The Amazing Race 21 Season Wrap-up

The Amazing Race 21 Wrap-Up
       
*sigh*

So The Amazing Race 21 was an alright season.  Nothing too memorable, save for the final Road Block.  But also not horrible.

I think the biggest thing to take away from TAR21 is that the show is definitely due for a sprucing up.  I hope a freshly remixed theme, new graphics, and some better challenges are in store for us at least in the next two seasons.

The Route
It was an okay Route.  Nothing that really stands out, except maybe Frankfurt being the death of teams.  

I guess after 21 seasons, TAR will be returning to a lot more locations they’ve visited previously.  There’s only so many countries left and with the world continuing to be unstable and unsafe for Americans to run through, I’m sure the options are limited.

The Tasks
We did have some surprisingly physical tasks this season which are great since TAR’s been oversimplifying everything from Leg design to types of challenges for years now.  

The tasks in Indonesia and Bangladesh like the carrying of ice, fish and bamboo or assembling that big scale were good to challenge the teams especially in those countries that were congested and stereotypically “third world.”

The Turkish bath was gratuitous team skin and the Russian time zone Road Block was a great mental challenge

The Twists
Just two new twists this season.  First, the Blind Double U-Turn which was the logical next step for it of course.  Also good to have it when there are more teams to incite paranoia and drama.  Having a regular Double U-Turn with less teams is makes more sense too since you’d probably be able to figure it out anyway.

It’s also about time someone figured out to use the U-Turn to their advantage like how the “Dream Team” did here.  I wonder if that will necessitate a tweak to the rules in reaction kind of like Big Brother instituting that “6 houseguests only” rule after the Five Finger/Backdoor Plan, I think in season 5.  But the U-Turn strategy they came up with here was very smart.

And second, the Double Your Money prize.  Spoiler alert, Phil says it will not return for TAR22.  And I don’t really think it made a difference in terms of competition.  If anything, the threat of another million dollars TAR needed to shell out limited possible locations or tasks.  TAR could use that million for something else like better challenges or to pay for those plane tickets to fresh and different locations.

The Teams
The teams were okay.  It was a solid group.  Even the early boots like Amy & Daniel and Gary & Will made an impression in their short times.

You also had strong personalities in Natalie & Nadiya and Jaymes & James who were pretty much locks for any All-Star season.  You had real underdogs in James & Abba and a likeable, yet strong couple in Trey & Lexi.

There weren’t any villains (despite what some casual fans might believe) or big fueds so there were no angry outbursts like we had in TAR20.

That said, a season like this where teams all helped each other out and even made pacts to get eliminated together kind of made me miss all that fighting and drama TAR20 delivered.

The Ending
As okay as the season was, the finale was very exciting.  And I believe that had to do with the teams being able to Race neck and neck in both final Legs.  

They were actually very linear Legs.  But the tasks were balanced enough and teams good enough to keep everyone within striking distance which made it all the more exciting.

The Final Road Block was definitely an inspired task.  While it may not come close to TAR12’s tragic, but genius final Road Block, this one was right up there with the TAR17 Pit Stop Greeter Hats, the field of clueboxes from TAR13 and the epic surfboards of TAR14.  And let’s not forget the very first memory Final Task, the totem pole Road Block of TAR3.  So ahead of its time.

But it was definitely a downer, almost like TAR12, when a horrible team ends up winning.  More on that below.

ALL-TIME RANKINGS
OVERALL SEASONS
1. TAR3
2. TAR5
3. TAR8
4. TAR1
5. TAR11:AS
6. TAR12
7. TAR2
7. TAR6
7. TAR4
10. TAR20
10. TAR19
10. TAR17
13. TAR10
14. TAR9
15. TAR21
15. TAR717. TAR18: UB
18. TAR16
19. TAR14
20. TAR15
21. TAR13


FINALES
(regardless of winner)
1. TAR3
2. TAR12
3. TAR21
4. TAR8
5. TAR5
6. TAR2
7. TAR1
8. TAR20
9. TAR16
10. TAR15
11. TAR14
12. TAR6
13. TAR19
14. TAR17
15. TAR11: AS
16. TAR4
17. TAR18
18. TAR9
19. TAR13
20. TAR10
21. TAR7

GROUP of TEAMS
1. TAR3
2. TAR8
3. TAR5
4. TAR1
5. TAR11: AS
6. TAR2
6. TAR12
8. TAR6
8. TAR4
8. TAR20
8. TAR19
12. TAR17
13. TAR21
14. TAR10
15. TAR9
16. TAR18
17. TAR16
17. TAR15
17. TAR14
17. TAR13
21. TAR7

MY ALL-TIME TEAMS
1. Ronald & Christina (TAR12/18)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS)
3. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS)
4. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
5. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
6. Brendon & Rachel (TAR20)
7. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS)
8. David & Margaretta (TAR1)
9. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
10. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
11. The Linz Family (TAR8)
12. Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
13. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
14. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
15. Natalie & Nadiya (TAR21)
16. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
17. Trey & Lexi (TAR21)

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 (TAR21)
10. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
11. Gary & Mallory (TAR17)
12. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
13. Bill & Cathi (TAR19)
14. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
15. Steve & Allie (TAR16)

MOST DESERVING 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)
7. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
7. Gary & Mallory (TAR18)
9. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS)
10. Trey & Lexi (TAR21)
11. Jaymes & James (TAR21)
12. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
13. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
14. Brendon & Rachel (TAR20)
15. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12)
16. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
17. Ken & Tina (TAR13)

WINNERS (subjective; as a team)
1. Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
2. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
3. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
4. The Linz Family (TAR8)
5. Flo & Zach (TAR3)
6. Rob & Brennan (TAR1)
7. Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
8. Chris & Alex (TAR2)
8. Chip & Kim (TAR5)
8. Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
*gap*11. Kisha & Jen (TAR18)
11. Meghan & Cheyne (TAR15)
11. Tyler & James (TAR10)
14. Freddy & Kendra (TAR6)
15. Nick & Starr (TAR13)
16. Rachel & Dave (TAR20)
*gap*
17. Reichen & Chip (TAR4)
18. BJ & Tyler (TAR9)
19. TK & Rachel (TAR12)
20. Eric & Danielle (TAR11:AS)
21. Josh & Brent (TAR21)

WINNERS (with respect to final 3)
      Winning Team
         Who I wanted to win
1. Ernie & Cindy
        Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
2. Dan & Jordan
        Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
3. Uchenna & Joyce
        Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
4. The Linz Family
        The Linz Family (TAR8)
5. Tammy & Victor
     Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
6. Nat & Kat
       Nat & Kat or Brook & Claire (TAR1)
7. Rob & Brennan
       Rob & Brennan or Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
8. Chris & Alex
       Blake & Paige or Chris & Alex (TAR2)
9. Chip & Kim
       Chip & Kim or Brandon & Nicole (TAR5)
10. Tyler & James
       Tyler & James or Lyn & Karlyn (TAR10)
11. Flo & Zach
       Teri & Ian or Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
12. Kisha & Jen
      Gary & Mallory (TAR18)
13. Meghan & Cheyne
       Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
14. Nick & Starr
       Nick & Starr or Ken & Tina (TAR13)
15. Reichen & Chip
       Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
16. Freddy & Kendra
       Kris & Jon (TAR6)
17. Rachel & Dave
       Brendon & Rachel (TAR20)
18. BJ & Tyler
       Eric & Jeremy or Ray & Yolanda (TAR9)
19. Eric & Danielle
       Charla & Mirna or Dustin &Kandice (TAR11:AS)
20. TK & Rachel
       Ronald & Christina or Don & Nicolas (TAR12)
20. Josh & Brent
       Trey & Lexi or Jaymes & James (TAR12)

My Final Subjective Team Rankings

Natalie & Nadiya Natalie & Nadiya – They started out as fun sisters who might not have the Race skills, but entertained.  That was definitely the wrong first impression.  Yes, they were fun and entertaining, but they turned out to be great Racers.  Strong competitors who were here to play.  They won Legs, they did well with challenges, they schemed and stole, but they were here to Race.  That gets much more respect by me than teams with defeatist attitudes who would rather quit then go forward.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing them on the Race in the future.
Trey & Alexis Trey & Lexi – They started out okay, but ended up becoming strong and consistent Racers.  They too were competitors who were here to Race.  They stepped on toes and did it with a smile.  But most importantly, they did well despite their inexperience even outside of Texas.  It’s a shame it all came down to that final Road Block because they had run two almost flawless Legs at the end.  It was also great to see a nice couple for once in a long time.    
Jaymes & James Jaymes & James – They definitely started out slow in the beginning.  Their fit bodies being no match for the Race.  But halfway through, they began to step it up and definitely worked to get to that final Leg.  They were also good, laid back, fun guys who were genuinely nice but also pushed themselves to Race well.  Their personalities matched what would become their Racing skills which is always good to watch.
James & Mark James & Abba – You want real underdogs?  James & Abba are that team.  Even though they actually won two Legs thanks to a Fast Forward and a horribly linear next leg, they were consistent, good Racers who were dealt with some bad hands.  But they were able to push through them, even if they ended up eliminated anyway.  But to see true underdog fighting spirit, just watch James & Abba’s final two Legs.  Now there’s real underdogs you can root for.
Amy & Daniel Amy & Daniel – Maybe the most surprising and disappointing elimination.  They seemed like they could go all the way.  Two strong, competitive people who ended up being done in by a bad taxi.  Definitely a shame.
Caitlin & Brittany Caitlin & Brittany – They actually had an okay Race and had it not been for their horrible rickshaw driver (a common theme this season) they could have made it a lot farther.  They were pretty good and could have gotten even better if they survived.  It’s too bad they had to get struck with bad taxi or in this case, rickshaw luck.
Gary & Will Gary & Will – While it is always great to see real TAR fans running the Race, Gary & Will were definitely slogging along the entire time.  For TAR fans, they did not use their TAR knowledge to their advantage, often making the mistakes that they should have known to avoid.  They were lucky to have lasted as long as they did, but they still made a strong impression.  One of a completely overmatched team that was still amusing to watch fumble their way through.
Rob & Shiela Rob & Shiela – Not much of an impression in their short time on the Race, but they were definitely *thisclose* to making it to Leg 2.  It would’ve been interesting to see if they could have done well on the Race.
Rob & Kelley Rob & Kelley – Definitely not one of my favorite teams.  They were cocky and arrogant and Raced horribly.  Instead of bad taxi luck, it was their own decision that got them eliminated.  
Abbie & Ryan Abbie & Ryan – They started out pretty well considering they had that chance to double their money.  But they soon became cocky with their Racing skills not matching their confidence. Then came that idiotic decision to stick together with Josh & Brent to walk together to their eliminations.  What?  They probably would’ve made Final 4 if they had actually hustled and Raced instead of lollygagging through that last Leg of theirs.  But worst part of it all, Ryan’s post-TAR Twitter rant basically calling TAR fake, rigged and scripted.  Way to endear yourself.
Josh & Brent Josh & Brent – Where to begin.  They wouldn’t be as horrible if they hadn’t won.  But because of how poorly they Raced and how many times they were able to luck out and escape elimination from lost passports to non-elimination legs to the U-Turn of a team that had given up.  That’s not including their own defeatist and quitter attitude (they actually did quit once!) that has no place on the Race.  I have no respect for teams that take the Race so lightly as to just give up when there are so many other people who would love and appreciate the opportunity to compete.  The fact that they fell into the finale and then ended up winning doesn’t make them underdogs.  Far from it.  They sucked as Racers and their poor showings were their own fault.  You want real underdogs, look at James & Abba.  Plus this whole “nice guy” notion when they were actually in line with the stereotypical TAR bickering couple types is absurd.  My least favorite winners like TK & Rachel or Eric & Danielle were because they were horrible people on the Race.  Josh & Brent weren’t horrible people on the Race, but they were horrible Racers and so underserving.
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The Amazing Race Philippines, Leg 6 Wrap-up – “Ayoko mamatay dito, sa gitna ng desert. ‘Di ko pinangarap yun.”

