The 12th season of The Amazing Race has come and gone. A season that came earlier than expected, but later than it should have.
And it does seem like it was only yesterday that Viva Laughlin bet all their money and lost, since, with the exception of TAR8, season 12 had the shortest TAR race course ever. Before the season started, different places quoted executive producer Jonathan Littman saying that there would be no more non-elimination legs. But to everyone’s surprise, Kynt & Vyxsin were spared in Italy and we were introduced to a new part of the Race. More on that and the other twist later.
But first, after 11 seasons and a 5th consecutive Emmy win, The Amazing Race was still as fresh as ever. Unlike other shows that stay in the same studio or on the same island for an entire season, every episode of The Amazing Race feels new and fresh. Every season brings in a new set of teams, every episode brings us new destinations and tasks, but the simple formula of getting from point A to point B and completing various tasks along the way still works wonders for bringing an incredible assortment of feelings for viewers around the world.
While we’ve seen the Yield, the various Non-Elimination penalties, the Intersection, and the Fast Forward come and go, the Detour and the Road Block always serve as ways for the teams as well as us the viewer experience new people and cultures.
Within “the game” of The Amazing Race, we were introduced to the U-Turn and the Speed Bump.
The U-Turn, essentially replacing the Yield and basically doing the same thing, allowed one team to force another to go back and complete the other choice of the Detour they did not originally complete. I was never really against the Yield once I saw it in the Race, but I didn’t particularly like it either, especially when used only as a personal act of rivalry instead of a team fighting it out with another, and using the power to ensure they survive. I have no problem if a team is tied for last and they U-Turn a team right behind them. I know I’d do it.
And after letting teams saved by non-elims slide, taking away their money, then taking away all their money and possessions, and finally “marking” teams for elimination, TAR introduced the Speed Bump. A team saved by the non-elimination now has to complete an extra task in the next leg, which will show up anywhere and anytime. While it’s a step up from forcing teams to beg or be forced to wear the same clothes the rest of the Race, TAR will have to find better and equal tasks for future Speed Bumps. While a 10 second run through fireworks seems like huge fun, it’s definitely not as time consuming as calming yourself and doing yoga for a while.
So the two new elements of the Race were good and interesting, but definitely far from perfect. I’ve always held that TAR doesn’t really need new twists to make it more exciting whereas other shows have to pull tricks and change format to keep things interesting. Like I said, the destinations are enough to keep the show fresh.
The racecourse itself was good as well. We got to go to some beautiful new countries and experienced the guaranteed awesomeness of a leg in India. The legs were very well designed this season, and we had less pesky Hours of Operations to deal with which is always good. While TAR10 still has the most physically demanding Detours and Road Blocks ever, TAR12 seemed to have the most culturally involved Detours and Road Blocks ever. Lots more of the teams actually experiencing the different locations and cultures, which is always awesome.
I’ve always wanted to have more mentally challenging tasks though. If only they had the kinds of tasks they had on NBC’s late Treasure Hunters that required the teams to do more thinking. And we finally got that in probably the most challenging Road Block and final task ever. No arranging a totem pole of Race animals or arranging flags, teams actually had to figure out a puzzle complete with real live objects and animals from the last 11 legs. No question it was an amazing final task and really an amazing, exciting finale to an overall great season.
The Teams As for the teams, we probably got the best elimination order ever for TAR. The most potentially annoying teams were eliminated early on and we were left with probably the best final 6 ever.
Ari & Staella… best first elimination ever. No need for a more annoying “Aaron & Arianne”-lite on the Race. Lorena & Jason, self-admitted struggling actors/models… meh, not sad they left when they did. Neither was I sad for the sort of smug, almost annoying Marianna & Julia, as seen on the Elimination Station. Definitely happy to see them go after seeing them in sequester.
Kate & Pat could’ve stayed a few more legs, but they just weren’t going to keep up with the rest of the teams, especially as the Race got more intense. And Shana & Jennifer seemed to channel a little of TAR10 Bama-ness. One level-headed, nice teammate and another louder, more aggressive teammate usually shutting down any suggestion made by the other. That lack of teamwork did them in.
Azaria & Hendekea seemed poised to coast through the Race… which is exactly why they didn’t. An air of overconfidence may have prevented them from sweating the small stuff that eventually cost them the Race. Strong Racers, petty mistakes that cost them.
TK & Rachel… I just honestly don’t like them. I don’t hate them, but I now kind of resent them for taking away precious time and a spot from a probably more interesting, more interested, and less judgmental team. I’ve always wanted for more “nice” teams, especially after TAR6’s incredible showcase of dysfunction. But we shouldn’t have to sacrifice enjoyment for “niceness. There have been plenty of “nice” teams in the past who were fun, exciting, energetic, and strong while still keeping their calm and stayed out of firing range of other teams. They barely offered anything of substance during the season. Nice teams in the past have had more to offer. Congratulations to them, I hope they use the money wisely, but they will still rank in the bottom of my winners list.
Kynt & Vyxsin could actually be an example of a “nice” team who is still interesting. Most of the time, their appearance was the least interesting part about them. They were fun and witty, Vyxsin was probably one of the stronger female racers we’ve had in a while, and they didn’t let their disagreements get in the way most of the time.
