Episode Blog #309
“Making History and Featuring Teila Tuli!”
ARGENTINA – PARAGUAY – ITALY – GERMANY – AZERBAIJAN – TANZANIA – INDIA – JAPAN – UNITED STATES
Previously on TAR:
Since this season aired as a two hour finale, there wasn’t a “Previously On” segment. Therefore I shall give my quick thoughts on the three teams heading into the finale.
Brendon & Rachel: Emotional. Confrontational. Divisive amongst the racers and divisive amongst the audience. If Brendon & Rachel win, Rachel goes down as a reality TV legend and this victory will be one of the most controversial victories in RTV history as Brendon & Rachel didn’t win a single leg until it truly mattered. It would begrudgingly give legitimacy to the Big Brother franchise which is viewed as the home to the degenerates of the RTV casting universe. The Big Brother diehards would label this as one of the best seasons ever. Jeff & Jordan and Alison Irwin will wonder where the hell they went wrong.
Art & JJ: Art & JJ have been top performers in the race but have also not been top performers amongst the general audience. They are equally confrontational as Brendon & Rachel. The decision to align with Dave & Rachel from day one has proven to bite them as they now have to find a way to defeat a team that rarely makes mistakes. Art & JJ have benefitted from strength based challenges and knowing how to get from Point A to Point B. However, Art’s fitness has been in question since the second round of play. Final legs require a lot of work on foot and Art will need to do his damndest to keep up. If Art & JJ win, TAR 20 will go down as an unmemorable season and the audience awaits TAR 21.
Dave & Rachel: Agility, efficiency, and a strong social game has proven to be a lethal combination for this ultra competitive couple. They may not always get along but they do know how to work together. They are not bothered by the conflict that has permeated the cast since day one, but haven’t paid any attention to it. Their focus and precision gives them a huge advantage over the other racers. If they win, TAR 20 is immortalized and cannot be glanced over due to Dave & Rachel’s record dominance. Can Major Dave and his wife complete their objective?
Phil introduces us to Osaka as Japan’s kitchen and is a hub for the country’s food industry.
I love how the mushroom tops and this guy’s head look identical to each other.
Don’t believe Phil? Here are exactly two kitchens shown. . .but seriously, it’s true. Osaka is the hub of Japan’s food industry.
I can’t put it into words how beautiful Japan is.
Dave & Rachel, who arrived first at an unspecified time, will depart at 4:15pm.
I don’t understand the point of having the Final Three teams honour their scheduled departure times on the final leg. From TAR 12 onwards, everybody is ALWAYS on the same flight to the final destination city.
Teams will fly to their final destination city–Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii has been visited in TAR 2, 3, 4, 6, 11, and 14. The TAR 20 finale will be the final Hawaii visit.
The only major city in all of Polynesia.
Once they land, they must figure out they need to find the Twin Towers.
For some reason a heights related challenge in the finale has been established as a tradition by TAR 20.
Dave says they have established themselves as one of the three best teams to compete in Amazing Race history. No other team has won more than seven legs.
We’ll get to the topic of whether a team will ever win nine legs later, but there really was only one question during the finale–will Dave & Rachel get the American record (and most leg wins for a twelve leg season) or will it go down as the biggest choke in Amazing Race history.
Remember–just last season Andy & Tommy were the first team to be eliminated prior to the finale despite winning five legs. Dave & Rachel losing the finale would take it to a new level.
Either they tie a record set with Marc & Rovilson. . .or nearly tie a record with Marc & Rovilson.
Art & JJ depart in second at 4:47pm. Art dances when he reads the destination.
He really wishes he could have done the Bollywood task.
Clearly there’s no rush to get to the airport.
JJ talks about how it’s “balls to the wall” and how they didn’t come here for second or third.
“We didn’t come here for second or third. . .we came here to be invited back to finish eleventh behind a teddy bear pirate.”
Brendon & Rachel depart in last at 5:05pm.
This will be the final time they wear their Siberian hats.
BRENDON: We’re turning it up ten notches. We’re turning up the turbos.
Remember this quote well. Brendon and Rachel are turning on turbo speeds. Trust me. The nitros are kicking in.
Yeah, Brendon & Rachel will switch from being the yellow car to being the fuckin’ beast grey car from Super Off Road this round. Ready to kick your military and border patrolling asses!
Dave & Rachel are trying to find the earliest flight to Honolulu. Sorry guys. It won’t be that easy this round.
I like how the Hawaiian Airlines agent is forced to wear a Hawaiian shirt and have a big ass flower in her hair.
Well we know exactly when the final day of filming was for this season.
During my seven months of backpacking this year Osaka, Japan was my very first stop. Do you want to know what my final stop was?
Yep. Honolulu! The last of my siblings got married there at the end of July on the North Shore. Our time there was split between North Shore and Waikiki.
Joe & Bill from season one chill out here in Oahu. OK. No more obnoxious personal photos from me. That is mainly because I have never been to any of the specific route markers that will be used for this final leg.
JJ intends to sleep for most of the twelve hour flight.
JJ: Second place feels like a waste.
What about if you finish in second place four times? Then is it a quadruple waste?
It really does look like a twelve hour flight.
The island metropolis.
Chill guy letting them off the plane.
Everyone knows you should always check your bags for the final day of racing. It’s only going to slow you down a hell of a lot.
Did their research.
Nothing says putting on the turbos like being the only team to retain your enormous backpacks.
Did their research too.
Sure enough Dave & Rachel is in the first cab. Art & JJ are in the second cab. Brenchel are last. Dave & Rachel’s driver solves the riddle while Art & JJ’s cab has no idea of the address. Art says to follow while JJ hates the idea of following without a clue. The security guard in the airport parking lot solves it for Brendon & Rachel.
JJ is really not agreeing with this strategy.
Dave identifies his driver as a veteran. The driver notes Art & JJ are following them.
JJ is in full on Hermione Granger Mode.
Dave & Rachel are first to the Towers.
And it’s gonna be a scary task–they must reach the top of the tower the hard way. Ascend and rappel.
Who the hell is this guy?
Once at the top they must search for a red and yellow flag revealing their next destination.
Lift with your knees! Not with your back!
Some would say this is an unofficial Linda & Karen Philippines Switchback. I know some all-female teams are incapable of doing this task.
Imagine if Gutsy Grannies had to do this? Peggy would forever be known as the grumpy old woman who died while suspended in midair.
Brendon & Rachel are second to the clue box.
RACHEL BROWN: Holy balls that is a long climb.
Considering the significant Mormon population, it isn’t out of the question for the man next to Rachel to have holy balls.
Dave & Rachel and Brendon & Rachel reveal they have a friendship as both are fine with winning as long as Art & JJ don’t.
These three teams have really been the top three teams all season. This is the first time since season one that the top three teams on the first leg made it to the final leg.
Art & JJ’s driver has called a bunch of people without any success. JJ orders him to stop at a hotel. JJ declares it is his fault for not stopping the initial strategy.
Things are not going well for Art & JJ. They’re directed to the statue of a guy on a boogie board on Waikiki Beach. I know that statue which means they are about to lose a solid ten to fifteen minutes once they get to that statue.
Production is going to spend a lot of money on aerial footage today. They’ll be happy once drones become more of a thing in a few seasons.
There is a swimming pool to break her fall, luckily.
We zoom out to see the two Rachels are very far apart.
Dave spots the clue easily at the top once Rachel joins him. He says it was quite obvious.
Art & JJ are at Waikiki Beach.
“Let’s ascend and rappel down this statue, Art. I bet the teams have come and gone, Art.”
Art & JJ have really fizzled out since they hit Asia.
Commercial break. We resume.
Art & JJ get the answer from a local. Off to Pearl City they go.
I can’t fathom what taking those first couple voluntary steps off the side of the building would be like. I feel dizzy just watching this.
“Oh hell no.”
Rachel Reilly is scared towards the end of the ascension.
Dave & Rachel have fun as they approach the bottom.
It’s like they are swimming in midair.
“I’m a bird!”
“I’m a plane!”
Brendon & Rachel spot the same flag as Dave & Rachel. Dave & Rachel reach the bottom.
Art & JJ finally get to the Twin Towers. Dave & Rachel’s taxi driver waited for them. Dave essentially hushes Rachel as he gives very specific directions. It wasn’t pretty, but it is the best strategy for that clue.
“Shhh, honey. The men are talking.”
DAVE: Who’s the navigator, okay? Let me work it.
Rachel Reilly fears the rappel.
Helmet cams–Making women feel self-conscious about their noses since the start of reality TV.
It’s like he is hanging onto the wall for dear life.
Brendon starts spinning in midair without making any further progress down.
You spin Brendon right round baby
Like a record baby
Meanwhile, JJ is the one most fearful of heights. He describes himself as anti-Daredevil.
It’s why it is much easier to catch people at the fence rather than being the one to climb it.
I don’t think Art is that much of a fan of heights either.
I dunno why we have this shot of Brendon coming down to the ground.
Rachel Reilly lands too.
She is shaken up.
Brendon & Rachel tell their driver they need to go to Sand Island.
JJ kicks Art’s ass at the upper body strength challenge. They spot the flag from the roof.
Dave & Rachel find the first Roadblock for today. It is a task introduced by the Japanese–shaving ice using a samurai sword. Once they shave enough ice to fill a bucket to the line, famous Hawaiian actor Taylor Wily will give them their next clue.
Taylor Wily is the guy in the chair. Why does he look so familiar?
How long until that ice melts? It can’t last long in thirty degree heat.
In Greenland nowadays, this turns instantly into water.
Seriously. I have never heard of the name Taylor Wily but that guy is super familiar. Why isn’t he showing his teeth? . . .Wait a second!
THAT’S TEILA TULI FROM UFC 1?! The guy who got his tooth knocked out in the first ever UFC fight against a Dutch kickboxer? You’ve got to be kidding me! THAT’S AWESOME! This is the first UFC fighter cameo until we get to TAR 26.
Guess what time this task was filmed at? 2:30. Hahahahaha.
After a brief discussion, Dave is doing this Roadblock.
DAVE: I wish I had the upper body of that dude over there!
But certainly not his dental work.
Well, at least he is the Hawaiian legend with all of his fingers intact.
Rachel can see Art & JJ preparing to rappel down.
That’s one way to keep an eye on your competition.
ART: I’m going to get my Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol on, bro.
Wow. I was not expecting a reference to the fourth Mission Impossible film.
And what’s with the franchise no longer numbering the films after the third one? Why go 1, 2, 3, Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation, and Fallout.
Granted Sly Stallone pulled the same bullshit by going Rocky I, II, III, IV, V, Rocky Balboa Story, Apollo I, Apollo II.
JJ: I just want to live, Art. I just want to live.
His eyes are VERY green.
Art tries walking down the slope.
Man, Art sucks with any change in slope. Jesus.
Question: Why are Hawaiians such friendly and outgoing people?
Because they know how to break the ice! Ohohohoho.
Brendon & Rachel are second to the shaved ice. Brendon is doing it. The two teams share some friendly banter back and forth.
Brendon & Rachel currently have a genuine shot of stealing the victory from the two teams who have combined to win ten out of the eleven prior legs.
Rachel points out Art & JJ are still on the slopes.
RACHEL: They’re like little bugs. I am going to squish them.
The Wily family watches.
JJ hits the ground.
You know what they say: The helmet cam adds ten years.
Taylor Wily sees Dave has hit the mark on the ice bucket not used for ALS fundraisers.
TAYLOR: Ohhhh right.
All he was missing was a “giggity.” I guess the letter ‘g’ isn’t in the Hawaiian language.
Dave & Rachel read they must make their way on foot to one of the helicopters at the nearby baseball stadium.
It will be Art & JJ’s turn to try and squish Major Dave and his wife like tiny bugs.
DAVE: Is there a baseball field in this park?
DAVE: Can you drive us there?
RACHEL: No! It says on foot.
We were -this- close to Dave & Rachel making a fatal error.
Dave & Rachel get to the choppa.
Away into the air they go!
Dave tells the pilot that he is a pilot too and is not used to being a passenger.
“Guys, I am a pilot too. I said I am a pilot too. Is this thing on?”
As Dave & Rachel’s victory is a foregone conclusion at this point, production decides to show footage of Dave’s days as a fighter pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Man, what a life for such a young man.
Art volunteers JJ for the Roadblock. Boy is he going to regret that decision.
Even moreso than Obie Trice’s one night stands.
Brendon & Rachel say hi to Art & JJ. No response.
Yeah, it really breaks the common border patrol stereotype of being warm, friendly, and dishing out free hugs.
RACHEL: We don’t need to talk. We just need to beat them.
This landscape looks very similar to Jurassic Park. . .because it probably is. Jurassic Park was filmed here. All we need is a freakin’ dinosaur to emerge.
Rachel spots a rainbow.
RACHEL: Much better than flying in Iraq, huh?
DAVE: I’ve flown some pretty scenic coastlines. This is gorgeous.
“I have flown a lot of scenic coastlines and this is amazing. . .so I rank this as the eighth best coastline I have ever flown.”
Meanwhile the peasants continue to shave ice.
“Hot ice! It’s the best of both worlds!”
Concluding that as a Mexican he has spent too much time around border patrol agents for a season of TAR, he quickly fills up his bucket.
TEILA TULI: Ohhhhhhhhh riiiiiiiight.
“I wonder what this ice will turn into!”
RACHEL: Make your way on foot to the outfield. . .
Make your way on foot, huh?
Make your way on foot to the taxi that will take you to the outfield.
Brendon & Rachel are being taken to Aloha Stadium. In a taxi. In other words. . .
We get to see the full clue.
Art & JJ think they have made up some time but believe they are still in third place.
It would be hilarious if this was just a random charitable guy with a helicopter who is about to fuck Art & JJ over. This isn’t the outfield, guys! This guy is just bored!
Art & JJ quickly leap into second place.
ART: I feel like Magnum PI. All I need now is a ferrari.
I wasn’t expecting Art to be the one putting up the pop culture references today.
That is one lonely pilot.
“Need a friend?”
Brendon & Rachel are at Aloha Stadium.
Is it even open today?
“Rach, there are no other teams here! We might be first!”
RACHEL: Make your way on foot to one of–
BRENDON: On foot?!
RACHEL: To one of the helicopters–
BRENDON: On foot? On foot?
RACHEL: Waiting in the outfield.
BRENDON: Oh my god, Rachel.
“Hmmmm, do we jump the fence?”
Sadly, Brendon & Rachel do not jump the fence and retreat back to their taxi to go elsewhere.
“Do we borrow a cat and plow through the fence???”
To borrow a chemistry term, I think Brendon is about to spontaneously combust right now.
Man, Brendon & Rachel are killing the whole Hawaiian laid back vibe.
RACHEL: Oh my god, Brendon! Stop freaking out!
STOP FREAKING OUT, OKAY!!!!!
So how did Rachel mess up by misreading the clue for the first time on the race? I have a theory. It’s a case of hearing what you want to hear or rather “reading what you want to read.” It’s the same thing my mom does all of the time. She blocks out critical pieces of information people tell her if it doesn’t suit her preference or what she likes. It’s quite common in human nature.
Rachel probably read the clue and refused to believe/accept that everyone would be required to run on foot to the helicopter. It’s not until re-reading the clue she realizes “oh, we did have to run.”
And I think that is what happened here. Rachel is that type of person and it couldn’t come at a worse possible time. That subconscious error is likely going to cost her a million bucks.
Commercial break. We resume.
BRENDON: Dammit. We worked so hard and we messed up on the stupidest stupidest thing.
“Pfffft. I already won Big Brother. I’m not the one who needs a W, Brendon.”
Although I am sure Rachel would have loved to be the first American contestant to win two of CBS’ three competitive reality shows. It’s incredible to think this chase could have ended all the way back in 2012.
RACHEL: Brendon, we get it. We messed up. OK?
BRENDON: Stop. I don’t want Crazy Rachel.
BRENDON SAID THE SECRET WORD OF THE WEEK! Emotional, pouting, and now crazy.
“Can I get ‘Things You Call Your Girlfriend To Make The Situation Worse’ for 800, Alex?”
“CRAZY?! DON’T MIND IF I DO!”
“When I lived in the orphanage my hair was my room.”
RACHEL: Crazy?! I’m not even being crazy!”
“I was a white person on Big Brother who went an entire season without saying something racist. I’m the sanest person alive!”
The chopper lands in the middle of North Shore.
So freakin’ scenic.
Dave & Rachel find their clue “box”.
For some reason, anytime the race ends in Hawaii we need surfboards to be incorporated into the episode.
Dave & Rachel read the clue. They must become North Shore lifeguards.
The lead is maintained.
Phil says it is time to experience the adrenaline rush of rescuing a distressed swimmer.
I can’t imagine Team Kentucky being comfortable with a task like this.
One will drive the waverunner through the turbulent surf while the other clings onto a board. Once they scoop up their victim, they must negotiate their way back through the treacherous waters and head back to shore in order to receive their next clue.
“This is as far as my bendy-doo goes, Mark.”
This final round has been quite friendly to all-male teams.
Unless you’re the guy in the back. I may have spoken too soon.
He’s the only guy in all of Hawaii not doing the hang loose sign.