The Amazing Race Philippines, Leg 6 Wrap-up



Well, after The Amazing Race 21 had a strange, short Leg on Sunday, The Amazing Race Philippines decided to do the same.

This so-called “Super Leg” wasn’t the “Superleg” we’ve come to know on other TARs.  It was basically a zero-hour Pit Stop with the 2nd of the two Legs being incredibly short.

Really, Leg 6 started out with excellently hilarious car drama, but it seems that was the most interesting part of this Leg.  Maybe as a two-hour episode on TARUS, it would’ve worked better.  But for TARPh’s format, Leg 6 was almost a snooze.  

First, for the Leg itself.  I’ve always been a fan of the super/double/TBC-legs on TAR.  It pushes the teams and gets them really competing while being absolutely exhausted.

But TARPh put an equalizer at the start of Leg 6 that basically gave the teams their mandatory Pit Stop.  Imagine, teams having to wait more than 12 hours for an Hours of Operation.  They might as well have  just not done the “Super Leg” since the point of the zero hour Pit Stop between Legs 5 and 6 was basically negated by the Hours of Operation at the Road Block.

As for Leg design, it was pretty simple.  Definitely the shortest Leg of the Race yet. 

As for the tasks.  The Road Block was good enough.  But the Detour was a lot more boring than it looked on paper.  The teams were in and out of there and there wasn’t even any kind of action when it came to the guns.  Even Dani & Mish’s run through the paintball course looked easier than TK & Rachel’s infamous “run through fireworks” Speed Bump in TAR12. 

Then that car task at SM that seemed more to be boring product placement for whatever that medicine Derek apparently is an endorser for and for SM malls.

The Mt. Pinatubo Pit Stop was nice, but we saw so little of it.  They should’ve done something at the foot of the volcano or something instead of that task at SM.

Overall, a boring, short Leg.  And disappointing after the drama-filled 5th Leg.

My Subjective Team Rankings for Leg 6

Dani & Mish Dani & Mish – Sad to see them go.  It looks like they fit the typical bickering couple mold.  They fight a lot and it looks like they hate each other, but they quickly make up and are friends again in no time.  The frustration of the Race plus Dani’s seemingly natural frantic –self made them an exciting, fun and dramatic team to watch.  Can they get cast on TARUS please?  Or maybe a TAR: World All-Stars edition?
Ed & Angel Ed & Angel – Bad luck with cars for them it seems.  But it doesn’t take away the fact that they’ve stepped it up.  Angel’s more fiesty, Ed’s shown he’s not deadweight.  They are definitely building momentum and starting to really Race well.  If they can shake off the bad luck, they can go far.
Saida & Jervi Saida & Jervi – They’re really losing their luster from the early Legs.  Jervi is definitely not as funny as he was at the beginning and Saida’s muras or swearing aren’t nearly as funny now either.  They’re also slowing down and I think it all started when they decided not to Yield Marc & Kat, thus denying themselves P200,00. 
Sheena & Gee Sheena & Gee – They were loosening up, but now they’re back to their screechy selves which can definitely be grating when they’re doing it every other moment.  Okay Racing from them and they don’t really care who they step on, which can work both ways.  But they’re starting to overdo the playing to the cameras now.
LJ & CJ LJ & CJ – A solid Leg for them.  Only one scene of fun from them at the car task, but otherwise back to being quiet and boring. 
Marc & Kat Marc & Kat – They’ve really become a lot more likeable now that they’re not on top and now that they’re getting snippy with each other.  I really want to see them compete and not just run ahead of everyone.
Fausto & Dayal Fausto & Dayal – A surprisingly competent Leg from them even though Dayal’s strange vanity and outbursts should be a concern for them moving forward if not hilarious to marvel at.  
Boom & Cheng Boom & Cheng – Really though, I can’t bring myself to like them anymore.  Boom’s kisses are sleazy, their jokes are falling flat and forced, and now we learn that they’re actually mactors!?  Your sob story don’t work if you’ve got connections in industry.



PIT STOP
El Kabayo Riding Stables
Subic

ROUTE MARKERS
T33 Thunderbird at Air Force City Park
Clark, Angeles, Pampanga

ROAD BLOCK
Angeles City Flying Club
Magalang, Pampanga

DETOUR
Clark Eagle Range and Gun Club
Clark, Angeles, Pampanga

ROUTE MARKERS
SM City Clark
Angeles, Pampanga

PIT STOP
Sitio Tarukan, Mt. Pinatubo
Capas, Tarlac

Who did the Road Block?
Sino ang nasa target? / Who’s on target?

In order of completion; Italics indicate who did the Road Block
3 Fausto Dayal 3
1 Cheng Boom 5
4 LJ CJ 2
5  Marc Kat 2
3 Sheena Gee 2
2 Angel Ed 4
2 Saida  Jervi 3
2 Dani Mish 4


2 Vanessa Pamela 2
1 Anton Armand 10
0 Mykey Crystel 1

TAMAAN
Boom & Cheng

Marc & Kat
Ed & Angel
Sheena & Gee
 LJ & CJ
Saida & Jervi
Dani & Mish µ

IWASAN
µ Dani & Mish

In order of completion
> or < indicates team switched Detours.
*

PIT STOP
Sitio Tarukan, Mt. Pinatubo
Capas, Tarlac

1st Boom & Cheng =
2nd Fausto & Dayal =
3rd Marc & Kat +1
4th Sheena & Gee +3
5th LJ & CJ +1
6th Saida & Jervi -1
7th Ed & Angel -4
Eliminated Dani & Mish =




The Amazing Race Philippines, Leg 5 Wrap-up – “Right, left, straight, ahead, where?”

The Amazing Race Philippines, Leg 5 Wrap-up

Well, since apparently our “Superleg” is actually two separate legs, here’s a wrap-up of Leg 5.

And it was a crazy one!  And it was all about one Road Block.  A Road Block that ended Marc & Kat’s dominance.  And a Road Block that brought out some of the craziest, most hilarious meltdowns we’ve seen, certainly on TARPh, but even on any TAR.  It was a fun time.

And to more physical tasks, the extra task at the Shipping Terminal was interesting.  Of course it helped escalate the Dani-Mish extravaganza.  But again, it was the kind of task you just won’t see on TARUS anymore.

My Subjective Team Rankings for Leg 5

Dani & Mish Dani & Mish – Dani gets crazier and crazier each Leg and it’s hilarious.  Her random meltdowns are so strange they’re funny.  I do fear that her volatility will eventually cost them the Race, but for now they are good TV.  
Ed & Angel Ed & Angel – Definitely a better Leg for them.  They are stepping it up which is awesome to see, both Race-wise and personality-wise.  Looks like they are not an easy elimination choice anymore.  Woohoo!
Saida & Jervi Saida & Jervi – They’re getting less and less fun as the Legs go on.  And it’s not even that Jervi’s shtick is getting old or anything, it’s just they haven’t really delivered much this Leg. 
Sheena & Gee Sheena & Gee – They are definitely loosening up which means they’re getting louder and more fierce.  It’s interesting to see a fire in them now that wasn’t present in the first four Legs.
LJ & CJ LJ & CJ – The Yield certainly didn’t slow them down last Leg and they had a solid Race this Leg as well.  Also lots more personality from them which is good. 
Marc & Kat Marc & Kat – Like it always has been, a team is more interesting to watch when they’re not dominating the Race.  And that was definitely the case in this Leg when we finally saw some personality from them when they, shockingly, weren’t good at something and fell behind.  I like them a lot more when they’re not accumulating a million pesos.
Fausto & Dayal Fausto & Dayal – Fausto’s alright, but Dayal’s increasingly starting to grate, becoming more self-centered by the Leg.   
Boom & Cheng Boom & Cheng – Again Yielding LJ & CJ.  What a strange fixation.  I think I’m sure they are now the team that most people seem to love, but I just can’t like them.  (See: The Cowboys and the Globetrotters of TARUS)  Annoying and unfunny.

PIT STOP
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Baguio City

CASH
P680

DESTINATION
Subic, Zambales

ROUTE MARKERS
The Lighthouse
Subic

Zoobic Safari
Subic

ROAD BLOCK
Tree Top Adventure
Subic

ROUTE MARKERS
Global Ship Terminal
Subic

PIT STOP
El Kabayo Riding Stables
Subic

Who did the Road Block?
Who’s up for a challenge?

In order of completion; Italics indicate who did the Road Block
1 Cheng Boom 4
2 Fausto Dayal 3
2 Angel Ed 3
2 Saida  Jervi 3
3 LJ CJ 2
4 ε Marc Kat 2
3 Sheena Gee 2
1 Dani Mish 4

2 Vanessa Pamela 2
1 Anton Armand 10
0 Mykey Crystel 1

PIT STOP
El Kabayo Riding Stables
Subic

1st Boom & Cheng +2
2nd Fausto & Dayal +5
3rd Ed & Angel+5
4th Marc & Kat -3
5th Saida & Jervi -3
6th LJ & CJ -2
7th Sheena & Gee -1
8th Dani & Mish -3

The Amazing Race Philippines, Leg 4 Wrap-up

The Amazing Race Philippines, Leg 4 Wrap-up

The downside of having to rely on a faithful TV fan in another country to upload fuzzy videos of episodes online.  

