The Amazing Race Review: Season 16 Premiere

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One of the most frustrating aspects of being a fan of The Amazing Race is not knowing when or if the show is going to air.  To the uniformed, this may seem very simple – just check the TV listings or watch football on CBS at any point since the end of last season and catch one of the nine million promos for The Amazing Race (and Survivor). 

For those of us who have been following the show since its inception, we know that it has aired in every imaginable time slot and season slot available. 

Recently, TAR has settled into the Sunday at 8 p.m. slot, but it has also aired on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the past.  Even the 8 p.m time slot isn’t set in stone during the fall as the 4 p.m NFL games on CBS often run late pushing CBS’s entire Sunday primetime schedule back an in determinant amount of time. 

Perhaps most important, however, is that the show even airs at all.  Though it has won seven Emmys for outstanding reality-competition program, ratings have never soared, but have at least remained steady.

Jordan and Dan

When Phil started the racers last night on a normal schedule, TAR fans around the globe were excited to see the show start a normal fall/spring schedule for 2009-2010.  Recent news that CBS has renewed The Amazing Race (along with Survivor) for another two season in 2010-2011 is more encouraging news that the series will be a consistent part of our Sunday nights for at least two more years.

You have to love CBS essentially admitting that it put Caite on the show simply because of her infamous moment from the Ms. Teen America competition in 2007.  Right at Brent and Caite’s introduction, Phil informs us exactly who Caite is (in case you’ve been living under a cave and do not recognize her immediately, as gay brother Jordan does) and CBS wastes no time airing her hilarious clip about why Americans can not find the United States on a map. 

Jordan adds to the hilarity by giving us his version of her epic performance, which had me and his brother, Dan, dying.  The clip is hilarious enough by itself, but the irony of casting her to be on a show where finding your way on a map is tantamount to winning is quite rich.

A phenomenal twist was thrown into start of the race when Phil informs the racers that they’d have to make their way to LAX via public transportation.  While the drag races that typically ensue as teams run to the cars waiting for them in most seasons is usually great drama, the look of shock (especially on Jordan’s face) on the racers was priceless. 

The move also led to a phenomenal moment when LA native and self-described Metro whiz Joe was sure he and the teams traveling with him would arrive first, but were beaten out by those taking the FlyAway. 

Speaking of the FlyAway, Jordan tells us, without a hint of embarrassment, that she’s “never even heard of these places," referring to Santiago, Chile.  Her partner, Jeff, doesn’t have the heart to tell her it is just one place (perhaps because he thought they were going to Guatemala), but invokes a possible precursor to The Amazing Race – Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego (singing that song, now, eh?). 

I got so excited when I heard him mention a classic public television show from my youth (possibly dating myself here) and wondered how many other faithful TAR followers also loved chasing Ms. Sandiego while humming Rockapella’s greatest hit.  The show still has enough “pull” where all you have to type into Google is “where in” and it is the first search term.

As the teams head to Chile, the duos who make the first flight get screwed over by a mechanical error on the flight and have to rebook on the same flight as the also-rans.  One of the teams left frustrated is Monique and Shawn, but they’re causing me to rethink my initial 85-1 odds of them winning the race when they manage to get off the plane first and get on to the first bus to Valparaiso.  Despite falling behind again later in the leg, they showed they’re scrappy, finishing an impressive second place.

The same can be said for Jordan and Jeff who duplicate the momtreprenuer’s feat, though I had a bit more confidence in them at 60-1.  However, I think I’ve underestimated them, too.  Though relationships, especially non-married ones, tend to be very volatile on the show, Jordan and Jeff seemed totally calm and in complete control the entire leg.  Certainly it allowed them to pass Brent and Caite on the painting challenge and finish the leg first. 

The biggest comeback of the leg (and possibly TAR history) has to go to Jet and Cord.  The pre-season favorites to win the race were looking like dogs for the first three-quarters of the show, arriving at the detour in dead last.  Fortunately for them, there was no challenge better suited for a guy named Cord than to walk across a wire/cord which pushed them into 9th place. 

We didn’t get to see any of it, but Jet and Cord must be professional painters because they managed to finish that challenge in 5th.  Finally, Brent and Caite’s mistake allowed the favorites to finish an astonishing third.  The whole sequence happened so quickly (both in real time and television time) Brandy’s comment sums it up best: “The Cowboys?!?  How’d they catch up?”

Let’s take a peek at some things to keep our eyes on this season:

  1. Can Jet and Cord rely on their Houdini-like escape from the back of the pack every episode?
  2. Will Brent and Caite breakdown?
  3. Can Jordan and Jeff maintain their composed demeanor and racing style the whole race?  Can they be beat if they can?
  4. How will our older contestants (Jody and Steve) hold up?
  5. Can Dan and Jordan provide the comic relief every episode that makes The Amazing Race even better?
  6. Will Monique and Shawne continue to surprise everyone?

Nanna is Kickin' Your Butt! Review

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