if they had won.  They didn’t Race perfectly either, but they too stepped it up when they needed to.  They weren’t so much boring, as they were invisible part of the Race, but a nice couple nonetheless.
Kaylani & Lisa Kaylani & Lisa – They were fun and had the potential for big blowups.  Plus they were hot.  Which makes their early elimination all the more sad.  With the revelation that Kaylani was actually supposed to Race with Big Brother‘s Rachel, looking back, this team should have definitely done better and made a bigger wave.  The passport drama almost ended their Race before it started, but if they caught that one break, they could have gone very far. 
Amani & Marcus Amani & Marcus – They did just enough to make it to the final 3, but their collapse in the final leg was really representative of their entire Race.  Like Phil’s recap at the start of the finale, Amani & Marcus really did shoot themselves in the foot.  And like how you cannot shoot yourself in the foot in football, you can’t do that on the Race.  Luck was on their side most of the time when they didn’t have that one or two good leg.  Definitely a disappointing Race from them as I had expected a lot more from them.
Ron & Bill Ron & Bill – They barely made an impression other than them being domestic partners, but the way they Raced in their only two legs made it seem like they weren’t long for the Race anyway.
Ethan & Jenna Ethan & Jenna – Probably the most shocking elimination of the season.  What an early exit for the Survivor winners.  Granted, the double elimination came into play and that tricky clue screwed up many teams, but Ethan & Jenna definitely should have Raced better.  They barely made a dent in the Race which again, is surprising considering who they are.
Andy & Tommy Andy & Tommy – A strange team.  At times, likeable and goofy, other times as annoying as TAR9’s Hippies and the Cowboys.  Their so-called dominance of the Race definitely comes with an asterisk with half their wins coming by default thanks to other teams’ mistakes.  But even when they did Race well, any goodwill was negated by how apparently they’re the only team blessed while the other teams rely solely on luck.  Okay.
Laurence & Zac Laurence & Zac – I had high expectations from them at the start, but they ended up being a clumsy team.  Laurence’s bravado and inappropriately condescending attitude towards other teams and especially Zac was not fun to watch at all.  Not to mention their severe lack of direction despite having sailed around the world?!  A big disappointment.
Justin & Jennifer Justin & Jennifer – The entire Race, Jennifer was strangely uninterested in anything.  And that apparent disinterest got them eliminated.  It would’ve been an interesting dynamic to see squabbling siblings, but when one of the team members seems like she doesn’t want to be here, where’s the fun in watching them?
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