Since I’m not in the Philippines, TV5 doesn’t air TAR on their international channel, and the fact that their international channel isn’t even available on any other provider than Dish, without the kindness of a Filipino with a TV tuner and recording enabled-computer I won’t be able to watch The Amazing Race Philippines.

And so, no recap for the last day of Leg 4.  But a Leg Wrap-up is still possible of course. =]

The Alabang Housewives Pamela & Vanessa were eliminated, failing to overcome the huge gap with the other teams.  If only that first bus had broken down long enough for them to pass!

Still, if TV5 were smart, they’d be ordering up a Real Housewives of Alabang reality show tomorrow.  

Now to the Leg itself.  I think this might have been the most complete leg and if I had been able to watch day 3, maybe the most complete set of episodes too.  Marc & Kat hadn’t checked in to the Pit Stop by the end of episode 2, so that’s a very good sign that the teams would be Racing well into episode 3.

The Road Block was great, but the tasks are starting to get very physical.  Definitely a lot more physical than most of what TARUS has dealt the teams in recent seasons.  

The Detour was good.  Simple, but as I look for in TARUS, it allowed the teams to interact with locals.  It doesn’t have as big an effect when the locals are the same race and ethnicity as you, but still great to see teams being crazy in an unfamiliar (to them) place.  

The extra shoe task was alright.  With the Yield, I actually think this would be the perfect kind of Detour for a U-Turn instead since both sides of the Detour were at that Market.  But Saida & Jervi deciding not to Yield Marc & Kat was dumb.  It would’ve halted their momentum and given them their first win.  

The counting steps is a standard TAR task, but having it right before the Pit Stop and not allowing teams to check-in if they got it wrong is genius!  I haven’t seen that in any TAR I’ve watched.

Definitely not liking Marc & Kat’s dominance.  It would be less annoying if the Pit Stop prize wasn’t 10% of the grand prize.  

Overall (from what I’ve actually seen), a great leg.

My Subjective Team Rankings for Leg 4

Dani & Mish Dani & Mish – Dani’s meltdowns are definitely fun to watch.  What’s even better is while she gets crazy when frustrated, she still powers through tasks and is a tough competitor.  She won’t take crap from anyone and that’s definitely a great trait to have on the Race.  Mish is holding her own, but Dani is certainly the star of the team and one of the stars of the season.  
Pamela & Vanessa Pamela & Vanessa – Definitely sad to see them go so early.  They were hilarious to watch.  Their English-ing shtick never got old (compared to other teams who are wearing out their welcome) and they were genuinely happy to be Racing.  If they aren’t going to get their own Real Housewives reality show after this, give them a comedy show or something that requires them not to live a pampered life.  They’d be awesome.
Saida & Jervi Saida & Jervi – Lost a couple of points when they decided not to Yield Marc & Kat.  They could’ve won their first leg and broken Marc & Kat’s hold on the Race.  They talk about karma, but when the Yield and U-Turn are part of the Race, TAR Karma shouldn’t be an issue.  They better hope NOT using the Yield comes back to bite them later on.  They’re still cool though. 
Ed & Angel Ed & Angel – A rough leg for them, but they kept going.  It is great to see Ed actually be the stronger team member when he performed so poorly in the first leg.  Angel doesn’t need carrying per se, but Ed’s definitely kept them together and focused.  That’s awesome to see.  Hopefully they can move up in the next leg.
Sheena & Gee Sheena & Gee – An okay leg from them.  They’re doing well, their personalities good for a couple of lines per leg.  Definitely would like to see them step it up though.  I do think they have what it takes to make a good run.
LJ & CJ LJ & CJ – They may be bland and sometimes boring, but I definitely side with them against Boom & Cheng at the Yield.  The only positive from the Yield was that we saw LJ & CJ can be fierce bitches too.  I definitely want to see more of that side of them, a strong ultra-competitive side that makes them more interesting to watch.  LJ’s been here before, she knows how reality shows work.  And they’re both actresses.  I’m surprised they haven’t at least tried to play up to the camera. 
Marc & Kat Marc & Kat – When will it end!?!?! 
Fausto & Dayal Fausto & Dayal – They’re still a pretty trainwrecky team.  Not as fun as others, but amusing to see how delusional they are about themselves.  They’re not horrible, but I wouldn’t be sad to see them go. 
Boom & Cheng Boom & Cheng – Not only is their shtick getting stale, they make idiotic moves.  Their Yielding of LJ & CJ was stupid and I hope it bites them in the butt soon.  Wasting their Yield when they were in the front AND on a team that isn’t exactly a big threat.  Congrats on that one.

PIT STOP
Maligcong Rice Terraces
Bontoc

CASH
P3400

DESTINATION
Baguio City, Benguet

ROAD BLOCK
Balatoc Mines
Baguio City

DETOUR
Baguio City Old Market
Baguio City

ROUTE MARKERS
BM Parungao Shoe Store, Old Market
Baguio City

PIT STOP
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Baguio City

SELL 10
Marc & Kat
Saida & Jervi
Fausto & Dayal <
 LJ & CJ
Ed & Angel
Pamela & Vanessa

BUY 10
Sheena & Gee
Dani & Mish
Boom & Cheng

In order of completion
> or < indicates team switched Detours.
*

Who did the Road Block?
Gusto mo bang maging ubod ng yaman? / You want to be filthy rich?

In order of completion; Italics indicate who did the Road Block
2 Fausto Dayal 2
2 Marc Kat 2
1 Saida  Jervi 1
1 Dani Mish 3
1 Cheng Boom 3
3 LJ CJ 1
2 Sheena Gee 2
1 Angel Ed 3
2 Vanessa Pamela 2

1 Anton Armand 10
0 Mykey Crystel 1

PIT STOP
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Baguio City, Benguet

1st Marc & Kat =
2nd Saida & Jervi +2
3rd Boom & Cheng =
4th LJ & CJ -2
5th Dani & Mish +1
6th Sheena & Gee -1
7th Fausto & Dayal +1
8th Ed & Angel -1
Eliminated Pamela & Vanessa =

The Amazing Race Australia 2 Season Wrap-Up

The Amazing Race Australia 2 – Season Wrap-Up

Another successful season of The Amazing Race Australia is over.  And like the first season of the Aussie adaptation, this year’s edition delivered.

Casting is Key
The strongest aspect of TARAu1 was its excellent, diverse cast.  Though seemingly born out of some familiar TAR team molds, each team was distinct and made their mark.  The same can be said for TARAu2.  Another well-casted bunch of teams.  

From siblings and best friends to dysfunctional couples and parent & child, from nice guys and bullies to comic relief and competive, The Amazing Race Australia 2 definitely assembled a great mix of Racers.  And it was thanks to those Racers that we got some good drama, unpredictable competition and colorful personalities.

Based on the last few seasons, TARUS needs to bring over the TARAu casting people.  That’s two-for-two on casting for TARAu and there’s no reason to doubt they’ll be assembling another strong cast next year.

Location, Location…
While TARAu didn’t have a standout location this season like they did last year with Israel, it did go to some unfamiliar or long-forgotten locations TARUS definitely didn’t consider for the upcoming TAR21 (trust me).

It was great to see TAR in the Philippines as well as full TAR legs in North America.  TARAu had solid legs in Europe, Cuba and China.

There were plenty of familiar Road Blocks and Detours though, especially from TARA (of course) and TARUS (specifically TAR14’s China legs).  

The one problem TARAu2 might have had that TARAu1 didn’t was the increasingly linear leg design, long been a problem for TARUS with producing lackluster legs.  

But the linear legs were given a boost by the relatively good tasks and great team interactions.  It also helps that TARAu has maintained their multiple-Route Marker leg structure that has teams going to numerous places during the legs as opposed to TARUS’ over-simplified, point A to point B legs.

Strong All Around
TARAu introduced the Salvage Pass, an interesting power that unlike the Express Pass, affects more than just the winning team.  I’d actually like to see TARUS incorporate it.  Deciding to save a team from elimination in the first leg and then that team eventually outlasting you and making it to 5th Place?  Craziness!

While it could be a bad logistics dream for TARUS and would bring up the question of “pre-determined non-elimination” legs (How would they make up for the non-eliminated team?), I think it would bring more drama than the Express Pass.

TARAu also brought over TAR Israel/HaMerotz LaMillion’s U-Turn voting.  That would definitely bring drama, but I don’t know that TARUS would need that just yet.

Grant Bowler, returning as host, stepped up his game.  He was much more animated and excitable this season.  While his verbiage at the Mat could throw off some TAR fans, it added to the overall fresh feel of TARAu.

Neither TAR19 or TAR20 brought about the freshening up I had hoped for when it came to opening credits and on-screen graphics.  After seeing TARAu’s graphics and excellent opening credits sequence, I expected TARUS to follow suit, especially for its 10th Anniversary or if not, its milestone 20th season. 

I definitely hope TAR21 will bring the cosmetic sprucing up it needs.  TARAu’s look and feel continues to be one of its strong suits.

Overall, The Amazing Race Australia 2 followed up its inaugural season’s successes and seems to have started a legitimate franchise in Australia.  Seven has already ordered season 3.  And at the very least, TARAu3 will be another great bridge between the mothership’s seasons next Summer.

