Back in January, we included reality TV warhorses Survivor and The Amazing Race on our list of reality franchises that needed to be benched. At the time, both shows deserved to make that list as they were each coming off career-worst seasons filled with boring characters (Brandon Hantz anybody?), unimaginative challenges (setting up beach umbrellas... really?!) and a general lack of tension. Rather than watch these once-great shows continue to stumble downhill, we felt it best for all concerned that they take a prolonged break and return when they had some fresh ideas up their sleeves. But surprise, surprise: ever since Survivor: One World and the 20th Amazing Race premiered in February, both shows have been back on their game. In fact, we actually find ourselves anticipating -- rather than dreading -- each new episode (for now, at least -- there's still plenty of time life for these seasons to go south, after all). Here are the notable changes we think have improved both shows:
Last night, Expedition Impossible, the latest competition reality show debuted and this one bears some remarkable similarities to The Amazing Race. It's from the mind of Mark Burnett, the reality mega-producer who brought us the granddaddy of competitive reality shows, Survivor. He also brought us Pirate Master, but he'd probably prefer that we forget about that one. Anyway, I was excited because I loved Burnett's early series Eco-Challenge (though the production values lacked some sparkle, the actual physicality of the show was appreciated) and hoped that this would be a modern version of that. In some ways it is, but in other ways, it also liberally borrows from TAR. Here's how to keep these shows straight and figure out which is worth your time if the majority of your life isn't spent watching reality shows like mine is.
It's official: Jeff and Jordan from last summer's Big Brother will be on the upcoming season of The Amazing Race (along with Caitlin Upton, the Miss Teen USA contestant who didn't know why Americans couldn't read maps). Despite the fact that Jordan won BB, these two are an odd choice for TAR since Jordan isn't exactly what you'd call a savvy world traveler, or a very smart person in general. So we're skeptical that they'll make it very far at all (though possibly further than Caitlin) and, much like Romber, it'll be weird to see (minor) celebrities and former reality stars competing against regular folks/aspiring reality stars. If TAR really wants to go that route, why not cast all the teams that way? These would be our dream pairings:
Honestly, I didn't think it could (or should) be done, but someone finally found a way to make the most appalling season of The Amazing Race look halfway decent. So thank you, Great American Road Trip, you've fallen well below the very, very low bar I had set for competitive reality programming. Seriously, I watched Superstars AND America's Got Talent last night and this show was worse than both of them combined, and I pretty much hate both of those shows.
Season 13 of The Amazing Race premieres Sunday, and the Emmys were last Sunday. But in the middle of all of that madness -- just a couple days before the show's sixth Emmy win for best competitive reality programming -- The Amazing Race creator and executive producer Bertram van Munster took time to chat briefly with us about the show, Phil, and all those Emmys.
Oh, and we also talked about Television Without Pity, of course. When asked if he knows about the site, van Munster replied, "Of course I do. Please have mercy on me."
A week where the dads from Teen Mom 3 were largely tolerable (or just not shown) makes us really happy.
Lesson of the week: If you are going to pretend to be someone else online, don't pretend to be a celebrity.
We had to defend people we normally can't stand... we hate when that happens.
Another one bites the dust.
Even at the holidays, people are still terrible.
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