PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

'The Amazing Race' Season 17 Premiere

You'd think that with 16 previous seasons of The Amazing Race to watch, new team members would know to learn how to drive a stick shift before starting the race.

The Amazing Race

Director: Bertrand von Munster
Subtitle: Season 17 Premiere
Network: CBS
Airtime: Sundays, 8pm ET
Cast: Phil Keoghan
Trailer: http://www.cbs.com/primetime/amazing_race/video/?pid=lhdmNFVzu2zfhCkfE8_Zl7d_ehtfhHte&vs=homepage&play=true
Air date: 2010-09-26
Website
Amazon

The Amazing Race returns Sunday, 26 September. Over the past 16 years, the show has tweaked details, but rarely strayed from the basic blueprint. At the opening of this edition, host Phil Keoghan introduces a new wrinkle to the game. This season, though he predictably oversells the new Express Pass, it does have the potential to help a team in trouble. The Pass can be used at any point during the first eight legs of the race to allow a team to skip a challenge and move on. Keoghan provides extra motivation to the 11 teams by offering the Pass as a reward to the winners of the first leg of the race.

And with that, the teams are off to make their way to Boston's Logan Airport and fly to London. This time out, the groups include the usual assortment of family members, dating and married couples, and odd pairings. The most interesting team on paper may be Andie and Jenna, a mother-daughter team. Andie gave Jenna up for adoption as an infant and they've only recently been reunited. They're using the race as a way to get to know each other and spend time together. Using a TV show to "get to know" someone sounds like a bad idea -- and in The Amazing Race has led teams to implode after a few legs, but there's always the chance this version will work out.

Most of the teams have little trouble getting to the airport. Ron and Tony, best friends from California, boast about their compass-reading skills, then use one to find their way to the airport. It seems a little premature to be relying on a compass to make the under-an-hour drive from Gloucester to the airport, but it tells us something about the team's preparation and their inclination to brag about it. On the other hand, Connor and Jonathan, this season's designated nerd team (they're a cappella singers from Princeton), manage to get hopelessly lost.

Once the teams get to London, all of the hallmarks that make The Amazing Race so consistently entertaining show up. Some contestants show shocking ignorance. Vicki, who along with her partner Nick is worried the other teams will underestimate them because of their multiple tattoos, shows that she might have other things to worry about. "This is the first time I've ever even heard of Stonehedge, and then uh, I found out that it was a bunch of rocks!" she says incredulously. Another team wastes time attempting to retrieve a flag from the battlements of a castle because they think that the word "battlements" refers to a person.

In one incident during the season premiere, a team fails at driving a manual transmission, leaving their car stalled in the middle of a busy street. You'd think that with 16 seasons to watch, new team members would know to learn how to drive a stick shift before starting the race. But something like this happens every season. And what would an edition of The Amazing Race be without arrogance and a short-tempered alpha male? The arrogance this year comes courtesy of Thomas, who informs the camera during a confessional that he believes his Notre Dame education gives him a big advantage on the race.

Our short-tempered "villain" is Chad, who starts shouting and ranting almost as soon as the plane touches down in England and doesn't let up for the rest of the episode. Unlike past female partners of Amazing Race alpha males, though, Chad's teammate Stephanie isn't about to be a doormat. She deals with him by staying calm and firmly telling him that his explosions of anger aren't helping them at all.

Still, it's pretty amusing to see the pair struggle mightily on a river crossing challenge that requires patience and balance. Forced to use tiny, precarious boats and an overhead rope, the teams all face a steep learning curve, repeatedly swamping their boats and having to start over. The episode's other big challenge involves using a ballista to shoot watermelons at a suit of armor, attempting to knock it over. As far as challenges go, this one is pretty mundane except for the incident that CBS released on tape weeks ago to promote the show. Home shopping host Claire somehow manages to get her watermelon stuck in the oversized slingshot, so that instead of shooting outwards, it comes out in the opposite direction and slams into her face, exploding on impact. That she manages to finish the challenge despite being in obvious pain is impressive, but I would be surprised if the unnerving now doesn't affect her team in future episodes.

The Amazing Race typically features interesting contestants from a variety of backgrounds and thrown into a high-pressure, high stakes race set in unfamiliar environments. This opening leg of Season 17 feels like a warm-up for difficulties to come. The British locals speak English and there are no devilish taxi drivers to deal with. But the extended, 90-minute episode contains the usual amount of air travel and challenges found in a normal 60-minute episode. The show uses the extra time to introduce the teams, giving the audience an opportunity to "get to know" most of them. As always, viewers are bound to pick favorites and antagonists, and so have reasons to watch again.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.