Rachel has to convince Dave to be the guy on the board because pulling a drowning person out of the water will take strength. In other words, he can’t be the pilot.
“Huh? But production told us not to make this final round a complete blowout. We need to increase the level of competition, Rachel.”
Rachel demonstrates the motion needed for the task so Dave can comprehend it.
Sadly no terrible Baywatch parody to be found here. That’ll be saved for TAR 28.
“Oh, you work for Search and Rescue in Hawaii? Does that mean you save people from dying?!”
“No. I wear a bikini and hold a waverunner steady from 8am to 4pm.”
“And do you also–”
“No, that’s my whole job.”
Dare I say it’s the only job in Hawaii where your body isn’t allowed to “hang loose.”
And that’s her whole job.
Dave directs Rachel how to drive the waverunner.
Holy hell he is actually drowning!
“You’re the fourth most distressed person I have rescued!”
It’s actually the guy on the bottom saying “Go. Go.” I think he would’ve preferred to drown rather than be in this position.
DAVE: You probably prefer her to be on top of you. Sorry bro.
“Wait a few months and you might have a shot.”
“This is best case scenario for us.”
JJ: Well whatever it is let’s just jog it in.
Way to be a kill joy, JJ.
Brendon & Rachel are back at the park. Remember how I said they were going to turn on the turbos?
BRENDON: Sweetie? What are you doing? Let’s jog.
RACHEL: I am coming, Brendon!
Rachel is being such a yellow car right now.
BRENDON: You don’t wanna jog?
RACHEL: No I don’t! I’m trying my hardest.
BRENDON: Let’s give up then.
RACHEL: WHY DO YOU ALWAYS SAY THAT?!
BRENDON: Because you’re walking. This is the final leg for a million dollars.
RACHEL: BRENDON!!! My knees hurt! My legs hurt! WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?!
BRENDON: Oh my god.
This is the worst Final Three meltdown in quite a while. Sure, you’ll see some intense moments, but I can’t recall a time a team bickered this much in the final leg. Even Flo was able to keep it together after the penultimate round in Vietnam.
Maybe Adam getting upset over a cheese pizza is in the mix.
RACHEL: I HATE YOU RIGHT NOW! YOU’RE BLAMING THIS ALL ON ME!
BRENDON: I’m not blaming anything on you!
RACHEL: It doesn’t matter! We’re already in third place!
BRENDON: You don’t know! Why don’t you just shut your mouth and run!
“Know your role and shut your mouth!”
Rachel’s legs hurt. Her knees hurt. However, her vocal chords are in peak CrossFit condition!
RACHEL: Damn you! I hate you!
Rachel’s upper body is in good condition too.
“Babe, don’t throw.”
BRENDON: Are you fucked?
Brendon & Rachel enter the helicopter.
BRENDON: Let’s stop it, drop it, and move on. Finish this race out and try to go for second or first.
“And if we lose, we’ll still get two more chances at the million over the next six years. Either way we win!”
Dave & Rachel complete the task. Art & JJ haven’t shown up. They read they must find the Coral Kingdom Gate and follow the flags to the clue.
Clues, Dave & Rachel. Clues.
Dave & Rachel hire a cab.
Art & JJ are second to the waverunner. They think it will be easy since they used to do search and rescue for the border patrol.
Not seeing Dave & Rachel must be extremely discouraging when you know there is likely just one task left.
Dave notes the cab driver has made a U-Turn after one mile.
“I forgot to pick my kid up from school.”
Meanwhile, Art nearly kills the guy drowning.
JJ very rarely ends a sentence without saying Art’s name.
I feel like something is missing from this picture.
There we go!
I am cringing so hard.
Art & JJ receive their next clue.
We get to see the full clue. It’s a good thing production lets racers know to not have their cabs wait for hours and hours at the Coral Kingdom. Teams now know the finish line is extremely close.
Brendon & Rachel recover as they find the waverunner in last place. Rachel is all over the place when driving.
BRENDON: Rach, you’re gonna tip me if you keep doing that.
“Maybe that’s my goal, Brendon.”
“Maybe that’s her goal.”
We cut back and forth between the two taxis. We see Dave & Rachel exit at Coral Kingdom Gate.
Both teams are shown running in different locations.
Oh my god. I know that exact spot. It’s near the ranch where I rode the catamaran with my folks. That is definitely not Coral Kingdom Gate. The taxi driver forked up.
Oh my god. They missed their clue. Where the hell is this?
The audience is extremely confused.
We cut back to Art & JJ’s location.
Art is EXHAUSTED after climbing that hill. He did not walk up it very fast.
What’s the point of a Roadblock hint if there isn’t a choice as to who will perform it? It may as well say “Fuck you Art, you’re doing this Roadblock. Suck it.”
Phil introduces the final task of the season. Once again, it is not a memory challenge.
They must be ancient Hawaiian warriors as they have gone from surfing waves to surfing mountains. Teams must use sleds called haluas which can reach speeds of sixty miles per hour. Once teams have taken a hair-raising ride 150 feet down this hill and across the line, they must pick up a hula mika–a disc shaped lava rock that warriors use to break the ankles of their enemies. Today it is adapted into a game where teams roll a disc into a target to receive their next clue.
Quentin Tarantino prepares to ride.
At least Art won’t have to use his legs for this task.
Listen to how Phil says the word ‘warrior’ here. He does it with a Kiwi accent like ‘warriahs’.
“I have broken the ankles of many of my enemies.”
Editors decided to censor this topless man.
Art asks which sled is the fastest.
If Art can identify which sled is the fastest, he deserves the million bucks.
ART: I got to make this sled super oily. I only want to do this once. It’s not going to take me more than once, right?
“OK, maybe two tries? Please? Please?”
“Betcha can’t try just once.”
JJ: Is my friend gonna die while doing this?
Although by the end of this task Art will be begging to be put down like a twenty year old family dog.
“He went further than the sled!”
He did not make it far. Oh well. There’s a learning curve!
JJ: I just think I am a little more athletic than Art.
I should note Art has to walk back up the hill each time. Considering Art assumes he is in a decisive second or third place position, he is not going to hustle.
And Dave & Rachel are being duped by a conniving serial killer in the jungle who has set up red and yellow flags to trap unsuspecting reality TV contestants.
Art nearly makes it there but misses.
JJ: I could be wrong but I think we’re making some time on Dave & Rachel but it’s a far gone conclusion. I’m hoping maybe there’s a snag.
A snag you say?
The teams have no idea.
Just picture what it must be like for producers right now. No one is noticing them laughing their asses off in the background.
PHIL: Rachel and Dave. . .you are the first team to arrive.
Phil has to give the bad news. Poor guy.
“Babe why isn’t he saying nine countries, five continents–”
“Silence is golden, babe. Let the man speak. We won.”
PHIL: However, you have not completed the Roadblock correctly. And you must do that before I can check you in at the finish line.
“And Dave, please don’t hit me.”
DAVE: The Roadblock. . .?
RACHEL: Huuuuuuuuh. . .
. . .?
“Again, please don’t hit me.”
“Phil was standing there this whole time?!”
Wow. These guys clearly spent too much time in Paraguay after being eliminated.
You’d have to go all the way back to TAR 9 for the best cliffhanger before the ending to a race. Could Dave & Rachel backtrack across the lake, find the coral gate, complete the Roadblock, find the paddleboards, paddle across the lake once more, and beat Art & JJ to the finish line?
If they want to break the US wins record, they are going to have to earn it.
Commercial break. We resume.
DAVE: That’s a game-changer.
RACHEL: Paddle for your life!
“Back across the ocean.”
JJ: Just not our day. This is not how we wanted to finish. That’s for sure.
“Hey Art, you forgot something buddy!”
Dave & Rachel realize they didn’t follow a marked path. They stop at somebody’s house who tells them the Coral Gate is a half mile away.
Here, take my dog. He’ll show you the way. Go on, Scruffy!
And since no cabs are around they are stuck running half a mile. Rachel Reilly would hate it if she had to run that far.
“A half mile is further than you think!”
DAVE: Racing for a million.
RACHEL: Please don’t talk to me for the next quarter mile.
Art has all of the time in the world to finish this Roadblock. If he can’t get it by the time Dave & Rachel show up, he only has himself to blame.
Dave & Rachel enter the marked Coral Kingdom Gate.
DAVE: There’s fresh tracks!
Jesus Christ, is this TAR or Mantracker?
“Hmmmm, these tracks are thirty-seven minutes old. You have plenty of time, Dave!”
“Dave, wait up!”
Rachel makes her way up the hill.
RACHEL: I’m dying a slow death.
Just like their relationship!
Rachel has to do this Roadblock.
Art & JJ are stunned to see Dave & Rachel show up.
The sled has now jumped up in value from approximately $100 USD up to I would estimated $1, 000, 000 USD.
JJ yells at Art if he saw Dave & Rachel at the top.
The pressure is mounting. It has been a long time since the outcome of a season was determined by the final task.
Nothing brings JJ more joy than the idea of stealing Major Dave’s final ‘W’ away from him at the last possible moment.
DAVE: Baby you know how to sled. You got ridiculous skills.
They shake hands. There is nothing they can do. It is out of their hands which they just shaked.
Brendon & Rachel get dropped off at what they think is Coral Kingdom Gate.
“I saw some paddleboards down at the water. Maybe you want to ride one of those?”
Brendon & Rachel also have to run half a mile.
JJ screams words of encouragement at Art to do it. Rachel makes another attempt.
Oh my god. . .
It was in this moment Dave and JJ realized it was ideal to have the lighter person ride the sled.
Wow. In the span of just one minute of footage, Rachel has passed Art after a significant headstart.
Major Dave hits a victory pose.
JJ: Un. . .believable.
Art pretends to punch the ground like it is the face of a Mexican or a Honduran.
JJ contemplates where the day went wrong.
JJ: We were handed a million dollars and we just threw it away. Gutwrenching, man.
“Please don’t kill me, man.”
Art goes back up the hill.
Dave asks Rachel to think about her technique repeatedly.
RACHEL: It’s your technique, it’s your technique. Oh yeah, like he’s had technique practice with this.
A million dollars is within reach but Rachel can’t help but think about Dave annoying her in the moment.
Rachel is barely missing her shots. Art failed his sixteenth attempt.
One word to sum up this picture: Despair.
Rachel keeps throwing discs.
After all of the discs has been tossed, Dave is assigned the role of being the Disc Retrieval Bitch.
DAVE: Freakin’ focus on your technique.
RACHEL: Babe, shut the fuck up right now. I will throw these at your nuts.
Dave will quickly regret asking her to focus on her technique.
Hawaiian Chevy Chase can’t help but contain his laughter.
Boom. It’s done, son.
“Why can’t we ever beat them? Is there an invisible barrier between us and first place?”
It’s not a secret when a team was able to find it WITHOUT A CLUE.
It’s like the Gary Hogeboom of TAR finish lines.
The last time we get to see the “Rachel & Dave Currently in 1st Place” graphic.
Instead of running, Dave & Rachel get to use a golf cart this time.
Well this is unusual.
We have a self-drive leg for the final round of the season.
DAVE: It’s like eight and a half victories since we already saw Phil once.
Brenchel reach Coral Kingdom Gate.
RACHEL: Our taxi driver sucks.
BRENDON: Yeah. Big time.
It’s a long trek to the finish line when you are hopelessly defeated.
JJ: Here comes Rachel and Big Brother. We had this in the bag.
Once again, we head back to the water.
Production goes all out with helicopter shots this round.
Rachel is not enjoying this Roadblock.
I don’t know whether it’s the impact of falling or the idea of walking up the hill again that is making Rachel cry.
Oh my god. She beat Art at this task.
Even Debra & Steve could beat out Art in this Roadblock too. And they have the added excuse of being fat as fuck.
What happened to Brendon’s hand?
Rachel does a little dance.
JJ is developing an ulcer as we speak.
Rachel has a really bad flicking technique with the stones, but gets surprisingly close a couple of times.
“So close. So close.”
When you realize you’re going to lose to a team who you referred to as “not being able to follow their own shadow.”
Art gets it done when the pressure is gone.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you your loser’s bracket.
Dave patiently waits for Rachel to reach the dock.
Dave & Rachel start running as we cut to the finish line.
These teams were eliminated over a year ago in this blog.
Wow, I didn’t know Kerri & Stacy were capable of being happy.
If Joey Fitness & “Danny” beat them in the Fast Forward dash, we would have a very very very different season on our hands. I have seen a compelling argument that “Joey” Fitness & Danny would have won the season if they had stacked it faster. Also, we see the only team to beat & Dave & Rachel over the past eight freakin’ rounds of play.
On paper, this will forever go down as the Dave & Rachel season.
5 continents, 9 countries, 22 cities, and more than 26, 000 miles. They win.
Those are going to be some sweaty pits, Dave.
Phil confirms the American leg wins record. Rachel talks about how hard it was to have Dave gone for a year.
FIRST PLACE: DAVE & RACHEL
She is more like Rachel Reilly than Rachel Brown in this moment.
Rachel talks about how the race really brought them together.
The kiss of victory.
We cut back to the saddest Hawaiian bowling game ever.
This is just depressing.
Art lands the shot.
Victory. . .?
They know there is no chance in hell they are catching up.
Rachel lands it in the target.
“Head to the finish line!”
“We got here twice before you made it here once.”
Hug it out, y’all.
SECOND PLACE: ART & JJ
Casual mat chat with Phil about their strong performance.
ART: Not bad for a couple of old guys.
Oh god. We got one last kick of the “not bad for a couple of (insert whoever it is here)” line upon elimination.
They won’t be using that line in TAR 31.
Sorry Art. I had to make that joke.
But for now, let them appreciate their TAR 20 performance.
Today I learned Brendon sucks at using a paddleboard.
Brendon & Rachel run to the finish line.
High fives all around for stunt casting.
THIRD PLACE: BRENDON & RACHEL
“Soooooooo all stars next season so I can win next time?”
Rachel reflects on it as a cool experience. Brendon thinks everyone will get along after the season is over.
Brendon & Rachel say there is love despite strangling each other like Homer and Bart Simpson.
And now it’s time to storm the finish line.
Vanessa fondles Bopper’s bald head.
Mark & Bopper sneak in a confessional. Man. Producers started this finale and ended this finale with coverage of a team who didn’t even compete in the final two legs of the season. They aimed to please the audience as much as possible.
DAVE: Operation Amazing Race has been a complete success.
Between TAR 19 and TAR 20, TAR’s popularity was declining. Neither season was a hit with the audience as both seasons faced multiple flaws. Sure, history was made in the finale, but Dave & Rachel weren’t that popular with the audience. In fact, this entire Final Four was probably the least popular Final Four overall in TAR history. TAR is about to take a major ratings hit in TAR 21 as this season was essentially “just another season” as producers couldn’t find a way to engage the audience as much as they did in seasons 1-13 and TAR 17. We will see some new twists starting with TAR 21 to trigger another shift for TAR into a new direction. Especially given the budget isn’t going to get any bigger and new countries will be put on the backburner.
So. . .
Next Time on TAR:
We go from a team who absolutely dominated their season more than any other team in history to a team that. . .well, doesn’t. Something TAR needed at that point in time after a series of seasons that all relatively blend together.
What in the Nickelodeon is this?
1) Buenos Aires, Argentina -> Asuncion, Paraguy
We have only three tasks total this leg and there wasn’t much navigation within the city of Asuncion.
However, we had a little bit of a flight scramble. Yes, it was just over two flights, but that’s more than what we typically get in TAR during this era. The three tasks we had were all tough as balls. You know it’s tough as balls when Dave & Rachel, a team who people put in the conversation of the strongest team ever are unable to complete ANY of the three tasks.
I assume Dave & Rachel didn’t put in as much effort as they normally would due to the comfort of the Express Pass. It’s like a power player playing loosely when he has a big chip lead. I’ve seen myself do the same thing in Survivor ORGs when I have a hidden immunity idol or am in the majority. When you have an advantage and are damn good at what you do, you just don’t try as hard.
Therefore, I believe the Express Pass wasn’t really a factor in Dave & Rachel surviving this leg. They didn’t even bother attempting the harp challenge and switched the watermelon task early because they knew they could use their Express Pass if the harps presented any sort of difficulty or an abundance of teams. Combine that with Elliot & Andrew and Vanessa & Ralph being several hours behind Kerri & Stacy, and I am about 97% confident that Dave & Rachel make it through no matter what.
So yeah, the Express Pass twist was a waste once again. Luckily Dave & Rachel used it early to prevent it from hogging up airtime. I do think, however, that Dave & Rachel’s performance in this leg erases them from contention in the strongest team to ever run the race.
The storyline of Art & JJ and Dave & Rachel representing the top of the leaderboard continues. They aligned, got on the best flight, and Art & JJ were very strong where Dave & Rachel are very weak. JJ outright says that these two teams will dominate the whole season. We see layers of Brendon & Rachel and Mark & Bopper showing strength in this leg and being presented as the only two teams who could possibly catch the two dominant teams in an upset. The editors have an easy story to tell for this season.
