The sun rises once again on The Amazing Race Asia as it returns for its 5th season after six long years.
It’s car-free Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia, so the 11 teams are making their way on bicycle to Merdeka Square.
The teams are:
Muscle brothers Will & Alex from Malaysia, Life partners Lisa & Nicole from Vietnam, Indonesian travel hosts Rach & Vicky, Philippine beauty queens Parul & Maggie, Malaysian beauty queens Yvonne & Chloe, siblings Rei & Keiji from Singapore, childhood friends Alphaeus & Brandon from Malaysia, dating couple Anita & Tom from Thailand, best friends Treasuri & Louisa from Indonesia, married couple Eric & Rona from the Philippines and radio DJs JK & Mike from Singapore.
Allan gives the teams a little pep talk before introducing his Indonesian co-host Tara Basro as well as Mr. Patana, deputy minister of International Tourism Marketing who will be flagging off this season.
Allan then drops the bomb that the last team to complete the Starting Line task WILL be eliminated.
Minister Patana flags the teams off and they hurry over to their backpacks. Teams must find a wall of 1000 compasses in the square and look for one of 10 compasses pointing 210° SW.
Treasuri & Louisa are the first ones to get their clue, followed by JK & Mike, Will & Alex, Alphaeus & Brandon, Anita & Tom, Rei & Keiji, Parul & Maggie, Rach & Vicky and Yvonne & Chloe. It’s down to Eric & Rona and Lisa & Nicole. And it’s Eric & Rona who find the last compass. That means Lisa & Nicole are compass-less and officially the first team eliminated from the Race.
Teams must now make their way to Museum Bahari. Rei & Keiji and Tom & Anita get into a little fight over the first taxi.
At the museum, teams find the Detour: Fix or Freight.
In Fix, teams must head to Fatahillah Square and assemble a cute, colorful bicycle for waiting children. In Freight, teams head to Sunda Kelapa port where they must use a sack to transport sand from the deck of a traditional Indonesian pinisi to the dock where they will fill four barrels.
JK & Mike, Rach & Vicky, Alphaeus & Brandon, Tom & Anita choose Freight. Parul & Maggie, Eric & Rona, Will & Alex, Treasuri & Louisa, Chloe & Yvonne choose Fix. Rei & Keiji also choose Fix, but they walk from the museum.
While filling their barrels, things get tense between Rach & Vicky.
Eric & Rona and Alphaeus & Brandon are the first teams to finish the Detour and must now make their way to Kebun Raya Bogor to find their next clue “in the hands of an Ondel Ondel.”
Rei & Keiji and Rach & Vicky are the last teams at their respective Detours.
Alphaeus & Brandon arrive at the Bogor Botanical Gardens and see an Ondel Ondel with a clue. That clue tells teams to pair their Ondel Ondel with his female partner at Taman Teijsmann wearing the matching scarf trim to receive their next clue.
The childhood friends keep their lead as they pair their Ondel Ondel and bring the couple to Allan and Tara at the Mat where they officially check-in as Team #1. They win Garuda Indonesia tickets to Bali.
Treasuri & Louisa are Team #2 followed by JK & Mike, Eric & Rona, Will & Alex, Rach & Vicky, Parul & Maggie, Anita & Tom and Yvonne & Chloe.
That leaves Rei & Keiji in last and eliminated.
Woohoo! With The Amazing Race US on its deathbed, it’s definitely great to have The Amazing Race Asia -back- from the dead!
This premiere was alright. While it was a very barebones Leg with only a Detour and two extra tasks and then the jump from Jakarta to Bogor, just the fact that TARA was back was enough to keep everything fun and enjoyable.
Not too sure about that Starting Line elimination. It does feel very cruel. I mean, if I were the first team eliminated right at the Starting Line without even a chance to really experience the Race? That would be such a horrible feeling. No wonder TARA upped the team count to 11 from the originally announced 10. I get that a twist like that spices things up, but it still feels a little unfair.
As for the task itself, it’s definitely a simple, straightforward task. And if anything, at least it’s a luck task for a Starting Line elimination rather than a skill task that would be even more unfair possibly.
The Detour was another straightforward choice. The bikes were more tedious, but less physically demanding. The sand barrels were of course more physically challenging, but likely quicker. A pretty standard Detour, but certainly not one that would thrill on the first Leg back after six years, no?
