Previously on TAR: We just watched it. Weavers harassed a cab driver and boasted about their religion. At the end they nearly quit. Rolly tripped Alex Linz and called Megan Linz thunder thighs. Linzes weren’t impressed and said that it was not cool. Weavers immediately thought that the Linzes are rude. Bransens hate the Weavers too now. The Bransens got on an earlier flight that turned out to be the latest flight possible. We didn’t have to see any ranches and a difficult challenge at Olympic Stadium makes this finale worthwhile.
I should note this episode’s blog will be short because the final round is only 35 minutes compared to the twelfth round that was 45 minutes. This is the reverse of what usually occurs in a 2-hour finale. In TAR 7 the twelfth leg was a measly 25 minutes in contrast with the final round being over an hour to drag out the dramatic conclusion.
Personally I prefer a shorter twelfth leg because most of the time it is completely irrelevant and everything truly comes down to the thirteenth and final leg. Plus who wants to see the irrelevant leg drawn out but an epic conclusion cut short? Let me know when you find someone who agrees.
So this is where I summarize how all three teams got this far into the race.
Linz Family: After a rough start, the Linz Family caught on to all of their mistakes and have run virtually flawless since the opening leg. The team never argues and checks in frequently with the additional information to ensure no significant blunders are made in every leg. In addition their ability to gain information from other teams has kept them in the main pack.
Bransen Family: An overall fit team. Wally is the muscle while the three daughters move swiftly. This team’s well-roundedness mentally, physically, and emotionally has led to their domination for much of the race. Their only fault is impatience when asking for directions but luckily that fault reared its head on a non-elimination leg.
Weaver Family: They have finished in last place on two of the non-elimination legs and their ability to alienate other teams has isolated them from beneficial information. Linda and Rolly are the brains and brawn of the team. Those two alone have overcome racetracks and other tasks throughout the season. Add in a bit of luck for the Weavers and you have a team sneaking into a Final Three slot. A win by them would leave a sour taste in our mouths for Family Edition.
– We pick up where we left off. Weavers are in a cab to the airport. Bransens pack up and head to the airport. Linzes are last to leave the stadium. Here we are at St. Hubert Airport. Weavers walk into the building at the break of dawn. Linda asks what the other two departures are and are frustrated that they are in last. At least it’s only ten minutes that they have to make up. Bransens sit in the same room with the Weavers. Linzes enter the room too.
– Bransens are first to get in the plane. It takes off. Lindsay says they haven’t been focused more and will for sure win. Linda says they can come back and win and that they will come out of this rocky situation to come out ahead. Their next clue will be on a marked vehicle. The mystery location is Toronto.
– The Bransens read the clue. Beth reads that they must drive one mile to CN Tower and take an elevator to the uppermost observation deck at 1, 100 feet. They will use the binoculars to look for a flag in the city. The Linzes and the Weavers’ planes arrived simultaneously. I guess the Linz’s plane was slow. The Weavers pull out of the parking lot ahead of Linzes. The clue is phrased for teams to go to “La Tour CN”. Bransens ask for directions. Linzes however know it’s the big tower.
RACHEL: Do you know how to say “where is”?
LINDA: Yeah but this is English.
– Linda has never heard of CN Tower either (really?) and pulls over to buy a map. Linda charms the worker at a gas station to take the map for free and promises to give it back. Some of the best promises are the ones you can’t keep. Bransens are inside the tower and ride to the top. Their ears are popping. The observation deck is 346 metres high. Linzes park and run into the tower too. Beth has a binocular and Alex has the one for Linzes. Nobody has found anything.
– Wally has the binoculars. He gives it to Lauren. Lauren complains it is sweaty.
ROLLY: Adam, how long have you been in your job, Adam?
ADAM: Three years.
ROLLY: Do you enjoy it?
Where Adam stole this joke from:
– Nobody has seen the flag yet. All three teams are searching and searching. The Bransens quietly conspire and point. Tommy Linz sees it a minute later. Linzes go into the elevator ahead of the Bransens. Beth plots out the path on the road. Bransens and Linzes squeeze into the elevator. The Weavers are still searching on top. Beth hopes the Weavers will take forever. Rebecca is the only one to see it with a naked eye.
– Bransens and Linzes run out into the parking lot. The Linz Family has a minute or two minute lead on the road. Weavers are delivered in the next elevator and are third onto the road. The Linzes arrive at the flag and find the clue at the end of the pier. It’s a detour.
