I'd give you the hard sell, but that's why I've posted the links above explaining why I love the series. For those unfamiliar, these are the basics:
- The Amazing Race was introduced in 2001 by CBS, perhaps the first major competitive reality show that did not originate from Europe (e.g., Survivor, Big Brother, The Mole)
- For the most part, teams of two with a preexisting relationship race from one location to another. Players have to perform tasks. Among the standard: Detour (a choice between two tasks, each one usually having their own pros and cons) and Roadblock (teams must decide which person would perform a task solo, based on nothing but the accompanying clue). Each leg ends at a Pit Stop. Most of the time, the team that finishes last in that leg is eliminated.
- The main goal is to finish the final leg in first place. The team that accomplishes that wins $1 million, regardless on how they performed throughout the race. Sometimes, the best team does not win.
- The host is Phil Keoghan. Hailing from New Zealand, Phil finished runner-up for the Survivor hosting gig to Jeff Probst, so executive producers Elise Doganieri and Bertram Van Munster snapped him up. For the most part, Phil acts as a narrator in each episode, greeting teams at each Pit Stop, and eliminating them when they finish last, with few exceptions. Phil is awesome, from the accent to the ability of raising his left eyebrow. It's hard to fully explain his appeal. You have to see him in action.
Also complicating matters have been gimmicks to attract new viewers, which tends to turn off the diehards. In the last four seasons, TAR had three themed seasons TAR26 with all romantic couples, half of whom met each other at the starting line. TAR28 was loaded with stars of social media and those connected with them, resulting in a season where there was competition, but the fatigue-aided outbursts were less accurate, since they didn't want to turn off their own fans. Finally, TAR29 began with 22 strangers forming eleven teams, selected by them before the race officially began. For some viewers, that was as bad as the "blind date" TAR26.
In May, TAR was left off the fall schedule once again. However, the thirtieth season started filming on October 1 at Washington Square Park in New York City. And I was there. I still felt bad for missing the start of TAR25, which took place in Times Square at 3 a.m. on May 31, 2014. This time, it was set up during the day. It turned out to be a lot longer than I would have figured. I am happy to say that the fans were out in force, with Phil greeted like Elvis. The Racers had to make their entrances on multiple takes. This season is mostly free of gimmicks, though the emphasis is on those excelling in their respective fields. The only Racer I recognized was Tim Janus, once known as "Eater X" on the competitive eating circuit. He was wearing facial paint, which I remembered from his annual appearances in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Later, I found that his partner was Joey Chestnut, who is best-known for winning at Nathan's on ten occasions.
I wound up exhausting myself rushing from one part of WSP to another, as the teams got ready. I wound up using four devices to capture the action, which I posted on Flickr. Also, I took videos and posted those for the first time (be kind with criticisms; I am not used to trying to keep a device steady while filming). I will admit the false starts did wear on my nerves, the fans' excitement was electric. One bit that got to me involved production people saying farewell to one another (photo/video). For most of the cameramen, they will be following teams in their race around the world. Fans seldom think of stuff like that. Finally, Phil set the teams off, having them fish clues from the park's fountain. I'm guessing it'll look awesome in the first episode . . . but if you can't wait, here's my footage. I would have posted it directly, but it's too big for Blogger.
Since TAR isn't the favored child like Survivor (despite more diminishing results), CBS will be running the series from January 6 (next Wednesday) through to February 21, with the final four legs scheduled to go up against the Winter Olympics on NBC. That's the downside. Here's the positive: the networks announce their plans for fall in May. TAR30 ends in February. Should the ratings prove to be significant, the network might go back to airing TAR twice per year. If you're a fan, please spread the word. With no real gimmick, this might be the best time to sell friends,family and strangers on the series. If you never got into it, now would be the best time to start. While I do like to watch the Olympics, the odds of missing something spectacular would not be as great as with the Summer Games. Also, watching this edition of TAR requires a commitment of a mere month-and-a-half. Minimum, I want the ratings to be better than the upcoming "celebrity" edition of Big Brother. TAR might have gotten off-track, but they have yet to cast somebody who's made a living for years as John Devenanzio, a.k.a. "Johnny Bananas," longtime veteran of The Challenge and a major ass. He's rumored to be on that show. Good luck with that.
Once again: tell as many people about The Amazing Race as you can. This is a series that deserves to live and thrive. For those on the fence, I hope this video will change your mind. For the fans . . . I'll be watching with you.