Mini-Recap: The Amazing Race China 4, Episodes 1 and 2

TAR China

The Amazing Race China is back for another season and I am definitely excited. While I enjoyed the first two seasons of the new franchise, last year’s season 3 was amazing. I loved it. I thought it was the best Amazing Race season of 2016.

I’ve come to accept TAR China’s quirks, whether it’s the interesting filming schedule or their original twists. But I think things came together for season 3. Not only was it the most “normal” season so far, the casting to the locations to the tasks were all great. And you didn’t need to understand a single word of Chinese to enjoy it.

So I have high hopes for season 4. And so far, it’s delivered very well.

The cast is very solid. At first, it doesn’t quite jump out as much as last season. (Though any cast without Jin Xing will be less interesting and fun lol) But Fan Bingbing is certainly a big name get for the show. And she’s definitely delivered. She and Xie Yilin are a great, feisty pair that also Races well. All the other teams are alright so far. But Wu Minxia is definitely a standout for having to Race by herself on Leg 2. (More on that later.)

First, let’s look back at Leg 1. Though admittedly, I don’t remember every single Hong Kong Leg ever on TAR, I have to say this should be one of the best ones. (And it’s not unprecedented since TAR China 3 staged the best Los Angeles Leg ever of any TAR.)

The pseudo-Starting Line task of dragon boat racing was good and a fine way to stagger the teams somewhat at the start. And it wasn’t to the point of automatically eliminating the last place team.

TAR China

The Hong Kong Disneyland task was very interesting. Not because a TAR finally visited Disneyland (sort of), but the task itself. Having to recall a task or location from a previous season. I promise you, if TAR US did that task today, you’d probably have only 1 out of 11 teams being able to complete this task. lol The majority of teams on contemporary TAR seasons have probably never seen a single episode before. Not to mention, most of the cast are scouted anyway. That said, TAR China is obviously scouted as well; its celebs are handpicked. But as we saw, teams were more than aware of previous seasons.

TAR China

The next task with the balancing on wood blocks and sliding across a line over the water was surprisingly physical and didn’t advantage one team or another. That was great.

TAR China

The incense sticks was also a great Route Marker, though it could’ve been a good Road Block too considering it could be a tedious task. It was also a nice cultural task.

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And the Detour was pretty awesome. The beer side of the Detour and having to identify the ingredients was so much better and more interesting than TAR Canada’s prescription Road Block. And the currency side of the Detour was a nice thinking task as well. (It was also kind of familiar. lol) This was a good, balanced Detour.

A first Leg Non-Elimination is fine, especially when you have a celebrity cast. But I can’t help but wonder if maybe this was originally an Elimination Leg, but changed at the last minute because of Zhang Jike and father not being able to film the Leg.

TAR China

Anyway, on to the 2nd Leg in Copenhagen which was another great one. It was a linear Leg, but that’s a little forgivable when it’s a Non-Elimination anyway.

I absolutely loved having the teams riding bakfiets for the first half of the Leg. It’s an added task, especially teams having to get directions if their maps weren’t enough.

TAR China

The ballet Road Block was hilarious and fun. It wasn’t a typical ballet routine, at least, not any ballet routine I’ve ever seen before. (Granted, I haven’t watched many ballet routines in the first place lol) But it was a great task with the right amount of detail needed to make it challenging.

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The Detour was again well balanced. Both tasks were straightforward, but also challenging enough to help competition. The rabbits of course were a throwback to TAR19 and it was very fun seeing the teams with the critters. The kransekage side of the Detour was a throwback to TAR25’s Detour, though a scaled down version and with no delivery aspect. But it was a good balance with the rabbits and a little more interesting than TAR25’s parklet Detour the cake was paired with.

TAR China

The second Road Block was good, but definitely did the most to make this a Linear Leg considering teams have to get in line. Still, it was a nice task. I honestly thought initially, “What’s so hard about crossing that?” Then I saw they of course couldn’t hold the rope. So, it was a nice physical and mental challenge.

TAR China

The last task with the GoBoat was a good extra and final task that helped fill out the Leg.

This was definitely not an easy Leg, so Wu Minxia again deserves kudos for completing it by herself AND placing 5th out of 8 teams. Discussing how messy it is for her to have Raced by herself while her partner was delayed, I think, is not necessary. This is TAR China after all. They don’t play by the standard TAR rules. But I don’t really think that has taken anything away from how enjoyable and fun TAR China has been.

Overall, a pretty great start to season 4. I honestly think, of all the current TAR franchises around the world, TAR China and Israel’s HaMerotz LaMillion are probably the healthiest right now. CTV has been hot and cold with TAR Canada. AXN has TARA6 on tap, but they haven’t even started auditions yet. (Probably holding it until 2018, having TARA and Asia’s Got Talent take turns.) And of course, we know the TAR mothership’s shaky status with CBS.

Looking forward to seeing the rest of TAR China 4.

And YAY for it being easily available WORLDWIDE! Thank you TAR China!

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