– In this detour teams choose between two unique Toronto attractions. In ship, teams will sail to the Kajama boat. One person will climb to the top and retrieve a nautical flag on top of the ship’s ladder. When the person has come back down onto the ship they will receive their next clue. Yep. That’s it. In Shoe, teams search for the Bata Shoe Museum. They will pick a shoe and search amongst one hundred women for the one woman who fits the pair of shoes they have selected.
Wow. That’s not even a choice is it? One person grabs a flag or four sift through a crowd of one hundred people for the perfect fit? All three teams sure enough choose ship anyway. Rolly tries to clear a gate but instead runs into it. Clown music plays when Rolly screws up.
– Linzes are first to the boat. They pull up the sails together and sail to the ship. Bransens are shockingly going to the shoe museum. Lauren thinks the shoe task is the riskiest one. Weavers arrive at the docks and pull up the sails of the boat. Bransens are asking for directions to the museum. The Linzes continue sailing. It is three miles away. Weavers turn the sail ninety degrees so they can move faster.
– Bransens have found the shoe museum. Inside they go. A lot of barefoot models inside. Bransens struggle and realize they should have done the other task. Several women don’t fit the shoe. If it don’t fit you must uh switch.
– Instructor tells Weavers they are driving the boat perfectly and are bound for the ship. Linzes complete the last couple instructions before making it onto the ship. Tommy Linz is the one who will climb to the top to retrieve the flag. He is moving really fast to the top and clips the flag to his harness. Tommy is back down and exchanges it for the clue. They read the clue. Drive 81 miles to Queenston on the Canadian side of the Niagara Gorge. Teams will get into a jet boat and take a ride up the gorge into the Niagara Whirlpool. Once there teams must grab their clue from the buoy.
– Weavers know they are not first and instead likely second. Bransens keep fitting more feet. They go through four more models on screen. Wally concludes they are screwed. Why you would search for one model in a group of one hundred people is beyond me. Beth reads the clue. Off to Queenston they go. Beth is cruising fast on the road. Nick thinks they are in first as Alex finds Queenston on the map. Wally has found Queenston too. Lauren teases Wally for not knowing anything about Niagara Falls even though they have been there.
– Rolly slowly climbs up the ladder. Tommy Linz flew up there. Rolly clips the flag to his harness. Or so he thinks. It fell to the deck of the ship. No problem. He picks it up once he gets to the bottom and hands it in to receive his next clue.
BETH: I hope the Weavers don’t win. That would just not be okay.
LINDSAY: The mom is a whacko. She really is.
– RACHEL: Queenston is on the 405.
LINDA: But that’s not where we’re going.
RACHEL: Yeah it is.
LINDA: Oh? Sorry. I got mixed up where we were going.
So where the heck have you been driving for the past ten minutes then, Linda?! The city of Pennsylvania?
– Tommy asks for perfect directions to the precise boat ramp in Queenston. Bransens stop a jogger on the street. It’s the same jogger who the Linzes ask! He gives them equally precise directions. The Linzes arrive and pick a boat at the boat ramp. Bransens pull in and are right behind. They have their boat too. Megan comments on how gorgeous the water is. They hit the rapids and get soaked.
The Amazing Race: Perfect Storm Edition.
– Alex has the clue. The boat captain will take them across to the US border into Lewiston, New York where they will find their next clue. The Linzes turn to the left as the Bransens pull in. They are about a minute apart. The Weavers finally get to the boat ramp and are in their boat. Bransens have the Linzes in their sight. Linzes land on shore. Tommy opens the clue on the dock.
– It’s a roadblock. In this roadblock that person has to complete a 71 piece jigsaw puzzle of North and Central America. Once they complete it they can run to the finish line. That’s it. Nick is doing it. The Bransens are there. Wally will be Nick’s opponent. It’s a three-sided board with one for each team. We see the camera spin around frequently to show how close it is. Both sides have finished about half of the puzzle.
– The Weavers are still in their boat. They are definitely out of it. Suspense music plays. It’s a montage of Bransens and Linzes putting in pieces. Very little commentary. The music picks up its pace. Both sides are down to about five pieces. Linzes have grabbed their bags and are running. The Bransens are running too after Wally couldn’t find the miniscule Rhode Island piece.
– The Linzes crash into the finish line mat. They were foolish enough to run with their bags but have indeed won. Phil informs them they are the official winners. What a quick final leg. It was almost as short as TAR 1’s New York finale. The Linzes cheer on the Bransens into the finish line.
– Phil recaps how the Linzes told them that they didn’t want to be first in the first twelve legs but will stand at the finish line to win. Megan never wants to run again in her life. Diabetes is on the horizon. Alex says the Bransens are good competitors despite having three good-looking women on their team.
Uh that came off mildly sexist. Making fun of Megan Linz is one thing but this is on a whole other level.
