Talking Television and Values.

The Amazing Race Entertains with Great Challenges

Posted by Travis R Grant on October 9, 2006

It’s a few episodes into The Race this season, and so far the challenges are excellent, the contestants aren’t what I would like, but the show is still worth watching. Maybe my bias for the show is coming out in that last part, but it really is the best unscripted drama on television.

My first real criticism of the show is the time change. I just can’t seem to remember to set my VCR to record this show. If I do have it set, then inevitably my kids will take the blank out of the VCR to watch their own video, or I never remember to put a tape in. I really would love for it to be moved back to Tuesday or Wednesday. Actually, while I am playing program director for CBS, I would just put it on Thursday after Survivor.

So far I think that they have put together some very unique, fun and challenging detours and road blocks. In the first episode, climbing the wall was harder than it looked. Sure there is talk that some “cheating” was going on with the ropes, but the challenge isn’t to get up the rope in a specific way, it is just to get over the wall. I don’t care how they got over, just doing it was awesome.

The challenge that took them into the Vietnam War memorial and specifically to John McCain’s flight uniform was moving. I have to give my kudos to Godwin and Erwin for taking the time to honor the men who fought, were held captive, and died in the war. They have now moved way up on my likeability chart.

In this week’s episode, the sampan challenge was awesome. But I don’t understand one thing. Do that many people in the world really not know how to row a boat? I probably spent way too much time in the Boy Scouts. Or, they just have a requirement for all unscripted dramas that you don’t know how to row a boat. Probably the former, but could be the latter.

The people are still missing something. Peter and Sarah have really turned me off. If you will remember my first post about this season, you will note that I said nothing about Sarah’s mechanical leg. It’s because that was less important to me than her having competed in Iron Man competitions.

With that said, in episode two, which I didn’t watch (I read the recap), I was really bothered by their using her disability to try and earn money. Come on. Don’t tell me that you can win this race even with a disability, then try and manipulate the win through your disability. They did the same thing in episode one when they tried to get a taxi. That just doesn’t sound Iron Man like.

In this episode, I think we are learning that the problem is more with Peter than Sarah. Peter was the one to tell Sarah to pull out the handicap placard, and she seemed bothered by it. If you ask my advice Sarah, dump Peter while you can.

David and Mary have won me over again. Sure she yells at him a bit, but I think it is more the frustration of the game, and not at her husband. While, they will probably remain in the “backpack” for a while, I suspect I will genuinely love them as a team.

I also love Lyn and Karlyn. They are putting up a good fight. They are in it until the end. They don’t let any challenge get them down, and they are doing the best that they can.

While the people aren’t as fun as contestants in past seasons, they are growing on me. I look forward to seeing them compete. I am not going to make any further predictions just yet, but I have to say that Erwin and Godwin are moving into my top three, and hopefully, they will replace my prediction of Peter and Sarah.


2 Responses to “The Amazing Race Entertains with Great Challenges”

  1. alisonwonderland said

    I have to agree with most of what you’ve said here, Travis, beginning with the lousy scheduling change. (But my husband put a reminder in his PDA for me, so I did manage to get the last two episodes taped – and then viewed.)

    One of my favorite moments from a week ago was Godwin and Erwin’s moment of silence at John McCain’s uniform display. They commented that it may have cost them some time, but when they came in first for that leg of the race, I figured it was good karma!

    A few impressions from last night:

    1. Peter continues to go down on my respect-o-meter. Last week when Sarah was crossing the rice paddy to the pit stop using her arms and he was running ahead of her, I yelled, “Help her, Peter!” This week, his kick-back attitude while she climbed the rock during the roadblock, especially the shot where we saw him sipping a soda while leaning back to watch her struggle, really irked me. While I want to keep rooting them on for Sarah’s sake, I’m really, really not liking Peter.

    2. Lyn and Karlyn are inspiring to me. Being “just a mom” myself, I really admire the way they’re approaching the race. Isn’t it great when you find you can do things that you didn’t think you could do?!

    3. I didn’t want to like Mary and David when the race started. I had prejudged them as “white trash” and basically wrote them off. Mary quickly showed me how wrong I was with her on-ging comments about how much she’s learning and experiencing in seeing the world and interacting with different types of people. I find it interesting that David and Mary’s closest friends on the race have been Asian brothers, a gay couple, and two black moms. Gotta love the diversity!

    4. Finally, I have to say that I cried when Tom and Terry came in last and were eliminated. Watching them finding a way (any way!) to get that sampan back to the junk was engrossing. Sometimes when a team is eliminated I want to say “good riddance”, and sometimes I’m pretty neutral about it. This time I was sad to see them go. (But, Travis, I did have to “laugh out loud” about your comment Do that many people in the world really not know how to row a boat?!)

    One last thing: You said the people aren’t as fun as contestants in past seasons, so I’m wondering who have been some of your favorites in previous races.

  2. NatGo said

    I haven’t been a faithful watcher – I watched the whole season with Rob and Amber, most of the family edition (snoozefest 2005) and just parts of a season before that – the Bowling Moms were the ones that got me interested. I was flipping channels once and remember watching them do a challenge that involved white-water rafting. I cried with them. So, in my limited experience, I loved Joyce and Uchenna, because they treated each other with respect, and I cried with her at the orphanage in Africa. I loved Rob and Amber, because they treated each other with respect and always made me laugh, and played hard but didn’t take the whole thing too seriously, and this season, I really liked Duke and Lauren – what a sweet dad. I also like Sarah, but Peter makes me want to swear. What a jerk! I like the Cho brothers, aka the *win twins. Like Al, I loved that they had a moment of silence in the Vietnamese prison and still won the leg of the race. The models and beauty queens are okay – I’m not rooting for or against them, although the beauty queens have started seeming pretty dumb lately. I loved Vipul and Artee – they were so sweet to each other! Rob and Terry just seemed like stereotypes – I wish the requisite gay couple could also be competitive, and have something going on in addition to their sexuality. Rob and Kimberly BUG! Please stop yelling at each other and swearing and telling each other to shut up. And, really, rethink your relationship, because if you think finding oyster baskets is stressful, try 2 am feedings or 3 children with the stomach flu. I bet David and Mary are good at those, too.

    So, that is my hurried $0.02. I am looking forward to watching the race unfold.

    And, I am highly recommending DVR from Comcast! Way better than trying to remember which tape and what time and all that trouble!

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