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Amazing Race 17 – Ep 6 – Poop and Potatoes


I would like to give a State of the Amazing Race address for all those who are wringing their hands that the Race is in decline.

It’s not that bad. Granted, the Race has struggled to stay consistent for a number of seasons. One can go back to the momentum drain that the unsatisfactory All-Stars brought. As a huge fan of the show, I know that I can still recite moments from the early seasons. However, the post-All-Star seasons have all sort of blurred into one. That’s not to say they haven’t been exciting, or tons of fun to watch, but when you think about it, how many Season 12-17 teams would you want to see in a second All-Stars?

I think the show may be in a tad of a rut, but I don’t see reason to panic. The excitement of going to different parts of the world remain – I was really psyched to see them head to the Arctic Circle for the first time. This collection of teams is actually quite interesting this season. The challenges are fine, and Phil is still Phil.

If I had to render a complaint, it’s that fans are wise to their tricks now. We know that if a last place team is not in the same shot as other teams, they are likely very far behind. We can see a forced dramatic end from a mile away now. We can anticipate most non-elimination legs, such as this week. We know the fake drama before the commercial breaks will not break against the teams. We can sort of predict the episodes as they progress.

That is fixable – the show has done it before. Remember how when Phil’s line “the last team to check in will be eliminated” was dropped, you knew it was going to be non-elimination? And then Season 5’s Charla/Mirna ostrich egg challenge had that happen, and the show tricked us by not having a non-elimination leg. And since then that formula has changed.

I’m not talking about major changes – that is not necessary. But small production tweaks can work. It’s not all about Express Passes and Intersections. Survivor has tweaked itself many times over the years. Nicaragua and Borneo are very different. Heck, Nicaragua and Palau are very different games. Amazing Race 17 and Amazing Race 6 are very similar in structure.

I said it last week, but I would like to see more travel drama again. That’s something which makes Amazing Race unique and interesting. I would like to see more local transportation – buses, subways, etc. – as the spoon fed transportation is not very exciting. Clues should be clues – that’s old school Amazing Race. The show slips in and out of giving hard clues and giving “go here” and “go there” clues.

Bottom line – Please show, we know you have it in you, just surprise us a bit from time to time.


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