My Final Subjective Team Rankings

Sarah & James Sarah & James -  Hilarious and awesome.  Sarah and her hunners are definitely two of the best characters to come from TARAu or any TAR yet.  She may look like some Botoxed-cougar with boobs and tight clothes, but she was a strong and fierce competitor.  She was focused on the Race and often would need to push James to get into the Race as well.  That competitive fire was definitely lacking from other teams.  Couple that with the typical dysfunctional couple entertainment, you’ve got a winner!
Paul & Steve Paul & Steve – Paul might just be the most interesting character on TARAu yet.  A highly competitive, very confident alpha male who showed both strong performances and baffling stumbles.  He may not have done anything directly to other teams, but his loud, confident personality would definitely be something that could rub others the wrong way, especially if you’re winning every leg.  Steve was the calmer, more normal half of the team.  And together, they worked solidly for most of the Race.  But Paul knowing exactly who and what he was eased any ill-will one might have toward him.
Lucy & Emilia Lucy & Emilia – Their epic escapes from elimination were epic.  They had luck on their side and they enjoyed the Race and each other.  Plus, they were hilarious the entire time.  Though I would’ve loved to have seen actually step it up during the Race, they were enjoyable and fun.
Sticky & Sam Sticky & Sam – They seemed to be setting themselves up for either a dominant run or a huge fall.  Too bad it was the latter.  Sticky definitely proved a lot in spite of only having one arm, but their surprising elimination showed the Race is leg to leg and one misstep could be fatal.  Good guys that just couldn’t get themselves out of a hole.  
Tarryn & Ross Tarryn & Ross – They had a very promising start to the Race, but when they were eliminated, their weaknesses came bubbling to the top.  A lack of drive and focus was sad to see from a team that started off so well.  
Shane & Andrew Shane & Andrew – They had a rough go at it for most of the Race.  They fully earned their “bumbling cops” title, but their steadiness and having other teams drop like flies helped propel them to the final leg that was anyone’s for the taking.  And they took it.  Nice guys who I would’ve liked to see more competitiveness from earlier.  Plus how could you not like them for their kangaroo souvenirs?
Sue & Teresa Sue & Teresa – The aura spray may have made them seem like a gimmick at first, but they showed some makings of a solid team.  Though they needed more sense of urgency, they Raced relatively well and could’ve made it further had it not been for that Road Block.
Michelle & Jo Michelle & Jo – Probably the most consistent team this Race.  But even though they were strong most of the time, they also had some huge bumps along the way.  And their strange fixation on Paul turned into a Rachel vs Vanessa redux (TAR20) especially in the final leg when it appears their frustration exploded.  Still, they had ups and downs, but they definitely deserved their spot in the final.
Adam & Dane Adam & Dane – The teams were half-right in the final leg.  Adam & Dane were indeed unlucky.  But selling their stuff and not knowing the Race rules was their own doing.  Instead of being an alpha-male team that went far, they ended up being first boot fodder.
Donna & Kym Donna & Kym – Their last leg was painful to watch.  To see a team just give up like that was both sad and very annoying.  And their own grudge against Paul just made them seem petty and childish.    
Joseph & Grace Joseph & Grace – Grace seemed to be strong and competitive at the start of the Race.  Boy was I wrong.  Though she deserves kudos for not giving up in their final leg, her self-imposed weakness and unnecessary bullying of other teams plus her self-righteous proclamations of who should and shouldn’t make it to the end just made her and Joseph the legitimate villains of the Race.  And not in a love to hate kind of way either.


<font face="georgia" size="4"Relive The Amazing Race Australia!



Click here to go to the archive to see all my recaps from this season and from American seasons past!

Also, over 4000! caps, more than 300+ from each episode at
Photobucket.com/TARAu2

And, check out hours of bonus video and content at the official TARAu website: yhoo.it/TARAu7

 

The Amazing Race Australia 1 – Season Wrap-Up

The Amazing Race Australia – Season Wrap-Up

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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!



Click here to go to the archive to see all my recaps from this season and from American seasons past!

Also, over 5100! caps, more than 300+ from each episode at
xangatheamazingracecaps @ Photobucket

And, check out hours of bonus video and content at the official TARAu website: yhoo.it/TARAu7

 

The Amazing Race 17 Season Wrap-up

The Amazing Race 17 Wrap-Up

History
Season 17 of The Amazing Race ended with history being made.  Nat & Kat are officially the first all-female team to win the original, American Amazing Race.  17 seasons, almost 10 years and finally an all-female team crosses the Finish Line first.

This is definitely a big deal, after many less than stellar, maybe undeserving, or worse unlikeable winners, we get a team that fully deserves the win.  A great ending to one of the better post-All-Stars seasons.  Having Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire as Teams 1 and 2 couldn’t have been a better way to cap off the season.  Two teams who have not only done well, but dominated the Race.  Two teams who didn’t just fall onto the Mat at the Finish Line, but worked their butts off the entire Race to get there.

Actually, Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire finishing so strongly could be enough to push TAR17 over TAR12, arguably the best post-All-Star season that was ultimately marred by the eventual winners.

The season as a whole was enjoyable.  Despite others out there saying this was a lackluster season, on the contrary, I think TAR17 started off very strongly and was able to maintain a brisk pace through the entire Race.  A surprisingly good mix of teams with some new locations and even marginally inspired tasks helped make TAR17 feel a little fresher than the last couple of seasons.

The Twists
Two new twists to the Race were introduced this season.  The first was the Express Pass.  Phil hyped the Express Pass the entire Race as a huge, game-changing power.  But it really is just a Fast Forward only not.  I don’t see the drama they hoped the Express Pass would add, nor the game-changing… no, game-shattering consequences of it being used.  Jill & Thomas used the Express Pass and it didn’t really make a difference.  It saved them from Elimination, but so could a Yield or even more so a U-Turn, and both of those help contribute to the drama.

Since TAR has basically devalued the once powerful Fast Forward (I still resent them doing that), they needed another un-harmful jump to the front power?  I don’t know.  Does TAR really need an incentive to get first on the first leg?  I guess the Express Pass helps save money since it takes the place of a trip from Travelocity or the previous first leg prizes of $20,000 or cars.

So I could take or leave the Express Pass.  It did not add a single thing to the Race, enjoyment-wise.  Sure it was great for Jill & Thomas, but not all that great for entertainment purposes.

The second new twist was the Double U-Turn.  It has been very fascinating how they’ve been able to take a twist (the U-Turn) and twist it some more.  After the Blind U-Turn, this Double U-Turn is actually very interesting and I think a good twist.

While the full extent of the Double U-Turn has not been explained, it can be a great source of drama.  Brook & Claire became the first U-Turned team not to be eliminated that same leg, but only because another team was U-Turned after them.  That can certainly bring some good drama and tension.

My question is, can the first U-Turned team U-Turn another team to ultimately help save themselves?  That would be an interesting thing to find out by having the Double U-Turn show up earlier in the Race.  We’ll see if that happens next season.

Back to Basics
The season had some great and memorable tasks.

Of course, the season’s first Road Block was a literal smash.  One thing to fully commend TAR and the CBS promo department was releasing the video of Claire’s watermelon smash.  It was a certified viral hit.  People who didn’t watch The Amazing Race were spreading the video and linking to it, tweeting it and posting it on Facebook.  I was surprised to see several of my Facebook friends, whom I know could care less about TAR, actually post the video and enjoy it.

Creating that eventual viral video was a genius move and it definitely brought some new eyeballs to the show.

One complaint I’ve had the last few seasons has been the lack of cultural and location-specific Detours and Road Blocks.  Increasingly in the last few seasons, we’ve gotten uninspired, generic tasks that could be done in California or the French countryside, New York or the streets of Vietnam.  Doing that totally defeats the purpose of traveling around the world.  Even TAR’s Family Edition had better cultural and location-specific tasks than we’ve had in recent seasons.

Having cultural and location-specific tasks also allow for teams to interact directly with the locals.  Again, one of the selling points for the show, having Americans interacting with a variety of cultures around the world.

So it was good to see that change in TAR17.  From selling in the streets of Ghana and  sitting with Ghanaian school children to mushing sled dogs and setting up traditional dwellings for the Sami in Sweden.  Playing a traditional Russian game to experiencing daily life in Oman.  There were plenty of great tasks that opened our eyes but were also fun to watch.

The route was good as well.  Having teams go from the heat of Ghana to the cold of Europe and Russia and back to the oven in Oman.

The episodes were also a step up, with some better editing and mostly exciting and enjoyable weeks.  The best episode of the season I think has to be Episode 11 in Korea that had drama, thrills, comedy, and competition as well as interesting locations.  The premiere was one of the best in recent memory while the only lackluster episodes were Episodes 8 and maybe 9 for having legs that were too linear that didn’t provide much excitement by way of competition.

Need for Inspiration
The finale, meanwhile, was saved by the ultimate winners.  It was sad finding out the Finish Line would be in Los Angeles.  TAR needs to ban Los Angeles from being a Starting Line or a Finish Line for at least four seasons.  There are so many other cities in the United States… MANY other cities that going back to LA is just boring and contributes to the feeling of being uninspired.

That might be the biggest reason the Emmys decided to go with Top Chef this year instead of keeping TAR’s Emmy streak alive.  Maybe the Emmy voters are sensing the Race becoming too complacent and bland.  Nothing fresh or new to offer, adhering to an almost paint by numbers format.

TAR17 was filmed before the Emmy ceremony, so TAR and Bert & Co.’s response to the Emmy loss should (hopefully!) be seen next season on TAR18.  But TAR17, even without the knowledge of the impending Emmy loss, was a step up for TAR and a good sign that maybe even Bert & Co. know they  need to spice things up.

A good start is finally transitioning the show to High Definition.  It has been a long time coming and hopefully the HD era of TAR also brings a rejuvenated attitude to the show.  A new era that revitalizes TAR, even though it has held up incredibly well going into its 10th year on the air.

So all in all, TAR17 was enjoyable and definitely the best season since TAR12.  That puts even more pressure on TAR18 to deliver.  And my worries about TAR18 can (and will) fill up a separate post later this week.

But as for TAR17, it was a good season, but it will be best remembered for making history.  Good history.  And that’s not a bad way to be remembered.

