The Racers returned to China for this Leg. And kind of like TAR Canada returning home after an international Leg, this Leg in Hefei kind of felt very lackluster in comparison to the previous Leg.
The Leg starts off at the JAC plant which is fine. I know people hate product placement and obvious sponsor-appeasing tasks. But in this present day when everything is about “How much money can you make me?” and “How is this financially beneficial to me?”, making your sponsors happy is a necessity. And for any TAR and really, any possibly expensive production that might not get the biggest audience and/or commercial revenue, companies like JAC Motors or Heiheiru who step up to sponsor the show in this way getting very prominent in-show is a small price for the audience to pay to allow the show to even exist.
I think I even want to try out and buy a JAC S7 now. I’m in the market for a new car. hehe
Anyway, for the opening task of finding their car using the VIN number is certainly much more difficult than just using the key fob to make the car make a noise or flash its headlights. It’s a good and different take on the usual “Find your car” task.
I didn’t get why some teams drove and others did not though. I didn’t know if it was a choice or not. But I just assumed some teams actually didn’t know how to drive, didn’t have a license or just preferred to have a driver. Anyway, the teams seemed to use the car’s voice-activated navigation system either way.
I actually liked the first Road Block. It was a refreshing take on the usual backup camera-promoting task we’ve seen on various TARs. (Most recently on TAR Canada of course.) This task was comparable to TAR26’s tasks where teams had to look through the rearview camera to find the mirrored letters to form the word. But here, teams had to make their way through the mini-obstacle course using only the review and 360 cameras. Blocking out the rearview and side mirrors was a nice touch. But I think some non-participating team members were helping guide their partners which sucks.
Next is ANOTHER Face Off. Meh at another consecutive Face Off. Having a few on the entire Race is okay. But if I remember correctly, season 2 also had many Face Offs (not yet called that though). The task itself is pretty simple. I will say a Tug-of-war is much better than any of TAR Canada’s sports Face Offs, tbh. I don’t really think they needed locals to help, but I guess it was to help make things fair. Though really, it shouldn’t matter whether there are all women or all men or 2/2 or 3/1. An all-female group could just as easily beat an all-male group or something. You never know. So in that sense, maybe Tug-of-war isn’t the best Face Off after all. It’s might be a little skewed towards a certain type of team.
The Detour was also very simple and straightforward. Paper making vs. catching crayfish. The episode actually spent an appropriate amount of time on the task I think. Long enough to show teams doing it, but not too long and boring.
The second Road Block is the highlight of the Leg I think. It was fun. Reminded me of TARPH2’s (the real one) task at Resorts World. The extra detail of course was learning the song to actually sing it. It might have been easier for them than it would be for international Racers who might not be familiar with the language at all.
That’s why I would love to see this task on another TAR in the future. Hehe. (TARPHDME perhaps? lol)
Speaking of, the last task with presenting the items they collected throughout the Leg is very TARPHDME. I like having teams needing to be aware and keeping things with them throughout the Leg (and throughout the Race if possible). It helps to make the Leg feel a little more fluid instead of the usual X to Y to Z format that might feel clunky. Kind of like TARPH2’s (the real one!) format where each task was presented separately instead of as part of a whole Leg. You lose a sense of Racing like that. So having these items and keeping them with you can be that little connection between tasks if needed.
As for the teams, every team delivered again as much as they could. They competed well. It’s too bad the SNH48 girls fell behind like that at the end. But it was a relatively close Race on a linear-ish Leg.
Zhang Jike and his father though are the kind of parent-child team you want to see on TAR. The type where you’ve got a fun father or mother and a more serious son/daughter. Teams like Ron & Christina or Team Jumba Michael & Kevin or Denise & James Earl, to name a few. The contrast between the fun parent and the more serious child is amusing and fun to watch. Definitely not like a parent-child team who are sanctimonious, condescending jerks. I just absolutely hate those kinds of teams, if you know what I mean. Ugh. Yuck.
This was an okay Leg, but certainly the weakest of the season so far. The rest of the season takes place in Asia so that might be a little disappointing. But TAR Asia 5 showed that there’s still plenty to see and do in even the most often-visited Asian countries. And TAR China has been pretty good last year and this year now in taking even recycled tasks and making them feel fresh and different. So that’s good.