Nathan & Jennifer… the new MoJo (who is now happily married by the way). They took time apart from each other after the Race, but are now together and happy. The frustration and hectic Race will always get to any team. While MoJo’s outbursts were more at the Race in general and not directed at each other, Nate & Jen took their frustration from the Race out on each other and that ultimately got them eliminated in Japan. However, they should be applauded for their determination in placing first at least once. Jen’s plea to the siblings was really nothing, and just an example of their disappointment at always coming in 2nd.
Proving that teamwork is important, Ronald & Christina flew to the top when Ron controlled himself. After seeing a possibly amazing team in the first leg, we got a real taste (of Real Truth Flavor) in the 2nd. That flavor (and a hernia) served as huge hurdles for them to overcome, and together, they did. Ron has definitely grown during the Race, despite what some might say. We always saw him giving props to his daughter, but in the beginning, those props were overshadowed by his complaints about almost everything. When they finally got things to click starting in Croatia, they were on a roll. They were easily a strong contender for the million, but the Race caught up to them in the end. Still, they take away something that is more valuable than a million dollars, and to them, they probably hold their stronger relationship now even closer to their hearts than money ever could.
True underdogs, Donald & Nicolas, the Race’s first grandparent/grandchild team, really set the bar high for future “Gramps” teams and even parent/child teams (with Ron & Chris). While slugging along in the first half of the Race, the Fast Forward jump started them and they began to step it up to push them into the final 3. Applause for Nicolas and him literally carrying their team to the final 3, and more applause for Don who use his smarts (and smart mouth) to make up for anything he lacked physically. I was rooting for them, and definitely for Ron & Chris, not only because both were truly amazing teams for so many reasons, but also to show the world that you don’t have to be a young dating couple or young friends to win the Race. Again though, it must have been a great prize for them to take home the fact that they did make it that far.
So, as the teams wave goodbye from the Alaskan wilderness, a new Race is about to begin. Let’s all hope CBS doesn’t let The Amazing Race 13 sit around until the summer or even the fall, and also hope that we’ll be enjoying TAR14, TAR15, TAR16… in the future,
THE WINNING TEAMS (As a team) 1. The Linz Family (TAR8) 2. Flo & Zach (TAR3) 3. Rob & Brennan (TAR1) 4. Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7) 5. Chris & Alex (TAR2) 5. Chip & Kim (TAR5) 5. Tyler & James (TAR10) *gap* 8. TK & Rachel (TAR12) 9. Reichen & Chip (TAR4) 10. BJ & Tyler (TAR9) 11. Freddy & Kendra (TAR6) 12. Eric & Danielle (TAR11:AS)
THE WINNING TEAMS (With respect to the final 3) Winning Team / Who I thought should have won 1. Uchenna & Joyce / Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7) 2. The Linz Family / The Linz Family (TAR8) 3. Rob & Brennan / Rob & Brennan or Frank & Margarita(TAR1) 4. Chris & Alex / Blake & Paige or Chris & Alex(TAR2) 5. Chip & Kim / Chip & Kim or Brandon & Nicole(TAR5) 6. Tyler & James / Tyler & James or Lyn & Karlyn(TAR10) 7. Flo & Zach / Teri & Ian or Ken & Gerard (TAR3) 8. Reichen & Chip / Kelly & Jon (TAR4) 9. Freddy & Kendra / Kris & Jon (TAR6) 10. BJ & Tyler / Eric & Jeremy or Ray & Yolanda(TAR9) 11. Eric & Danielle / Charla & Mirna or Dustin &Kandice (TAR11:AS) 12. TK & Rachel / Ronald & Christina or Don & Nicolas(TAR12)
THE MOST DESERVING FINAL 3 TEAM (NON-WINNERS) 1. Kris & Jon (TAR6) 2. Teri & Ian (TAR3) 2. Charla & Mirna (TARAS) 2. Ronald & Christina (TAR12) 5. Ken & Gerard (TAR3) 6. Kelly & Jon (TAR4) 7. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS) 8. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9) 9. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12) 10. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
THE BEST FINALE(regardless of winner) 1. TAR3 2. TAR12 3. TAR8 *4-9 almost even* 4. TAR5 5. TAR2 6. TAR1 7. TAR6 8. TAR11: AS 9. TAR9 10. TAR4 11. TAR10 12. TAR7
THE BEST GROUP OF TEAMS 1. TAR3 2. TAR8 3. TAR5 4. TAR1 5. TAR11: AS 6. TAR2 6. TAR12 8. TAR10 8. TAR6 8. TAR4 11. TAR9 *gap* 12. TAR7
MY FAVORITE AMAZING RACE TEAMS OF ALL TIME 1. Kris & Jon (TAR6) 2. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS) 3. Ronald & Christina (TAR12) 4. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS) 5. The Linz Family (TAR8) 6. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS) 7. David & Margaretta (TAR1) 8. Don & Mary Jean (TAR6) 9. Linda & Karen (TAR5) 10. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7) 11. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
THE TOP TEAMS (NOT IN TOP 3) THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE FURTHER 1. Teri & Ian (TARAS) 2. John Vito & Jill (TAR3) 3. The Gaghan Family (TAR8) 4. Linda & Karen (TAR5) 5. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7) 6. The Paolo Family (TAR8) 7. The Rogers Family (TAR8) 8. Joseph & Monica (TAR9) 9. Jim & Marsha (TAR5) 10. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)