ALL-TIME RANKINGS
OVERALL SEASONS
1. TAR3
2. TAR5
2. TAR8
4. TAR1
5. TAR11:AS
5. TAR17
5. TAR12
5. TAR2
5. TAR6
12. TAR4
10. TAR16
11. TAR14
13. TAR15
14. TAR10
15. TAR13
16. TAR9
*huge gap*
17. TAR7

FINALES
(regardless of winner)
1. TAR3
2. TAR12
3. TAR8
4. TAR5
5. TAR2
6. TAR1
7. TAR16
8. TAR15
9. TAR14
10. TAR6
11. TAR17
12. TAR11: AS
13. TAR9
14. TAR13
15. TAR4
16. TAR10
17. TAR7

GROUP of TEAMS
1. TAR3
2. TAR8
3. TAR5
4. TAR1
5. TAR11: AS
6. TAR2
6. TAR12
6. TAR17
9. TAR6
9. TAR4
11. TAR16
12. TAR15
13. TAR14
14. TAR13
15. TAR10
16. TAR9
*gap*
17. TAR7

MY ALL-TIME TEAMS
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS)
3. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
4. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS)
5. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
6. The Linz Family (TAR8)
7. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS)
8. David & Margaretta (TAR1)
9. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
10. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
11. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
12. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
13. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
14. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
15. Michael & Kevin (TAR17)

NON TOP 3 TEAMS THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE FURTHER
1. Teri & Ian (TARAS)
2. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
3. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
4. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
5. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
6. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
7. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
8. Gary & Mallory (TAR17)
9. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
10. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
11. Mel & Mike (TAR14)
12. Zev & Justin (TAR15)
13. Toni & Dallas (TAR13)
14. Steve & Allie (TAR16)
15. Michael & Kevin (TAR17)

MOST DESERVING FINAL 3 TEAM (NON-WINNERS)
1. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
3. Teri & Ian (TAR3)
3. Charla & Mirna (TARAS)
3. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
6. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
7. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
8. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS)
9. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
10. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12)
11. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
12. Ken & Tina (TAR13)
13. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
14. Sam & Dan (TAR15)

WINNERS (subjective; as a team)
1. Nat & Kat (TAR17)
2. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
3. The Linz Family (TAR8)
4. Flo & Zach (TAR3)
5. Rob & Brennan (TAR1)
6. Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
7. Chris & Alex (TAR2)
7. Chip & Kim (TAR5)
7. Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
10. Meghan & Cheyne (TAR15)
10. Tyler & James (TAR10)
10. Nick & Starr (TAR13)
*gap*
13. Reichen & Chip (TAR4)
14. Freddy & Kendra (TAR6)
15. BJ & Tyler (TAR9)
16. TK & Rachel (TAR12)
17. Eric & Danielle (TAR11:AS)

WINNERS (with respect to final 3)
&nbsp  &nbsp Winning Team
&nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp Who I wanted to win
1. Dan & Jordan
&nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp Dan & Jordan (TAR7)
2. Uchenna & Joyce
&nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
3. The Linz Family
&nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp The Linz Family (TAR8)
4. Tammy & Victor
&nbsp &nbsp Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
5. Nat & Kat
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Nat & Kat or Brook & Claire (TAR1)
6. Rob & Brennan
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Rob & Brennan or Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
7. Chris & Alex
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Blake & Paige or Chris & Alex (TAR2)
8. Chip & Kim
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Chip & Kim or Brandon & Nicole (TAR5)
9. Tyler & James
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Tyler & James or Lyn & Karlyn (TAR10)
10. Flo & Zach
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Teri & Ian or Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
11. Meghan & Cheyne
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
12. Nick & Starr
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Nick & Starr or Ken & Tina (TAR13)
13. Reichen & Chip
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
14. Freddy & Kendra
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Kris & Jon (TAR6)
15. BJ & Tyler
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Eric & Jeremy or Ray & Yolanda (TAR9)
16. Eric & Danielle
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Charla & Mirna or Dustin &Kandice (TAR11:AS)
17. TK & Rachel
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Ronald & Christina or Don & Nicolas (TAR12)
My Final Subjective Team Rankings

Nat & Kat Nat & Kat – I criticized their sometimes lack of urgency, that they need to push themselves a little more.  They had fallen behind the several times they didn’t.  But I guess a calm and collected Race is just as fine.  That’s not to say they didn’t fight, because they definitely did.  When they were running on all cylinders, they were unstoppable.  They get major props for conquering their fears and doing anything to win the Race, Nat for her fear of heights and Kat for eating meat despite being vegetarian for 22 years.  Take that Rob Mariano!  They fully deserve their win and I am incredibly happy they are the team that made history. 
Brook & Claire Brook & Claire – But! I would’ve been just as happy if Brook & Claire had won the Race.  It was very awesome having two strong, very likeable female teams on the same season.  Not since maybe the BQs and Mirna & Schmirna have there been a better combo of all-female teams?  B&C were not only strong competitors, but they had the energy and spunk that really helps on the Race.  That positive attitude that can help you get out of anything.  It is a shame they won’t be on TAR18, but it was great to see them finish 2nd.  Maybe in the future, they can get the chance to go all the way.  But a wonderful Race from them as well. 
Michael & Kevin Michael & Kevin – Being a fan of them already pre-TAR, Michael & Kevin (or Team Jumba) was one of my favorite teams and I definitely hoped they would go far.  But it seems Kevin’s inability to have more faith in his father made their Race more sloppy than it could have been.  They Raced well, but they didn’t step it up when they needed to.  Add to that Kevin always having to think his father can’t do something, it was only a matter of time before they were eliminated.  I still like them and they certainly are doing quite well on YouTube, but I only wish we got to see that growth between the two of them, Michael proving his son wrong and Kevin being a bigger motivator for his father.
Gary & Mallory Gary & Mallory – Another team that was very strong, but them not stepping it up when they needed to.  Gary & Mallory were a great team, great teamwork and positive attitudes (especially Mallory’s bubbly personality).  But they lacked the drive, especially in their final leg in Oman.  They shut down that leg when in the Race up to then, they were on fire, getting better and better each week.  It would be nice to see them Race again, and learn from their mistakes this season.  I wonder if they’ll get the chance like Mallory asked at the Finish Line.  *wink*wink*  
GAP
Andie & Jenna Andie & Jenna – They would have been an interesting team to watch over the course of the Race.  Their interesting circumstance was definitely a fascinating dynamic to follow.  Sadly, it didn’t seem like they were destined long for the Race, but they were a nice team that would’ve been nice to see go further.
Connor & Jonathan Connor & Jonathan – The singing was getting old, but they were basically harmless the rest of the time.  Their Race was far from stellar though especially compared to performances from other teams.  It seemed like a matter of time before they were eliminated as well.   
Ron & Tony Ron & Tony – So little from them even for the first elimination.  It sucks when a genuine TAR fan doesn’t do well on the show.  I don’t really know how well they would’ve done.  They made a huge mistake right off the bat, so maybe that wasn’t a good sign for their Race prospects. 
Chad & Stephanie Chad & Stephanie – Chad & Stephanie were incredibly schizophrenic.   One week, a typical bickering couple the next week a happy-go-lucky, bumbling couple… which was it?  Their starring leg in Oman was incredible.  Almost like it was planned.  From the oversleeping to the engagement to the first place win, it was really unbelievable.  But really that was their only big moment in the Race. 
GAP
Katie & Rachel Katie & Rachel – Their bad attitudes slowly surfaced week after week until they were eliminated and they were on full display at Elimination Station.  I have to say I’m happy they weren’t the ones making history.  They didn’t Race particularly well and top it off with their bitterness and sour attitudes, I wasn’t sad to see them eliminated.
Nick & Vicki Nick & Vicki – Absolutely hate quitters on TAR and Nick was really the main reason for their team’s downfall.  His negativity was too much for Vicki’s positivity and apparent strength.  Vicki was awesome for being very good at tasks as well as being very social and positive throughout the Race.  But it was Nick that dragged that all down, all culminating in him falling asleep during the Detour in Hong Kong.  Unprecedented. 
Jill & Thomas Jill & Thomas – Typical couple.  Boring.  And sometimes offensive (thanks to Thomas).  Might sound mean, but it was fun seeing them just out of it in the final leg.  I wonder if Thomas has apologized to the Ghanaian children and the elderly yet.
Relive The Amazing Race 17!

Click here to go to the archive to see all my recaps from the season and from seasons past!

Also, over 5300! caps, more than 350+ from each episode at
xangatheamazingracecaps @ Photobucket

And, check out hours of bonus video including full episodes and the complete season of Elimination Station at CBS.com

Plus download full episodes from the entire season on
The 

The Amazing Race 16 Season Wrap-up

The Amazing Race 16 Wrap-Up
       
Wow.  Even after 16 seasons, I am still amazed and grateful that The Amazing Race has finished another round-the-world adventure.  I just can’t help but look back to TAR2, TAR3, and TAR4 when the series’ future was very much in doubt.

But seven-eight years later, the series continues to grow  and buck the trend for long-running shows, not to mention a reality show.  The show definitely has things it needs to work on moving forward, but you just can’t beat a Race around the world.

Season 16, though still very much enjoyable, was definitely a little lackluster and at times uninspired.  There were memorable challenges like the World War II Detour in France, but most of the Detours and Road Blocks this season seemed very simple, many of them tasks that could have easily been completed in other cities around the world.

The funny thing is, despite the easy tasks, the teams still managed to find ways to screw up, which may say more about this season’s group of teams than the challenges themselves.

Cultural tasks and tasks that are inherent of their destination that leg, like the drums or ice cream selling in Singapore, or the whole cowboys and bandits theme in Argentina, are always best.  The Amazing Race prides itself on being a travel show just as much as a reality show, so rappelling into a wine cellar or counting chain links at the dock are more generic especially compared to the other stuff they did get to do.

The changes to the Leg structure, like having two Road Blocks in a leg, are small but interesting twists that add different dynamics to the Race.  It was such a shock to have the Road Block before the Detour for the first time in TAR4.  The accidental creation of double/superlegs was another.  Having two Road Blocks, though maybe a budget measure just as much as a freshening up move, is simple, yet throws teams and the viewers off guard.  How about two Detours next season?

I prefer those kinds of tweaks than having to add things like the Yield or the U-Turn that causes drama that is more annoying than interesting. 

Speaking of things TAR should work on, I didn’t notice it until this season, but for a while now we’ve had the Final Leg take place entirely in the End City, which is great.  The early seasons had maybe one task in the End City at most, many times just random clues after already completing Detours and Road Blocks in the original port of entries of either Alaska or Hawaii.

One of the criticisms with the TAR16 finale was how it was a straightforward leg that was decided by Dan & Jordan’s move on the airplane, not allowing other teams to maybe catch up and pass them.  But I actually think the leg provided many opportunities for things like that to happen.  With the Coit Tower Road Block, look no further than TAR5’s penultimate leg in the Philippines where Linda & Karen had a pretty comfortable lead over Colin & Christie, until they came to the ascender.  With physical tasks like that, teams can either fall behind or catch up easily.  The virtual task was another interesting crapshoot with the spinning clue a nice curveball.  Add to that the riddles instead of straightforward clues and the mercy of taxi drivers, by the time they got to the incredibly simple final task, there have been plenty of passing opportunities. 

And that’s one of the big things in this season, bunching points and equalizers, or the lack thereof.  In the past, everyone hated Hours of Operation, bunching points, plane and train equalizers.  But this season, it seemed like they were gravely necessary.  The France legs were especially horrible because if it weren’t for the U-Turn of Joe & Heidi, there wouldn’t have been any change in placements leg-to-leg.  The Legs were designed as very straightforward with tasks that did not allow for teams to catch up.  Legs like that actually made you appreciate those equalizers that many have hated for so long.  The Race is leg to leg so maybe some better Leg design in the next seasons can avoid the forced bunching, but also allow for teams to catch up or fall behind based on their actions and task performances.

