A Snap Judgment of ABC’s Expedition Impossible

Maybe it’s my TAR bias, but watching the preview clip of the first 15 minutes of ABC’s Expedition Impossible from Mark Burnett left a bad taste in my mouth.

More than déjà vu, I was in awe of what I was watching. The clip couldn’t be any more a direct copy of The Amazing Race if they tried.

After watching 18 Amazing Race premieres over the last ten years, I found myself reciting Phil’s traditional starting line speech during Expedition Impossible‘s near-copy of an opening. All they did was avoid actually saying “race.”

From the team intros with them driving to their starting point to Dave Salmoni doing his best worst Phil Keoghan Allan Wu impression… to pointing over the horizon to their first clue, or rather their first “instructions.”

All they did was substitute “stages” for “legs,” “checkpoints” instead of “cluebox” or “route markers” or “pit stops,” “instructions” instead of “clues,” “Be strong. Work together. And never give up” instead of “The world is waiting for you. Good luck. Travel safe.”

$150,000 (plus 3 Fords) instead of a million bucks.

And having three members in a team just sounds like TAR compromising over whether to have a regular season or another family edition.

Now of course this is all from a mere 15 minute preview, but it definitely didn’t leave a great first impression.

In the reality-competition genre, NBC’s 2006 series Treasure Hunters already tried to replicate TAR’s success and though the criticism about the close similarities were warranted, the series’ unique touches including clues actually requiring thinking and the American history lesson at least didn’t make the series a total waste.

The series is described as an “expedition” rather than a scavenger hunt type of deal. But then again, there have been plenty of docuseries about expeditions, one notable one is Discovery Channel’s The Alaska Experiment, now Out of the Wild where volunteers get dropped into the middle of nowhere, live off the land in the harsh environments of Alaska and most recently Venezuela and find a way back to civilization.
Which then brings up memories of NBC’s Lost (which premiered the same night as TAR) which had that exact premise.

While having a TAR-like series should be fun and interesting, especially to fans of TAR itself, the first 15 minutes of Expedition Impossible are just too much a copy of TAR that it is kind of annoying. Like, why bother?

I tweeted earlier Expedition Impossible is to The Amazing Race as Power Rangers Samurai is to Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. And if you’ve followed my PR recaps, you know that it is not a very favorable comparison to the formers in both. Samurai is such a poorly translated version of the original Shinkenger series. I have a horrible feeling that might be the case with Expedition Impossible.

I’ll still watch the full premiere of course, but this preview clip definitely didn’t do the show any favors.

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