– Wally is proud of his daughters. Even Brian Paolo is crying as Wally tears up to say how proud he is. All of the Bransens cry. Weeeeeeak. Lindsay Bransen is moving out and going to school so she tears up too. Wally is proud of the Linz Family as a parent and that their parents did a good job.
– Eventually the Weavers check in a couple hours later. They are team number three. Linda is proud of her family. Very few claps for Weavers on the mat. Linda says it was the kids who carried the team through. Rebecca says their dad was the main leader but now they are able to get through life on their own. Linda says Rolly wouldn’t let them give up, Rebecca is made of steel, and Rachel is tenacious and kept her eyes on the Lord and what they are really living for. Huh.
– The teams all hug each other on the mat. Except for the Weavers who appear to be ignored. Nick says that family is important.
LINZES: Who Dey
Who Dey think dey beat dem Linzes.
TOMMY: Nobody because we won one million dollars.
EVERYONE ELSE: . . .
(ALEX slaps TOMMY.)
-End of season-
Well that was an odd ending.
Final shot of Family Edition. No joke.
Next time on TAR: A preview for next season. Russian flags. Marching men in Red Square. Diving off bridges into a sea of emptiness. Two blonde females like young men. Two nerds talk about being two nerds. Phil tells us it is eleven teams of two racing around the world. Should be a gooder.
P.S. The Weavers and the Bransens faced off in a GMC challenge. The challenge is there would be a bunch of clue boxes in the forest. Several of them would contain an object that represents a location that they went to on the race (like a shoe representing Alabama). They had to put the object onto the correct location on the puzzle map of the roadblock they completed. It was a seven minute clip from what I remember. I snuck onto a school computer in the ninth grade to watch it. The Bransens smoked the Weavers at the challenge.
12th Debra & Steve 12.0
12th Gina & Sylvia 12.0
11th Ryan & Chuck 11.0
11th Team Seinfeld/Avi & Joe 11.0
11th Dennis & Erika 11.0
11th Deidre & Hilary 11.0
11th Matt & Ana 11.0
10th A Black Family 10.0
10th Megan & Heidi 9.5 (Wow. They sucked.)
9th Peggy & Claire 9.0
10th Meredith & Maria 9.0
10th Dennis & Andrew 9.0 FF
10th Russell & Cindy 8.33
8th Don & Mary Jean 8.2
10th Kim & Leslie 8.0
9th Jim & Marsha 7.33
8th Aiello Family 7.0
8th Dave & Margaretta 7.0
9th Lena & Kristy 7.0
10th Hope & Norm 7.0
9th Rogers Family 6.5
8th Susan & Patrick 6.5
6th Lenny & Karyn 6.43
7th Paul & Amie 6.2
8th Steve & Dave 6.2 FF
11th Amanda & Chris 6.0
6th Andre & Damon 5.86
5th Kami & Karli 5.8
8th Michael & Kathy 5.8
7th Cyndi & Russell 5.8
9th Heather & Eve 5.75
5th Nancy & Emily 5.67
6th Gaghan Family 5.5
10th Alison & Donny 5.5
6th Tian & Jaree 5.43 FF
4th Meredith & Gretchen 5.36
7th Monica & Sheree 5.33 FF
7th Marshall & Lance 5.33
9th Debbie & Bianca 5.33
7th Gus & Hera 5.29
8th Bob & Joyce 5.25
7th Silver & Gold 5.17
7th Ray & Deana – 5.0 FF
9th Steve & Josh 5.0 – FF
9th Pat & Brenda 5.0 – FF
5th John Vito & Jill 4.8 – FF
7th Schroeder Family 4.75
6th Brian & Greg 4.71
3rd Adam & Rebecca 4.69 FF
5th Lori & Bolo 4.6 – FF
2nd Teri & Ian 4.53 – FF
8th Shola & Doyin 4.25 – FF
4th Linda & Karen 4.17
6th Mary & Peach 4.14 (Two failed FF attempts.)