There’s also discussion about the use of taxis in the Final Leg.  If taxis are a part of every other leg, what makes the Final Leg so different?  I know Bert & Co. are hesitant at having teams drive themselves in the Final Leg for fear of reckless, fast driving in the heat of being this close to a million dollars.  That’s a valid concern, there were times in this finale where Jet & Cord were running into San Francisco traffic.  

Overall, this was an okay season. Phil mentioned at the start that this would be a “difficult” and “demanding” Race.  It was far from it.  I enjoyed it but wished it had a little more.  The teams were less than exciting and the stunt casting is really not necessary.  I definitely believe in Dan & Jordan as winners and that actually helps boost the season in my book.

ALL-TIME RANKINGS
OVERALL SEASONS
1. TAR3
2. TAR5
3. TAR8
4. TAR1
5. TAR2
6. TAR4
6. TAR6
6. TAR11:AS
6. TAR12

6. TAR16
11. TAR10
12. TAR14
13. TAR15
14. TAR13
15. TAR9
*huge gap*
16. TAR7

FINALES
(regardless of winner)
1. TAR3
2. TAR12
3. TAR8
4. TAR5
5. TAR2
6. TAR1
7. TAR16
8. TAR15
9. TAR14
10. TAR6
11. TAR11: AS
12. TAR9
13. TAR13
14. TAR4
15. TAR10
16. TAR7

GROUP of TEAMS
1. TAR3
2. TAR8
3. TAR5
4. TAR1
5. TAR11: AS
6. TAR2
6. TAR12
8. TAR6
8. TAR4
10. TAR16
11. TAR15
12. TAR14
13. TAR13
14. TAR10
15. TAR9
*gap*
16. TAR7

MY ALL-TIME TEAMS
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS)
3. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
4. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS)
5. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
6. The Linz Family (TAR8)
7. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS)
8. David & Margaretta (TAR1)
9. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
10. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
11. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
12. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)

NON TOP 3 TEAMS THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE FURTHER
1. Teri & Ian (TARAS)
2. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
3. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
4. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
5. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
6. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
7. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
8. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
9. Mel & Mike (TAR14)
10. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
11. Zev & Justin (TAR15)
12. Toni & Dallas (TAR13)
13. Steve & Allie (TAR16)

MOST DESERVING FINAL 3 TEAM (NON-WINNERS)
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3)
2. Charla & Mirna (TARAS)
2. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
5. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
6. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
7. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS)
8. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
9. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12)
10. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
11. Ken & Tina (TAR13)
12. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
13. Sam & Dan (TAR15)

WINNERS (subjective; as a team)
1. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
2. The Linz Family (TAR8)
3. Flo & Zach (TAR3)
4. Rob & Brennan (TAR1)
5. Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
6. Chris & Alex (TAR2)
6. Chip & Kim (TAR5)
6. Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
9. Meghan & Cheyne (TAR15)
9. Tyler & James (TAR10)
9. Nick & Starr (TAR13)
*gap*
12. Reichen & Chip (TAR4)
13. Freddy & Kendra (TAR6)
14. BJ & Tyler (TAR9)
15. TK & Rachel (TAR12)
16. Eric & Danielle (TAR11:AS)

WINNERS (with respect to final 3)
      Winning Team
         Who I wanted to win
1. Dan & Jordan
        Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
2. Uchenna & Joyce
        Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
3. The Linz Family
        The Linz Family (TAR8)
4. Tammy & Victor
     Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
5. Rob & Brennan
       Rob & Brennan or Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
6. Chris & Alex
       Blake & Paige or Chris & Alex (TAR2)
7. Chip & Kim
       Chip & Kim or Brandon & Nicole (TAR5)
8. Tyler & James
       Tyler & James or Lyn & Karlyn (TAR10)
9. Flo & Zach
       Teri & Ian or Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
10. Meghan & Cheyne
       Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
11. Nick & Starr
       Nick & Starr or Ken & Tina (TAR13)
12. Reichen & Chip
       Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
13. Freddy & Kendra
       Kris & Jon (TAR6)
14. BJ & Tyler
       Eric & Jeremy or Ray & Yolanda (TAR9)
15. Eric & Danielle
       Charla & Mirna or Dustin &Kandice (TAR11:AS)
16. TK & Rachel
       Ronald & Christina or Don & Nicolas (TAR12)
My Final Subjective Team Rankings

Daniel & Jordan Dan & Jordan – Seeing a superfan like Jordan, a real TAR fan win the Race is just awesome and fulfilling.  They were a team I’ve been rooting for from the beginning, every leg hoping and wishing they’d step it up and really show their strengths.  But it seems their strategy of being under the radar and just making sure to avoid elimination each leg worked as they stepped up tenfold in the final, most important leg.  They also give hope to real people who apply for TAR, that it’s not just scouted and recruited teams that do well.  Great winners and I am absolutely ecstatic they won.
Steve & Allie Steve & Allie – They were fun, especially Steve’s dunkeness.  Ever since TAR12’s Ron & Christina, I’ve wanted a parent-child team to do well on the Race.  They had a great opportunity and looked like a team to beat, but it only takes one wrong turn to cost you the Race.  They were a team with lots of potential, it was too bad they were out that early.
Jody & Shannon Jody & Shannon – Nice people, but they just couldn’t keep up with the other teams.  They also didn’t have a sense of urgency in the Race which can definitely hurt.  Hopefully this won’t be the last time we have a grandparent-grandchild team on the Race though.
Monique & Shawne Monique & Shawne – They always kept their spirits up which is a big plus on the Race.  And they could’ve been able to stick around, but they had a really bad leg in Argentina.  A nice team.
Dana & Adrian Dana & Adrian – They were good people, but what a tough way to go out and on the first leg too.  I think they would’ve lasted only a few legs anyway, but they gave it a good go.
Jordan & Jeff Jordan & Jeff – I hated Jeff and Jordan during Big Brother.  And I hated that they were cast for TAR16.  But I did warm up to them on the Race even if they weren’t good Raceers.  Another stunt casting move that ended up not helping the show at all.
Carol & Brandy Carol & Brandy – They were definitely very snobbish and high maintenance, plus they were a typical bickering couple.  But when they put all that aside, they Raced very well and could have easily made it further.  They may be no better than Caite, but at least they had their head in the game and never took things personal until they got U-Turned.  
Joe & Heidi Joe & Heidi – Joe has a brash and seemingly tactless personality and that won’t get you friends on the Race, which ended up being their demise at the hands of a U-Turn.  They were competitive, but the social aspect of the Race is definitely something you should stay aware of while focusing on the competition and physical aspects more.
Brent & Caite Brent & Caite – They started the Race with the potential to actually prove people wrong.  They ended up showing that they were just like any past bickering couple.  And their fued with Carol & Brandy was really just very lame and annoying as presented on the show.  Many times they would just fall forward into the next leg.  Too many mistakes, they were lucky to have survived to the final 3.  The stunt casting of Caite though is just really something TAR should avoid.
Louie & Michael Louie & Michael – Really did not like them.  They were overconfident, smug, and annoying.  They were not funny and just seemed like shady people the entire Race.  So sad they made it to the final four.
Jet & Cord Jet & Cord – I started the Race thinking they were a little smug and arrogant.  They started doing very well, and it would go away, but then randomly pop back up at different points in the Race, including that pouch throwing at the Mat in Seychelles.  They had magic powers that let them do well enough to pass other teams, but they didn’t have that magic in the last Leg.
Relive The Amazing Race 16!

Click here to go to the archive to see all my recaps from the season and from seasons past!

Also, over 4900! caps, more than 350+ from each episode at
xangatheamazingracecaps @ Photobucket

And, check out hours of bonus video including full episodes and the complete season of Elimination Station at CBS.com

Plus download the full episodes on The Amazing Race 

The Amazing Race 15 Season Wrap-up

The Amazing Race 15 Wrap-Up

The milestone 15th season of The Amazing Race has come and gone.  I believe it was the fastest Race ever run, which I can believe since it did feel like it went by very fast.

But it was a good season overall.  It probably won’t be one of my favorites, but it was a lot more enjoyable than a few other seasons.  Of course my opinion of Amazing Race seasons change as times goes by.  Sometimes, I’ll enjoy a season a lot more later on than I did when it first aired.  Other times, I might get bored by a season I had previously loved.  Same for teams.  I could absolutely hate a team while watching the show as it first airs, but later on I might grow to appreciate their contribution to entertainment on the Race.

TAR15 presented some interesting things though.  First to the new Race introduction, the Switchback.  It was fun reminiscing about past seasons and always great when the show calls back to its history.  While this season’s Switchback did provide the hilarious meltdown of Sam & Dan and the only moment of tension between Meghan & Cheyne, it didn’t match the emotion of the first time in TAR6.  Which I think will probably never happen for any Switchback, but we can hope for new classic moments that can be considered for Switchbacks in the future right?

The Amazing Race 15 almost started looking like The Amazing Race Asia with all the penalties being handed out this season!  Including the no travel documents penalty for Zev & Justin, the first 4-hour Road Block penalty since the infamous TAR7 quitting debacle (thanks Romber, ugh), an unseen 24-hour penalty for Maria & Tiffany for not completing the Detour, and their penalty after the first leg when they lost their Japanese tourists.  They remind everyone that this is a game, it is a competition with rules in addition to being a beautiful travelogue.

The Race Course this season seemed to be lacking just a little bit.  Great and beautiful destinations, but I guess I’d love to see some unexpected locations as well as a Race Course not limited to two continents.

The Speed Bumps are getting increasingly pointless.  Sit in a sauna, deliver pho, take a shot.  They can’t be too hard of course, but I do hope they get a little more creative next season.