For a team who doesn’t make it to the very end nor will be super popular with the audience, editors invested in Vanessa & Ralph barely surviving this leg. They had their own segment after a commercial break just to show the conclusion in their late night showdown with Elliot & Andrew. Hell, we even got a good chunk of content of their rivalry with Brendon & Rachel. We had the full spectrum of “I can see Rachel’s whole entire ass” to “we will not quit to set a good example for Ralph’s son”. The audience definitely has mixed opinions about this team.
Nary & Jamie being the friendly team with a goofy storyline that trolls Art & JJ’s and Dave & Rachel’s competitive spirit officially begins this round. Art & JJ don’t like goofy folks. Too bad we don’t see a helluva whole lot else from Nary & Jamie except being bumped to the early flight.
Both all-female teams were underedited this leg as Kerri & Stacy were barely shown. They were on the receiving end of being outwitted by freakin’ Mark & Bopper. Editors chose not to bury Kerri & Stacy by showing the online exclusive unaired scenes and rather buried them via lack of airtime. They were outwitted then Kerri twerked to the harp music. We didn’t even see the completion of the Roadblock or more than a second of being at the pit stop.
As for Elliot & Andrew, editors did a great job of capturing their relationship and story all within the span of one episode. There wasn’t much to tell and decided to wait until they were relevant for the round.
This leg also receives extra credit for being a debuting country for the TAR catalogue. Paraguay has never been visited before or since. If they do choose to return to Paraguay, hopefully we get a leg outside of the only major city that 99% of the population can point to on a map. Can you think of another city besides Asuncion? I doubt it.
Wow, I totally forgot about Joey Fitness & Danny until now. There wasn’t much time for their comedic relief. Too much story was going on, they finished in the middle, and Rachel and Bopper were trying too hard to entertain the audience. Sorry guys. Maybe crop your mohawk Danny and you’ll get more attention.
2) Torino, Italy -> Bavaria, Germany
This round wasn’t terribly electrifying with entertainment value compared to the past two rounds. However, I love the design of the round.
They went all in with a fairy tale theme within Bavaria. Other than the minor equalizer at Gasthof, which only let two teams catch up to Art & JJ, teams had to completely self-navigate from start to finish. A ten hour train ride followed by about six or seven hours of driving yourself around Bavaria? That’s true TAR.
Art & JJ won their third leg in a row. When only two teams win the first five legs of the race, it really cues us up that we are in for a Titan season. No one could touch Dave & Rachel in the first two legs. Nobody has been able to come remotely close to Art & JJ in the next three legs. Right now the only team who has demonstrated to be competitive has been Joey & Danny.
The Roadblock was lame but surprisingly difficult for a couple of teams. Slide a pawn across the ice into a circle. That’s it. Not the most physically draining of tasks, but pretty much dictated who went home this round (if they hadn’t got lost).
The Detour was very offbeat. Collect gingerbread pieces on a snowy trail as a ridiculous witch taunts you. The other option was shaping a man’s beard.
It is also one of those rare episodes of TAR where it takes place while it is snowing. You can thank filming in the middle of December for that.
Seeing Kerri & Stacy blow it on the self-drive over Nary & Jamie on a short drive to the pit stop is something we don’t see often—however, it would have been more memorable if Nary & Jamie and Kerri & Stacy weren’t borderline invisible up until this point.
Seriously. How many of you remember Kerri & Stacy and the way they went out? Because it wasn’t an entirely straight-forward elimination.
Lastly, I love how the producers tricked teams with going to one of the two castles. How did nobody make this mistake in TAR 3? Was the clue in TAR 3 just “Go to Neuschwanstein Castle” rather than “Go to the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty” like they did this season?
P.S. Brendon falling on his ass at the pit stop was hilarious.
3) Osaka, Japan -> Oahu, Hawaii
Teila Tuli! Teila Tuli!
Yet another finale in Hawaii, but luckily this is the last one. No memory task this season is disappointing. However, Dave & Rachel’s epic screwup combined with Art’s even bigger screwup combined with Brendon & Rachel’s even bigger reading comprehension screwup made for a very exciting conclusion to the season. Seeing Dave & Rachel get turned around at the finish line will always be a major ‘wtf’ moment of the series. Seven years later I still can’t believe they recovered from that and won the season like it was just a minor obstacle.
The ice shaving Roadblock task was dull. The waverunner rescue seemed like a fun task for TV. The abseiling and descent was simultaneously terrifying and physically exhausting. Then we got the epic sled ride to finish it off.
I can’t help but wonder what TAR’s legacy would be like if Brendon & Rachel won the final leg. They would have if not for misreading the clue AND getting dropped off at the wrong gate.
4) Fussen, Germany -> Baku, Azerbaijan
Good news: We have a new country added to the TAR catalogue.
Bad news: We won’t see another new country until the endgame of TAR 22, and it is a very Anglophone country. The next non-English speaking country added to the TAR catalogue won’t be added until TAR 25. Yep. Five seasons.
In terms of suspense as to who will be eliminated, it is telegraphed less than halfway into the episode. Joey & Danny and Dave & Rachel both chasing down the Fast Forward led to a guaranteed elimination for whoever lost the battle. Obviously, Joey & Danny tanked this battle.
The oil bath task provided a lot of interesting visuals and is one of the more unique tasks. Nobody has ever had to clean oil off of a living human being as if they were a duck in an offshore oil spill.
Dave & Rachel win the leg and Art & JJ attain second place to continue their dominance. Three wins apiece. The Titan Season is in full effect.
Vanessa & Ralph barely escape elimination again thanks to Joey & Danny taking an unnecessary risk. They don’t do well with tasks involving fruit or things “hidden” in plain sight.
Mark & Bopper received the Jet & Cord theme music when checking into the pit stop and a lot more scenes this week really played up the “good ol’ country boys” narrative. From this point forward, it is really going to build.
We also see Nary & Jamie not quite match up to the other teams as they never excel at any of the tasks or pull off any brilliant decisions.
The Roadblock to do underwater training is neat in concept but lame to watch on TV. The task takes about ten seconds. All they do is swim out of a window and go up to the surface. I get that the risk is somebody panicking underwater, but nobody did and therefore the task had no real payoff. After the first couple of demonstrations, we could’ve just moved on.
The Fire Temple group dancing at the start of the leg is the last time the group will get along. Starting next round. . .things change.
5) Asuncion, Paraguay -> Torino, Italy
If you are not a fan of Brendon & Rachel’s bickering, you probably hate this episode as it occupies about ten minutes or more of the airtime.
If you can look past it and/or embrace it, it’s another leg with a decent design.
No equalizers and it’s all self-drive. As an old school fan, you can’t ask for much more.
The Roadblock of scaling down the Lingotto building did its job by messing up a couple of teams and triggering what I presume to be a twenty to thirty minute delay for them, but not the most interesting to watch unless you love to laugh at Vanessa flailing in midair.
The Detour was more comedic rather than it being particularly difficult. You either went to the easy-to-find salami shop but more time-consuming to complete or go to the hard-to-find junkyard but with a straightforward head-lofting cleaning process. They are a couple of more unique albeit not the most interesting tasks to watch. It’s a good thing the teams were able to entertain what could otherwise be mundane tasks to see play out.
Oh, and it is the first of THREE Fast Forwards! Not zero, one, or two. Three! Landing a remote control helicopter on somebody’s head seemed difficult. We wouldn’t see this task again until TAR Asia 5 where teams also sucked at it. It provided some amusing scenes where Dave was willing to risk his life in the race just to prove how much of a pilot he could be.
In terms of storyline, Art & JJ evened up the score with Dave & Rachel as the two teams have won two legs apiece. Thanks to the Fast Forward, they won by several hours for the second leg in a row.
Furthermore, the dominance of these two teams is solidified by the fact that Dave & Rachel kicked a lot of ass despite being at each other’s throats the whole leg and describing their performance as a failure. That should terrify all of the other teams.
Mark & Bopper’s travel inexperience was highlighted as they couldn’t figure out how to book flights to Italy until it was too late. Thanks to a pre-determined NEL (or CBS production interference if you’re a conspiracy theorist), their underdog storyline grows as Art & JJ’s act of charity combined with Bopper talking about his daughter made it memorable for the casual audience. Mark & Bopper became the official fan favourites thanks to this episode.
Vanessa & Ralph and Joey & Danny both tried to one-up each other in terms of sexualized and crass humour. I think Vanessa is still the queen but it could tip in Joey & Danny’s favour soon.
And lol @ Nary & Jamie and Kerri & Stacy combining for 45 seconds of airtime this episode. If you have seen all of the secret scenes, Kerri & Stacy were not well-liked by production as any interesting scenes with them were edited out.
Lastly, I know people think Art & JJ donated money to Bopper because they just wanted to look like good guys on TV and use Mark & Bopper in the race—but I do think it’s a bit extreme to assume ulterior motives were involved. Maybe Art & JJ -can- be good guys under certain circumstances. Or at least have a mixture of ulterior motives and generosity on The Amazing Race.
P.S. Yet another visit to Italy for TAR but luckily it is a brand new city.
6) Baku, Azerbaijan -> Ngorongoro, Tanzania
This leg is very tough to rank.
On one hand, we have some of the best airport drama and conflict between teams that we have seen in contemporary seasons. Undercover agents being exposed, Brendon sprinting through the airport for no apparent reason, Vanessa burning Rachel over and over, Dave & Rachel having their own absurd fights, and Vanessa’s biggest rival becoming a bicycle.
We also get a very brief visit through Kenya. When will we get a full Kenya leg? Damn you, TAR Canada 5! You were so close.
From the start of the episode Phil made it clear: “Africa—one of the most challenging continents in the world!”
In other words, production made the most generic leg in Africa possible. Drive in a vehicle with an assigned driver. Do multiple tasks within a really small area. Toss another rungu. Jump with Masai villagers. Assemble something in the bush. Oh look, animals.
This is a leg where anything good was 100% from the teams and 0% was from the production design.
Dave & Rachel winning another leg with Mark & Bopper right behind sets up for the only big upset of the season.
By the way, this might have been one of the most telegraphed mid-season NELs in a long time. We all knew it had to happen this leg. Nary & Jamie stopped to check out freakin’ elephants because of how confident they were. It took me back to the Final 3 NELs from the early seasons where nobody gave a fuck about what happened to them.
I could rewatch Vanessa trying to ride a bike on a repeated loop. That was hilarious.
7) Ngorongoro, Tanzania -> Lake Manyara, Tanzania
There was suspense to who would be eliminated for about thirty seconds this episode, but then we were reminded of the Speed Bump and how easy the Roadblock was this episode. Two teams U-Turned, Rachel bleeding, Vanessa & Ralph’s flat tire as well as getting lost, and Nary & Jamie really didn’t have a chance to catch up this round. They even received directions and help from Brendon & Rachel but that wasn’t enough.
Once again we get a “Welcome to the town of Rural in the country of Africa” leg. I bet viewers don’t even recall what country they were in by the end of this episode. We had all of the Africa staples—a safari, small towns with ultra linear tasks, and a “wow, look at how hard it is to get a basic necessity” string of confessionals. It’s funny because Tanzania, Rwanda, and Mozambique just a few years later are part of the string of countries in southeastern Africa with the highest GDP growth on the planet.
You either really hate this episode or really like this episode as Art & JJ’s conflict with Dave & Rachel starts here because they didn’t keep their word regarding the U-Turn.
And knowing how much Brendon & Rachel occupied reality TV pop culture as of TAR 20, you probably hated this episode alone for all of Rachel’s antics and the drama surrounding the Water Supply Detour as well as the Double U-Turn.
And you probably hated this episode because Dave & Rachel, Brendon & Rachel, Art & JJ, and Vanessa & Ralph all survived this episode as you lose one of the two teams that the casual audience somewhat liked at the time. And knowing who gets eliminated next, those last two episodes are really going to be fun for the audience.
Hillary Clington was an amusing route marker, finding the route markers this episode seemed too easy (unless you’re Vanessa & Ralph), and the Roadblock was neat in concept but very lame in execution. There were almost no highlights of it—in fact, I think there was about one or two minutes of footage total from it. Playing in a swarm of thousands of bees sounds crazy out loud but it did not translate to interesting television.
The Detour was fine, though. Clearly one task was easier than the other, but both reflected the local culture so I am fine with that.
Also, I guess that Speed Bump task was alright given the five seconds we saw of it. Hanging an art display without any commentary on it means I have no commentary to provide on it.
In spring of 2012, people were super bummed to lose Nary & Jamie. It is funny because re-watching this season seven years later and having enough distance from this season makes me have. . .a much different take on Nary & Jamie. This team was being compared to a Brook & Claire or Nat & Kat and I have seen people on message boards want them brought back for TAR 24 or another all-star team as a “team that could have been,” but I can’t agree with that at all after what I had seen in eight episodes.
8) Santa Barbara, California -> Cafayate, Argentina
I am not a fan of Starting Line tasks, and here we get another clear example of how a Starting Line task makes a season premiere feel super rushed and condensed. The first time we see two teams interacting is when Art & JJ and Dave & Rachel team up during the Roadblock. A couple of other loose observations during the tasks, and that’s it. Thankfully future rounds will explore these social interactions more.
There is one good thing about the Starting Line task this year: It’s the first one without any sort of penalty for the team that finishes last. They just have to get to the airport like everybody else.
Making 120 empanadas prior to reaching the pit stop was more of a unique task in TAR, and I appreciated it. We saw quite a bit of position shuffling due to the difficulty of it.
We saw a classic Roadblock fakeout as the team that thought they were going to skydive never ends up skydiving. Producers wanted more terrified racers to do this task, but the best moment we got was from Stacy and even that was a very small and repetitive moment we have seen over the course of twenty seasons.
Part of me wishes the pit stop was at a separate location, but it is the only reason why we got our Misa & Maiya elimination moment. I saw this episode live when it originally aired over six years ago, and the idea of this ever happening on TAR was thought to be reserved more for fanfics.
“A team is within plain sight of the pit stop less than100 yards away and doesn’t see Phil, camera crew, the pit stop mat, and the pit stop greeter? There’s no way that could happen.”
But it did. And not only that, but it was in the final showdown to determine who would be eliminated from the premiere. Knowing what happens at the finish line of this season, it really sets the tone for how TAR 20 is going to go.
Speaking of setting the tone, the way many of the teams carried themselves indicated who would be dominating this entire season. Dave & Cherie, Kerri & Stacy, Joey Fitness & Danny, and Misa & Maiya presented very clear weaknesses in this first round as the audience could quickly narrow down our contenders at the top. And Mark & Bopper were going to be our wildcards.
It’s not an awful premiere like others we’ve seen during this era of TAR, but more work still needs to be done. This episode would have been very unmemorable if not for the Misa & Maiya elimination.
9) Fort Kochi, India -> Osaka, Japan
Japan was a cool place to visit in TAR 9, 12, and 18.
Sadly, producers think the TAR 15 premiere where they had a fake Japanese game show challenge was a hit and continued the tradition here in TAR 20. Add in sushi and sumo cutouts to continue playing off of Japanese stereotypes. Folks like Bindles online has written about how the visits to Japan tend to be the most offensive out of any country TAR visits throughout the timeline.
The numerous equalizers were annoying. It would have been a super memorable leg if missing the ferry and Dave & Rachel arriving at the pit stop eight hours after all other teams resulted in their elimination. Instead ninety percent of the outcome was determined by everyone’s driver finding TV 8 Studio and running on a track. Everything else had little variation. Sigh.
I wish more time was dedicated to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Hiroshima is quite an interesting city and we saw as little as we could of Memorial Peace Park and Miyajima Island. TAR didn’t do a great job of capturing what Hiroshima is like in the two or three minutes of footage. Sometimes visiting a location from the TAR catalogue can taint your perception of the episode. Ignorance can be bliss as a viewer.
The Detour with the Sumo Cutouts was the only interesting part of the episode because it featured teams interacting with locals. The other bonus of the episode was seeing teams figure out how to buy tickets for the trains, and Brendon backing off of a fight with Rachel in order to befriend a local and snag the lead in that moment.
Tbe episode heavily focused on Dave & Rachel’s bumpy relationship as they try to chase down Amazing Race history. The other three teams were pretty much footnotes in this episode. It’s tough to top the “Silence is golden, babe” “Then why don’t you shut the fuck up!” exchange.
Oh, and Vanessa & Ralph got eliminated.
10) Lake Manyara, Tanzania -> Cochin, India
For the tenth time in just twenty seasons, India is revisited. . .and it’s the second time for Cochin. I understand India is perhaps the peak of experiencing culture shock on the planet, but when well over a hundred countries have yet to be visited by season twenty, it’s a disappointment to see India on yet another route. The good news is India will be seen only twice over the next twelve seasons.
I am not a fan of subjective dancing tasks. That is well-established at this point I don’t like silly dancing tasks but thankfully this is the only major subjective one of the season. It was also the second time they used a Bollywood theme for route marker since TAR 4.
The Detour was connected together so there was no risk in switching if you chose the wrong task. Once again teams had to do a driving school in India. At least the cricket task, while not the most exciting to watch, was new for the India catalogue.
This was a case study of how balanced Dave & Rachel’s abilities are for TAR and why they crushed everyone this leg. It doesn’t matter how much they piss off the other teams.
