dave and rachel from TAR20Right after the season began for The Amazing Race 20, I broke down the teams based on very initial observations.  Not always an easy task from one episode, but I did my best.  However, now that we got to know the contestants a little better, it’s time to do a midseason check-up on them…

Final 3

1. Dave and Rachel

Early Prediction: Final 5
Mid-season grade: A

This is the power couple of the race by far. Dave is very strict and stern, sometimes to an obnoxious level, but you can’t argue with results.  5 first place finishes, and 2 second including winning the express pass, and beating the Jersey Boys at the fast forward.  In addition to playing strong, they’re playing with class including passing up the chance to U-Turn people while in the lead, which is generally a nono in The Amazing Race.  The only thing that is keeping them from an A+ grade is the tension between the couple at times, it could eventually come back to bite them the longer this race plays out.

Final Prediction: While strong enough to win with ease, it seems The Amazing Race gods love to slap the front-runners at the end of the race and send them packing with a bunch of vacations while an underdog wins.   I see them choking on the final leg and losing.

2. Art and J.J.

Early Prediction: Quick elimination
Mid-Season grade: B+

Easily the biggest surprise from my initial picks.  I felt they were dopes who were going to be way too sure of themselves and get eliminated by some stupid mistake, but much to my surprise, they’re still in, and doing well.  Not only have they finished first place 3 times, but they have yet to finish outside the top 3. That’s an incredible feat in this race, and that is their primary grade right there.  The reason they’re not #1 and given an A+ is their attitude, it stinks. Probably the most unlikable team in the race from their blind hatred of Brendan and Rachel to pissing and moaning that Dave didn’t use the U-Turn.    Great team, but painful to watch.

Final Predication: I think they’ll be in the final 3 and quite possibly could win it all, as sad as that is.

3. Brendon and Rachel

Early Prediction: Final 5
Mid-Season grade: C+

While not able to be as annoying as she is on Big Brother, Rachel has still found plenty of airtime that includes her traditional whining and complaining.  What’s keeping them in the race, however, is the same personality that whines over and over.  Rachel is probably as fierce a competitor as there is on reality TV right now, and that’s the only thing putting them in my final 3 prediction.

Final Prediction: Like I said above, they should be final 3 unless something bad happens, but will be lucky to finish higher than 3rd on that leg.

Top 5

4. Vanessa and Ralph
Early Prediction: Top 5
Mid-Season grade: C+

The biggest thing stopping them from finishing in the final 3 is the competitive nature of Brendon and Rachel.  Both teams are pretty identical all the way down to the annoying female racer with big fake boobs.

Final Prediction: 4th place

5. Mark and Bopper
Early Prediction: Early elimination
Mid-Season grade:

This team has come a long way from my early predictions, and even less annoying than I thought they would be.  What keeps this team out of the final 5 is that they’re badly beat up.  Bopper has a bad knee, and Mark apparently gets super motion sickness that never helps his challenges.

Final Prediction: 5th place



Seeing as the season premiere for The Amazing Race 20 is already over, I guess the time for bios is gone, but what I can do is break down the teams based on what I watched Sunday night.   Let’s go in order of how they finished….

Dave and Rachel

dave and rachel from TAR20I just can’t get over how this is clearly going to be Maci Bookout in 10 years with whatever boyfriend she has at the time.  I think every M/F team has a legitimate shot at winning, and being in the army, this team could go deep into the game.

Brendan and Rachel

The token “famous” people of the season.  Brendan and Rachel are best known for Big Brother, but they’re taking the Jeff/Jordan, Rob/Amber route and trying their luck on The Amazing Race.  Jeff and Jordan were booted pretty early, and that doesn’t shock me. To put it nicely, as far as TAR goes, Jordan makes a good Big Brother houseguest (meaning: She’s not good at doing anything bit sitting around a house all summer).   Rob and Amber finished 2nd because they’re both fierce competitors, and that’s around the place I can see Brendan and Rachel finishing.  Easily top 5, maybe even winning it.   Rachel may come off as whiny, but once you begin a competition, she is scary to watch.

Art and JJ

Honestly, I don’t even remember these two being on the show this week. That’s the impact they made.  Great, border patrol agents.   Well, if The Amazing Race has a competition to catch people crossing the border, Art and JJ may have a chance.  Otherwise, I expect the first ‘mental’ competition to quickly put these two in last place.

The rest after the jump

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the amazing race 20 mark and bopperBopper (the guy on the left) has so much swag I can’t even stand it.  I mean first he runs around with the name bopper, how cool is that?   Then he’s rocking the shit out of his Kentucky shirt, and even has matching shoes.  Pure badass.

