Maybe the horrific experience of Season 24 is a big reason, but there is no doubt Season 25 is one of the best TAR seasons in the post-TARAS Era and definitely the best, most complete season since TAR17.
Everything came together; a good cast, a solid route, good tasks and good competition. Plus, there weren’t any abhorrent teams who tried to ruin the entire show with their p***-poor attitudes.
Before we have to deal with TAR26’s dumb, unnecessary twist, let’s take a look at what Season 25 has done right and what TARUS should do more of if they are blessed with more Races past TAR26.
There was a certain freshness to the entire season. And they needed it after being exiled to Friday nights.
It started with the interesting invitation for TAR fans to come to the Starting Line in Times Square. It was a novel idea and a good one to celebrate season 25. The first episode also featured Phil, for the first time, popping up for live in-Race updates from the race course. While it may have felt a little forced a few times, that first moment in the US Virgin Islands was unexpected and fun.
Now, the Race did start off a little slow. The first two legs were a little slow and maybe too hollow. Leg 1 had only one real task and that was the Road Block which unfortunately resulted in three teams quitting it. Not the best way to start the Race. And the lack of Road Blocks in Legs 2 and 3 were odd.
The new Express Pass awarding is meh. I don’t know if teams should have to go out of their way for it, but I’m not sure teams should have to complete a task for it either. I also don’t know if they should just be handed it too. So, who knows. I do know that the Express Pass is MUCH better than the pointless Save.
The Save turned out to be exactly like Big Brother‘s annual useless twists. What were the odds that Misti & Jim, the Save holders would actually get saved by an originally scheduled Non-Elimination Leg? Big fail.
Also, the strange Mat editing where Phil does not officially check teams in was bad. Very bad. Probably one of the few bad things about this season.
Some of the Best
But things did get better. Tasks with Shetland ponies, strange bikes and big cakes and a visit to Ida Davidsen all led to maybe one of the two best Legs of the season.
Both Morocco Legs were great, but the first might have been one of the best in years and definitely a candidate for next year’s Emmy submission. It was an exciting episode with perfect Leg design. Teams were racing in a pretty compact area, yet it was exciting and visually appealing. It allowed for really great competition and fun drama. Plus the editing was on point, helping to create that hectic and frantic atmosphere.
The awesomeness continued with teams racing through the beautiful Palermo and finally visiting Malta for the first time. (Malta’s one of my wishlist countries! Woohoo!)
Singapore was a surprisingly great Leg too. Again, great tasks, great competition, great fun and great drama.
And finally, I’ve been looking forward to the Philippine Legs since June. Or really, since Bertram visited TV5 in May and since the Philippine Legs in TAR24 were rumored to have been cancelled because of Typhoon Haiyan.
Philippines 1 was okay and the My Ox is Broken Switchback wasn’t the worst Switchback ever. (Switchbacks definitely still never live up to the original or provide new memorable moments.)
But Philippines 2 in Manila may rival Morocco 1 as the best Leg of this season. The Manila Leg pretty much had all the elements that made Morocco 1 so amazing. Crazy markets, great tasks, fun drama. And of course, that huge final surprise twist. This Manila Leg is probably the best Philippine Leg of any TAR ever. Yes, even better than the original My Ox is Broken/Giant Duck TAR5 Leg and even any Leg involving Jig or Pig. (Maybe even better than any of TARPh’s Legs? =O) It was great to see the chaos of Metro Manila play out in both Legs, but especially in Leg 11. I do hope the next return to the Philippines (if that ever happens) goes back into the rural countryside and has a cultural task (likely dancing) as well.
And finally the Final Leg. It was miles better than the travesty of TAR24’s finale. (I need to use a thesaurus to find all horrible words I can to describe TAR24.) There were just enough tasks to drive good competition and it wasn’t too Linear that teams didn’t have a chance to catch up or lose time. The self-driving was great to finally have as well.
This was also one of the better casts in a long time as well. We had big personalities who were also great competitors. Every single team this season delivered in some way, even the earliest boots.