5th Paolo Family 4.13 FF
5th Lynn & Alex 4.11
3rd David & Jeff 4.00 – FF
4th Oswald & Danny 4.00 – FF
5th Gary & Dave 3.89 – FF
2nd Kelly & Jon 3.85
4th Jon & Al 3.73
6th Charla & Mirna 3.71
3rd Blake & Paige 3.69 – FF
5th Millie & Chuck 3.67 FF
6th Jonathan & Victoria 3.56
1st Freddy & Kendra 3.46
1st Chris & Alex 3.38 – FF
1st Chip & Kim 3.38
4th Kevin & Drew 3.36 – FF
3rd Brandon & Nicole 3.31
4th Godlewski Family 3.18
3rd Weaver Family 3.15
1st Reichen & DK 3.15 – FF
1st Uchenna & Joyce 3.15 FF
4th Derek & Drew 3.10 – FF
3rd Ron & Kelly 3.00
4th Hayden & Aaron 2.92
2nd Bransen Family 2.85
1st Linz Family 2.77
3rd Joe & Bill 2.76 – FF
2nd Tara & Wil 2.53 – FF
1st Flo & Zach 2.69 – FF
3rd Ken & Gerard 2.69 – FF
2nd Colin & Christie 2.54 – FF
1st Rob & Brennan – 2.46 FF
2nd Frank & Margarita 2.38 – FF
2nd Kris & Jon 2.38
2nd Rob & Amber 2.31
Rank the Teams:
10) The Rogers Family
One of the few teams I was looking forward to analyzing again in their short run. My analysis leads me to conclude they are not only the least entertaining team all season but also in the bottom tier for least likable. Denny seems like a man straight out of a 50s TV show where he expects dinner the moment he comes home from work, Brittney plays the “I’m just a girl so I can’t do _____ card, Renee plays the role of Donna Reed where she just wants everything to be perfect for everyone around her, and Brock is saturated with angst and hates rules.
If it were up to me I would eliminate them round one.
9) The Bransen Family
At the end of the season I could not tell you the difference between Lindsay and Lauren Bransen except one showed her butt and one didn’t. Beth was a bit of a bore too. It was odd. The three daughters agreed on everything and pretty much outcast their own dad on the team. Besides the open mocking of Wally is there anything that makes the Bransens memorable or engaging?
Nope. And seeing how they not only lasted thirteen rounds but dominated most of the season, that is really saying something.
8) The Black Family
Ever wanted to see a crossover between The Cosby Show and The Amazing Race? What would be produced is the Black Family. They don’t scream or yell. The family works together to do fun little tasks. If an issue does come up they deal with it calmly and say it is all about trusting their family bond. They are not nasty to any teams.
In addition it plays out like a Cosby Show episode. At the beginning nothing happens to any of them and by the end nothing has happened to any of them. The 90s G-rated urban sitcom has officially played out.
P.S. Thanks for giving me a ton of material to work with in the first episode.
7) The Aiello Family
Kevin Aiello is such a drama queen. His ability to screw up directions in his hometown is a great storyline for episode two. Matt’s extremely goofy nature sets himself apart from the other in-laws. David Aiello barking at a 4×4 in the mud for hours may be one of the funnier moments in race history.
Just the fact it is three in-laws racing with their father-in-law is an intriguing dynamic. Tony is extremely protective of his daughters which forces the new sons to kiss his ring throughout the race. Add in all four having an extreme fear of insinuating eroticism and you have a very entertaining squad.
6) Godlewski Family
This is where the Godlewskis shall fall. Right in the middle of the pack. Primarily because no one thought this dysfunctional group of sisters would dominate the first half of the season. Look at their first place finishes and you’ll know what I mean.
This team is proof of why the Family Edition 4-person dynamic can work. If Godlewskis were two separate teams they would be very forgettable teams. But as a quartet? You get to witness Michelle and Sharon air out their frustrations with Christine, Christine’s very Sarah Palin-like naivety and not exactly knowing what she was getting herself into, and no resolution at all for Christine with the other sisters.
Then there is the awkward outsider in Tricia. The only time we notice her prior to episode eleven is when Tommy Linz talks about how attractive she is. In the eleventh episode she seems to be the only true sister to all of the sisters as well as flirt with Buffalo Bill.
I for one don’t regret the idea of Godlewskis being cast at all. It’s very three-dimensional for a team to go from frontrunners into the most dysfunctional group of people possible. Something that could not be done in any other season of The Amazing Race.
Plus the fact the Weavers chose the Godlewskis as their target for no apparent reason is also amusing.
5) Paolo Family
SCREAM SCREAM YELL YELL SCREAM SCREAM YELL YELL -#westilloveeachother- SCREAM SCREAM YELL YELL – #momiloveyou – SCREAM SCREAM YELL YELL – #djlovesme – SCREAM SCREAM YELL YELL – #sonofab—- SCREAM SCREAM YELL YELL – #whosgottheclue – SCREAM SCREAM YELL YELL.
4) Weaver Family
The Weavers were supposed to be #1 as of leg eight.
But then rounds nine through twelve happened.
So why the drop to the fourth slot? It’s mainly because we are treated to the same old crap from start to finish. They refused to socialize with other teams, used their religious beliefs to boost themselves up, and acted downright rude to every team for the whole season.
