The Amazing Race 11 Introduction (Part 2 of 3)
In part one, I discussed how Survivor: All Stars and Big Brother: All Stars chose casts from a small field where everybody knew everybody, picked too many people from the same season, and led to a very personal game. Survivor: All Stars had a romance by the non-star players that led to an unsatisfying victory and ended relationships. Big Brother: All Stars had two showmances make it to the end that had identical implications.
Now we move onto the unfair criticisms for TAR All Star. After the season ended (or during pre-season spoilers), whoever was unhappy with who won ended up attacking TAR All Star. Virtually all of these criticisms can be debunked.
a) They didn’t even pick ____ or ____!!!
This is something we hear for every all-star season or any competitive reality TV show that has a season featuring returning players. If you generate enough stars, yes, as a producer you’ll need to make some tough cuts and figure out the best balance for the cast.
However, following Amber Brkich’s, Rob Mariano’s, Jenna Lewis’, Alicia Callway’s, Candice Woodcock’s, Danielle DiLorenzo’s, and Parvati Shallow’s returning appearances in Survivor, and Erika’s, Boogie’s, and Diane’s inclusions in Big Brother, it was common to bash all producers for missing people.
Since Survivor and Big Brother made their errors before TAR, TAR was bound to pick up the same heat.
But TAR didn’t pick anyone who was undeserving or chose a team because they were ‘young’. All eleven teams were great choices. Unfortunately Survivor and Big Brother have never been able to say the same thing.
So the only thing TAR failed to do is not the usual ‘why did you include ____’ but rather ‘why did you exclude _____’.
And if your only complaint regarding the roster is who was excluded. . .well pardon me, that’s just silly. TAR is a TV show. It has a fixed 13 episode order. If the network doesn’t order more episodes for a season, and if you can’t get away from four non-elimination legs, well sorry, you can only have eleven teams.
Would we love fifteen teams battling it out over the course of fourteen legs in a big brouhahaha? Of course. Should CBS and TAR compromise at having 13 teams to make this truly epic? Absolutely.
But it would take a lot of bending backwards and increased budgets to have 13-15 teams running around for the first several rounds of the race. Not to mention how many teams would have to be ignored in the editing room. It’s why Survivor rarely has twenty people anymore. You end up completely shunning people from airtime which brings up the question of “If you don’t show them, why have them on the program in the first place?”
In addition, every team they picked was either extremely well known but sucked (which really applies to only one or two teams) while the other teams were excellent exciting racers, dynamic, and well-known. Something no other all-star edition has matched of any TV series.
Keep in mind this does not apply to the second TAR All-Star. Here they cast half the teams as fodder and were forgettable players. Only a handful teams had a legitimate shot of winning. I’ll expand on that more in about a year from now. Oh, and several superstar teams weren’t even considered. Seriously.
My only real criticism of casting is that TAR missed out on doing an awesome theme. It’s the only chance any reality show could have done this–Battle of the Seasons.
Something I wish they did for Survivor 20 or Big Brother 14. But sadly, that did not happen. Why could TAR do it for season eleven? It’s simple.
There’s nine regular seasons. One team from each season. Then there’s Family Edition where people competed in groups of four. Divide a family into two teams and BAM, you have your eleven teams. Battle of the Seasons, suckers.
But instead seven out of ten seasons were represented. So which three were given the shaft?
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 9 – 8.6/10
5. The Amazing Race 2 – 8.5/10
6. The Amazing Race (1) – 7/10
7. The Amazing Race 10 – 6.5/10
8. The Amazing Race 4 – 6.25/10
9. The Amazing Race 8 – 4.0/10
10. The Amazing Race 6 – 3.9/10
Yep. If three seasons were going to be skipped, it may as well be my three least favourite. I should note Phil Keoghan presented a list of fifteen teams, and ten of them were chosen. It appears Keoghan and I have the same taste in seasons and teams. I should also note Phil had NOTHING to do with assembling the cast for the second all-star.
Thus, Phil Keoghan is my favourite casting director of all time. And he only did it once in his life. For shame.
Want to know which of his teams weren’t picked for all-stars? Here’s the list below:
All were extremely solid picks. Kris/Jon broke up so they couldn’t return despite being the only bearable dating couple from that season.
