The Amazing Race premiered on CBS in 2001, and while it took a while to find commercial success to couple with the critical success, TAR has become one of the most watched reality programs in the world. The growth and popularity of TAR in the US as well as around the world enabled the format to be franchised to countries for their own local versions of the series.
Beginning with AXN’s The Amazing Race Asia and followed by TAR versions in South America, Israel and China, it was finally Australia’s turn. The Seven network commissioned the local edition of TAR last year and it finally premiered in May.
The Amazing Race definitely requires a big commitment from whoever orders their own local edition, but Seven overall did quite a good job with TARAu.
In fact, TARAu definitely had some things the TAR mothership can learn from.
NOW THAT’S A CAST! Probably the best thing about The Amazing Race Australia was its excellent casting.
Though each team fit certain TAR archetypes (parent/child, models, old people, the bickering couple, the eccentric couple… cowboys(!!)), it all worked. Each team had a story, each team had a distinctive personality. Even the early eliminated teams left their marks before being eliminated.
TARUS’ casting has been lacking the last couple of seasons (as with everything else, some would argue). Plenty of nice, if forgettable teams and none of the big and memorable personalities of the pre-TARAS era. But regardless of whether they actually applied or were recruited, TARAu managed to find a great mix of personalities that very much helped make each episode fun and entertaining.
FRESHNESS Even though much of TARAu from locations to tasks were direct copies of or adapted from previous TARA seasons, everything still felt so fresh.
Especially with seeing countries rarely or never seen on TARUS like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and of course Israel.
The look and feel of the series also felt more bright and exciting. Though TAR18 looked great in HD, I feel like TARAu used the HD better and to its fullest potential.
From the cinematography to the on-screen graphics, TARAu made it feel like you were watching a brand new series. And in turn made the on-screen look of TARUS feel sadly dated. The use of Microgramma (as used pre-TAR13) instead of the Bank Gothic font (which TAR switched to in TAR14). The CG-maps instead of Google Earth maps. The sleekly produced opening credits that had actual effort put into them.
One can only hope this was a test run for what will eventually debut in the upcoming 19th season of TAR (which is also the series’ 10th anniversary).
It’s probably time for another freshening up of TARUS, and considering this is the 10th anniversary season, you’d have to expect it right?
IT’S FOREIGN TO YOU! For viewers of The Amazing Race US, the international versions of TAR are different experiences thanks of course to the different cultures each TAR is representing. Contestants on an Israeli, Asian, or Australian TAR will certainly have different customs and beliefs going into the Race.
They’ll have different views on life, on competition, on family and friends. Not to mention being used to drive on the “wrong” side of the road.
The cultural aspects of the visited locales certainly bring color to the series, but the cultural aspects of the contestants, all of whom not from the United States, adds even more color, and in turn makes the series more fresh and different than what many are used to.
LET’S CALL IT A SUCCESS It’s not hard to conclude that The Amazing Race Australia is a success, commercial and production-wise.
The series has done respectably in the ratings in Australia, but the viewer response has been very positive.
Grant Bowler was a solid host, though he definitely has room to grow and room to distance himself from his role as The Mole MC years ago.
But overall, production-wise, the series was top-notch and worthy of standing side by side with the mothership. A thoroughly enjoyable and wonderfully refreshing adaptation of everyone’s favorite Race around the world.
My Final Subjective Team Rankings
Jeff & Luke – They grew to become my picks to win. They were likeable and Raced well and seemed to step it up week after week… until they basically stumbled into the final two legs of the Race. Definitely disappointing end to their Race. They had what it took, but completely dropped the ball.
Tracy & Anne-Marie – They were a joy to watch. The Big W ladies were sweet and hilarious and giggled their way through their short time on the Race. They would’ve been my absolute favorite team from TARAu, if it wasn’t for them just giving up and quitting. Probably one of the worst and most disappointing elimination of any team on TAR ever.
Alana & Mel – A much more enjoyable all-female team than Sam & Renae. They had the spark and fire to be feisty and snappy, but they also had a competitive spirit (well, mostly Mel). If they had stepped up their game more, they would’ve been right there and have made it farther in the Race. And I would’ve preferred they did over Sam & Renae.
Anastasia & Chris – A strange, schizophrenic team. Perfect for reality show entertainment! They had the dysfunction down pat and half the time they Raced very well. It was the other half where they imploded on themselves that gave them their only missteps. But they had the makings of a strong team as well who could have easily gone far in the Race.
Joey & Richard – Their frantic, crazy, random personalities were definitely fun to watch. And their competitive fire was nice to have on the Race. They had the makings of a strong, 2nd half team, but their elimination might have been the most surprising of the season. It was a shame they didn’t go farther in the Race.
Tyler & Nathan – They were the most consistently strong team the entire Race. Their win was not a surprise at all. Predictable? Sure. But most of the time, they were funny and fun. They weren’t my personal pick to win, but they certainly deserved the win.
Ryot & Liberty – In their short time on the Race, they at least showed they wanted to be there. They gave it their all even though it wasn’t meant to be. They didn’t let their physical limitations get in the way. It would’ve been nice to see them last a little longer.
Sam & Renae – Boy how wrong I was. After that first leg, I said it couldn’t be a fluke. Sam & Renae were the next Nat & Kat. But really, they ended up being a lesser Jaime & Cara. They had three good legs: the first and the last two. Every leg in between… horrible and boring. It was strange and very disappointing to see them Race so poorly and be absolutely boring while doing it.
Mo & Mos – They were funny most of the time, even though their shtick got a little old after a few legs. And their Dandrew-like performance wasn’t that endearing at all. They ended up overstaying their welcome even though they seemed to be pretty nice guys anyway.
Matt & Tom – They’re a less annoying and douche version of the TARUS Cowboys. Though Matt’s strange, expressionless confessionals were odd and kind of off-putting, they had the right combo of luck and skill to get them to final four. They had that country bumpkin aspect down, but thankfully, it was not shoved down our throats like a certain other team out there.
Dave & Kelly – They started off nice enough, but ended up the most annoying couple on the Race. They were unfunny, not-cute and trying to hard to be likeable and/or enjoyable. Kelly was okay half the time, but Dave became a whiny baby down the stretch. They definitely overstayed their welcome.
<font face="georgia" size="4"Relive The Amazing Race Australia!
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