For a few moments there, I was worried. After the moribund Season 24 of Amazing Race (Amazing Race All-Stars which had one of the dullest finales ever. Yep, I'm talking about you David Copperfield) and the fact CBS had moved Season 25 to Fridays (traditionally the Dead Zone for TV shows), I thought the Amazing Race brand was dead. Well, maybe dying.
Us Canadians have Amazing Race Canada and with Canadians ratings of its race at one third of US ratings (with one-tenth of the population), we're pretty confident that there will more seasons after 2015's Season 3. But this summer, we not only got Amazing Race Canada (a very solid second season), there was the surprise return of Amazing Race Australia. Season 3 of that was Aussies vs Kiwis and it was even much better than Season 2 of Amazing Race Canada. Both had some great locales and great casting, with Australia leading the way in the casting department. I love how some parts of the Australia cast look like the folks I see in my every day rather than models from a fitness catalogue.
So when Season 25 returned, I wondered: would the flagship version regain its mojo? Or would it fade away, ending its run on its silver anniversary. Smartly, the producers made some changes, the Save (jury is still out on that), rule changes on airline booking and the best one of all, turning the final leg(s) into an extended one, sending 4 teams into the finale instead of three.
And this is where we start. Four teams leave Manila with their manila envelope. And boy are the Wrestlers pissed by the arrival of the Scientists. Brooke does not like the new rule and has no trouble expressing her displeasure. I'm wondering where did she get that laptop and what is she doing on it, checking her FB feed? Also, everyone looks a lot fresher than they did from the end of the last episode. There must have been some time between Phil saying "You're still racing" and the arrival at the airport. I would have preferred to have all the teams race to the airport grab whatever flight they can, and zip off to LA, still beat up and sweaty from the previous leg.
Anyway, teams are all on the same flight to LA, the Scientists the first out of the airport to find their Ford Explorer. They are told to find the LA City Hall, that iconic stone tower seen in so many movies and TV shows, go to the film commissioner office and get their filming permit stamped. They were also advised the previous episode that Phil will eliminate one team during this leg.
This is where we separate the men from the boys, or rather the Scientists from the Wrestlers. Amy's obviously got some map reading skills because she easily guides Maya to City Hall. The Wrestlers and the Dentists get completely lost, the Wrestlers melting down because they got bad directions. Brooke blames Robbie for this but he stands his ground. She further complains that if the Scientists had been eliminated they wouldn't be in this position, possibly eliminated by Phil sometime during the leg. That's true, they wouldn't be eliminated, only arrive in third place.
Moving on, the Scientists find someone to give them directions to the Seaside Warehouse. And while they are doing so, Adam and Bethany arrive, get their stamp and drive away. The girls are right behind. Soon the Dentists arrive and are off as well. The Wrestlers are still lost. (Note: I could have some continuity errors but I just drove five hours straight from the mountains). Anyway, the Surfers need to stop to get directions, allowing the Scientists to arrive at the warehouse. It's a Roadblock where one team member must play a stuntman and crash through a three storey window into a foam pit below. I would suggest me taking this on cause I'm more of a physical guy than Gord. He's also older and would probably worry about breaking a hip. He's really tall so it's a big hip.
Maya jumps at the chance as does Adam, once he and Bethany arrive. The Dentists cross a huge bridge instead of making a turn into the warehouse district, forcing them to turn back. Valuable time lost. But makes no diff because the Wrestlers are just arriving at City Hall. And soon get lost on their way to the Warehouse. After a bit of trepidation during training, Maya crashes through the window, commenting how one makes breakaway glass. It's candy (I knew that). But it's just another reason why I really like this team; they aren't afraid of showing their smarts. Nor are they afraid of doing physical stuff.
Next clue is run to the Coast Guard station to participate in a rescue operation. The girls head off but get a bit down the road when they realize Maya has to take off her gear from the stunt before heading out. Ouch, forgot to read the clue. Not so smart, especially this late in the game when every second counts. So they head back and the Surfers pass them on the run. As they get back, Jim finishes his stunt. Fortunately for the girls, he can't find the clue in the satchel. This gives Maya and Amy time to stay ahead of them and get to the Coast Guard station. By this time, though, The Surfers are way out, rescue the dummy and are heading back. Their next clue is to get to some container yard.
At this moment, I'm thinking the Dentists would be able to pass the Scientists in the rescue. But the girls are much better swimmers than the Dentists. Even confident Jim says he's only able to swim enough to not drown. The Scientists, especially Amy, crushes the task ahead of the Dentists. They are off to the container lot. Meanwhile, back at the "movie" set, the Wrestlers are watching someone else jump out of the window. And just as it happens, Phil comes out of nowhere and eliminates them. The Wrestlers weren't a bad team per se. They had some funny moments, especially Robbie, and their misleading of the Scientists showed that they were smarter than they led on. And despite their obvious physicality, they had trouble with physical tasks. That was due to Brooke's constant complaining. Didn't matter what task she was doing or how long she was doing, it was the end of the world. That got tiring after awhile.
So the Surfers arrive at the container lot and it's another Roadblock that the non-stuntman must do. It's a bit confusing but teams must find containers with the name of the cities they visited during race, then remember a number that corresponds to their colour, remember all those numbers and then come back and write the numbers down in the order the cities were visited in the race. Phew, glad I did the stuntman task cause Gord's a lot better at memory. Even so, this task just takes patience something both of us have since we have kids. I would enjoy doing it but I could do it. Bethany has to do the task, as does Amy and Misti. I like Amy because unlike Brooke, she just gets on with the task, not complaining even though she's got an injured leg.
Time passes, as it does, and in the end, Amy gets her numbers done and listed correctly. They are off to some lighthouse for the mat. Bethany and Misti have their numbers but both make mistakes on their order. Misti gets it on her next try but Bethany has to try again. She does and all three teams are racing to the big mat and a million bucks. Some nice editing to add to the drama but it's pretty obvious that the Scientists are first. And they win the million bucks. Which is fantastic cause in the beginning, I picked these guys as a dark horse, a smart team that wasn't overly dramatic (save from some screams of joy at the mat) but got the job done. And even though my daughter was a big fan of Bethany, she was pleased that Amy and Maya won. Like the Olympians in Amazing Race Canada, they are a great role model for young girls but in a very different, and even better way. That's because Amy and Maya aren't elite athletes, or celebrities they make movies about. They are the girls and women my daughter sees everyday, like her friends, her teachers, her mom. I love it when teams Amy and Maya win. They are average folks who will enjoy having an extra million dollars but will pretty much go back their regular lives after the race. The Dentists are second, and the Surfers are third.
And with the end of Season 25, and the airing of Amazing Race Canada Season 2 and Amazing Race Australia Season 3, it was a perfect trifecta of Amazing Race for fans around the world. Hopefully the trend with continue. I know Amazing Race Canada is casting for Season 3 and like I said earlier, with huge ratings in Canada, there is a good chance for at least Season 4, maybe 5. As for Down Under, not sure, but Season 3 was a surprise so who knows? Although I worry about Season 26 of the US version. I'm not sure a Dating Game version is the right way to go. It's good to have a couple of dating couples per season but every team? And teams that have just met? That kind of dating couple dynamic can oversaturate you after awhile, which is why it's great to have other team dynamics like Best Friends, married couple, Parent/Siblings, and all the other combinations. We here at Gord and Wayne HQ have adopted a wait and see attitude. We also may cover Season 26 the same way we cover Amazing Race Canada, with eliminated team interviews and the such. Inquiries have been made to CBS for this kind of access and we'll see what happens.
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Merry Christmas to all and have a Happy New Year.