THE MILESTONE EDITION – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE USUAL (TAR SEASON 25)

So TAR 25 premiere has been announced, the date has been set for September 26, and the teams have been made known. Whether or not I blog about it depends on how the first episode goes – after all, the past few seasons did nothing to ignite the inspiration (to say the least).
But for a milestone like this – Season 25! – there must be something special in stock. Right? Well, let’s see.

Let’s start with the start line. New York City! Times Square! Nothing against LA and vicinities, but starting every Race there has become stale and predictable. So – yay to the new start line location!

The next change: CBS moved The Amazing Race from Sundays to Fridays. On the surface it seems like a good idea – after all, how many times have we all seen TAR being delayed on Sunday evenings because of some sporting event? But…But – how many people sit home and watch TV on Friday nights? Friday nights are get-together nights, date-nights, drinks-with-collegues-after-work nights. Yes, there is always your trusted DVR. Yes, you can watch episodes online the next day. But there is still the danger of decreased number of viewers, decreased ratings and eventual demise. Especially if the show continues to be like the last season’s.

Let’s see if the cast is fun for a change. We’ll learn more details closer to the premiere. At the first glance – the cast looks diverse: white, black, asian, straight, gay. But all relatively young, all relatively buff – not much diversity in the age department, nor in physical. Where is brawn vs brains here? Where is wisdom vs youth? Not so diverse, after all. No repeat players, no so-called “stars” (thanking the literal stars for that!). So far so good. A team of blonde Barbies – the usual nuisance we are made to put up with. A couple of recycled second-tier Survivor contestants. More like tenth-tier players really – I do watch Survivor, but they don’t look even vaguely familiar. So – yes, the usual again. No recycled Big Brother contestants – I guess at least that’s good. Who else? A surfer whose arm was eaten by a shark (and whose experience the movie “Soul Surfers” was based upon) – once again TAR production shoots for a sob story. With an “inspirational” twist – “don’t give up!” The usual. Nothing against inspirational, but they somehow manage to make it so cheesy. Let’s hope it will not be the case in this milestone season.

Another thing – Phil Keoghan looks suddenly old and worn out. I like Phil and don’t really mind, but somehow it is so obvious. Maybe he should get some “beauty tips” from the Survivor’s Jeff Probst or maybe – just maybe – if his own show becomes more fun, the youthful spark will return to his eyes and his delighted smile will smooth out the wrinkles?…just saying…

Cast TAR-25

What do I hope to see in this milestone season? First and foremost – I don’t care whether the cast is diverse and “politically correct” – I want fun, daring, entertaining teams. I don’t want them run around holding hands and helping each other. I want drama! Otherwise – why waste my time? It’s a reality show – I don’t want “lessons to learn”, cheesy proclamations (“I don’t give up!”) and sob stories repeated ad nauseam or masquerading as inspirational. Call me bloodthirsty, cruel, shallow, what not, but I want drama. And most viewers do. We want something to talk about, to gasp at, even something that some love to hate (hello, team Brenchel! Hello, Twinnies!). Not perfectly nice but perfectly boring people. “Perfectly nice” is good in your next door neighbors. But this is a reality show – we want Drama. Not only dramatic shots of far-away places (National Geographic does a better job at that anyway), but contestants-related drama. No kumbaya, please. No hand holding. No collectively done challenges.

Also – against all hopes and against all odds – I hope for intellectually stimulating show. At least somewhat. No contestants that do not know the difference between the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall (hello, the blonde Barbies from the most recent All-Stars!). If you want to travel the world – care to learn at least a little bit about the world. Dumbness is not entertaining nor it is amusing. Instead of dumbing it down, why the production can’t set the standard a little bit higher? This way the viewers with higher standards would not be totally bored, and the viewers with lower standards have “room to grow”, so to speak.

In my ideal scenario a clue would read something like this: “You are going to the country that is the largest landlocked country in the world. You have two attempts to correctly name this country in order to get on the  flight that lands two hours ahead of other flights”. Perhaps (hopefully) at least one of the teams would name the country correctly, and their knowledge of world geography would be rewarded by some advantage in the Race (landing two hours earlier than others). For the teams that did not name the country after two attempts (and without any help from the internet or passer-bys!) there would be the next clue: “The capital of this country is named Astana and was moved from Almaty in 1997. You have two attempts to correctly name the country in order to get on the second flight that lands 1 hour after the first flight.” If after 4 attempts (2 in the first clue and 2 in the second clue) the teams still cannot name the country correctly, then the production could dumb it down with the third question: “This is the country where fictional personality Borat is from“. The answer is – Kazakhstan, by the way. But if some teams still cannot name it – well, maybe they take an hour penalty before the destination is revealed to them. Fair and fun. And the viewers might learn a thing or two. Maybe for the production it is cheaper to let all the teams run together, but for the viewers it’s more fun when the teams separate from each other, especially based not only upon pure luck, but rather their wit (or knowledge, or risk-taking ability, or daring and bold decisions).

As I said – I am not sure yet whether or not I will be blogging about this season. Depends if I find it fun – the previous few were not great fun to watch, let alone blog about. I know, it can be said “blog or don’t blog – who cares?”. And perhaps it’s right, perhaps only a few people care. But in the long run – it’s one drop at a time, one blogger at a time, one viewer at a time that can lead to a demise of once great show.

Hope it does not come to that.

And here you can find the most up-to-date links on all things The Amazing Race:

http://www.sirlinksalot.net/amazingrace.html

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