It was very exciting when Seven announced that the Emmy-winning The Amazing Race Australia would be returning for a 3rd season after a one year break. But there were going to be a few changes to the Aussie franchise.
First, Seven would be producing the series in-house instead of working with activeTV who produced the first two seasons as well as worked on The Amazing Race Asia, The Amazing Race Philippines and Israel’s HaMerotz LaMillion. A little later, it was then revealed that season 3 would pit nation versus nation in a battle between Australia and New Zealand teams.
Those were definitely interesting changes to think about, but after two excellent seasons, the expectation was that TAR Australia would maintain that streak.
And now that the season is over, I will say that it certainly did.
While there are definitely fans who were disappointed in The Amazing Race Australia vs New Zealand, I actually enjoyed it very much and many times, even enjoyed it more than The Amazing Race Canada.
First off, the Australia vs. New Zealand gimmick was just that, a gimmick. It was a fun gimmick to start off the Race, but after that initial tug-of-war, the Race played out like any normal Amazing Race. Sure there was some country alliance drama and the teams had another nation vs. nation battle in the middle of the Race, but otherwise, we still had 10 teams who just so happen to be equally divided between Aussies and Kiwis.
It wasn’t a huge part of the team dynamics, but rivalry at the very least provided a few interesting moments and added a little bit of freshness to the format, even though TARAu doesn’t really need it.
(But really, it just helped Seven pay for the season, sharing a little bit of the cost with New Zealand’s TV2.)
Speaking of the teams, casting was again on point, easily topping any recent Amazing Race US cast, that’s for sure. The teams were likeable with a few villains popping up along the way. Several teams had great personalities and helped provide some great entertainment. (More on each specific team below of course!)
I am absolutely amazed by the route though. There was some odd criss-crossing towards the end, but they visited 10 countries in 10 Legs! That’s amazing. With the exception of the Russia TBC Leg, they visited a new country every week. For a franchise that may have had trouble even making it to air for a 3rd season, having a new country Leg is particularly amazing.
Compare that to the multiple Leg countries of recent American TARs.
Now, route isn’t everything on TAR of course. And this season actually had some underwhelming Legs. Croatia being a huge wasted opportunity, for one. The Thailand Leg was almost as bare.
And the Final Leg was poorly designed. The Los Angeles tasks were absolutely unnecessary. A full Leg in LA would’ve been great, but as a part of the Final Leg, it really ruined what could’ve been an amazing finale.
Switch out those two Hollywood tasks for two tasks in Melbourne, man, it would’ve been so much better.
But we also got some amazing Legs. The Namibia Leg was particularly great as it combined some great team drama with great use of the location. The Kostroma and Portugal Legs were 2 of my favorites as well. And the Road Block at Angkor Wat was one of the more interesting tasks.
Having 10 Legs and 10 teams was not a problem. Other TARs have also had less Legs and less teams. And a 10 Leg Race may be on the horizon elsewhere very soon.
Grant Bowler has definitely come a long way since season 1 and he’s become a lot more comfortable. His Finish Line announcements are the best.
But 3!!! M/M winners though! Out of 3 seasons. Add in Canada’s 2 seasons and it’s 5 for 5 male-male teams. What’s up with that though?!
But maybe the one most consistent quality TARAu had in season 3 that it continued from the first two is the beautifully stunning cinematography. I will never get tired of saying just how much more amazing TARAu (and to a lesser, but still substantial extent, TAR Canada) looks than TARUS. From the cinematic feel to the breathtaking aerials to the best on-screen graphics of any TAR in the world; visually speaking, TARAu is still second to no other TAR franchise.
However, while the show itself was still fun and absolutely enjoyable, the ratings were absolutely horrible. Seven doubled-up episodes twice, both at the last minute, just to get the season over with. =( So while the TAR mothership may be in big trouble, The Amazing Race Australia too may have just seen its last new season (for a while, at least). Some point to the hiatus it took last year, during which Seven unsuccessfully revived The Mole. But while season 1 was a solid ratings performer, season 2 experienced a big drop. Part of that was airing opposite the Olympics, but taking a year off certainly did not help.
It would be a shame if this were the last Aussie Amazing Race season. Even without activeTV involved in production, Seven did a solid job here on their own.
I suggested after TAR25’s ratings were out that maybe CBS should do a co-production deal with Seven for an Amazing Race: USA vs Australia. They could share the costs and it may even drum up more interest in TAR in both countries.
Oh well. We’ll just have to wait and see. But overall, The Amazing Race Australia vs New Zealand continued the international trend of showing the TAR mothership just how it is done. Well.
My Subjective Team Rankings
It’s great when a team like Sally & Tyson are on the Race. After a hilariously disastrous first Leg, they were able to recover quickly and step up their game (and awesomely fun personalities) each week right up to the Finish Line. It is rare to see a team really improve and step it up week after week so Sally & Tyson were a great team to watch. Just fun, nice guys who definitely deserved the win.
Elizabeth & Todd may have been one of the worst 2nd boots of all time. Elizabeth’s cheeky tall tales and jokes were gold. That she so got under the skin of the other teams, especially Aston & Christie, just because she said she went to the moon was absolutely hilarious. How about her butt block at the Angkor Wat Road Block? And then we also got a taste of some mother-son dysfunction too before they were eliminated. That they, especially Elizabeth, made such an impact and provided so much entertainment in just two Legs on the Race says a lot. She probably would’ve easily elevated TARAu3 past season 1 and maybe even season 2 if we saw more of her crazy, hilarious antics.
Aston & Christie were also a fun team to watch. They definitely left a big impression in their short time on the Race and I would’ve loved to have seen them go Lucy & Emilia further into the Race. Carla & Hereni were a frustrating roller coaster. When they were good, they were really good. But when they were bad, they were absolutely horrible. I hoped they could really be a strong, fierce “mums” team, but they were pretty lucky half the Race and in that sense, it was a little disappointing.
Daniel & Ryan are alright winners. They were the nice guys next door until John & Murray were eliminated. After that, they became a little less interesting, especially when it appeared that they would glide on to the Final Leg. Even with the Fast Forward, they were just okay. Not particularly exciting, but also not a team you could dislike either.
Cat & Jesse had a great attitude the entire Race. They caught a break a few times, but they took advantage and did well enough to make it to Final 5. Them having fun on the Race, but always focused on wanting to do well for their kids was great. Emily & Jono were an interesting team. I would have loved to have seen their rivalry with John & Murray simmer for longer, but the Namibia Leg was just an incredible, epic collapse. WTF was that?! Their elimination definitely helped make that Namibia Leg the best one of the season. But it would’ve been very interesting to see how they would’ve matched up more against John & Murray and maybe Daniel & Ryan too.
Ashleigh & Jarrod were also hilarious to watch. I definitely liked Ashleigh more than Jarrod. She was amazing the entire Race. But #BloodyJarrod lived up to the pre-show hype Seven was doling out I think. His random outbursts are the kind of fun dysfunction that liven up a Race. Inga & Tiharna could’ve been an interesting team if they made it further into the Race. They seemed to be the kind of team that would not hesitate to U-Turn another team (probably Elizabeth & Todd lol) and would likely clash with others as well.
And finally John & Murray. There’s fun, love to hate villains (like Pierre & Michel) and then there’s teams like John & Murray who are more obnoxious than deliciously evil. While their elimination was very classy and a great exit from them, their overconfident, over-aggressive attitude was a huge turn-off. The Thailand Leg was the best/worst display of such behavior. Though it was great to see them clashing with other teams, the whole thing got a little old too fast.