We also see the foreshadowing of how Art will blow the season finale of 20 as well as the season premiere of 31 as he struggled in a fairly straightforward cricket challenge.
When you contrast it to previous India legs in TAR US and even the other franchises, this leg in 20 is very far down at the bottom. TAR 1 had that house of rats. TAR 4 had the train ride from hell. TAR 5 had moving those cars without engines and I’M PACKING IT. TAR 7 had the showdown to the pit stop and “Are You a Sharpie?” TAR 12 had Kent & Vyxsin’s complete choke. TAR 14 had that stupid telephone clue and Mel White getting kicked in the groin. TAR 18 had people getting cremated and Vyxsin jumping into the Ganges. TARC 3 will film there during that legendary heat wave.
But TAR 20’s India leg rivals TAR 10 for not being memorable. It’s just ten minutes spent on Bopper’s bendy-doo and watching Mark & Bopper get so far behind that they think they will die in Bollywood. Editors milked that scene as much as they could until they advanced Mark out of fear they would lose their biggest characters prematurely in the season.
11) Cafayate, Argentina -> Buenos Aires, Argentina
This leg had too many equalizers for only having two tasks.
Want to do a Detour? Wait for everyone until sunrise.
Want to do a Roadblock? You have to board one of three buses and hope yours doesn’t have somebody come up and smash your bus window with a baseball bat. Oh, and there’ll be a pit stop immediately afterwards.
Because TAR gives a lot of airtime to a pair that are prominent on other reality shows whenever a crossover occurs, we had an overwhelming amount of Brenchel content. Seeing how they competed on consecutive seasons of BB, an episode where they have several scenes early on in the season triggered a lot of groans within the viewership.
And because Art & JJ represent that anti-Brenchel Brigade within the viewership, their excessive comments towards Brendon & Rachel were also constantly shown. It doesn’t help when you know these two teams will be sticking around for a very long time in this season. What’s the point of the other nine teams being there?
Art & JJ and Dave & Rachel’s alliance dominated the whole cast for the second round in a row. It must have been scary to be any other team as they know the top two duos have decided to become a Superpower. A counter-strike has to come soon.
The Detour was a bit unique in terms of using a solar panel with minimal instruction to be setup and heat a tea kettle to a boil. That was fun to watch as teams didn’t know whether that would be quicker than the donkey alternative. Art & JJ made the absolute right call in this situation.
We found out Kerri & Stacy are good at things you wouldn’t normally associate with their archetype in TAR. They are handy and are good at math? I wouldn’t have guessed.
Mark put aside his Eeyore tendencies and was very pleasant this episode. Same with Bopper. No mention of how much they need the money. They were just having a grand ol’ time out there. This is how Mark & Bopper should be edited. They didn’t complain once during the task in an eyeroll-y fashion.
Vanessa & Ralph were the narrators for this episode. Who expected that?
Danny making himself bleed by accident and Joey Fitness’ leap onto the platform for the Roadblock clue was mildly amusing to watch.
Elliot & Andrew are invisible.
And poor Clown Dave. Nobody wanted to save him at the Roadblock.
Lastly, Diego Maradona always laughing at other people’s tragedies is about as much as you need from a pit stop greeter.
This leg just wasn’t well-designed and two teams hogging too much of the airtime is what drops it down in my rankings.
P.S. Nary & Jamie’s lie that they are kindergarten teachers is very believable considering their reaction to everything so far. I totally think Nary called a buddy in Langley to smash the second bus, though. I am certain of that.
12) Kochi, India -> Vypin, India
This was right up there with TAR 13’s second India leg. Super linear and finished in approximately four to six hours flat. Three to four hours if you did the Fast Forward. I believe Nick & Starr claimed they finished the second India leg in TAR 13 within ninety minutes which is a record I doubt will ever be broken from pit start to pit stop.
When we’ve had a dozen other India legs by this point in the TAR timeline, you have to try a lot harder to make it stand out.
Ride on top of an elephant briefly. Check.
Do an uncomfortable labour task. Check.
And that was it. This was far less interesting than the previous India leg last episode.
What really happened this episode? Rachel Reilly cried over not willing to do the Fast Forward. Art & JJ would have been eliminated if Mark & Bopper didn’t have a Speed Bump or if there was any sort of minor equalizer today. That would have been a memorable choke leading into a season finale.
Vanessa and Rachel Reilly loosely kissed and made up at the pit stop.
Anybody who cries saying we need equalizers on the race in order to make it more exciting. . .this episode would be a piece of evidence they would use to support their argument.
Overall, a very uninspiring leg and it is a good thing India only appears twice more over the next dozen seasons in TAR US.
TAR US has gone down this road since TAR 12 by having these cheap budget legs to ensure the #12LegsIn20Days criteria is met.
TAR 13 had two of them (Delhi and Moscow).
TAR 14 had Beijing.
TAR 15 had Dubai and Prague.
TAR 16 had that one region in France and Shanghai
TAR 17 had St. Petersburg.
TAR 18 had Zermatt.
TAR 19 had that Phang Nga leg which Andy & Tommy did in close to ninety minutes.
The thing is if your budget/time is low, you have to make it a tough day if you stay in the same city or else the position won’t change as nobody can do a damn thing based on their order of arrival from the previous leg.
In some of the examples above you have legs that are memorable because Big Easy can’t scramble a five letter word or you have Dan & Jordan spending two hours trying to figure out how to leave the pit start.
This second leg was just merely a “Hey guys, the finale is next week!” along with the Goodbye Mark & Bopper, The Only Team Our Audience Likes Farewell Episode.
So yeah. Not an interesting episode to watch. Thank goodness Vanessa rolled her ankle and JJ started bleeding.
P.S. Yeah, this is the only leg to feature a third Fast Forward since TAR 4.
1) Dave Brown Jr & Rachel Brown
“Silence is golden, babe.”
“Then why don’t you shut the fuck up.”
This team won the most legs in TAR US history.
Dave & Rachel were ridiculously strong but yet were vulnerable a couple of times during their season. If they didn’t have the Express Pass, they would’ve been very close to being eliminated in the Paraguay leg. If Miyajima Island didn’t have an equalizer, they would have been dead there too. People need to be reminded of that. We still have yet to see the absolute strongest team that could be cast for a TAR season.
Will a team break Dave & Rachel’s record? I don’t know. Production isn’t keen on using smart alpha male teams anymore, and all-female teams tend to face the most prejudice in the casting process. It has to be a super competitive good-looking co-ed team -like- Dave & Rachel, but one that handles pressure better than producers think they will. It has to be a casting error.
Dave & Rachel befriended so many teams that nobody considered U-Turning them in Tanzania. That was impressive social gameplay.
After seeing Art & JJ go home first in TAR 31, the question I find myself asking is “Could Dave & Rachel suffer the same fate?” Yes, I know both are far more physically agile than Art, but I can’t help and wonder if they could be placed on a future season and go home early. Another example is Jet & Dave from TAR Canada. 2019 alone saw two teams from two different franchises go home first against newbies rather than win three legs and get to the endgame once again.
It’s a shame to hear Dave & Rachel couldn’t work things out and got divorced. Hopefully it doesn’t tarnish their positive memories of being on the race. Maybe Rachel married Tim Duncan’s brother. I dunno.
2) Vanessa Macias & Ralph Kelley
I can’t believe it, but Vanessa & Ralph are this high on my list for TAR 20. The dating divorcees established being bottom-feeders early on and had a rivalry with the biggest names going into the season. They were eventually bested by Brendon & Rachel, but not before they lightly patched things up at the tenth pit stop to ensure the two teams didn’t end things on a completely sour note. Allegedly the conflict began because of a dispute of pro-life versus pro-choice that went unaired. I haven’t had a chance to confirm this with anyone, but that is the rumour which has circulated for over seven years. It wasn’t because of noses and breasts.
Vanessa & Ralph won the Nate & Jenn Pottymouth Award. Production was forced to intervene early on to make them use more cable friendly language to let them get any airtime on TV. Holy Cheese and Crackers. Ha! Ha! I can see Rachel’s whole entire bum bum.
I thoroughly enjoyed their mix of sarcastic and self-aware commentary all throughout the season. Production tried way too hard to put the #DatingDivorcee label on them as it really had nothing to do with their story after about the first five minutes of the season.
I liked how Ralph didn’t really care for or was interested in the conflict with the other teams. He couldn’t give less of a shit about it while Vanessa was much more engaged with mocking other teams. Particularly that faceoff with Kerri & Stacy where Vanessa may have stepped out of bounds in her rant about Team Mississippi when Ralph visibly groans. It’s like you saw the difference in maturity before our eyes.
Despite Mark & Bopper finishing in last place twice this season, Vanessa & Ralph walked away with a lower average of 4.91. It is perhaps the lowest average for any team who made Final Four without being saved by a NEL. They never finished better than third all season long, and had plenty of second-to-last place finishes. This could be largely attributed to having slightly above average fitness and determination to push through combined with sucking at a key trait like following directions or figuring out logistics.
I think Brendon & Rachel making a big enough presence this season to trigger Rachel playing two more times is because they had Vanessa & Ralph to play off of. Perhaps Vanessa regrets engaging with Rachel Reilly enough to make her one of CBS’ first 5-time contestants.
Vanessa & Ralph would have likely made an early exit in the earlier seasons of TAR. However, contemporary TAR where sheer athleticism is far more rewarded than cunning and strategic ability allowed Vanessa & Ralph to make Final Four. Vanessa doing a running task on a sprained ankle was a great act of toughness, but that appeared to make the difference in a leg with far too many equalizers. That eight hour lead over Dave & Rachel being erased really screwed them over. Oh well, Vanessa & Ralph made a deep run and I am content with eleven rounds of play.
Oh yeah, and they broke up even before the season finale aired.
P.S. Vanessa’s resemblance to a Kardashian is quite frightening.
3) Joey Fitness “Lasalla” & Danny “Horal”
I had so much fun making fun of these guys. They maximized the Jersey Shore stereotype like no other team I have seen on the race. That’s probably a good thing as we really didn’t need to see this more than once. A six episode streak of Jersey Shore was the perfect amount.
It’s painful to see Joey & Danny being convinced that they would’ve won the race if not for the Fast Forward attempt. Every team always has the ‘what if’ moment where if they dodged the bullet then they would have won the race—the funny thing for Joey & Danny is they think a mistake on leg six would have produced a victory on leg twelve.
I do agree to a certain extent, though—they were being competitive with both Art & JJ and Dave & Rachel after the third round. Just don’t go into a direct Head-to-Head showdown with Dave & Rachel earlier than you have to on the race.
And I guarantee you they went back home immediately to have a threesome with Gina Marie followed by using their short-lived TV fame to get a whole bunch o’ numbers. That’s just a given.
Danny’s grandfather may want to hose down the apple truck.
4) Art Velez & JJ Carrell
Art & JJ. What a strange ride for Art & JJ and I am not just talking about the ride on the sled. Art & JJ have one of the best statistical showings for a team to not win their season. They were the only team capable of beating Dave & Rachel throughout the course of the season, and did so by winning three of the four legs that Dave & Rachel lost. Art & JJ freakin’ killed it in South America and Italy. Their alliance with Dave & Rachel turned into a rivalry once Dave & Rachel couldn’t live up to their U-Turn deal. In my opinion, Art & JJ became distracted by this betrayal and ultimately slipped in the rankings for the remainder of the season.
Art & JJ were great at nearly every aspect of the race except one thing–Art keeping fit. Art wasn’t a fast runner and wasn’t the most agile and athletic guy on the season. This led to one of the biggest chokes in TAR history as Art & JJ were handed a million dollars until Art fell off that sled at least sixteen times and let Dave & Rachel complete their historic run. Knowing how some reality TV contestants struggle to cope with being runner-ups in their season, I can bet that to this day Art still feels pain and disappointment in himself over what happened seven years ago.
Art & JJ represented the anti-reality TV/anti-BB fanbase of the season and gave them a voice. Somebody to rally behind. However constantly engaging in conflict with other teams resulted in them losing some of that fan support. This is in addition to their controversial occupation in real life. I know some websites who rank Art & JJ at the very very bottom of the list of the hundreds of teams to ever run the race. Middle-aged hot-headed men who are border patrol agents do not relate well to an Internet fanbase.
However, it’s tough to picture this season without them in it. Mark & Bopper don’t receive a surprise prize in Italy, Dave & Rachel win ten legs, and the U-Turn drama goes nowhere. Art & JJ are natural villains for a large chunk of the audience.
CBS was banking on Art & JJ being big villains for a second time by inviting them back seven years later for TAR 31. However, the move backfired big time as Art faces a level of humiliation on-screen that is just as bad as this outing. I can’t help but feel bad for the guy.
TAR 20’s legacy would have been tarnished if Art & JJ won this season. Given TAR’s massive ratings decline starting TAR 21, it’s probably a good thing Art & JJ didn’t win. Sorry Art & JJ.
5) Brendon Villegas & Rachel Reilly
In the spring of 2012, seeing Brendon & Rachel come back just months after Rachel won Big Brother 13 was major overkill. BB 12 in 2010 and BB 13 in 2011 featuring both players as they had just a two month break prior to filming TAR 20 really pushed the audience’s patience. However, now that we are in 2019 where Brendon & Rachel have rarely appeared on TV (OK, Rachel -was- in TAR 31 earlier this year after a four year hiatus) it is enjoyable to watch them. During the season’s airing, it was a case of seeing the same script play out over and over again. If I ranked by 2019 viewing, Brendon & Rachel would be higher up on this list. If I rank by historical context, I need to put them in this spot.
I understand why CBS was eager to put Brendon & Rachel on TV. Two of their biggest enemies made Final Four alongside them and created a helluva lot of conflict and trouble throughout the season. It set the stage for how everyone related to each other for the entire second half of the season. Rachel’s most epic TAR meltdowns all came out here in her first runthrough.
Keep an eye on Brendon & Rachel as they switch to being heroes in TAR 24: Fake All Stars. Ugh. I shudder at the thought of reaching TAR 24 in this timeline.
If Rachel won TAR 20, she could have retired from RTV as the first person to win TWO of CBS’ three major reality competitions. Instead she will have to settle for numerous standalone female TAR records, a Big Brother victory, and a Survivor invitation that has probably been dangled in front of her for years.
6) Dave Gregg & Cherie Gregg
Misa & Maiya weren’t capable of doing The Amazing Race. Dave & Cherie just seemed to really suck at math. Well, Dave anyway.
They were on the second bus and well on their way to the third round of the season, but a tragic bus accident where a window went smashy-smashy led to putting them at peril. Since the only task in Buenos Aires was for Dave to do math. Vanessa succeeded, Andrew and Joey aligned, and Dave was ultimately doomed.
Producers clearly loved Dave & Cherie. Constant positive content, exploring Dave’s history with a familiar cancer, and their own theme music. That fast motion exit with Cherie tripping and doing cartwheels was a unique piece of editing.
Dave & Cherie had terrible jokes, but at least they had a great PMA (Positive Mental Attitude!) from start to finish. No wonder Dave & Rachel were willing to give them a bit of help with the Detour. Too bad they couldn’t rescue them from the Roadblock.
During the first leg they seemed doomed to be that middle-aged couple who goes home instantly, but a combination of determination and Misa & Maiya and Joey & Danny being terrible drivers allowed them to leapfrog to a decent eighth place finish.
In a season that will be dominated by conflict between all of the teams, it’s nice that there was a sideshow of clowns who kept things relatively upbeat for the first couple of rounds.
And unlike Misa & Maiya who appeared to be recruited for the sole purpose for us to laugh at their blunders, we had a team who loved TAR and knew we were laughing with them.
Teams who go home on the second leg have a tendency to have the smallest edit of the season, but that isn’t the case here.
7) Mark Jackson & Bopper Minton
Let’s put Mark & Bopper right here. I can’t state it enough how popular Mark & Bopper were at the time of their elimination in TAR 20. They crossed over into mainstream media briefly once they were gone. I believe Rachel Ray or some other talk show donated a bunch of money. Not as much as Luke Toki from Australian Survivor got but still a reasonable amount.
I feel a bit icky with producers putting Mark & Bopper on the show. We know Mark & Bopper don’t have much money, and it’s extra tough for Bopper given his family situation. We all know going on shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race, while dangling a huge grand prize for the winner, typically comes at a financial sacrifice for anyone else who participates.
People have quit their jobs just to go on these shows with very little compensation (particularly if you compete on Australian and Canadian versions). We have a team that wants this money very very very badly.
What makes it worse is when they exit this season as the most popular team and fans are screaming everywhere on social media GIVE THEM ANOTHER SHOT! WE NEED AN ALL-STAR! BRING BACK MARK & BOPPER!
Remember–by TAR 18, we are in the age of social media and viewers demanding that their favourites get brought back or treated to some sort of reward. So you have Mark & Bopper getting all of this support and being fed into this campaign of getting a second shot at the race and how they are the best team ever (sorry David & Mary).
Bopper would be very active on social media all the way through to about TAR 27 trying to get himself back on the show again and again. Thankfully, Mark & Bopper have essentially moved on from The Amazing Race.