I already said how intriguing I found the Weavers a couple episodes ago and that they likely don’t do any of this intentionally. But it’s like the editors wanted to feed us the same three pieces of information over and over again. The episodes in the second half could be made more distinct if the Weavers underwent some sort of change rather than remain in stasis.
Linda Weaver may be the most eccentric mothers out there. She is more of an older sibling to her kids rather than a parent. She laughs at the insults her kids make. It’s not something terribly common found amongst most families. She can’t go more than two seconds without praying for someone or something. Then there’s the fact she doesn’t know Pennsylvania is a state. Her eccentric behaviour of egging on other teams and screaming at them was amusing throughout the season.
We’ve got Rebecca Weaver. She ends up doing very little on the race except drive, drive, and scream. Her snotty attitude being rewarded with a Final Three slot is downright hilarious.
Rachel amazingly enough ended up being the best navigator. I don’t know how that happened but it did.
Then we’ve got Rolly. He is silent until about episode eleven. He turns out to be the best roadblock performer out of all forty players in the season. Add to that how he is the only one capable of running fast on the team and we suddenly have a balanced force. Somehow he is the most competitive too.
The Weavers probably hold the record for most ironic quotes. Their lack of self-awareness is unmatched in the first eight seasons of TAR. My money is on that after it all plays out on TV that they don’t see anything wrong with what they did. Their reaction would be “See? All of the other teams were mean to us!”
In closing, I’d say production was cruel for making them do racetrack tasks.
3) Schroeder Family
Mark has some of the most eccentric quotes in the history of the series.
Char fills the role of Queen B—-y Stepmom.
Hunter gets away with groin slaps and calling his stepmom a b—- on TV.
And Stass is well. . . . <333333333
But seriously, this team is one of the reasons why viewers were willing to put up with TAR Family Edition for the first few episodes. Mark wanted to throw handicapped people in traffic to block the other teams and gets away with it on national TV. If Colin Guinn said it there would be an official complaint filed against the show.
Char reiterates throughout the season that she likes being a friend to her stepkids rather than filling the stereotype of “THE stepmom” but is in for a rude awakening as the kids viewing her as a friend is thrown out the window. Most families would be fine having their kids play with the other teams. But the Schroeders? Not so much. Hunter plays with the Weaver boy at 4am and gets a scolding from his stepmom. His team ostracizes him for the rest of the episode all because he wanted to make friends. Shame on you for making lifelong relationships on this race, Hunter!
Then there’s the Mark-Stassi relationship. It is the first time we see a daddy’s girl relationship play out in front of us on TAR. How well can a daddy’s girl bond do on TAR? Not very well. Stassi moans, whines, and cries whenever Mark failed to agree with the strategic moves she wanted to take. If this were home I am certain Mark would do whatever Stassi wanted but because they were playing for one million dollars Mark had to assert his authority. That’s when the fireworks began and were cut way too short.
Hunter insulted his mom in episode three and was ostracized. Mark and Stassi blew up all throughout round four. We are left to speculate how much more they could have crashed and burned by episodes five and six.
2) Gaghan Family
This is probably what everyone pictured when they originally heard about the concept of Family Edition. A mom, dad, and their two young children racing around the world. They have prior experience globetrotting and all run in major races. The physical endurance of the children and their history of traveling allows them to handle what the audience expects for a Family Edition of the world’s biggest competition.
But it’s the other teams who proved they are not capable of racing around the world and force production to confine everyone in North America. Bummer.
So why do I rank the Gaghans this high?
Because this is what the audience wanted. Two little kids with their parents who possess the physical endurance to run around the world. Think of all the little remarks that Billy and Carissa brought to the table throughout the course of the race. Now picture the chance of any of those remarks being uttered in the other twenty seasons of TAR. It can’t happen, right? That’s exactly what could have made a TAR Family Edition so fun. Carissa saying trailers are evil, inquiring about spraypaint rules, and falling asleep during the middle of navigation couldn’t happen elsewhere. Neither could anyone else get away with quoting Rob Schneider like Billy did without getting hit.
It’s too bad the race ended for them because Tammy couldn’t see the colour red for quite a while. I doubt anyone would have predicted that the team would go down not because of the children but rather because mommy slowed them down at the roadblock. The season really needed a team with young kids to sneak their way into the last stretch of the race to support the idea that this season wouldn’t be owned by fit teenagers and adults.
