Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Redefining the old "scavenger hunt" format as a flashy, fantabulous TV reality series, The Amazing Race combined the exotic backdrops and cutthroat competition common to such similar programs as Survivor with the larger than life, movie-blockbuster techniques popularized by the series' executive producer, Jerry Bruckheimer. During each of the series' 13-episode "seasons," 11 or 12 teams, each team comprised of two people involved in a close relationship -- husband and wife, father and son, twin siblings, gay lovers, business partners, etc. -- competed for a one-million-dollar prize by literally traveling round the world and back again. Beginning the race at a familiar United States landmark with a limited amount of money and supplies, and with a handful of directions and "clues," the teams faced and generally overcame an exhaustive array of mental and (especially) physical challenges (bungee jumping, mountain climbing, speed skating), all the while remaining within their meager budgets. In the course of the race, the contestants followed various yellow-and-white "Route Markers" (yellow-and-red in all seasons after the first), some of these giving the players a lady-or-the-tiger choice of two different directions. Every time the racers arrived in a different country or continent, this marked the end of a "segment," whereupon the participants congregated at a "Pit Stop" -- which sometimes marked the moment that a team would be eliminated from the competition. Each successive leg of the race included a "Fast Forward," allowing a team to head directly to the next Pit Stop without performing the required tasks (since each team was allowed but one Fast Forward, this privilege had to be carefully considered). Also included was the occasional "Roadblock," a self-explanatory challenge which only one member of a team was allowed to overcome; also featured were those moments in which one team was allowed to "Yield" to another, which usually constituted a strategic move for the yielding team. Not surprisingly, throughout the action the morale between the various teammates waxed and waned, sometimes deteriorating completely! Filmed in such far-flung locales as Africa, India, France, Scandinavia, South America, and the Far East, The Amazing Race was mildly successful when it debuted over the CBS network on September 5, 2001; despite being a critical favorite from the start, the show did not become hugely popular until several seasons into its run. Certainly aiding in its popularity was the series' Emmy wins for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program two years in a row in 2003 and 2004. Created by Elise Doganieri and Bert Van Munster, The Amazing Race was hosted by Phil Keoghan.
around-the-world, challenge, race [competition], transcontinental