Alright. Let’s go back to their TAR 20 antics. I mean, there are some legitimate funny moments. Just the way Mark & Bopper talk about things is funny. When other teams strategize or mislead other teams, it comes off as scheming. When Mark & Bopper do the same thing to Kerri & Stacy, it comes off as light-hearted and hilarious. We tricked Mississippi, y’all.
They are indeed the only team to break up Dave & Rachel’s neverending string of victories after leg four and do so by just a minute in a leg that was also fairly linear.
There really was no other choice but for Mark & Bopper to be the heroes not just because the other teams had a lot of douchey confrontations but also because Mark & Bopper were saved by two NELs and had the least amount of travel experience. They were the true underdogs from start to finish. Editors got as much as they could out of them.
Mark was a very up-and-down moody racer. Sometimes he was having fun–other times it looked like he wanted to be anywhere else on the planet. Perhaps even North Korea.
Overall, a quotable team that fit the underdog role like a glove for editors. However, they are a very overrated team in the TAR universe.
8) Elliot Weber & Andrew Weber
Much like Misa & Maiya, and to a lesser extent Dave & Cherie, Elliot & Andrew weren’t the strongest casting choices. They had as much charisma as fellow soccer enthusiasts Isaac & William on The Amazing Race.
They expressed frustration with each other in leg three (as well as sarcasm in unaired footage with Mississippi), and Andrew tossing a backpack and string was entertaining. However, they didn’t have any specific highlights beyond being a team who choked as badly as another team during a very long day.
Well, a very long day if you suck at both tasks.
Even if Dave & Rachel hadn’t used their Express Pass, Elliot & Andrew would have still been eliminated. During the first two legs Elliot & Andrew would either be at the back of the group they flew/rode into a city with or very close to last. They did only slightly better than Misa & Maiya at tasks and only beat Dave & Cherie at math or the occasional self-driving directions.
I can see during casting that Elliot & Andrew had some entertaining banter between them and having interesting backgrounds in the form of music and being professional soccer players, but we didn’t hear Andrew until leg three. That awkward confessional of Elliot joking about being incest-ish gay brothers set the tone right away.
The good news is they provided that “dangit, those nice guys were eliminated in that close race with the controversial couple” which was a bit of an early season highlight.
It’s not much, but hey, we needed at least one likable team in a sea of controversy. And I’d rather watch these guys for an approximate three episode run. They went home at the right time and served their role in the season.
9) Misa Tanaka & Maiya Tanaka
Poor Misa & Maiya. Their reputation on TAR is going to be known for that one very very infamous blunder (which lucky for them will be overshadowed just two seasons later). They run a terrible leg. They can’t drive. They spend two hours searching through the same baskets in the hot air balloons. They can’t run fast.
But right before the pit stop they get a task that falls under their vary narrow tree of personal strengths. They make up a ton of time and aren’t last and then. . .completely fuck it all up by not seeing Phil. Joey Fitness & Danny slip through, and they are the first team eliminated.
Misa & Maiya have to be in the conversation for some of the worst racers ever.
John & Scott weren’t competitive.
Dana & Adrian chose the wrong person to complete a Roadblock.
Ron & Tony get very lost while driving.
Mika refused to do anything involving heights or water.
Meredith & Maria can’t drive and have no sense of direction.
Misa & Maiya. . .were mediocre or atrocious at everything that didn’t involve gyoza-related challenges. I think if you ran this season ten times, Misa & Maiya are the first team to be eliminated on nearly every leg imaginable.
It’s too bad because they wanted to be presented as strong women to the audience, but boy oh boy did that not come through.
10) Nary Ebeid & Jamie Graetz
Of the six remaining teams, only two teams weren’t hated when TAR 20 aired in the spring of 2012. People were upset to see them go as the ugly 4-way conflict between Vanessa & Ralph, Dave & Rachel, Art & JJ, and Brendon & Rachel were reaching uncomfortable heights. TAR 20 would conclude as one of the least popular seasons ever.
Seven years later and. . .Nary & Jamie are not a very charismatic team. You can’t even make the argument of “I don’t care about charisma I just want good racers” that I frequently see online because Nary & Jamie weren’t competitive racers either. In seven out of eight legs, they finished in fifth, sixth, and seventh. Those are middle of the pack finishes which guarantees you don’t really have much of a story or impact on the season. You can’t be a crazy early boot or a compelling endgame team.
Let’s talk about Nary & Jamie’s story other than they like cake. They are badass federal agents who lie and say they are kindergarten teachers.
But here’s the thing: They didn’t do anything secretly badass and raced this like kindergarten teachers the whole time. It would have been better if they were kindergarten teachers and lie by saying they are federal agents. That would’ve been hilarious.
And this doesn’t even become a storyline until their last two episodes because Art & JJ confront them about it. If Art & JJ didn’t decide to be overly aggressive and confront them, this storyline would’ve been one of the most empty plots in TAR history. In other words, they had to rely on another team to get any sort of substantial airtime this season.
TAR 20 was a ROUGH go for all-female teams. Thank god we get Natalie & Nadiya for TAR 21.
You had one all-female team be so incompetent they couldn’t even identify Phil Keoghan ten feet away.
You had another all-female team who was apparently disliked by every team and production that their airtime was reduced to “I miss my kids.”
And the most successful all-female team this season likes cake and was interrogated by border patrol agents right before being eliminated.
If I had to come up with a comparison for Nary & Jamie, it would be this:
They are like some of the women I know on co-ed softball teams. Friendly, dare I say peppy (although that term has uncomfortable connotations so I caution using that word), competitive enough on teams to not be terrible but not competitive enough to excel, not the most dynamic of personalities you would meet in your city, but the easiest people to talk to in a situation while everyone else is acting like drunk assholes on the field.
That is the role Nary & Jamie had this season, and I guess they did their job. Maybe the federal agent thing is a lie and they really are semi-professional softball players. Who knows.
11) Kerri Paul & Stacy Bowers
Unaired: They were angry over how they were treated by Elliot & Andrew and Vanessa & Ralph. This would have made for great TV, but I guess when one of those teams goes home early and they go home early themselves, and we have Brendon & Rachel coming off of two stints on Big Brother where any interesting footage was automatically going to be aired, Kerri & Stacy’s storylines got erased.
How erased were their storylines? It got reduced down to “Kerri is out of her element and hasn’t traveled enough to navigate or drive a standard!” for Kerri and “I miss my babies!” for Stacy.
They messed up the drive. Mark & Bopper duped them with giving up their taxi in Paraguay. Stacy was afraid of heights.
I think I just highlighted every single scene from the first five episodes. It’s a shame because they could have been a three-dimensional social trainwreck but instead fit into a mold we have seen several times. Hell, their storyline was almost replayed verbatim like Kaylani & Lisa—I don’t know what it is about all-female teams that go home early but it’s the truth. If they have a kid, cue up tears and a photo upon elimination. If they don’t have kids, they’ll talk about being the next all-female team to win. If not, they’ll be shown a bunch of brief highlights of them being really far out of their element.
Kerri & Stacy’s edit didn’t bring anything unique to the table. A fun team to watch in a couple of scenes, but that was it. Editors didn’t do them enough justice.
Below is a list of all teams from seasons I have blogged to date, ranked by racing average.
e.g. Don & Mary Jean finished 9th, 8th, 8th, 8th, and 8th. Add up the numbers and divide it by the number of legs they have played.
Therefore their average is 8.2.
Because of how long this list has become, I only show the relevant section where the eliminated team from this episode has fallen amongst the ranks of what TAR history has to offer.
Bullshit Round One/Starting Line Eliminations That Do Not Count
Eric & Lisa N/A
Bilal & Sa’eed N/A
— F- —
12th Debra & Steve 12.0 TAR 4
12th Gina & Sylvia 12.0 TAR 3
11th Misa & Maiya 11.0 TAR 20
11th Ron & Tony 11.0 TAR 17
11th Adrian & Dana 11.0 TAR 16
11th Preston & Jennifer 11.0 TAR 14
11th Anita & Arthur 11.0 TAR 13
11th Ari & Staella 11.0 TAR 12
11th John Vito & Jill All Stars 11.0 TAR 11
11th Vipul & Arti 11.0 TAR 10
11th John & Scott 11.0 TAR 9
11th Ryan & Chuck 11.0 TAR 7
11th Team Seinfeld/Avi & Joe 11.0 TAR 6
11th Dennis & Erika 11.0 TAR 5
11th Deidre & Hilary 11.0 TAR 2
11th Matt & Ana 11.0 TAR 1
10th Edwin & Monica 10.0 Only team to finish last for the first two rounds of the race TAR Asia 3
10th Yani & Nadine 10.0 Would have survived round two, but were marked for elimination and thus officially finished in last both rounds TAR Asia 4
10th Jody & Shannon 10.0 TAR Adventure 16
10th Lisa & Joni 10.0 TAR 9
10th Kevin & Drew All Stars 10.0 TAR 11
10th Neena & Amit 10.0 TAR Asia 3
10th A Black Family 10.0 TAR 8
— F+ —
10th Andie & Jenna 9.5 TAR 17
10th Steve & Linda 9.5 TAR 14
10th Anthony & Stephanie 9.5 (Why them?????) TAR 13
10th Megan & Heidi 9.5 (Wow. They sucked.) TAR 7
11th Ron & Bill 9.5 TAR 19
11th Garrett & Jessica 9.5 TAR 15
10th Dave & Cherie 9.0 TAR 20
10th Kate & Pat 9.0 TAR 12
9th David & Mary TAR 11: All Stars 9.0 TAR 11
9th Peggy & Claire 9.0 May or may not be gutsy. TAR 2
10th Meredith & Maria 9.0 TAR 6
10th Dennis & Andrew 9.0 FF TAR 3
10th Anne-Marie & Tracy 8.67 TAR Australia 1
8th Mo & Mos 8.60 Saved by NEL once TAR Australia 1
10th Mel & Mike 8.33 Mel died. TAR 18
9th Marianna & Julia 8.33 TAR 12
10th Russell & Cindy 8.33 TAR 4
8th Don & Mary Jean 8.2 Saved by NEL once TAR 6
9th Elliot & Andrew 8.0 TAR 20
10th Kellie & Jamie 8.0 TAR 10
10th Kim & Leslie 8.0 TAR 1
8th Danielle & Dani 7.8 Yielded TAR 9
9th Jaime & Cara 7.8 U-Turned and Used U-Turn TAR 18
8th Liz & Marie 7.8 Saved by NEL once TAR 19
8th Marisa & Brooke 7.75 Sucked. TAR 13
7th Mika & Canaan 7.67 Why the heck did they sign up? TAR 15
9th Marcy & Ron 7.67 Bald. TAR 15
9th Isaac & William 7.5 TAR Asia 3
9th Jim & Marsha 7.33 TAR 5
9th Richard & Joey 7.25 U-Turned once TAR Australia 1
9th Alan & Wendy 7.25 Saved by NEL once TAR Asia 4
8th Manas & Sahil 7.0 TAR Asia 4
8th Singaporean Sophie & French Born Aurelia 7.0 (French Born Aurelia sadly does not know the English words for ‘team averages’. :/) TAR Asia 2
8th Aiello Family 7.0 TAR 8
— D- —
8th Tom & Terry 7.0 TAR 10
8th Dave & Margaretta 7.0 R.I.P. Margaretta TAR 1
9th Lena & Kristy 7.0 Producers refused to hay bail them. TAR 6
9th Kaylani & Lisa 7.0 Hazarded. Saved by Ryan Storms ™. TAR 19
10th Hope & Norm 7.0 TAR 2
10th Ethan & Jenna 7.0 TAR 19. Double Eliminated.
11th Ryot & Liberty 7.0 TAR Australia 1
8th Kerri & Stacy 6.8 TAR 20
7th Niroo & Kapil 6.75 TAR Asia 3
7th Christie & Jodi 6.67 TAR 14 Saved by NEL
9th Brad & Victoria 6.67 TAR 14
7th Alana & Mel 6.67 TAR Australia 1
6th Maria & Tiffany 6.57 Saved by NEL once and Justin’s blunder again TAR 15
9th Rogers Family 6.5 R.I.P. Renee. TAR 8
8th Susan & Patrick 6.5 TAR 7
11th Amanda & Kris 6.5 TAR 18 Automatic U-Turned.
6th Henry & Terri 6.44 Used Their Yield; Saved by a non-elimination round THREE times. R.I.P. Henry. TAR Asia 2
6th Lenny & Karyn 6.43 Saved by NEL once TAR 1
8th Margie & Luke 6.4 TAR 18
9th Brett & Kinar 6.33 Rocky finish. TAR Asia 2
9th Aubrey & Jacqueline 6.33 TAR Asia 1
8th Pailin & Natalie 6.33 TAR Asia 3
9th Wanda & Desiree 6.25 TAR 9
7th Aja & Cabbie 6.2 TAR 13
7th Paul & Amie 6.2 TAR 1
8th Steve & Dave 6.2 FF TAR 4
6th David &Mary 6.13 FF Saved by NEL once TAR 10
— D+ —
5th Kent & Vyxsin 6.0 Used U-Turn and Saved by NEL once TAR 18
7th Ron & Christina 6.0 TAR 18
8th Lance & Keri 6.0 TAR 15
9th Zev & Justin 6.0 Passport lost. TAR 15
10th Ernie & Jeena 6.0 TAR Asia 1
11th Amanda & Chris 6.0 TAR 4
6th Andre & Damon 5.86 TAR 3
7th Daichi & Sawaka 5.83 TAR Asia 2
7th Dave & Lori 5.83 Saved by NEL once TAR 9
5th Kami & Karli 5.8 Saved by NEL once TAR 5
8th Michael & Kathy 5.8 TAR 3
7th Cyndi & Russell 5.8 TAR 2
7th Shana & Jennifer 5.8 Used U-Turn TAR 12
9th Heather & Eve 5.75 Legal team beaten by rule book. TAR 3
5th Nancy & Emily 5.67 R.I.P. Nancy. Saved by NEL once. TAR 1
7th Jeff & Jordan 5.67. Saved by a stupid Blind U-Turn once but dead next day. TAR 16
5th Bill & Cathi 5.5 Saved by NEL twice, U-Turned once and Used U-Turn once TAR 19
6th Nary & Jamie 5.5 TAR 20 Saved by NEL once
6th Gaghan Family 5.5 TAR 8
7th “Joey” Fitness & “Danny” 5.5 TAR 20
6th Tian & Jaree 5.43 FF TAR 4
8th Sahil & Prashant 5.4 FF. Beaten by a bunch of rules. TAR Asia 1
8th Katie & Rachel 5.4 Had all of the tools to finish with a 5.4 ratio TAR 17
— C- —
4th Meredith & Gretchen 5.36 Saved by NEL twice TAR 7
7th Monica & Sheree 5.33 FF TAR 4
7th Marshall & Lance 5.33 TAR 5
9th Monique & Shawne 5.33 TAR 16. Praise Jesus.
9th Debbie & Bianca 5.33 TAR 7
7th KevJumba & Michael 5.29 TAR 17. NEL once + Heather & Eve Syndrome.