And another reason why it would be interesting to see the Gaghans make it far is what would happen when attrition makes its presence? In other seasons of TAR the attrition settles in at around leg nine or ten and some teams completely fold. How would the Gaghan parents and their children handle it? Would the double role of parent and competitor be too much? Would Carissa’s gas tank empty from the unorthodox sleeping times? Or would Billy and Carissa become progressively more adult-like as the race went on? There was so much to explore there that we would not have the chance to explore ever again.
However, regardless of not making it to the halfway point of the race the Gaghans somehow went down as the second most memorable team all season from the audience’s point of view. If you can last only six of thirteen rounds and leave your mark on the season, you must have done something right.
P.S. Billy and Carissa Gaghan will be of age to apply for TAR when season 25 comes around. No joke. Carissa was nine when she played TAR 8 and will be nineteen when the 25th cycle comes around. 25 or 26 is the next projected all-star season if the pattern continues, and TAR 8 has yet to have a representative re-cast in an all-star season. It may as well be the Gaghan kids who would be a testament to the race’s longevity.
1) Linz Family
As I’ve stated before, this team reminds me of my three older brothers and sister. The goofiness. Random Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions. Not taking anything seriously and being respectful to all teams. Mix in some crude humour and the two families are identical.
Linzes are a breath of fresh air that deliver throughout the season. You never thought “Oh, those stupid Linzes are eating up airtime”. I bet virtually the entire audience was rooting for them. It’s difficult not to do so. If you didn’t find them funny or enjoyable then I challenge if you possess a sense of humour at all.
Tommy is the youngest winner of the series ever. He was the driver for a good chunk of the race but was smart enough to listen to his older siblings. Some of the best quotes in series history can be attributed to Tommy.
“I don’t roll with the punches. . .I punch.”
Seriously? Who can come up with quotes that counter reality TV cliches? Few people are bright enough to do that.
Then you have Alex who is like Jim Carrey on TAR. It’s all physical comedy. Half of the time his eyes look like they are ready to pop out and goes out of his way to troll not only his team but other teams as well. You can’t take a single thing that he does to be serious. There was always a joke being played.
LINDA: ARE YOU SORRY YOU YIELDED US?
ALEX: . . .No.
Then when Rolly started name calling, Alex simply called Rolly ‘Rolly Polly’ to show how dumb it is for Rolly to attack other people. He also didn’t mind Rolly shoving him at an airline counter. He could have flipped out. Imagine if Rolly tripped Ian from TAR 3? I think Rolly would be sent to a federal prison.
Lastly, we have Nick. The head of the team. Following the first leg he was the one to order everyone around. It worked out well. Linzes were in the top three of eleven legs. Not to mention Nick would lead the asides taken so the team would be able to simultaneously have fun and compete.
Yep. That’s everyone on the team. I am certain I didn’t forget anybody.
The Linzes also did something no other team has done before. They were second to last on the first leg and avoided elimination by only two minutes. Somehow they rally back to win the whole race. I doubt anyone could have predicted a Linz victory after how much they struggled in the first leg.
I think production aced it with picking the Linzes. They never failed to deliver. Sure, their dynamics are not the most compelling but having every team be stern and only look for meaning to the relationships would drag down the mood of the show. You didn’t have to use your energy to analyze the Linzes. They are something every season needs.
Rank the Legs
1) New Orleans -> Panama City, Panama (Now this is how a real race looks! This is what a season of Family Edition should have done in round one instead of round five. Panama would have been a great opening leg. All six teams are revitalized by the idea of leaving the country like they thought would happen at the beginning. Teams humourously use their Anglespanol to get around town. DJ yells at Marion for being incompetent until he himself is ready to chicken out of a task until Marion sends him a death threat. Gaghans start the leg in last and manage to finish second to last yet again while a Pepsi truck and a concussion occurred in the process. Bransens tried to use a local for directions but the local tricked them into driving her to work. It marks the beginning of the Linz-Weaver rivalry. This leg deserves to be this high regardless if it is a non-elimination.)
2) Absarokee, Montana -> Montreal, Quebec, Canada (A surprisingly difficult leg. Multiple teams were lost on the way to the CPC Capital Building. All three teams had to strategize their way through airports for the first time in FIVE episodes. Log roll versus curling were both time consuming tasks. The flying trapeze took a significant level of skill (or a lack of weight) to be awarded the clue. And searching Olympic Stadium for a departure time is one of the most Hellish tasks ever seen in the history of TAR. Ted the Driver, mixing up French with Spanish, butchered words, the Weaver-Linz rivalry finally gets physical, and getting lost multiple times contributes to a very solid leg on any given season of the race.)
3) Montreal -> Lewiston (Not much happens in this final leg except for a satisfying close finish between the Linzes and the Bransens.)