My favorite part of the episode though was the Ondel-Ondel. The task and scenes we did get were fine. But I think there was potential for even more fun and more hilarious tasks with them. Maybe a task or even a Road Block where teams themselves had to put on the puppets. (Oooo! TARPHDM13? lol)
I didn’t even realize they were running away or could fall over until the episode was almost done. Kudos to the people inside those puppets. They were probably bobbing around for hours and then had to get dragged around by the teams.
Can’t complain too much about the tasks though because the Leg certainly wasn’t linear. Team placements were shifting all Leg.
Elsewhere, I loved the graphics! They use Microgramma instead of Bank Gothic on the Route Markers. It makes the current TAR graphics package look very fresh and contemporary. Look here:
Just looks much better and cleaner. TAR Philippines 2 (despite some early quality control issues) also fully utilized the current graphics package to show more information on-screen.
I’ve always been a fan of the Microgramma. TAR Australia has used it excellently. (TAR Australia has always made best use of the TAR graphics package.) Even the team IDs with the airplane and the flags look good as well. Though I might prefer smaller flags instead. And the hashtags look a little out of place and might have looked better under the team names instead of on the right side of the ID and in a different font.
The show is also visually and aesthetically pleasing. Some very nice color correction which results in a more film-like look (similar to TARAu) rather than the reality show 60p of TARUS.
I’m a little disappointed by the opening credits though. While I’m relieved that their version of the flying names of doom are not as huge as TAR28’s, I’m kinda sad the title card is basically TARUS’ and not their own version. This title card from the press conference looks much better and is actually Asia-centered:
One pet peeve from TAR Asia I’ve always had is that there is no uniform team name. That is, TARA alternates names between the show, the opening credits, promo material, their website, Allan at the Mat, etc. Like it’s both Chloe & Yvonne and Yvonne & Chloe. Or Louisa & Treasuri AND Treasuri & Louisa. That’s been something TARA has never been too strict about and I wish they were. It’s much easier if they stick to one team name across everything.
Tara Basro is definitely beautiful and (on a shallow basis) I don’t mind seeing her alongside Allan during the Indonesian Legs. But she doesn’t really have much to do.
I accept that Indonesia is basically funding this season of TARA. And they definitely deserve lots of thanks since TARA5 probably wouldn’t exist without Indonesia tourism’s support. (As well as Grab and Garuda Indonesia and Great Eastern Life of course.)
But hopefully all the sponsored/product placement tasks will be good and exciting.
Anyway, the premiere was okay. It lacked a little bit of fire that would be awesome as the first episode of the franchise after a long hiatus. But just the fact that The Amazing Race Asia is back is something to celebrate. Especially as the TAR mothership is on its deathbed.
My Subjective Team Rankings
So not a lot from the teams this first Leg, so these teams are in no particular order. All of them seem like very capable Racers with potential for fun entertainment. Of course this wouldn’t be The Amazing Race Asia if most of the cast wasn’t a celebrity of some kind in their own countries. lol And that’s fine. As long as they Race well and are competitive while providing good entertainment, it’s all good. Though having non-celebs would be great too.
The team that made the biggest impact was definitely Rach & Vicky. I don’t know if that fight at the Detour was just for show, but I liked it. It was hilarious, especially considering it was only the first Leg. If they were just playing up to the cameras, then I’m okay with that since this episode needed a little “kick.” If they really were annoyed with each other, then Yay! Fun times ahead!
It was sad to see Lisa & Nicole eliminated at the Starting Line like that, especially as Vietnam’s first TARA team. They could have been strong competitors.
I definitely know Maggie Wilson and Eric Tai. Maggie & Parul (and Chloe & Yvonne) fill the beauty queen slots on the Race. And judging from their pre-Race and audition videos, Eric & Rona could be the breakout stars of the season.
I’m sad about Rei & Keiji since it would’ve been nice to see a pair of co-ed siblings a little longer into the Race. Alex & Will will have to fill that sibling role, though they’re being portrayed as more the alpha male team. Tom & Anita look like the typical nice couple that goes far.
Louisa & Treasuri definitely remind me of TARA1 winners (and FIRST all-female team to win The Amazing Race) Zabrina & Joe Jer. s unsure about JK & Mike before the Race, thinking they’d be the type who’d play up to the camera too much or something. But they were fine. Alphaeus & Brandon look like that darkhorse team (despite winning this Leg) that could go all the way.
A pretty solid cast overall.
Tom: “So sorry. Hope you get lost.”