7th Gus & Hera 5.29 TAR 6
4th Nick & Vicki 5.27 TAR 17 Saved by NEL twice
6th Joe & Bill All Stars 5.25 Saved by NEL once TAR 11
8th Bob & Joyce 5.25 TAR 5
8th Lorena & Jason 5.25 U-Turned TAR 12
5th Mark & Michael 5.22 Saved by NEL once but came up just short TAR 14
3rd Andrew & Dan 5.18 Saved by NEL once TAR 13
7th Silver & Gold/ Wil & Grace 5.17 TAR 3
6th Kelly & Christy 5.14 TAR 13
5th Chad & Stephanie 5.11 U-Turned TAR 17
7th Ray & Deana 5.0 FF TAR 7
7th Melody & Sharon 5.0. Screwed over by weird penalty for another team. TAR Asia 1
9th Steve & Josh 5.0 FF TAR 4
9th Pat & Brenda 5.0 FF TAR 1
9th Mark & Bill 5.0 Wah. TAR 13
4th Vanessa & Ralph 4.91 U-Turned once TAR 20
5th Fran & Barry 4.89 TAR 9
6th Howard & Sahran 4.88 TAR Asia 1
— C+ —
3rd Lyn & Karlyn 4.85 – Yielded TAR 10
7th Ivan & Hilda 4.83 TAR Asia 4
7th Teri & Ian All Stars 4.83 TAR 11
5th John Vito & Jill 4.8 – FF and saved by NEL once TAR 3
6th Mai & Oliver 4.8 In a car TAR Asia 3
7th Schroeder Family 4.75 TAR 8
9th Connor & Jonathan 4.75 TAR 17
6th Lake & Michelle 4.71 – Used Yield TAR 9
6th Brian & Greg 4.71 TAR 7
5th Erwin & Godwin 4.70 TAR 10
3rd Adam & Rebecca 4.69 FF and Used Yield and Yielded, saved by NEL once TAR 6
9th Duke & Lauren 4.67 TAR 10
3rd Hussein & Natasha Saved by 4.64 NEL once TAR Asia 4
6th Gary & Mallory 4.625 TAR 17
5th Mark & Bopper 4.6 – FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 20
5th Lori & Bolo 4.6 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 6
6th Jet & Cord 4.56 – U-Turned, saved by NEL once TAR 18
2nd Teri & Ian 4.53 – FF TAR 3
6th Chris & Anastasia 4.50 TAR Australia 1
8th Kris & Jo–er, Amanda 4.50 U-Turned TAR 14
5th Paula & Natasha 4.45 saved by NEL once TAR Asia 2
3rd Amani & Marcus 4.42 Saved by NEL once TAR 19
8th Joe & Heidi 4.40 – Blind U-Turned with Injured Knee; TAR 16
6th Laurence & Zac 4.375 Used U-Turn and U-Turned TAR 19
4th Louie & Michael 4.36 saved by NEL once, used U-Turn. & trained wolf cubs TAR 16
5th Uchenna & Joyce All Stars 4.33 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 11
1st Dan & Jordan 4.33 – FF once TAR 16
3rd Brent & Caite 4.33 – Used U-Turn TAR 16
4th Jess & Lani 4.3 TAR Asia 4
7th Justin & Jennifer 4.29 TAR 19
4th Kisha & Jen 4.27 Saved by NEL once, U-Turned once TAR 14
3rd Brian & Ericka 4.25 saved by NEL once TAR 15
8th Shola & Doyin 4.25 – FF TAR 2
— B- —
3rd Ray & Yolanda 4.23 saved by NEL once TAR 9
5th Gary & Matt 4.22 saved by NEL once and c—blocked once in Saunabuss TAR 15
3rd Nicolas & Donald 4.18 FF and U-Turned TAR 12
4th Linda & Karen 4.17 Saved by NEL once TAR 5
3rd Charla & Mirna All Stars 4.15 TAR 11
6th Mary & Peach 4.14 (Two failed FF attempts.) TAR 2
5th Paolo Family 4.13 FF and Used Yield TAR 8
5th Lynn & Alex 4.11 TAR 7
5th Dave & Kelly 4.10 TAR Australia 1
2nd Sam & Renae 4.083 Saved by NEL once and Used Express Pass TAR Australia 1
5th Andy & Laura 4.00 – Yielded TAR Asia 1
5th Carol & Brandy 4.00 – U-Turned. May or May Not Be Mean. TAR 16
3rd David & Jeff 4.00 – FF, saved by NEL, grew goatees TAR 4
4th Oswald & Danny 4.00 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 2
2nd Jaime & Cara 3.92 TAR 14
2nd Pamela & Vanessa 3.92 TAR Asia 2
4th A.D. & Fuzzie 3.90 – U-Turned and saved by NEL once TAR Asia 3
5th Gary & Dave 3.89 – FF TAR 2
6th Sunaina & Dimple 3.875 – Used Yield, U-Turned TAR Asia 4
2nd Kelly & Jon 3.85 Saved by NEL twice TAR 4
2nd Michelle & Claire 3.81 Used U-Turn and Yielded TAR Asia 4
1st Zabrina & Joe Jer 3.77 saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
2nd Sandy & Francesca 3.77 – Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
2nd Herb & Nate a.k.a. Flight Time & Big Easy 3.75 U-Turned and Used U-Turn TAR 18
4th Diane & Ann 3.75 – Yielded TAR Asia 2
4th Jon & Al 3.73 TAR 4
6th Charla & Mirna 3.71 TAR 5
— B+ —
3rd Blake & Paige 3.69 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 2
5th Millie & Chuck 3.67 FF TAR 4
5th Kynt & Vyxsin 3.63 Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR 12
1st Eric & Danielle All Stars 3.62 – Yielded Twice, saved by NEL once TAR 11
2nd Jeremy & Sandy 3.58 TAR 19
4th Mardy & Marsio 3.58 FF, saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
6th Mel & Mike 3.57 TAR 14
5th Ethan & Khairie 3.56 TAR Asia 4
6th Jonathan & Victoria 3.56 TAR 6
3rd Ida & Tania 3.54 Saved by NEL twice TAR Asia 3
4th Joseph & Monica 3.50 – Yielded TAR 9
3rd Andrew & Syeon 3.46 TAR Asia 1
1st Freddy & Kendra 3.46 – Used Yield and Yielded TAR 6
2nd Ronald & Christina 3.45 TAR 12
4th Zev & Justin 3.45 TAR 18
3rd Brendon & Rachel 3.42 U-Turned and Used U-Turn TAR 20
4th Nathan & Jennifer 3.40 – Never finished in 1st TAR 12
1st Chris & Alex 3.38 – FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 2
1st Chip & Kim 3.38 – Used Yield TAR 5
6th Steve & Allie 3.38 – TAR 16, and ain’t got no clothes.
4th Kevin & Drew 3.36 – FF TAR 1
1st Kisha & Jen 3.33 TAR 18
3rd Brandon & Nicole 3.31 Saved by NEL once TAR 5
4th Matt & Tom 3.27 Saved by NEL once TAR Australia 1
3rd Gary & Mallory 3.25 Saved by NEL once and Used Express Pass TAR 18
5th Terence & Sarah 3.25 TAR 13
1st TK & Rachel 3.18 Saved by NEL once TAR 12
4th Godlewski Family 3.18 Saved by NEL once TAR 8
3rd Jeff & Luke 3.17 TAR Australia 1
4th Dustin & Kandice 3.17 – Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR 10
— A- —
2nd Sam & Dan 3.17 U-Turned Pointlessly TAR 15
2nd Brook & Claire 3.17 U-Turned Once TAR 17
7th Peter & Sarah 3.17 TAR 10
3rd Weaver Family 3.15 – Yielded Twice, saved by NEL twice TAR 8
1st Reichen & DK 3.15 – FF TAR 4
1st Uchenna & Joyce 3.15 FF, saved by NEL once TAR 7
4th Toni & Dallas 3.10 Still in Russia TAR 13
4th Derek & Drew 3.10 – FF TAR 3
2nd Geoff 26 & Tisha 31 3.09 Used Yield and U-Turn TAR Asia 3
4th Herb & Nate a.k.a. Flight Time & Big Easy 3.09 TAR 15. Znarf!
1st Nat & Kat 3.08 – FF and Used U-Turn Once TAR 17
2nd Rob & Kim 3.08 – FF TAR 10
3rd Ron & Kelly 3.00 – Yielded, saved by NEL once TAR 7
3rd Jill & Thomas 3.00 – Used U-Turn once and Used Express Pass TAR 17
6th Azaria & Hendekea 3.00 – TAR 12
4th Hayden & Aaron 2.92 – Saved by NEL once TAR 6
2nd Dustin & Kandice All Stars 2.92 – Used Yield TAR 10
2nd Bransen Family 2.85 – Saved by NEL once TAR 8
1st Ernie & Cindy 2.83 – Used U-Turn Once and Express Pass TAR 19
1st Linz Family 2.77 – Used Yield TAR 8
3rd Joe & Bill 2.76 – FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 1
–BEST OF THE BEST–
3rd Margie & Luke 2.75 Used U-Turn once TAR 14
5th Henry & Bernie/Bunn-Eh 2.75 – Yielded TAR Asia 3
8th Rob & Amber All Stars 2.75 – Used Yield, Choked TAR 11
1st Flo & Zach 2.69 – FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 3
3rd Ken & Gerard 2.69 – FF TAR 3
4th Oswald & Danny All Stars 2.67 FF x2, Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR 11
2nd Ken & Tina 2.64 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 13
4th Andy & Tommy 2.64 TAR 19
2nd Jet & Cord 2.58 – Saved by NEL once TAR 16.
2nd Colin & Christie 2.54 – FF, Yielded, and saved by NEL once TAR 5
2nd Tara & Wil 2.53 – FF TAR 2
1st Rob & Brennan – 2.46 FF TAR 1
1st BJ & Tyler – 2.46 FF, Used Yield, and saved by NEL twice TAR 9
1st Vince & Sam 2.45 FF TAR Asia 3
1st Nick & Starr 2.45 FF TAR 13
1st Tyler & James – 2.38 FF TAR 10
2nd Frank & Margarita 2.38 – FF TAR 1
2nd Kris & Jon 2.38 TAR 6
1st Tammy & Victor 2.33 Used U-Turn Once TAR 14
2nd Rob & Amber 2.31 TAR 7
1st Richard & Richard 2.27 FF TAR Asia 4
1st Tyler & Nathan 2.25 Used U-Turn TAR Australia 1
2nd Art & JJ 2.25 U-Turn and FF TAR 20
1st Adrian & Collin 2.23 FF TAR Asia 2
1st Meghan & Cheyne 2.00 FF TAR 15
1st Dave & Rachel 1.83 FF and EP TAR 20
2nd Eric & Jeremy 1.69 FF TAR 9
lol 3rd Marc & Rovilson 1.46 Used Yield and Yielded TAR Asia 2
Combined Team Averages (Repeats Only)
11 legs David & Mary 6.91 FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 10 + 11
11 legs John Vito & Jill 5.36 FF, saved by NEL once TAR 3 + 11
6 legs (lol) Amanda & Kris 5.17 U-Turned twice TAR 14 + 18
17 legs Jaime & Cara 5.06 Used U-Turn and U-Turned TAR 14 + 18
10 legs Mel & Mike 5.00 TAR 14 + 18
18 legs Kent & Vyxsin 4.94 Used U-Turn Twice, Saved by NEL twice TAR 12 + 18
18 legs Danielle 4.78 yielded, saved by NEL once TAR 9 + 11
19 legs Teri & Ian 4.63 FF TAR 3 + 11
18 legs Ron & Christina 4.44 TAR 12 + 18
13 legs Kevin & Drew 4.38 FF TAR 1 + 11
20 legs Charla & Mirna 4.00 TAR 5 + 11
16 legs Zev & Justin 3.875 TAR 15 + 18
20 legs Gary & Mallory 3.80 Saved by NEL once, Used Express Pass TAR 17 + 18
23 legs Kisha & Jen 3.78 Saved by NEL once and U-Turned once TAR 14 + 18
21 legs Joe & Bill 3.71 FF, saved by NEL thrice TAR 1 + 11
22 legs Uchenna & Joyce 3.64 FF x2, saved by NEL twice TAR 7 + 11
18 legs Margie & Luke 3.61 Used U-Turn TAR 14 + 18
*31 legs Eric & Danielle 3.48 FF, yielded x3, saved by NEL once TAR 9 + 11
21 legs Jet & Cord 3.43 Saved by NEL twice, U-Turned TAR 16 + 18
23 legs Herb & Nate 3.43 Used U-Turn once and U-Turned once TAR 15 + 18
23 legs Oswald & Danny 3.30 FF x3, used Yield, saved by NEL twice TAR 2 + 11
25 legs Dustin & Kandice 3.04 used Yield twice, saved by NEL once TAR 10 + 11
26 legs Eric 2.65 FF, Yielded x2, saved by NEL once TAR 9 + 11
17 legs Rob & Amber 2.41 Used Yield TAR 7 + 11
*I determined Eric & Danielle’s average in this last section by adding up all of their individual points from TAR 9, then adding up their total points in All Stars and dividing it by 31.
1. The Amazing Race 5 – 9.2/10
“After a year off the air, and TAR comes back with its most epic race course ever. Producers put all of their chips on the table like UFC owners did with The Ultimate Fighter 1, and the payoff was enormous.
We had TAR 6 and 7 green-lighted, produced, and aired less than ten months after TAR 5 did. Everyone and their mother was talking about what was going on in TAR 5 throughout the summer.
The two teams you wanted out the most were gone in the first two episodes. The second team did so by repeating Amanda & Chris’ feat from TAR 4.
The most format changes until TAR 12 would take place for this season as producers wanted to give viewers a new feel to the series. Not the least of which was the beginning of the Yield which began the tradition of allowing one team to flip off another team and shove them into the dirt for a pre-determined amount of time. What was even better is that the Yield was offered -every- round. Unlike today where U-Turns only appear twice or thrice per season.
Colin & Christie, Chip & Kim, and Charla & Mirna are three of the ten biggest characters in TAR history. We were amazed to see them all be cast for the same freakin’ season. Because they all made it at least halfway through the game, there was never a dull moment.
Include a supporting cast of Marshall & Lance, Bob & Joyce, Jim & Marsha, Bowling Moms, and the antics of twins Kamkar made for a top of the line cast.
It is a crime that neither Colin & Christie nor Chip & Kim have been brought back. Colin & Christie did not compete in TAR 11 because Christie was pregnant.
So was she pregnant during TAR 18 and TAR 24 too? Where was Charla & Mirna’s invite for TAR 24? Where are Chip & Kim’s invites, too?
These three teams made headlines all season long to the point that Charla & Mirna were incorporated into numerous TV sketch parodies for the following year. They were the face of TAR for season five, and returned to be the faces for TAR 11. Again, how did the Globetrotters, Cowboys, and Margie & Luke play three times instead of them?
Oh, the route? Incredible. It holds a permanent record of being the best route of any TAR season. Argentina to Russia to Egypt to Tanzania to Dubai to India to New Zealand sends chills down my spine.
I mean, they went to freakin Egypt. Can we just give it a nine for that alone?
So why is it not a ten? They eliminated my favourite twist known as the weekly Fast Forward starting with this season, Brandon & Nicole survived for nine rounds too long, Colin didn’t actually get thrown in jail for the night in Tanzania, and Kamkar didn’t fall off the map for their stupidity.
Caviar, chocolate, and eggs also makes for too many Roadblocks involving local delicacies.
P.S. A TAR book was named after a Colin quote from this season. How is this not number one?
EDIT: My Ox is Broken returned in the tenth round of TAR 25.
2. The Amazing Race 12 – 9.0/10
You want to fix the worst problems with TAR, but have your first new cast after All Stars be a bunch of people from California? This season could have gone down as a failure.
But it worked against all pre-game logic. Cutting down on non-eliminations, experimentation with U-Turns and Speed Bumps, new players, fewer rounds of play, shorter rounds, and eccentric old people made for a really fun season of television. This was the most popular season of TAR in terms of US ratings.
Annoying and useless teams went home first, but the villains rightfully went home in the penultimate round.
Sprinkle in a couple of stars along the way, and you have a very feel-good season. Feel-good television typically does not apply to fierce competitions like TAR and Survivor. But really, it is very relaxing. It is the ideal season for a re-watch.
The final Roadblock task is considered the best final task ever done in TAR history. A difficult brain teaser combined with remembering what happened on the race is all that is needed to satisfy viewers.
Sure, you may find the winners likeable but boring, but look at the winners we have on the horizon until TAR 16’s amazing upset.
I love that players approaching seventy years old can find success in TAR, and not be super entitled about it. I love that some racers have their personalities change throughout the course of the season. I love that a sibling team you thought would win every round would instead get eliminated halfway through in a big upset.
Along with TAR 5 and TAR 9, it was responsible for helping the series recover and gain its primetime hold. There may not be any -huge- moments, but just a fun race course that will make you laugh, smile, and sit back along the way.”
3. The Amazing Race 7 – 8.8/10
Wedged between TAR 6 and TAR 8: Family Edition, TAR 7 really needed to deliver.
The stakes of the non-elimination penalties were raised, and production intentionally set up intense foot races to avoid being last at the mat.
Villains were known even before the game began as Rob & Amber came off their boring stint on Survivor: All Stars to potentially corrupt TAR.
They annoyed most of us with exploiting Danny & Oswald’s Fern strategy by combining it with their temporary celebrity status. They were essentially the precursor to the Harlem Globetrotters Strategy except Romber were a bit better when working on their own compared to the Globetrotters.
Ray’s rivalry with the elderly, the Mendoza Meat Roadblock, The Legend of Brian & Greg, the car crash, head shaving and other over-the-top India adventures, and old people falling in underground caves contributed to a memorable season.
But it was all topped by the season finale. Uchenna & Joyce had nothing in the middle of a third world country after coming last in the shortest leg in TAR’s seven season history. They begged and begged and begged for resources until they had enough to get out of the country. Somehow they make up a 200 hour time deficit and get on the same flight as Romber to Miami.
Uchenna & Joyce miraculously build up one of their rare leads when it mattered most-the final destination city before realizing they could not pay their cab at the finish line. What ensued was one of the craziest scrambles ever as viewers were ready to torch CBS Studios if Romber would casually stroll by a frantic Uchenna & Joyce to win the game.
A great finish truly makes a worldly difference in competitions. TAR 7 is no exception.”
4. The Amazing Race 3 – 8.7/10
“Ah, the beginning of my obsession with Survivor, TAR, and The Mole. Survivor Thailand, The Mole 2, and here we have TAR 3 all airing close to simultaneously.
It has been close to three years since I last watched this season, but before that I watched it at least once per year. The only reason why it is not number one is because it had too many equalizers, and I have yet to decide whether I love or hated that the ending to the season trolled me.
Epic Flat Tires.
Tramel & Talicia’s lone celebration.
The fall of Heather & Eve.
The fall of Gerard on a punt.
A cop is placed under arrest.
Michael “213” & Kathy.
The heroics of John Vito & Jill.
The emotional and racing turnaround of Ian & Teri.
Just two of these elements in any season would be great. But here in TAR 3 we were spoiled as all of these went down in the span of thirteen rounds.
I will forever remember being in the sixth grade and having my classmates and teacher watch Heather & Eve’s humiliation for all of us to re-watch. I still have a copy of the tape I specifically brought to class that day.”
