When I last blogged about this season of “The Amazing Race”, it had just premiered, and I gave some preliminary thoughts on the racers and the series. I got a few things very right (“Brook and Claire seem nice enough, but I think they’re this season’s token “Teams That OD on the Adrenalin Rush and Chest Bump After Every Small Accomplishment”) and a few things very wrong (“Nick and Vicki will be gone next week”)…but looking back, what do I think now that they’re down to the top four?
For starters, I stand by my assertion that the more the racers drive themselves around, the less interesting the race gets. Gary and Mallory’s elimination was almost entirely without suspense, despite the best efforts of the Race’s editing team, because when you spend nine hours driving around looking for the first clue, it’s a pretty good bet that everyone else gets a free pass to the next leg. Admittedly, taxi roulette isn’t much better, as Andie and Jenna found, but I think that maybe the challenges need to be a little more challenging in order to give late racers a chance to catch up. There have only been a few really tricky challenges this year; most have them have been time-consuming in a way that doesn’t allow the racers’ skills to give them a chance to shave off much time. A task that takes everyone an hour is a task that might as well not be there.
Still, there have been some good innovations. The Double U-Turn changed the U-Turn from a “fuck you, you’re eliminated” to a real race-leveling tool; since two teams got stuck with it, you were still racing against someone on the same terms as you. I still don’t feel any need to have the U-Turners need to put up their picture itself–I think it creates Drama in one of the few reality shows that’s a lot of fun even when it’s totally Drama-free–but if someone really feels like holding a grudge against the person who U-Turned them instead of going after the strongest competition, I can’t stop them.
As to the remaining racers…well, I’m thrilled beyond belief that Chad and Stephanie are gone. I was seriously starting to think of them as the cockroaches of the Amazing Race, thoroughly unpleasant and yet somehow surviving everything that was thrown at them. I was slightly saddened that Gary/Mallory and Michael/Kevin got eliminated, since they seemed to be having fun with the Race (and doing better than most parent/child teams do) but such is life. And now, I’d like to see Jill/Thomas and Nick/Vicki gone, or at the very least not winning the Race. Both guys are nasty and mean to their girlfriends (especially Nick, who really does behave like he’d like to hit Vicki if the cameras weren’t on them) and I don’t want to see them anymore. But with three episodes left (I’m guessing that this week will end with a split leg) I still can’t say I know who will win. Which is at least one thing they’re doing right.