Mark and Bopper’s offiical bios are after the jump:

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the amazing race season 20Meet Dave and Rachel, a married couple from Wisconsin. He’s a 33 year old Army Officer, and she’s a 30 year old Project Manager (and kind of looks like an older Maci Bookout from Teen Mom).  Their official biography is after the jump:

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This fall’s Direct TV schedule is full of entertaining possibilities, as many shows enjoy new premieres or continuations. This is a consistent aspect of the fall season, and has fans of all sorts of different genres very excited for the months to come. In particular, the reality tv schedule for this fall is quite extensive, and includes a number of different programs for people to keep an eye on. So, with this in mind, here are a few words on some of the biggest reality shows going on this fall.

o The new season of Dancing With The Stars debuted in late September, and promises to offer more of the same for its fans this season. This fall’s lineup of stars features Chaz Bono, Kristin Cavallari, and US Soccer star Hope Solo, among others, and should be just as much fun as people have come to expect from the series.

o On September 21st, Fox brought new Simon Cowell reality talent show The X-Factor to American television for the first time. The structure and idea of this show are extremely similar to American Idol, which helped to turn Cowell into a television superstar, and many are curious to see how closely the shows compare – and which is better.

o The Amazing Race came back for a 19th time on September 25th, and really, the fact that this marks the 19th run says it all. This series continues to gather and entertain its followers, and looks to continue for some time to come.

o Some were surprised to hear about, on September 28th, the beginning of The Real World San Diego 2. This show is almost unique in how long it has managed to stay successful on MTV, which tends to allow many of its programs to come and go over the course of a few years. However, The Real World hasn’t changed, and is back in San Diego for a second time.

o Continuing the trend/genre of reality tv shows that follow celebrities and their home lives, Gene Simmons Family Jewels premiered on October 4th, and should be interesting to follow. This show combines a rock star of previous generations with an audience (the celebrity reality tv audience) of primarily younger people.

These are just a few of the literally dozens of reality shows that have premiered or continued this fall season. If you are a fan of this type of programming, you should definitely look up a full list of premieres, just to be sure that you are not missing out on something that sounds particularly interesting or entertaining to you. You may realize just how many options there are out there when it comes to reality television.

the amazing race 19It should have been a pretty big clue that on the night of “The Amazing Race 19” premiere, I had a stomach bug and felt worse when I tried to watch it.  Coincidence?  At the time I felt so, but after watching both episodes this season, I’m beginning to think otherwise.

After the initial stomach clue, I probably should have simply turned off the show when 5 minutes in, Phil was trying to show off his trademark eyebrow lift for a few solid seconds. Has the show stooped to the point where the host is trying to be “known” for something?  Despite the cheesy factor, I continued to watch, and was shocked how challenging he made the first puzzle seem.   He said some shit like (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Go find an umbrella, figure out the letters up top mean such and such thing, compare it to the umbrella, find the right one, then decipher that shit out so you can then re-arrange the letters to get your next destination

However, what Phil should have said was “Run up, grab and umbrella and stand in line while I tell you if it’s the right one or not.  When you find the right one, run to your car and I’ll tell you exactly where you’re going”  Great.  We go from what sounds to be a challenging puzzle to some sort of guessing game.  Great way to start off the season.  Oh, and for kickers, the unlucky ones who pick out their umbrella last will be subject to a new thing called a Hazard (basically a different name for a speed bump).  Sweet.

We're smart!

One of the biggest surprises happened in a long time, and the show (almost) had nothing to do with it.  Promptly after boasting how smart they were, one of the Vegas showgirls dropped her passport at a gas station, nearly putting their race to an end before they could even board the airplane.  We’ve seen lost passports before, but I don’t recall a time that a team had a brain fart this costly before even leaving the United States.  Thanks to some fake twitter detectives (*cough* production), the girls were called over the loud speakers at the airport and told some guys found it and brought it there.   Sure, I believe the crew was really going to leave a passport on the ground at some random gas station and not doing anything about it.

Sure, it would have sucked for the super smart showgirls, but come on, stay out of it.  I know you didn’t want to lose the eye candy before the show really began, but you didn’t have to make it so obvious that you stepped in and helped.

The first episode finished with “Ma and Pa” finishing very dead last by a long shot, so they were sent home, right?  Wrong!  Week 1 and it’s already a non-elimination leg.  This naturally means they’re at a disadvantage, right?  Wrong again, my friends.  The first 15 or so minutes of episode 2 was spent allowing every team to catch up at the airport, then all hop on the same train together.

Seriously?  The only “race” part of the show consists of getting lucky on the taxi that’s planted at every airport for them. Between the luck of the taxi driver, the relative ease and sometimes luck of competitions, the show has really taken a downward turn over the past few seasons.  It’s basically just a traveling competition show now.

To top it off, the “game changer” last night was the fine print at one challenge where teams had to give the orphanage ALL their money and not just the money earned from the detour.   If you missed it, and most did, you had to walk back and turn in all the money.  This completely shook up the rankings, and paired with the double elimination week made the first real eviction basically all about who can pay attention to details of one clue over a duration of two episodes.

I’m going to keep watching to see if the show picks up, and mostly because I started liking and rooting for the snowboarders.  Hopefully this season isn’t a disappointment, but so far it’s off to a slow start.