5. The Amazing Race 17 – 8.65/10
If producers of ageing competitive reality shows need to know what it takes to make a strong season after being on the air for a decade and having done so many seasons before, this is the quality you are still capable of reaching.
When I was in high school, a mark of 86% or higher was considered an ‘A’. I think TAR 17 is worthy of this grade.
The only reason I put this above TAR 9 is because while Eric & Jeremy vs. BJ & Tyler may be one of my favourite rivalries with an overall fantastic conclusion as the hippies take the prize, TAR 17 had a bit more depth to its cast.
Brook & Claire, Nat & Kat, Nick & Vicki, Chad & Stephanie, and Gary & Mallory with a couple of other teams in the supporting role makes for an insane cast to have squished into one season.
With only one team going on record to return to play again, this makes TAR 17 an overall hidden gem of the series. There is so much more to it than just being “the first time an American all-female team won”.
Visits to Ghana, the Arctic Circle, Bangladesh, and a hilarious round in Hong Kong made for the best route designed since TAR 12. Seriously, TAR 14-16 had the least inspired race courses, and TAR 17 decided not to fall into a rut.
Watermelons to the face, car slices to the eye, apples being bitten, shoes being smelled, testicles being crushed, butts falling on ice, and YouTubers having dreams crushed all made for a hilarious season.
There was also a high level of penalties this season which is unusual for TAR US. Heck, it is in that mid-range of penalties with TAR Canada 3.
So why does this season not get ranked any higher regardless of a great cast, worthy all-female teams, and a wonderful route?
Well, there is a couple of mistakes producers make.
a) The start of the modern day Express Pass. It was irrelevant in TAR 17, and am happy people like Hamilton & Michaelia are saying it is also irrelevant now.
b) The first leg in St. Petersburg was such a mess for producers to the point they intentionally equalized everybody in the following round, and erased Nick & Vicki’s Speed Bump. That is sloppy for TAR standards.
c) The last couple of legs were not exciting, and Los Angeles is a lousy place to finish a season.
Overall, this is the last truly great season TAR US will produce for a long time, and thank god we had something to break the awful trend of seasons between TAR 14-16. Ratings were at its lowest point after TAR 16, and TAR 17 is exactly what was needed for the series to be recognized as a mainstream hit. The praise for TAR 17 will be so strong that the audience will continue to follow the series until producers lose their trust with TAR 24.
It is amazing to think out of all twenty-six US seasons that this is the season I followed the least during its original airing. Oh well. That’s what happens when TAR 14 and the premiere of TAR 15 temporarily killed my spirit.
6. The Amazing Race 9 – 8.6/10
“Perhaps the most unexpected pre-All Star season to do well. Coming off of Family Edition which pushed the show to 10:00pm timeslot and inevitable death, TAR was close to being written off.
Much like TAR 5 and TAR 12, TAR 9 is right up there for saving the series. Greece, Sicily, Moscow, Oman, and Tokyo all delivered with their respective debuts. This season was really the story of two teams having one epic season long showdown. Sure, Fran & Barry, Lake & Michelle, and Ray & Janet Jackson were decent supporting characters, but Eric & Doug Roobaker versus BJ & Tyler is what we all remember.
Not John & Scott, and MoJo, surprisingly.
BJ & Tyler are pretty much the Tom Westman of TAR. Ninety percent of all viewers absolutely loved them, and everyone always says ‘my favourite season? That one with the hippies’.
Editors embraced the 10:00pm timeslot as this season had some of the most mature content ever released, but also happened to be a season long comedy show. Fran & Barry’s missed clues, Lake’s yelling, 24th greatest team of all-time Lisa & Joni’s run (with full bladders nonetheless), Dani & Danielle not knowing they were terrible, Dave & Lori’s adorable nerdiness, and locals enjoying their interactions with teams.
Shockingly, Mugged for Elimination would end with this season despite it being the most entertaining Mugged for Eliminations ever where BJ truly had no clothes. It is parallel to Exile Island ending immediately after Coach went there in Survivor: Tocantins. Exile Island could not top Coach’s presence just like how Mugged for Elimination could not be topped by BJ just trying to find some freakin’ pants.
EDIT: San Juan Del Sur brought back Exile Island a few months ago. Sorry Coach.
This features the second most exciting finish in TAR history. Eric & Jeremy are ahead at the final task. All you have to do is match up several flags in the order you visited them. In a Rovilson-like fashion, Eric chokes as BJ passes him with the finish line in plain sight.
It was easily the most exciting moment that the state of Colorado had ever seen.
Lastly, Doug Roobaker may be my favourite moment in TAR history.”
7. The Amazing Race 2 – 8.5/10
“Sadly this is the season I have seen the least, but that does not stop it from getting a high rating.
Sure, the route was lame considering how much overlap it had with the original, but we saw a ton of new and neat locations. TAR was not quite out of the documentary stage yet as we saw raw travel footage. This is reality TV nostalgia right here along with TAR 3.
Shola & Doyin were the original tragic characters as nothing would go their way, Tara & Wil may be the biggest jackasses to ever dominate the race, and the beginning of Metrosexual Loners Danny & Oswald. Remember Fern?
A ton of crazy things happen despite it being only the second season. The Africa drunken pit stop fight between Pastor Russell, Wil the Jackass, and Alex the Slightly Less of a Jackass? Gutsy Grannies being the original players to sleep through their pit start but somehow surviving two eliminations as well as being the only team to enter Europe all season (not wise to connect through a city in a continent that producers are not visiting in your season), the Blake & Paige/Hope & Norm car controversy, and lastly. . .it deserves its own paragraphs.
The most talked about final twenty minutes in perhaps any reality TV season. The love triangle of Tara, Wil, and Alex finally facing off for a million bucks. Chris & Alex have done terrible most of the season. They had been saved by non-elimination twice because Wil screwed them over. Tara & Wil meanwhile showed nice guys can GTFO as they had few problems staying ahead of the competition, and Tara manipulating Chris & Alex for a good chunk of the race.
Then everything leading up to Baker’s Circle, and concluding with the most iconic foot race to end a worldwide marathon. You have undoubtedly seen the footage 20, 000 times as TAR bashes you over the head with it. Chris & Alex were disliked for 95% of the season, but their reputation turned around in a matter of ten minutes of exciting television.”
8. The Amazing Race 11: Real All Stars – 7.2/10
“The best all-star format of any season seen in Survivor, Big Brother, and TAR history. Phil submitted a list of fifteen teams that he would love to see again. They were either really popular and/or really skilled. Production picked ten of these teams, and added the hybrid team of Eric & Danielle because Eric & Jeremy would have had a 1.10 race average if they competed.
Would we love to see a winning team from each season, and two Linz teams to have an eleven-team all winners edition? Absolutely. Would we have loved to see each season represented including Lance Bass? Absolutely. But for what reputation Survivor and Big Brother had with their all-star seasons, what TAR gave us was very fair and above average.
The route, the tasks, the travel, the stories, and the characters all collided for a season that for some odd reason was not well liked by the audience. Perhaps the LGBTQ community was pissed a Frat boy managed to whip an all-male gay team and two all-female teams at Final Four. Also, this Frat boy had a partner who was viewed as spoiled and worthless (she did get 500k for her “efforts”).
Compared to casting for TAR 18 and 24, this all-star had the only true all-star cast of the entire series. None of the choices evoked a “Mary Who?” response, and catching up with our original stars along with new frontrunners made for an interesting clash.
It truly marks the end of an era as many familiar format rituals will be disregarded almost immediately after the season is over (Yields, Intersection, four NELs, 13 rounds, Marked for Elimination, multiple final cities in final leg, non-memory final tasks, etc.).
This is what makes TAR 11: Real All Stars such a great season. It effectively wraps up the core of the TAR franchise, and closes the chapter on some of the most important reality TV characters who can pat themselves on the shoulders for preventing TAR’s cancellation.
I urge the many people who view this as a bad season to re-watch and think about everything TAR accomplished because of the people playing, and enjoy the insane Africa rounds. Also, please appreciate Eric a bit more. Otherwise, there is no hope for you.”
9. The Amazing Race Asia 2 – 7.19/10
The golden season for the Asia series. Producers went all out for this season, and boy oh boy, they were rewarded for it. Adrian may be the most badass contestant we have had to race with a disability (Luke could learn from Adrian), and go on to win.
Until David O’ Leary suffered from Crybabyitis, that is.
Producers learned from their mistakes in TAR Asia 1 except for the part where they once again were stuffing the race with five non-eliminations.
Perhaps a case could be made that Marc & Rovilson were too rich/well-travelled/athletic/good at everything except flags for them to be allowed onto the race.
Put that aside and you have a base for what separates good seasons from great seasons. Anything above a 7.0 is a -great- season to me.
Seeing Marc & Rovilson dominate, er, I mean SLAUGHTER everyone for 80% of the race until Adrian & Collin began to rally, and top it all off with Adrian passing Marc & Rovilson at the final task had an incredible payoff. Oh, and Pamela & Vanessa passing Marc & Rovilson at the final task too equated to the biggest choke in TAR history.
Later on we would see Czech Republic make its debut even before TAR 15 could get there, and certain places in South Africa we had never seen before.
We also were exposed to the only team in TAR history to truly finish in dead last in back-to-back legs at the beginning of the season. Somehow those two were not named Henry & Terri, who were a different team that were saved by three non-eliminations as Terri may be one of the most uncooperative racers ever.
Paula & Natasha were a rare combination of being young, all-female, nerds, and doing well in the race.
We also had two mothers from Malaysia (Ann & Diane) become the villains in the eyes of the other racers as them, Pamela & Vanessa, and Paula & Natasha made it very possible for an all-female team to win yet again in TAR Asia. In fact, they are three of the strongest all-female teams in the entire TAR franchise.
Lastly, the first four rounds were single-handedly carried by French Born Aurelia as we ventured through familiar New Zealand and Philippines. Seriously. Watch the season just for French Born Aurelia alone. I cannot even come up with the French word for why she is amazing.
10. The Amazing Race Australia 1 – 7.1/10
We also saw multiple Intersections in the same season. The first and only proven use of the Express Pass that saved a team. A season where only one U-Turn was available. The revival of having multiple destinations in the final leg. Unique penalties.
Those were the unique aspects of TAR Aussie’s debut.
This season’s biggest strengths were visiting Israel, lots of self-drive legs, and excellent casting.
In contrast to TAR US casting minor celebrities and pro athletes in recent years, TAR Australia went with everyday people.
Anne-Marie & Tracy work in a freakin’ supermarket, Renae is a model who fixes cars, Alana & Mel were sisters who hadn’t seen each other in a very long time and have polar opposite personalities, Mo & Mos were a Muslim team that lasted more than one leg, and we had a middle-aged motorcycling couple that were perceived as devious.
Oh, and cowboys who weren’t total douchebags and who also had no idea what a bagel was.
We also had one of the best early boots of all time in the form of FOCUS! BELIEVE! ACHIEVE! I can’t believe supermarket ladies kicked their asses most of the time.
It’s tough to pick between French Born Aurelia & Singaporean Sophie as my favourite early boots against Richard & Joey.
Chris & Anastasia’s fight during the Guns n’ Roses Detour becomes one of the most absurd TAR fights in history.
The only weak team in the cast happened to go home first. Everyone else brought something to the table. Yes, even Jeff & Luke. A few pieces of unintentional comedy were in play every single leg.
Tyler & Nathan were worthy winners. They had some goofy moments, some heartbreaking moments, a compelling social game, and a great rally from having all of their money stolen in a season where you needed to hang onto whatever cash you could until the very end. This isn’t TAR Canada where they hand you thousands of dollars.
This season was strong overall, but it suffers in my eyes from too much overlap with activeTV’s other TAR production of TAR Asia (locations and/or tasks from the first four seasons), and a few instances of disappointing leg design and a luck-based finale along the way.
If you don’t care about the TAR Asia overlap, this season would go up a couple of spots in this ranking. I just wish a bit more creativity was involved.
Overall, it is above the Mendoza line of TAR 1. All seasons ranked above TAR 1 are considered strong seasons in my books. TAR Australia 1 definitely belongs in this category in my books.
11. The Amazing Race (1) – 7/10
“The adventure and experiment of a lifetime begins as Bertram Van Munster and Phil Keoghan are apart of the first season. It is tough to rank it because it is edited more as a travel documentary rather than a competition.
For those of you who only know the Guidos and Kevin & Drew from their laughable performances in All Stars, watch this season. Your opinion of them will change for the better.
Note that this season featured so few equalizers that the top two teams managed to build a lead of well over 24 hours on the trailing two teams by the end of the season. This will never happen again.”
12. The Amazing Race Asia 4: “The Race of a Lifetime” – 6.81/10
“The final season of TAR Asia is a relatively good season. I think this is the perfect season to be positioned in the middle of my rankings. Nothing great happened to take it to the next level, but nothing infuriating that would make this a bad season.
Along with TAR 19, TAR Asia 4 is the season I have heard people talk about the least since its airing. You know TAR 19 was lacklustre when it shares a record with an obscure foreign edition.
It is tragic that this is the final edition of the Asian franchise, but an overall natural conclusion to the series. There is not much more they could have done with the series given the limited options for producers.
Casting was equally strong to TAR Asia 3. Scratch that, this cast was stronger than TAR Asia 3 since nobody was as much of a dud as Isaac & William. No real weak links in this cast.
Furthermore, nobody in casting was repeatedly irritating me. Hating on a certain father-daughter team or Dominatrix’s logic was more fun rather than being a strike against the season. Only downside is that producers failed to avoid mactors and mactresses yet again. Oh well.
The tasks and locations faired reasonably well. This aspect of the race was successful in the long run that American seasons, and Asian producers for the Australia series, would recycle these tasks and locations. Trendsetters in their own right.
However, many of the tasks were poorly explained. A rare problem I have encountered in TAR. How do you drop the ball after twenty English-speaking seasons?
Allan kept bringing the puns. I enjoyed that.
Perhaps the biggest reasons why this season has fallen into obscurity is because of the following:
a) No significant rivalries or conflicts. Besides docks, an EVIL EVIL man, the early U-Turn and Yield, not much happened.
b) No characters that are over-the-top to an extreme.
c) Winners are likeable, and won in an acceptable fashion.
On the flipside, these are the exact reasons why I like this season. It was a breath of fresh air. Nearly everyone was a source of comedy. Manas threw sticks, Hilda being carried away without breakfast, Hussein falling off of things, Jess & Lani wasting the money they begged for on clothes, Yani petting a snake, Dominatrix eating chicken balls and making funny faces, Richards with their comedic errors, Ethan with his polar bear outfit as well as his sheep herding, Sunaina & Dimple attempting to ski, and Alan feuding in broken English.
Experimenting with another Intersection as well as record-breaking early NELs was welcome to the series.
TAR Asia 4 could burn through all three NELs by top six for two reasons:
1) They have only ten teams to begin the season.
2) Episodes run four to ten minutes longer than US episodes.
Therefore characters have enough time to be developed from day one, and thus editors do not need to worry about giving a team an invisible edit because too many teams are left after seven rounds of play. This was the perfect format to have all six teams be alive with zero NELs left in the race.
In short, TAR Asia 4 is the epitome of a good season. Every series needs seasons like these. Unfortunately easy-going seasons are tough to rank near the top of the chain.”
13. The Amazing Race 13 – 6.8/10
“This season has a very unique combination of being funky and good. This marked the final season in TAR’s transition era. No U-Turns were used and much of the format including the shortened eleven round format was copied from TAR 12.
The route was great for the first half of the season, but spending four of the last six rounds in Delhi and Moscow really hampered the season. A mixture of jaw-dropping blunders never before seen on TAR through no fault of the teams being terrible, watching a team prove that you can indeed virtually win every leg as well as the season, and decent casting made for an entertaining season.
Not only did we see the first ever super duper dominant brother-sister team take the first sibling crown, but a mother-son team proved that you can do well on the race as long as you hang onto your passport. Frowny McFrownerson was simultaneously a buzzkill but fun to irritate, the bra gate incident which led to teams forever being sequestered at pit stops, the great tale of Dandrew, the whiniest male contestant since Adam from TAR 6, Cabbie on the Street, and Mark & Bill all contributed to a fun adventure.
Tina tried to exchange this for a bigger rating, but it failed. Seeing Cambodia and Bolivia debut is the only reason why I have this above TAR Asia 3. Yes, again, seeing a team lose their passport at the most painful point possible gives this a boost as well.”
14. The Amazing Race Asia 3: Toughest Race Ever – 6.7/10
“This season was definitely a step down from TAR Asia 2’s amazing route and cast, but it provided a surprisingly solid season.
Hyped as #toughestracever , what it really meant is that vomit-inducing cuisines, physical activity in really high temperatures, super extended rounds, late night tasks, and needle in a haystack tasks that made unrolling Swedish hay bales look like a cake walk, covered the first six rounds of the game.
The second half saw a drop in overall difficulty but a favourable route for quitters Sam & Vince. Tragically, Sam & Vince would go on to win the game just one day after taking a four hour penalty when Sam could not pull himself twenty more feet across a gorge.