The Detours and Road Blocks were hit and miss.  The best, most memorable ones (including random tasks) from this season have to be:
-The Wasabi Road Block, Leg 1 in Japan.  What made this Road Block was the atmosphere and the Japanese game show gimmick.  It was crazy fun and it seems like everyone involved enjoyed it (including those of us at home!)
-Guiding Japanese Tourists.  Tasks that have teams directly interacting with the locals is always a win.  And this one was no different.  Being in charge of a huge group of people who may or may not speak English, what could be more fun than that?!  And the cuts of the Japanese lady being so grateful for the Globetrotters, Canaan carrying the lady who couldn’t walk anymore, Meghan & Cheyne’s bathroom break… it was gold.
-The Duck Road Block in Vietnam.  Bertram van Munster attempted this task once before in the first Philippine leg of TAR5.  But it was a Detour then and no one even wanted to attempt it, now he forces the teams to do it and it was hilarious and fun.
-Child’s Play Detour in Vietnam. Anytime random kids are involved in any way on the show, it’s a good thing.  Seeing the kids in the playground  waiting for the huge animals to arrive along with several grown-up holding up balloons randomly in the park… awesomeness.
-The Monkey Road Block in Cambodia. Interesting and fun.
-The Desert Water Road Block in Dubai.  It would’ve been lots more fun if the teams wandered around even longer and the camels had more screen time.
-The Swiss Switchback Road Block.  Provided lots of funny drama, but still paled in comparison to TAR6’s epicness.
-Kafka Road Block.  This was a great task to have at night.  I wish there were more legs where the teams wander around town in the middle of the night.  But this task specifically was great, though more awesome if they had played up the Kafka-isms.  I feel like the glossed over whom Kafka was and what his writings were, which would’ve added a lot to make for a more ominous task.

And so, the 16th season is currently in production.  If you’re spoiler free, well let me say you’re lucky because unlike me, you won’t be cursing at whoever casted this season until March.  Not looking forward to not one but two casting gimmicks TAR has resorted to for TAR16.  Thanks CBS.  Boo.

My expectations are going to be very low for this season because we’ve seen how horrible stunt casting has been for TAR before.  But since this is The Amazing Race, it can never be that bad.  😉  

ALL-TIME RANKINGS
OVERALL SEASONS
1. TAR3
2. TAR5
2. TAR8
4. TAR1
5. TAR11:AS
5. TAR12
5. TAR2
5. TAR6
9. TAR14
10. TAR4
10. TAR15
12. TAR10
13. TAR13
14. TAR9
*huge gap*
15. TAR7

FINALES
(regardless of winner)
1. TAR3
2. TAR12
3. TAR8
4. TAR5
5. TAR2
6. TAR1
7. TAR15
8. TAR14
9. TAR6
10. TAR11: AS
11. TAR9
12. TAR13
13. TAR4
14. TAR10
15. TAR7

GROUP of TEAMS
1. TAR3
2. TAR8
3. TAR5
4. TAR1
5. TAR11: AS
6. TAR2
6. TAR12
8. TAR6
8. TAR4
10. TAR15
11. TAR14
12. TAR13
13. TAR10
14. TAR9
*gap*
15. TAR7

MY ALL-TIME TEAMS
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS)
3. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
4. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS)
5. The Linz Family (TAR8)
6. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS)
7. David & Margaretta (TAR1)
8. Don & Mary Jean (TAR6)
9. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
10. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
11. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
12. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)

NON TOP 3 TEAMS THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE FURTHER
1. Teri & Ian (TARAS)
2. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
3. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
4. Toni & Dallas (TAR13)
5. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
6. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
7. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
8. Zev & Justin (TAR15)
9. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
10. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
11. Mel & Mike (TAR14)
12. Gary & Matt (TAR15)
13. Garrett & Jessica (TAR15)
14. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
15. The Rogers Family (TAR8)

MOST DESERVING FINAL 3 TEAM (NON-WINNERS)
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3)
2. Charla & Mirna (TARAS)
2. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
5. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
6. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
7. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS)
8. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
9. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12)
10. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
11. Ken & Tina (TAR13)
12. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
13. Sam & Dan (TAR15)

WINNERS (as a team)
1. The Linz Family (TAR8)
2. Flo & Zach (TAR3)
3. Rob & Brennan (TAR1)
4. Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
5. Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
6. Chris & Alex (TAR2)
6. Chip & Kim (TAR5)
8. Meghan & Cheyne (TAR15)
8. Nick & Starr (TAR13)
8. Tyler & James (TAR10)
*gap*
11. Reichen & Chip (TAR4)
12. Freddy & Kendra (TAR6)
13. BJ & Tyler (TAR9)
14. TK & Rachel (TAR12)
15. Eric & Danielle (TAR11:AS)

WINNERS (with respect to final 3)
&nbsp  &nbsp Winning Team
&nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp Who I wanted to win
1. Uchenna & Joyce
&nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
2. The Linz Family
&nbsp  &nbsp &nbsp The Linz Family (TAR8)
3. Tammy & Victor
&nbsp &nbsp Tammy & Victor (TAR14)
4. Rob & Brennan
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Rob & Brennan or Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
5. Chris & Alex
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Blake & Paige or Chris & Alex (TAR2)
6. Chip & Kim
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Chip & Kim or Brandon & Nicole (TAR5)
7. Tyler & James
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Tyler & James or Lyn & Karlyn (TAR10)
8. Flo & Zach
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Teri & Ian or Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
9. Meghan & Cheyne
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
9. Nick & Starr
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Nick & Starr or Ken & Tina (TAR13)
10. Reichen & Chip
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
11. Freddy & Kendra
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Kris & Jon (TAR6)
12. BJ & Tyler
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Eric & Jeremy or Ray & Yolanda (TAR9)
13. Eric & Danielle
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Charla & Mirna or Dustin &Kandice (TAR11:AS)
14. TK & Rachel
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Ronald & Christina or Don & Nicolas (TAR12)
My Final Team Rankings

Brian & Ericka Brian & Ericka – They were a great team to watch.  Entertaining, sometimes drama-filled and a great couple.  Ericka’s frustration and short temper, while it didn’t come out often during the Race, was big when it did.  A cooler head might have helped them A LOT during the final leg and in a couple of situations during the Race as well, but she was not short of determination and will to finish the Race.  She easily did some things, including conquering some fears, that other teams would probably not even attempt.  And Brian, Mr. Nice Guy, they accumulated lots of great karma during the Race but it seems karma took a day off when they needed it most.  Still, they seem like a great couple and they love each other very much which is definitely more important. 
Gary & Matt Gary & Matt – Always great to have parent/child teams on the Race and these two definitely did not disappoint in representing the other great parent/child teams of the past.  They could’ve gone further and made a run for the million, but as always one simple mistake could cost you the Race.  They had great fun on the Race which is definitely a must for any Racer and they had great teamwork.
Zev & Justin Zev & Justin – Two fun guys, having fun racing around the world.  If you’re going to have all-male teams, have them like Zev & Justin; interesting and funny.  But it was unfortunate for them that they were done in by a lost passport.  If they had had kept better track of their belongings they could have definitely gone a lot further in the Race.  But I hope we do get more teams like them in the future.
Garrett & Jessica Garrett & Jessica – I definitely wish we got to see more of them on the Race.  Great to have the Bay Area represented on the Race as always.  But they could’ve been an interesting team to watch.  Best of luck to them after getting engaged at Elimination Station, but seeing their relationship on the Race, which could’ve been filled with a little bit of drama if their elimination was any indication, and then ending with a Hayden & Aaron (TAR6) type of elimination proposal would’ve been fun to see.  
Marcy & Ronald Marcy & Ronald – We always get the “older team” that seems like they are the ones that can run with the young ones.  But not since TAR3’s Teri & Ian have we really gotten on who could contend.  There was just no hurry-up or sense of urgency when Marcy & Ron raced, especially in their last leg, which was a shame because they did seem very capable to keeping up if they actually tried. 
Herbert & Nathaniel Herbert & Nathaniel – A horrible way for them to go out after running a good Race with great teamwork and having fun.  Though not a perfect Race anyway with some close calls, they had fun and enjoyed every minute of it.  They had excellent teamwork which definitely went a long way, but their quitting the Road Block was just a sad, horrible end to what could have been a great Race for them.
Mika & Canaan Mika & Canaan – They had probably one of the most dramatic eliminations ever.  I still can’t even imagine being so deathly afraid of something that I wouldn’t even attempt to conquer it for a shot at a million dollars.  Mika just giving up was a really crazy move that I probably would never understand unless I was in her position.  It cost them the Race and it seemed their relationship, but at last check they are back together and happy.
Maria & Tiffany Maria & Tiffany – It was an up and down Race for the them defined by very close calls, determination, their lame lie at the start of the Race and lots of luck that ran out for them on their final leg.  They were saved so many times and seemed like a perpetual 2nd to last team.  They showed signs of stepping up their Race and they did in one leg, but it didn’t last.  All the way until their miserable elimination after not being able to complete either Detour.  The hunt for the first all-female American Amazing Race winner continues.
Sam & Dan Sam & Dan – Their short tempers and bickering and spazzing was a problem for them all through the Race and it probably cost them the million in the final leg as well.  It was something they vowed to work on, but never did.  Rarely was the bickering funny if just annoying because they would be an otherwise very strong team.  Despite that, they still did well enough to get them 2nd place overall which is an accomplishment. 
Meghan & Cheyne Meghan & Cheyne – They dominated the entire Race and their win is well deserved, if not predictable, based on their Race performance.  Personality-wise, they weren’t the most interesting teams on the Race, but for them, it’s the million that counts and they got it.  It was their Race to lose and in the end their cool heads (which hasn’t been so cool all the time) helped them cross the Finish Line first.
Lance & Keri Lance & Keri – Lance came off as a loud, annoying douche, but by their last leg he was actually a funny, but very passionate and determined competitor, which would’ve been better to see than his douchy first few legs.  He provided the laughs and the competitive sprit in their last leg, but mistakes kill you and it did them in.
Eric & Lisa Eric & Lisa – Like I said at the start of the season, I wasn’t upset they got eliminated at the Starting Line since I wasn’t really keen on seeing another hippie-ish team on the Race.  (*shudder* at TAR12’s horrible ending)  But I appreciate even less the fact that they quit after they were eliminated, not reaching Elimination Station and therefore not allowed at the Finish Line.  They skipped the Elimination Station and free vacation and went back to their normal lives.  I guess they won’t be bonding with the rest of the TAR15 family any time soon.
Relive The Amazing Race 15!

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The Amazing Race 12 Season Wrap-up


SEASON WRAP-UP

The 12th season of The Amazing Race has come and gone.
A season that came earlier than expected, but later than it should have.

And it does seem like it was only yesterday that Viva Laughlin bet all their money and lost, since, with the exception of TAR8, season 12 had the shortest TAR race course ever. Before the season started, different places quoted executive producer Jonathan Littman saying that there would be no more non-elimination legs. But to everyone’s surprise, Kynt & Vyxsin were spared in Italy and we were introduced to a new part of the Race. More on that and the other twist later.