4) Panama City, Panama -> Quepos, Costa Rica (The true beginning of the “Everyone Hates the Weavers and the Weavers Hate You” storyline. The rude nature of the Weavers had rubbed everyone else in the race the wrong way to where five families of four worked together to trump a lone family of four. We see the tone of the season change when one family yields another to show this game has been taken to a higher level. Weavers battled on their own through a yield and a Linda Weaver hysterical breakdown before squeaking out a fifth place finish. The tasks could have been better, but hey, just be thankful we’re out of the country.)
5) Quepos -> Fort McDowell (The first half of the episode is typical TAR. Swim to a buoy to get a clue. This was entertaining thanks to Tony wanting to swim but not being able to swim back because he forgot he can’t swim. The 4-team alliance against the Weavers was a big storyline yet again. The detour featured two tasks to show off further Costa Rican culture. Then we have the scrambling for airline tickets that put five families on three different flights. It is perhaps the best airport strategy session we see all season. DJ and Marion’s screaming reaches its biggest heights since round one.
But then we are back in the United States. Over ten minutes of the episode features Go Kart racing. I already covered why this is perhaps the worst roadblock in the show’s history. The only memorable thing to occur in the second half was the Paolos wasting valuable time putting on extra layers then seeing a team behind them come in and be forced to run in unfortunate clothing to the mat. This would be the only time such an event occurs in TAR which means it is a highly underrated moment. But still. The return to the United States prematurely. -_-)
6) Middleburg -> Huntsville (Space camp! Teams finally book flights in an actual airport. Teams kept the screaming to a minimum this leg. Plus this leg looked exhausting with forcing kids to do the race at 1am to 5am in the morning. Mystery bus rides pinched the team’s nerves. David Aiello screaming rap lyrics at a 4×4 for thirteen attempts on a track is memorable when you cut it to Bill Gaghan who guns it on his first try. Bodies morphing in a centrifuge was a memorable experience. The 3-way sprint to the pit stop at the end makes it a memorable episode. Oh, and how can we forget the Weavers absolutely going bonkers in a waffle house at three o’ clock in the morning? And shunning the Godlewskis and Aiellos.
P.S. Groin slaps.)
7) Fort McDowell -> Paige (Traveling within the same state back to back legs? That is brutal. The only saving grace for this leg is the absolute stunning scenery that is replicated nowhere else in the US. It beats the heck out of landscapes like New York or Virginia. The cavern in Lake Powell is one of a kind. Did you see how big the Glen Canyon Dam was? My goodness. This is the first leg as a viewer where I feel like the season needs to end. There is only so much “Everyone vs. Weavers followed by ironic Weaver quotes” that we can handle. Even the Paolos yelling at each other and losing a clue at the beginning became stale. The Bransens do nothing. Godlewskis look like a boring mess that suppresses their true emotions which prevents compelling television. The Linzes are the only ones igniting the other teams to have more of a personality and have fun on the race course. Like telling a police officer that you are racing other cars or creating your own cliches? Linzes have the season on their shoulders.)
8) Lancaster -> Middleburg (After viewers have grown accustomed to the disappointing nature of Family Edition, this episode breathes life into the season. Missed highway exits leads to screaming. Traffic congestion leads to screaming. An empty gas tank leads to screaming. Oh, and a government-based theme combined with the Civil War battle makes this leg very distinct like the Amish and NYC fusion of the season premiere. David Aiello’s errors were amusing as well as Papa Gaghan who refused to ask for directions at the reflecting pool. The big shoe gave me an excuse to reference Snoop Dogg so that was G double O D. And the Rogers were mercifully removed from the race.)
9) NYC -> Lancaster (The last time the race started in New York they flew to Johannesburg. This season they don’t even fly. They drive across a couple states. Viewers were extremely disheartened to see after two hours that the ten families only traveled a little over 100 miles from the starting line. The Gaghans have probably run from New York to Pennsylvania in less time than the several days it occupied in the show’s filming. This marked the first episode where Phil started became an Advil popper.)
10) Huntsville -> New Orleans (Sitting in an office chair. Party bikes. Go to a mobile home for the night. Find a BP Gas Station. Go chop wood or play Blackjack. This is not your cousin’s road trip last summer. This was a leg on a season of The Amazing Race. The production crew should be fired. The cast on the other hand should be given free gas for life because without them the ratings would have crashed faster than the 2029 great reality TV market crash.)
11) Paige -> Salt Lake City (If you thought rounds seven and eight were boring then this leg is on a whole new level. More Weaver trash talking or throwing. People don’t like Weavers. Bransens wedged in the middle. A non-elimination everyone knew was coming. Repel, chopper, and a bear placed on highways in areas where there is no culture shock or nothing unique about the experience. And a pit stop at a library? For real?)