Why is the rating for this season nearly as high as seven out of ten despite bad winners, needle in haystacks, and a bad route?
Well, because the casting was “really really goooood” in the words of Audrey from TAR Canada 2.
Ida & Tania were simultaneously dominant and underdogs throughout the season as their late season run pointed towards a victory in the final leg, but was sadly not meant to be.
Mai & Oliver, Henry & Bunn-eh, Niroo & Kapil, Geoff 26 & Tisha 31, and all-male team A.D. & Fuzzie set up for an incredible cast.
It would have been 6.8 if not for Isaac & William. What the hell were producers thinking when casting them?
Perhaps the biggest improvement upon previous TAR Asia instalments is that the number of non-eliminations was dropped from five to three. Although with this cast it was always sad to see anyone go.”
15. The Amazing Race 20 – 6.69/10
I feel comfortable placing TAR 20 here. I know some people who really really hate this season because of the cast (it had an overexposed reality TV couple and an abundance of law enforcement teams). However I didn’t mind the cast and therefore it is saved from ever being ranked at the bottom.
Furthermore, we had two debuting countries this season: Paraguay and Azerbaijan. We will see Paraguay return in TAR 32. The problem is we have no idea when the hell TAR 32 is going to air (it filmed in the autumn of 2018 and it is now October of 2019).
One huge bonus for me about TAR 20 is that they had three Fast Forwards. Sadly this is a just a one-off and Fast Forwards will go back to being on the border of extinction. That third Fast Forward made a lot of teams panic as they were not strategically prepared for it.
There weren’t any major dud twists this season. No Hazards, no Double Elimination Legs, no Intersections, no Starting Line Eliminations, no Automatic U-Turn penalty. In fact, there was only one U-Turn placed on the entire route. It highly resembled a classic format.
One thing which will make this season stand out is the fact we saw a team kick a lot of ass. Dave & Rachel secured the all-time leg wins record for an American team. Seven years later and only one team will come close to tying or breaking their record. The only problem with the record being set is it came in a long string of seasons where the strongest team was always winning without much opposition. Nick & Starr, Tammy & Victor, Meghan & Cheyne, Nat & Kat, and Ernie & Cindy were all teams favoured to win from the very beginning of their season. Dan & Jordan and Kisha & Jen, while not dominant in their respective seasons, were extremely consistent and never fell to last place when they won either.
For a cast that was extremely unpopular, three of these teams will return in the future. One player in particular will return two more times.
The legs had very mixed designs. Some of them had too many equalizers or were very quick legs to save on budget. Other legs were self-drive and had an output of difficult challenges. The finale was one of the series’ best as that jaw-dropping moment of Dave & Rachel skipping a Roadblock to go to the finish line, backtrack, have a final showdown with Art & JJ, and then go on to win the season anyway and make history was a very memorable ending.
Given the seasons surrounding TAR 20, it is an above average product. However, when you take into account the TAR franchise as a whole, it is a very average season. The number of alliances will set the stage for what we will see in TAR 21 and TAR 22 as TAR will temporarily switch to a more Survivor-esque mini era of backstabbing and betrayals.
16. The Amazing Race 10 – 6.5/10
“Its two biggest faults: An opening round twist which eliminated one team halfway through the premiere, and perhaps a contender for the dullest winners to date in a horribly designed finale leg.
In between that you have a strong season. Mongolia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Ukraine, and Kuwait all appear for the first and only time this season. The Six Pack versus Rob & Kim and Tyler & James lasts all the way to the end, Rob breaking down cars, an out-of-shape all-women’s team is the first all-female team to be in the Final Three, brother-sister team David & Mary, Social Outcasts/Chipmunks Dustin & Kandice, Condescending Quitter Peter/Prequel to Rex Harrington & One-Legged Sarah make up for the beginning and ending.
This marks the first of three Intersections and the first of two seasons with the Marked for Elimination penalty.
It is perhaps the most creative production and the most epic route that TAR has ever done. Again, a jump to an eight or higher is very possible if not for its start and conclusion.”
17. The Amazing Race 18: Unfinished Business 6.4/10
“This season was expected to be the worst season of all time, and had a best case scenario of being an average season. Thank God the absolute best case scenario happened, and the season was ultimately saved from being utter shit.
I don’t know what producers were thinking prior to the start of the season. Very few of their decisions made any sense.
Pick FIVE teams from the worst season ever? Check.
Plan a route which heavily favours these five teams, and insert only one new country for a third of a round? Check.
Plan a terrible twist at the beginning, and do absolutely nothing interesting for the remainder of the season? Check.
This was the season I was originally going to come out of my TAR hiatus to watch live five years ago, but all of these factors made me delay watching this season until this TARstorian project.
I see why now it is not a despised season: Producers really lucked out by having their bad decisions not play out the way they wanted it. Hallelujah.
Unlike TAR 11: Real All Stars, this season was full of snubs with teams they could clearly replace in this cast. Sorry, TAR 13.
We saw a revamped version of the Eliminate Somebody at the Starting Line for No Apparent Reason twist from TAR 15 where Amanda & Kris were doomed after the opening minutes of the race (they will be automatically U-Turned during the first elimination round and essentially screwed–brilliant!). Thankfully, Amanda & Kris are the biggest head-scratcher of a team to be chosen to return in TAR history, and took the well-deserved bullet for everyone else.
Things got better. Nearly everyone else from TAR 14 fell in a row at the start of the season, and allowed teams like Gary & Mallory, Zev & Justin, Kent & Vyxsin, and Ron & Christina dominate the airtime for nearly the whole season. Because of this, there were a ton of hilarious moments. Kent & Vyxsin’s insane blunders and meltdowns alone kept us going for weeks.
Luke’s epic fail at the tea Roadblock in India was perfect dark comedy. Some, for odd reasons, state it was one of the saddest reasons in TAR history–I view it as the exact opposite. There are few times where more unintentional comedy has been provided for a viewer in The Amazing Race.
Ron eating, Christina falling out of cars, Kent & Vyxsin losing their passport or driving twenty hours in the opposite direction and pointlessly betraying other teams, Zev making inappropriate jokes, Justin providing great commentary, and Mallory being a 24/7 cartoon character kept us going from week to week. Oh, and who can forget Jet & Cord’s delicious elimination in the ninth round?
Kisha & Jen’s victory provided a minimal reaction for the audience. It is not bad, but not super compelling either. Everyone can accept their victory, but not have a strong opinion about it.
TAR 18 was a strange way to wrap up another era of TAR. It was all over the place, a lot of it never really made any sense, there were a couple of good seasons here and there, but somehow the series continued to survive.
Perhaps the biggest fault for this season is it never addressed any of the long-term complaints that the audience had about the show for the past decade. This failure to address the viewers is why TAR 18 will mark the end of the program’s grip in American pop culture, and fade more and more into a niche market until. . .well, until today where TAR 29 has already been filmed, but no word on when it will air beyond it being a “mid-season replacement”. And perhaps the other major fault is that this season does not have any major highlights or anything significant to keep it alive outside of Kent & Vyxsin’s humongous blunder in Japan where they couldn’t even make the required flight. The following season, TAR 19, will also suffer from being unmemorable, but without the strong characters to save it.
Lastly, any season involving returnees needs to have challenges which are a step above a “regular season”. TAR 11 accomplished this, but sadly TAR 18 did not. None of the tasks felt like the teams were playing for keeps.
If anything, this season should have been a lesson for producers to start listening to the experts who support the series.
P.S. This season is the first one to not even have a planned Fast Forward.
18. The Amazing Race 4 – 6.25/10
“TAR 4 offered very few new things. An overall likeable cast, a route that spent too much time in Europe while going virtually nowhere new despite it being only the fourth season, and is the only season other than TAR 8 and 24 which pushed TAR closest to cancellation. The show goes away for a full year after this season.
There are a few highlights, though. For instance, Kelly & Jon are odd figures to become villains at the end of the season. The initial dominant alliance gets slaughtered very quickly which hadn’t really been seen before. Monica & Sheree talked about luxuries of being married to NFL players, and the most important figures on reality TV for the gay community (even as much as Richard Hatch) appear this season.
Oh, and remember Jon & Al who had a 96% popularity rating? Even more popular than Jessie Camacho from Survivor: Africa? They help carry this season. The creepy and gropey Mumbai local did not have a 96% popularity rating, sadly.
It will be the last season to have a Fast Forward offered each round, and was the most fascinating part about the series. Sadly it will never return.”
19.The Amazing Race 19 – 6.2/10
I feel like I am splitting hairs when it comes to TAR 4 and TAR 19. Both seasons have an identical perception in the TAR community: Seasons that run smoothly and are unmemorable.
It became clear that TAR 19 is slightly inferior to TAR 4.
TAR 19’s highlights:
Kaylani losing her passport.
Double Elimination Leg.
Andy & Tommy’s elimination.
TAR 4’s highlights:
Mumbai train culture shock.
Millie’s asthma, Millie Mole, punching DK’s face, and Malaysian meltdown with Chuck.
Millie & Chuck vs. Kelly & Jon
Reichen & DK’s victory entering mainstream pop culture loosely and their late game showdown with Kelly & Jon
David & Jeff and Jon & Al within miles of freakin’ North Korea and start getting scared.
Overall, TAR 4 is the clear winner here. Even if TAR 19 had more new countries than TAR 4 somehow.
Perhaps the cultural aspect is what was missing from TAR 19. Or rather, teams being worn down by the cultural aspect and it becoming a storyline. We had too many teams who behaved calmly and didn’t do anything offensive or dumb in some of the sketchy situations in Indonesia, Thailand, and elsewhere.
The one bit of praise I will give TAR 19 regarding its unique twists is that they knew it didn’t work. Double Elimination Leg and the Hazard are never to be seen again. It fell completely flat.
Production didn’t seem too keen on Ernie & Cindy’s victory. The audience didn’t like them from day one, and it showed as there was great disinterest heading into the final episode of the season.
Furthermore, not a single team was invited back for TAR 24. Ernie & Cindy make a cameo during the TAR 29 finale, but thas been it for this season being acknowledged.
If you want to watch a season that won’t make you emotionally invested out of love or hatred, this is definitely the one to watch. You also get the neat Denmark-Germany-Belgium leg, and a few little quirks along the way like the subtle absence of clue boxes and random costumes from a comic strip. You also get the goofy antics of Liz & Marie which I had completely forgotten about.
There’s also a bunny obstacle course. It’s so adorable!
I don’t have too much else to say about TAR 19 given this season’s reputation. It’s a safe season in what has now become a massive TAR timeline. There are funny moments and bits and pieces of narrative here and there. You just have to look a bit harder. This is ideal to watch if you just finished a season that you absolutely hated.
20. The Amazing Race 16 – 5.8/10
“Well, it did not have terrible winners, a horrible impromptu elimination twist, and five non-elimination rounds. I will give it credit for that and why it is not much lower.
But yeah, a rating of 5.8 indicates that this season is not very good. That is a ‘C’ or ‘C-‘ in the eyes of most people.
Adrian & Dana, Monique & Shawne, and Steve & Allie received invisible edits. Heck, we did not know who Steve & Allie were until the seventh round. Even the winners Dan & Jordan were not acknowledged by producers until the end of the game was drawing near.
Instead the narrative of the season revolved around irrelevant Jeff & Jordan, over-the-top Jet & Cord, and the rivalry between Brent & Caite and Carol & Brandy. These are not exactly people who can bear the responsibility of a season on their shoulders. U-Turning Joe & Heidi early on did not help matters much either.
Only one new country being added to the catalogue was beginning to hurt the series. Is there any reason to keep watching if the show is going nowhere new?
The Intersection twist made teams work cooperatively on a Roadblock rather than a Detour, but is now more of an answer to a trivia question rather than reviving a twist in an interesting manner. I would say the Intersection is a very interesting twist in concept that producers put zero effort into running with it.
The biggest and most talked about moment is when Dan & Jordan cut in line in the final leg. It led to the audience blasting a ton of hate in Dan & Jordan’s direction because everybody was desperate to see Jet & Cord (the team to receive the most biased edit ever) to win the season. Thankfully that desperation was not appeased, but it created an outcome where Dan & Jordan were made to feel guilty while everyone else was bitter.
Even the third place team was threatened into guilt because of what they did three rounds earlier to Carol & Brandy leading to the first ever finish line fight.
Overall, this did indeed play out like a season, albeit a bland one, and it concluded with much needed underdog winners.
There are comedic subtle moments in every round. You just have to look a bit harder.
In short, I find this to be an inoffensive season. It reinforced the idea for the sixteenth time that two women cannot win TAR together as all-male teams once again filled three of the top four spots, and was our youngest Final 3 ever.”
21. The Amazing Race 15 – 4.9/10
“The season premiere, the return to the hay bales task, and the finale are three rounds that should never happen in TAR. Eliminating a team at the starting line and having nothing to do in Japan before a non-elimination; making teams roll hay bales AGAIN; and a dealer who screwed Brian & Ericka out of what could have been the most unexpected victory of all time.
Flight Time & Big Easy were the first team to be cast without using their real names, and also the first to be representing a brand. This is a horrible direction that the series would go into over these next five years, and probably until it gets cancelled by the time TAR 25 wraps up in the Friday Night Death Slot.
There were also recruit casting choices who quit too such as Maria & Tiffany and Mika who were truly incapable of reaching the finish line, Yes, Maria & Tiffany had one good round, but they could not have reached the end. It is no surprise that Meghan & Cheyne essentially raped the competition once they put more effort into winning each round.
It may be billed as a season full of blunders by players with visits to Czech Republic and Estonia for the first time, but the above errors by producers when it came to casting and twists were outrageous that it ultimately makes it a failure.”
22. The Amazing Race Asia (1) – 4.55/10
“The first expansion outside of America. It featured the first all-female victory ever, albeit one of the winners indirectly worked for the TV network which produced the season.
Again, five non-eliminations really held up the momentum of the season. Andy & Laura can only do so much, Mardy & Marsio could only eat so much like they were Brad Pitt or Sally & Tyson, Sahran’s constant fear of heights, and Sahil & Prashant’s rage attack after their receiving the penalty that eliminated them.
The locations were repeated from the US TAR for the most part. Their inexperience was noticeable when they had things like the Bali beach task where producers had to change the rules on the spot, and a huge number of penalties for the first half of the season that left everyone confused. Remember the formula of being penalized the following round for two minutes per kilometre driving over the speed limit?
Luckily TAR Asia improves greatly for seasons two, three, and four. You can partially forgive its failing debut. It does not have the same excuse as TAR 6 or 14 where American producers should have a full grasp on how to make a good season regardless of the circumstances.”
23. The Amazing Race 8: Family Edition – 4.0/10
“This is what the audience wanted. Production earns points for having a unique theme and giving it a try to please the audience.
Unfortunately, the restrictions of travel, and a glaring drop in difficulty of tasks turned off the audience. In fact, it is what pushed the series to the brink of cancellation again as the show finds itself airing at 10:00pm on Wednesdays until it recovers during TAR 10.
As soon as teams exit Costa Rica and enter Arizona, the Midwest theme along with teams putting up with an unprecedented FIVE non-eliminations in the second half of the season bored everyone.
The crazy antics of the Weavers being isolated, being the first to be yielded twice, and asking producers to help them behind the scenes kept up the raw entertainment along with Linzes and Christine Godlewski. And did you know it is just over a year before Billy and Carissa could sign up as a duo for TAR? Scary.
Why is it not the absolute worst? Because producers tried something new and fresh to comply with the wishes of the audience. And some of the teams do not disappoint.”
24. The Amazing Race 6 – 3.9/10
“When three seasons are filmed in less than a year, one season is bound to be forgetful and be shorthanded when it comes to finding compelling teams to cast.
The route is surprisingly unique for its time. Making every team complete their fair share of Roadblocks for the first time in history would become a staple for the series until TAR 24.
However, the horrible decision to think the hay bales task, too many flight equalizers, the dullness of Scandinavian locations, and Freddy & Kendra’s victory over a popular but really dull team dropped the reputation of the season.
Oh, and remember Jonathan shoving Victoria? An incident that was so controversial that it led to them being invited onto an episode of Dr. Phil, and followed even later by Joe Rogan kicking Jonathan Baker’s ass.
Lastly, the final leg was virtually the only one without a flight equalizer as Freddy & Kendra managed to get a time advantage over Kris & Jon in Chicago.
Due to TAR 5 and 7 airing in the same year and both being incredible seasons, you will see TAR 6 fade within a year in the eyes of the audience and the eyes of the producers.
It is no wonder why none of these teams have been invited back.”
25. The Amazing Race 14 – 2.5/10
“A mediocre route which also introduced us to Jodi Wincheski who would become not only the worst casting director for TAR in subsequent seasons, but also would be guilty of indirectly corrupting future casting choices.
An unlikeable Final Four, combined with five rounds being set in areas that Tammy & Victor were more than familiar with, led to the most suspicious victory in TAR history. Anyone who believes Tammy & Victor were awarded the title rather than earning it have a solid case.
Mix in boggling casting choices like Amanda & Kris, Enabler Margie who would be rewarded with two additional appearances, and you have a contender for the worst season of TAR ever played.
The imbalanced editing is another big contributor to its awfully low ranking.”