But first, after 11 seasons and a 5th consecutive Emmy win, The Amazing Race was still as fresh as ever. Unlike other shows that stay in the same studio or on the same island for an entire season, every episode of The Amazing Race feels new and fresh. Every season brings in a new set of teams, every episode brings us new destinations and tasks, but the simple formula of getting from point A to point B and completing various tasks along the way still works wonders for bringing an incredible assortment of feelings for viewers around the world.

While we’ve seen the Yield, the various Non-Elimination penalties, the Intersection, and the Fast Forward come and go, the Detour and the Road Block always serve as ways for the teams as well as us the viewer experience new people and cultures.

Within “the game” of The Amazing Race, we were introduced to the U-Turn and the Speed Bump.

The U-Turn, essentially replacing the Yield and basically doing the same thing, allowed one team to force another to go back and complete the other choice of the Detour they did not originally complete. I was never really against the Yield once I saw it in the Race, but I didn’t particularly like it either, especially when used only as a personal act of rivalry instead of a team fighting it out with another, and using the power to ensure they survive. I have no problem if a team is tied for last and they U-Turn a team right behind them. I know I’d do it.

And after letting teams saved by non-elims slide, taking away their money, then taking away all their money and possessions, and finally “marking” teams for elimination, TAR introduced the Speed Bump. A team saved by the non-elimination now has to complete an extra task in the next leg, which will show up anywhere and anytime. While it’s a step up from forcing teams to beg or be forced to wear the same clothes the rest of the Race, TAR will have to find better and equal tasks for future Speed Bumps. While a 10 second run through fireworks seems like huge fun, it’s definitely not as time consuming as calming yourself and doing yoga for a while.

So the two new elements of the Race were good and interesting, but definitely far from perfect. I’ve always held that TAR doesn’t really need new twists to make it more exciting whereas other shows have to pull tricks and change format to keep things interesting. Like I said, the destinations are enough to keep the show fresh.

The racecourse itself was good as well. We got to go to some beautiful new countries and experienced the guaranteed awesomeness of a leg in India. The legs were very well designed this season, and we had less pesky Hours of Operations to deal with which is always good. While TAR10 still has the most physically demanding Detours and Road Blocks ever, TAR12 seemed to have the most culturally involved Detours and Road Blocks ever. Lots more of the teams actually experiencing the different locations and cultures, which is always awesome.

I’ve always wanted to have more mentally challenging tasks though. If only they had the kinds of tasks they had on NBC’s late Treasure Hunters that required the teams to do more thinking. And we finally got that in probably the most challenging Road Block and final task ever. No arranging a totem pole of Race animals or arranging flags, teams actually had to figure out a puzzle complete with real live objects and animals from the last 11 legs. No question it was an amazing final task and really an amazing, exciting finale to an overall great season.

The Teams
As for the teams, we probably got the best elimination order ever for TAR. The most potentially annoying teams were eliminated early on and we were left with probably the best final 6 ever.

Ari & Staella… best first elimination ever. No need for a more annoying “Aaron & Arianne”-lite on the Race. Lorena & Jason, self-admitted struggling actors/models… meh, not sad they left when they did. Neither was I sad for the sort of smug, almost annoying Marianna & Julia, as seen on the Elimination Station. Definitely happy to see them go after seeing them in sequester.

Kate & Pat could’ve stayed a few more legs, but they just weren’t going to keep up with the rest of the teams, especially as the Race got more intense. And Shana & Jennifer seemed to channel a little of TAR10 Bama-ness. One level-headed, nice teammate and another louder, more aggressive teammate usually shutting down any suggestion made by the other. That lack of teamwork did them in.

Azaria & Hendekea seemed poised to coast through the Race… which is exactly why they didn’t. An air of overconfidence may have prevented them from sweating the small stuff that eventually cost them the Race. Strong Racers, petty mistakes that cost them.

TK & Rachel… I just honestly don’t like them. I don’t hate them, but I now kind of resent them for taking away precious time and a spot from a probably more interesting, more interested, and less judgmental team. I’ve always wanted for more “nice” teams, especially after TAR6’s incredible showcase of dysfunction. But we shouldn’t have to sacrifice enjoyment for “niceness. There have been plenty of “nice” teams in the past who were fun, exciting, energetic, and strong while still keeping their calm and stayed out of firing range of other teams. They barely offered anything of substance during the season. Nice teams in the past have had more to offer. Congratulations to them, I hope they use the money wisely, but they will still rank in the bottom of my winners list.

Kynt & Vyxsin could actually be an example of a “nice” team who is still interesting. Most of the time, their appearance was the least interesting part about them. They were fun and witty, Vyxsin was probably one of the stronger female racers we’ve had in a while, and they didn’t let their disagreements get in the way most of the time.

Nathan & Jennifer… the new MoJo (who is now happily married by the way). They took time apart from each other after the Race, but are now together and happy. The frustration and hectic Race will always get to any team. While MoJo’s outbursts were more at the Race in general and not directed at each other, Nate & Jen took their frustration from the Race out on each other and that ultimately got them eliminated in Japan. However, they should be applauded for their determination in placing first at least once. Jen’s plea to the siblings was really nothing, and just an example of their disappointment at always coming in 2nd.

Proving that teamwork is important, Ronald & Christina flew to the top when Ron controlled himself. After seeing a possibly amazing team in the first leg, we got a real taste (of Real Truth Flavor) in the 2nd. That flavor (and a hernia) served as huge hurdles for them to overcome, and together, they did. Ron has definitely grown during the Race, despite what some might say. We always saw him giving props to his daughter, but in the beginning, those props were overshadowed by his complaints about almost everything. When they finally got things to click starting in Croatia, they were on a roll. They were easily a strong contender for the million, but the Race caught up to them in the end. Still, they take away something that is more valuable than a million dollars, and to them, they probably hold their stronger relationship now even closer to their hearts than money ever could.

True underdogs, Donald & Nicolas, the Race’s first grandparent/grandchild team, really set the bar high for future “Gramps” teams and even parent/child teams (with Ron & Chris). While slugging along in the first half of the Race, the Fast Forward jump started them and they began to step it up to push them into the final 3. Applause for Nicolas and him literally carrying their team to the final 3, and more applause for Don who use his smarts (and smart mouth) to make up for anything he lacked physically. I was rooting for them, and definitely for Ron & Chris, not only because both were truly amazing teams for so many reasons, but also to show the world that you don’t have to be a young dating couple or young friends to win the Race. Again though, it must have been a great prize for them to take home the fact that they did make it that far.


So, as the teams wave goodbye from the Alaskan wilderness, a new Race is about to begin. Let’s all hope CBS doesn’t let The Amazing Race 13 sit around until the summer or even the fall, and also hope that we’ll be enjoying TAR14, TAR15, TAR16… in the future,

MY ALL-TIME RANKINGS:
THE BEST SEASONOVERALL
1. TAR3
2. TAR5
2. TAR8
4. TAR1
5. TAR11:AS
5. TAR12
7. TAR2
8. TAR10
9. TAR9
10. TAR6
11. TAR4
*huge gap*
12. TAR7

THE WINNING TEAMS (As a team)
1. The Linz Family (TAR8)
2. Flo & Zach (TAR3)
3. Rob & Brennan (TAR1)
4. Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
5. Chris & Alex (TAR2)
5. Chip & Kim (TAR5)
5. Tyler & James (TAR10)
*gap*
8. TK & Rachel (TAR12)
9. Reichen & Chip (TAR4)
10. BJ & Tyler (TAR9)
11. Freddy & Kendra (TAR6)
12. Eric & Danielle (TAR11:AS)

THE WINNING TEAMS (With respect to the final 3)
Winning Team / Who I thought should have won
1. Uchenna & Joyce / Uchenna & Joyce (TAR7)
2. The Linz Family / The Linz Family (TAR8)
3. Rob & Brennan / Rob & Brennan or Frank & Margarita(TAR1)
4. Chris & Alex / Blake & Paige or Chris & Alex(TAR2)
5. Chip & Kim / Chip & Kim or Brandon & Nicole(TAR5)
6. Tyler & James / Tyler & James or Lyn & Karlyn(TAR10)
7. Flo & Zach / Teri & Ian or Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
8. Reichen & Chip / Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
9. Freddy & Kendra / Kris & Jon (TAR6)
10. BJ & Tyler / Eric & Jeremy or Ray & Yolanda(TAR9)
11. Eric & Danielle / Charla & Mirna or Dustin &Kandice (TAR11:AS)
12. TK & Rachel / Ronald & Christina or Don & Nicolas(TAR12)

THE MOST DESERVING FINAL 3 TEAM (NON-WINNERS)
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3)
2. Charla & Mirna (TARAS)
2. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
5. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
6. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
7. Dustin & Kandice (TARAS)
8. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
9. Nicolas & Donald (TAR12)
10. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)

THE BEST FINALE(regardless of winner)
1. TAR3
2. TAR12
3. TAR8
*4-9 almost even*
4. TAR5
5. TAR2
6. TAR1
7. TAR6
8. TAR11: AS
9. TAR9
10. TAR4
11. TAR10
12. TAR7

THE BEST GROUP OF TEAMS
1. TAR3
2. TAR8
3. TAR5
4. TAR1
5. TAR11: AS
6. TAR2
6. TAR12
8. TAR10
8. TAR6
8. TAR4
11. TAR9
*gap* 12. TAR7

MY FAVORITE AMAZING RACE TEAMS OF ALL TIME
1. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
2. Teri & Ian (TAR3/AS)
3. Ronald & Christina (TAR12)
4. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/AS)
5. The Linz Family (TAR8)
6. John Vito & Jill (TAR3/AS)
7. David & Margaretta (TAR1)
8. Don & Mary Jean (TAR6)
9. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
10. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
11. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)

THE TOP TEAMS (NOT IN TOP 3) THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE FURTHER
1. Teri & Ian (TARAS)
2. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
3. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
4. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
5. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
6. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
7. The Rogers Family (TAR8)
8. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
9. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
10. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
Relive the race with hundreds of caps from each episode at:
Photobucket: XangaTheAmazingRaceCaps – Season 12

TEAM RANKINGS FOR SEASON 12
1. Ronald & Christina
2. Nicolas & Donald
3. Kynt & Vyxsin
4. Nathan & Jennifer
GAP
5. Azaria & Hendekea
6. Kate & Pat
7. Shana & Jennifer
GAP
8. Lorena & Jason
9. Rachel & TK
10. Marianna & Julia
11. Ari & Staella