The amazing race 18 cast listA good way for me to decide how I felt about a show is how I’m feeling towards the end of an episode, or a season.   If it’s a horrible show, I usually struggle to make it through episodes, and that is a sign when it’s time to stop watching it entirely.   There have been times when the episodes have a lot of enjoyable moments, but when you look at the way it was all put together in a season long arc, it’s still possible to have a lousy season despite enjoyable moments.

That’s how I feel about The Amazing Race 18

The race started off with some decent potential, a bunch of “all-stars” coming back for a second chance at the game.  As I stated in my original post, they threw a lot of good, well liked teams together for this race, but was that a bad thing?  Thinking back at the cast, there were no clear cut fan favorites, and no “villains” stopping those favorites from winning.  Every team started off with likable qualities, even the teams we barely knew, like Amanda and Kris.    Going through the race, it was only after certain people started growing really annoying did I find myself really rooting against anyone, and it was usually for silly reasons like Ron saying dumb things, Kent acting like a baby, or Zev gradually growing more annoying as the season progressed.  Even those people were paired with very likable people like Justin, Vyxsin, and Christina which in a way offset their behaviors.   The same can be said about Big Easy acting like a dick at times, with Flight Time being the mature teammate (referring to the chocolate gnome challenge).

Not only did they feature those people, then they had some real neutral teams that could have been dropped off without nobody even noticing.  The cheerleaders, Amanda and Kris, and even the winners, LaKisha and Jen were fairly dull to watch.     Reality shows generally have a group of neutral people to offset the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’, but in a cast with generally all good people, there was almost nothing to offset which gave them just an ‘extra’ vibe.

With the casting aside, then you had to deal with the show itself, which scored some pretty low marks for me this year.  Challenges were extremely simple for the most part, where nearly every team finished them in the order they arrived, giving fewer opportunities for people to pass others.  It basically made it a game to try and score the most competent taxi driver who can get you to the next destination quicker than the other teams.  Look at the screw job Mallory and Gary got last night because their driver sucked.   The underwater challenge, walking across the ocean, the dry dock, building the trailer home, and even the bike ride were all very straight forward challenges where only the unplanned nature made them moderately difficult.   There was absolutely no chance for a team to catch up on the challenges, it was all essentially out of their hands last night.

That’s how the entire season was.  With the exception of a few pretty challenging puzzles (putting the dinosaur together for one), the entire season was very straight forward and it took teams getting unlucky like requiring Zev to dance during road blocks the ability to pass others.     While some were physically exhausting (digging in the snow for a body), again they were just straight forward and were even given tools to find the body quickly. Sso it was just a matter of who can dig faster, and whether or not you had a partner working against you, like a Zev pushing snow back in as Justin was digging them out.

I don’t want to spend the whole article bashing The Amazing Race,  like I said, individual episodes were fun to watch at times, and had quite a few enjoyable moments, but as a whole I think this season failed largely due to a horrible casting selection, and some of the easiest challenges I’ve seen to date making it more of The Amazing Cab Ride than The Amazing Race.

Hopefully next year will be better, but there is no word yet on The Amazing Rae 19.  I’ll be sure to post about it if I hear anything.

What did you guys think of this season?

With the race not stopping for their normal break last week, the flow had more of the ‘amazing’ feel you’d expect for something called “The Amazing Race”, and it was refreshing to see.  Often times they tried to make a pretty stale leg of a race seem exciting by switching back and forth between teams real quick while playing fast music, but the excitement was always a bit lost when you see the teams hanging around an airport getting caught up and chatting until their next flight.

Glad to see he was feeling better later in race

While all that is still happening, adding the new twist of putting back to back legs in this year definitely made the opener far more exciting than it’s been for many seasons now.  Racers were clearly working up a sweat, as evidence on the cheerleaders shirts, oh and Mike nearly dying on the bus.  That was a pretty scary scene, and it was good to see him look much better later on in the episode.

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Sorry for the late post with this, I completely forgot to add the gallery from week 1!

Gallery is after the jump!

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The 18th season of The Amazing Race kicked off tonight, and this one is called “Unfinished Business” due to all the returning cast members either being close to winning but falling short,  leaving in heartbreaking fashion (U-Turns, etc),  or simply just being a fan favorite I’d guess.   I covered our list of teams here, along with what seasons they came from, and noticed something major, out of the eleven teams racing, almost half of them came from season 14.  Would knowing each other from past seasons help or hurt the teams?  Which teams are going to suffer the same heart break they suffered in the past?  How many times will Mallory call from help from above?  Those questions and more will be answered this season on The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business.

Not only are former racers back, but our very anti-climactic “Express Pass” has also returned, hopefully with a little more excitement than last season when it went quietly with no real impact on the race sometime in the middle of the season.    For those who don’t know, the Express Pass is given out to the winner of the first leg of the race, and it’s a pass that allows a team to skip a challenge of their choosing whenever they want.    Pretty nice in theory, but in play it’ll likely just be used when one team gets in a panic and thinks they may finish last, but didn’t realize they were in the middle of the pack anyway and were not going home.

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