Lisa & Michelle made a big impression in that first Leg with their unexpected feud with Michael & Scott. Dennis & Isabelle were already an awesomely fun and crazy team, but would have been even more loveable and insane if they had stayed longer, judging from the deleted scenes. And of course how about Keith & Whitney vs Shelley & Nici. Or Shelley vs Nici?!
Bethany may have been a little bit of stunt casting, but her casting definitely pales in comparison to other attempts at trying to drum up faux interest in pseudo-celeb teams. Even Keith & Whitney’s Survivor past was the least interesting thing they offered this season.
Whoever cast this season of TAR, BRAVO. This is the kind of cast TAR needs more of.
(And more on the individual teams below of course.)
It is no secret that TAR has been in decline. A precipitous decline in ratings (even before the move to Friday) and a huge decline in overall quality. Even with DVRs and watching on CBS.com or Hulu or iTunes, TAR is not attracting the same big audience it used to.
TAR24 was the lowest of lows. But it appears that Bertram and Co. realized that and maybe gave themselves a knock on the head to wake them up and reenergize their creative juices. TAR25 was a big improvement over the uninspired recent seasons. It just sucks that it was wasted on Fridays.
The tasks were good (though still pale in comparison to the classics), the teams were great competitors and great personalities and the locations were a big step up as well.
TAR25 should serve as a blueprint for future TAR seasons (if we will be so blessed with TAR after TAR26). TAR26’s blind dating twist just feels dumb and unnecessary after the show did pretty much everything right with TAR25. There’s really no need for gimmicks, as this season proved. Just get a great cast and have them do awesome challenges in great locations and you’ve got an exciting and compelling show.
The blind date/couples-only “special” season may even be the WRONG thing to do after such a great TAR25 and getting the opportunity for a post-Survivor showcase.
Nonetheless, TAR25 is a season that can be favorably compared to the current gold standards of TAR that are TAR Canada and TAR Australia. When casting, tasks and locations all come together coupled with good editing and fresh ideas, you’ve got at least a solid season. And for TAR25, it was a great season.
Will The Amazing Race US be on the air this time next year? Let’s hope so. And since TAR26 is already in the can, if Bertram and Co. are currently planning TAR27, they should definitely do everything they did for TAR25 and jump off of that. One of the best seasons in years.
My FINAL Subjective Team Rankings
Tim & Te Jay are definitely my favorite team of this season. They were a pleasant surprise in that they Raced well, were able to get themselves out of big trouble (except their last Leg) and were hilarious fun. Plus they’re adorably cute of course. I think they could have gone all the way had they been able to complete that Malta Detour or at least, switched earlier. They really had a good penchant to move back up even after falling behind.
Amy & Maya are so awesome. Definitely a close 2nd as my favorite team of the season. Maya was especially great the entire Race. Well-deserved win. She was bright, bubbly and fun. She appreciated the Race and all the places they visited. And she felt very sincere about it all. None of the marveling at the locations or her huge bursts of energy felt forced or fake at all. It was great to see. And while they were underdogs for much of the Race, they would always do just enough and step it up when they needed to. As we saw in the Final Leg.
Dennis & Isabelle may have been the saddest elimination this season for me. They were doing so well in their Leg and were very safe until that strange punting task/not-Road Block. They were already fun in the two Legs we saw of them, but the deleted scenes showed they had the awesome potential to be BIG personalities. And fun ones too. Plus, they were TAR fans. So fun + competitive + meltdown potential + fans of TAR = Excellent combination. It was sad to see them eliminated so early.
Shelley & Nici were amazing. They were one of the few teams to have left a big impression right at the start of the Race. They were fiery and competitive and had fun on the Race, especially since they were fans. Their huge Pit Stop meltdown (rivaled only by a bigger meltdown on The Amazing Race Philippines that same week) was awesomely insane, but they proved to be the close mother and daughter they were even as one wrong turn doomed them on their last Leg.
Kym & Alli may be one of the strongest and most consistent teams to Race in a long time. Forget that they’re an all-female team, they were able to Race very well period. If it weren’t for that Fast Forward risk, they may just have seen themselves in the final and who knows? Maybe even win it all. I would definitely say they are candidates for the next All-Stars. (If TAR survives that long.)