Kelly/Jon were players who never did well during the race, and likely weren’t a competitive enough couple. They only came off villainous because the other teams on TAR 4 were relatively mild. And the people on TAR 11 have much stronger personalities than them.
Dave/Lori were the unfit nerdy likable superfans who were knocked out early, and were bound for all-stars. Unfortunately a team in TAR 10 fit that role and would be more of a ratings draw than Dave/Lori.
Colin/Christie would 100 to 150 percent be brought back. . .but then Christie got preggers, so her and Colin had a child. I think they named their kid Harrison.
I thought Ken/Gerard would be brought back. In every interview after TAR 5, Phil said “if there is an all-stars, I want Ken/Gerard back”. He’d mention them and ONLY them. I was so excited because they are my favourite team of all-time. But there is another team on Phil’s list that took precedent over Ken/Gerard who occupy that same demographic. It’s too bad, but I understand why that team beat Ken/Gerard for the spot. So Ken/Gerard will never get their shot at redemption for a game they played so well (minus the first leg).
Not on the list.
Flo/Drew were a team being put together by production. They wanted another appearance of Flo. She declined because she would only do the race again with Zach, and thought it would be a betrayal on her part. CBS immediately hung up when thinking about Zach’s charisma in an all-star edition.
You know how big Flo’s reputation is in TAR history?
TAR 3 aired in the autumn of 2002. Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2012 and I overhear my brother’s girlfriend and my cousin discuss TAR. Keep in mind these two don’t blog obsessively about the show and only rewatch a handful of seasons, once at the most. They bring up memorable stuff from TAR and Flo is brought up within two minutes.
Both of them shudder. I laughed so hard. In what universe do casual fans shudder at the name of a contestant who has not appeared on their TV screens in ten years? The same reaction they would have to Hurricane Sandy. Never underestimate the power of Flo.
Zach needs to write a tell-all book one day. If we shudder from seeing her on a screen for a few minutes per week for three months, imagine what it’s like to be with her 24/7.
I need to move onto debunking the second unfair criticism.
b) The tasks and the race course was too easy!
This one is what surprised me the most. When the season ended I thought ‘wow, they really tested them for once without using too many needle in a haystack tasks’.
That’s right. Needle in the haystack tasks have been apart of TAR since the chocolate factory roadblock of TAR 5. It reached its peak in TAR 6 with the biggest production error of all-time. The needle in the haystack appeared more frequently but in forms that still put teams on the brink of elimination, and still go home as a direct punishment for something that was an entirely luck-based task by producers.
This season there are only two. Both are really easy and meant to be fun tasks. Meanwhile all other tasks in the season require skill. The complaint from fans of ‘tasks being too easy’ could be that skill-based tasks are tough to capture its difficulty on television. It’s like explaining why the controls for a video game sucks– it’s something you can only understand if you experience it.
And the route? It was insanely demanding. Flight strategy hasn’t been such a big deal since the inaugural season. Phil, who brags going several days in a row with only four hours of sleep during filming, was VISIBLY exhausted.
It was the first time I felt bad for Phil where I wanted to reach through the screen and hand him a cold glass of water and a pillow before sending him off to bed. I’ll cover for him at the check-in mat and conduct the Mat Chats myself. Maybe I’ll call my mom to cook him some hot soup too.
As we go through the season you’ll recall how brutal it really was and not buy into ‘the winner sucked so they must have screwed up the route and challenges’ argument. It just doesn’t stick.
In fact, a team that dominated in their first appearance would go on to be absolutely spent like Osten Taylor by the second leg of the season.
And the final criticism. . .
c) New School players have an advantage over Old School players because they played recently or are younger!
Really? How much does that factor in?
Players brought back from TAR 9 + 10
7th (did awful beforehand)
Players brought back from TAR 1 – 3
Middle School (TAR 5 and 7)
So Old School and Middle School had better teams average wise and placement wise than New School but somehow New School is crowned to have the advantage? You do know that makes zero sense right?
I rest my case.
Next we head into the final part of this introduction where I re-reveal the teams who have been away from our TV sets for over five years. Crazy.
Then we’ll finally get into the episodes! Hooray!