12) Salt Lake City -> Some random ranch in Wyoming (Go to class. Go in a balloon. Check in here and sleep in your trailer again. Check in here and sleep in your trailer. Again. Production equipment error prevails. Again. Ranches galore. Clue in the middle of an empty valley. Again. Weavers bicker with Linzes and Godlewskis. Again. At least ladders, party bikes, and BP Gas Stations are unique. This leg could not have been more generic and uneventful. The To Be Continued BS is the icing on the craptacular cake.
13) Some random ranch in Wyoming -> Absarokee, Montana (When the episode finished I honestly couldn’t distinguish between legs ten and eleven. I am serious. I originally wrote that the Buffalo Bill task was in episode ten but had to double check to see I JUST WATCHED IT. Seriously. Is there anything remotely memorable about this episode? Because I have forgotten half of what happened already. By this point in the season the stretch from legs seven to eleven are simply becoming an increasing blur. Anyone in the world who can form the exact timeline of tasks from legs through to eleven needs to sign up for Norway’s Memory Olympics ASAP. Let’s be thankful though that production avoided draining another car battery.)
In closing, I suppose there are things to cover considering how this season is not like any other in the series.
1) The sponsour presence was so heavy in this season that it reduced the quality of the race route. Too many American companies battling for influence in a race that is limited in travel.
2) Production were too scared to implement any tasks that would be memorable.
3) Production failed to change enough things about how the season would function to make it its own coherent race. Instead we have a product that is “Sort of like TAR but not as good”.
4) People on the race like Austin Black should not have been cast. It probably contributed to why production made teams did such easy tasks until the final rounds.
5) The second half of the season used the same “Us versus Weavers” over and over and over again.
6) Five non-elimination legs in the last nine episodes is horrendous. It brought the season’s momentum to a screeching halt.
7) Tasks from episodes 7 through 11 are all interchangeable. Production put no effort into making any of the rounds distinct or memorable. Or worthwhile.
8) There was such big gaps between many of the route markers that whoever wasn’t the navigator or driver was inactive for hours or even days at a time.
1) Two-person roadblocks opened up unique opportunities in the TAR franchise. Tasks we will likely never see again.
2) Teams had to do their own navigating.
3) Kids were able to play TAR for the first and last time. Quotes and actions in the race will never be repeated due to this fact.
4) Production listened to the audience and gave them a Family Edition that they craved. Luckily the audience would never crave such a season again.
5) Great final two rounds, and relatively enjoyable opening five rounds.
Now the issue becomes “how do I rank this season?”
It’s true. TAR 8’s format is so vastly different from the other twenty instalments that it’s tough to really compare them. The race functioned in an entirely different dimension. But here’s my take:
Family Edition is to the other twenty seasons what the minor leagues in baseball are to MLB. If you had the option would you watch the best players possible compete in the strictest environment or do you want to watch up and comers play in a looser and milder setting? Of course you’d choose the former. It’s like why people choose Monopoly over Monopoly Junior. You want to play like a grown up. Not with some sissy rules.
So TAR 8 is granted a reprieve for that reason because they are already at a disadvantage. It is its own game. However this doesn’t give production or the editors an excuse for a horribly edited and disorganized season. If I was on the production team I would approach this season in an entirely different manner.
With all of that in consideration, below is the ranking for this season.
1. The Amazing Race 5 – 9.2/10
2. The Amazing Race 7 – 8.8/10
3. The Amazing Race 3 – 8.7/10
4. The Amazing Race 2 – 8.5/10
5. The Amazing Race (1) – 7/10
6. The Amazing Race 4 – 6.25/10
7. The Amazing Race 8 – 4.0/10
8. The Amazing Race 6 – 3.9/10
That’s right. TAR 8 isn’t the worst. If the race route decided the rankings, TAR 8 would be dead last by a mile and TAR 6 would be middle of the pack. The creativity of doing a Family Edition and picking a near perfect cast is why TAR 8 receives 3.9 of its 4.0. It would be higher if it weren’t for a poor editing job, lack of inspiration for several rounds, and a more authentic race. The season’s cast excelled in an area that leaves TAR 6 absolutely floundering.
So TAR 8 ends the family experiment. TAR is cut to Wednesdays @ 1000pm which means it needs to improve its game when it reverts to a traditional format. We would have to wait a couple months as TAR is settled in the typical reality TV schedule (one season in late September and the next in mid-February). Does going back to the basics work? Let’s say it works out so well that the season is perhaps the biggest contributor to why TAR survives the next six years and enters the mainstream permanently.