Adam & Bethany were a fine team, but definitely a little on the boring and bland side. Them being boring though does not take anything away from how awesome Bethany is. She joins a good list of Racers who have run The Amazing Race and not let a physical handicap stop them. At the same time, Bethany’s awesomeness doesn’t automatically guarantee them a million dollars, as some casuals apparently feel.
Misti & Jim definitely started out like they’d be some sort of alpha-overconfident dominant team. Maybe a combination of Dave & Rachel and Colin & Christie or something. But after maybe acting overconfident and smug (on Jim’s part at least) the first few Legs, they toned it down and we saw they were merely just good and strong competitors. I wouldn’t have minded them winning at all.
Brooke & Robbie would be such an awesome team if they didn’t “turn it on” all the time. And I mean their shtick. They would flip the switch on their “characters” and they’d become considerably less fun and hilarious and likeable. I found them most likeable when they were just themselves and Racing well. And you could definitely tell when they were “on” or “off.” They, like Tim & Te Jay, were good comeback kids in the first half of the Race and they earned that spot in the Final Leg, no doubt.
Michael & Scott gave off some Art & JJ vibes at first, and that’s never good. But their random feud with Lisa & Michelle and the way that first Leg elimination played out was hilarious. Keith & Whitney were alright, but really fit the bickering couple mold more than anything. Their time on Survivor was definitely less interesting than their relationship and Keith’s snarky comments about other teams. And of course, that unexpected fight with Shelley & Nici! Fun stuff.
Finally, Lisa & Michelle. It would’ve been interesting to see them survive a little longer in the Race. They might have turned into the feisty, pardon the word, “bitches” of the Race would could just as well become the HBIC and just steamrolled anyone and everyone that got in their way. I don’t think we’ve really seen a team like that on the Race yet and they way they literally elbowed their way in the first Leg showed they could’ve had potential. But oh well.
15. TAR18: UB
(regardless of winner)
18. TAR11: AS
|GROUP of TEAMS
5. TAR11: AS
|MY ALL-TIME TEAMS
1. Ronald & Christina (TAR12/18)
1. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS)
1. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS)
4. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
4. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
6. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
6. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
6. Brendon & Rachel (TAR20/TAR24)
9. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS)
10. David & Margaretta (TAR1)
11. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
12. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
13. The Linz Family (TAR8)
14. Max & Katie (TAR22)
15. Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
16. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
17. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
18. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
19. Natalie & Nadiya (TAR21/24)
20. Trey & Lexi (TAR21)
21. Pam & Winnie (TAR22)
22. Tim & Te Jay (TAR25)
23. Amy & Maya (TAR25)
|NON TOP 3 TEAMS THAT
SHOULD HAVE GONE FURTHER
1. Ron & Christina (TAR18)
2. Teri & Ian (TARAS)
3. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
4. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
5. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
6. Bopper & Mark (TAR20)
7. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
8. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
9. Natalie & Nadiya (TAR24)
10. Natalie & Nadiya (TAR21)
11. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
12. Pam & Winnie (TAR22)
13. Gary & Mallory (TAR17)
14. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
15. Kym & Alli (TAR25)
16. Bill & Cathi (TAR19)
17. Tim & Te Jay (TAR25)
18. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
19. Steve & Allie (TAR16)
20. Hoskote & Naina (TAR23)
21. Mark & Mallory (TAR24)
FINAL 3 TEAM (NON-WINNERS)
1. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
1. Teri & Ian (TAR3)
1. Charla & Mirna (TARAS)
1. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
6. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
6. Brendon & Rachel (TAR24)
6. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
6. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS)
10. Gary & Mallory (TAR18)
11. Max & Katie (TAR22)
12. Jaymes & James (TAR21)
13. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
14. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
15. Brendon & Rachel (TAR20)
16. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12)
17. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
18. Trey & Lexi (TAR21)
19. Ken & Tina (TAR13)
20. Tim & Marie (TAR23)