After not starting it last week, I thought I'd get a headstart on starting it this week so I could use the title was hoping to use. (And I lay claim to TAR6 and TAR7's titles, as well. I have some good ones in mind.)
So for starters, I'd like to bring up the end of TheAustralian's post from TAR4's Rewatch thread:
And here we are. TAR5 really, really needed to be extra special after TAR's whole year off in order to save the show from eminent cancellation. I mean, let's face it. Three of the first four seasons had ended with the same, expected, buff alpha-male team victory, one of the many things that was killing it.
I do remember how the black and white fade out from the final mat seemed at the time to signal the death throes of the show - where only something special seemed to be needed to save things...
But this season already got off to a good start by, for once, NOT casting an alpha-male team. (They did still cast four alpha-couples, but this was before casting so many couples got so bad, so many people could let it slide.) We instead got eleven teams who all had some pretty decent stories, even the early-ousted ones.
While they only lasted for one leg, Dennis & Erika had a pretty good "nice guys finish last" storyline. We didn't see too much of them on their first and only leg, but they seemed nice and inoffensive enough. Plus, they're one of few teams with a unique relationship tag. Don't think we'll ever see "Once Engaged" ever again. Still, sometimes I wonder how things might've been different had Dennis not given up their cab to Colin & Christie the way he did. . . .
Alison & Donny, the original Team Big Brother, were just so unpleasant as people, and to some (though honestly, not to me), it was awful to see their first-leg win, even though, admittedly, they earned it since they at least knew how to read their clue at the blue and white hotel, unlike Chip & Kim and Kami & Karli, both teams who arrived at that first Pit Stop before them. Still, their second-leg self-destruction, courtesy of mainly Donny's dumb idea to do Perro over Tango before switching way late in the game, was pretty good TV. Especially since it brought about Alison's so-hilarious-it-was-wrong "Mine keep having sex!"
Jim & Marsha went from clear underdogs due to Jim busting his knee open right at the starting line and very nearly getting eliminated on leg one to a nice recovery on leg two to getting booted due to bad flight arrangements on leg three. I honestly would've liked to have seen them go farther than they actually did. Especially since their elimination came at the expense of seeing fucking Marshall & Lance stick around. Also, I'd have liked to have seen a feud between them and Linda & Karen over the currency problem they experienced.
Bob & Joyce were just so cute. I liked seeing the first older couple who was actually dating rather than married. I liked their "second chance at love" storyline, too. Too bad that bad flight arrangements killed them in Russia. After three pretty solid finishes on the first three legs, they actually looked like they could keep up with all the younger teams pretty well. They still might not have made the F3 had the bad flight not killed them, but they might've had at least a good shot at it.
Marshall & Lance . . . ugh. Horrible. Annoying. And not even in an entertaining way. From the "useless foreigners" line in Uruguay to the drive-by "BITCH!" comment to Mirna (she was a bitch, but that's another story, and the bad letter they'd get from them six seasons later more or less hinted that they never mended fences), I just wanted them off my screen. The first middle-aged guy team who were actually "bad" guys, for once after Kevin & Drew, Ken & Gerard, and Jon & Al had all been fairly likable. Their ending because they basically quit was a joy to see.
Charla & Mirna . . . well, to say they were polarizing was the understatement to end all understatements! Some loved them, some hated them. Personally, I enjoyed them. Sure, they (especially Mirna) had entitlement issues, but they had loads of entertaining moments, such as Mirna's Phil love (creepy sometimes, but it showed Mirna's love of the show), Mirna actually wanting to stay for another round of roulette at the first Detour, but then bolting immediately once Charla said the Pit Stop was coming up next, Charla being waist-deep in the foam at the foam club while everyone else had been either ankle-deep or knee-deep, Mirna thinking she'd have to stick her hand in a cow's ass, Charla's "I got electrocuted!", Charla killing the eating tasks, and basically nearly every time they worked the airports as well as they did. Mirna was especially great at that. Probably the best there's ever been! I fully believe they could've made the F3, or at least knocked Linda & Karen out of the F4, if not for that horrible flight delay en route to Tanzania.
Kami & Karli were the requisite "mean girl" team of the season, but even for the "mean girl" team, they were pretty tame compared to quite a few of the ones that'd follow in the later seasons. (Debbie & Bianca, Danielle & Dani, TAR10 Dustin & Kandice, which I'm more than sure was just an edit, and Shana & Jennifer, anyone?) Plus, their constant moments of cluelessness were so damn hilarious. Missing the clue box at the pier several times, one of those times when they walked right by it a good few times, was the first of many! Swimming to the third Pit Stop was great, too, especially when Phil basically told them it wasn't necessary. I don't know. I'm actually one of few who liked them and really didn't think they were bad people like many here thought they were at the time the season was airing. And despite their rivalry with Chip & Kim, I liked that they were genuinely happy for them when they won.
Linda & Karen set a fantastic example to middle-aged mothers. It was absolutely amazing seeing how far they got. Almost everyone was expecting them out in the first three to four legs, and instead, they kept right on trucking, all the way to the F4! So many odds against them, and yet, they managed to beat out so many teams who, on paper, should've beaten them instead. I think Linda was probably the stronger member, but Karen held her own, too. If only Linda had done that ascender, though.
And now, we get to the not-so-good part of this.
Brandon & Nicole . . . well, I never personally disliked them for the early half of the race. But when the latter half cropped up, both started getting really annoying. Especially with all of Brandon's God mentions and claims that He'd help them win, plus Nicole's whining (which reached its climax in Calgary with her epically awful bike meltdown). Miss Alli's recap summed it up -- she's probably not a bad person, but after that meltdown, being pleased with a win by them (her, in particular), was pretty much not an option. Also, Brandon did eleven Roadblocks to Nicole's one. That was some lazy racing on her part.
Colin & Christie . . . well, there's no denying what an effective team they were to win six legs. Colin in particular can lay claim to the title of one of the best individual racers ever. But I'll be honest in saying I didn't particularly like them all that much. In fact, I hated them for their bickering, Colin's assholishness, and Christie's uselessness. (One Roadblock she did, and she blew it but good.) They certainly had the memorably "My ox is BROKEN!" meltdown, but really, I'm probably one of few who was upset that the Yield and their Philippines meltdown didn't kill them at the F4. If it had, it might've brought us a way more interesting F3 in that there'd have truly no telling which way it would've gone.
And finally, Chip & Kim. Now, these were some class acts. (Well, on the race. Their Battle of the Network Reality Stars appearance told a different story.) I think this was probably the first season that told a true underdog story. Well, second, after Teri & Ian's two seasons prior. They started out as easy cannon fodder, yet actually learned from their early mistakes, rose up to win three legs, and then won their fourth and final leg on the one that counted. Chip had some great one-liners, and Kim was a nice, calm center to balance him out. I just wish she'd have done more Roadblocks. I mean, there were more than enough that would've been easy for her to do. Still, their victory was probably the first one that actually got me close to tearing up. (The first one I actually did tear up for would come two seasons ago.)
Aside from the casting, there were other good things. The editing returned to three-dimensional portrayals of teams again after TAR4 failed miserably at it. We got to see enough of everybody again (though a bit more of Bob & Joyce might've been a bit better), which was good.
The route was also very good. We had several new countries, from Uruguay to Argentina to Russia to Egypt to Tanzania to the UAE to New Zealand to the Philippines . . . it was a fantastic route! (And was Canada new, too? I forget.) Oh, and the first (and, as of now, only) season to visit all six habitable continents!
So . . . yeah. I'm gonna say it. This season definitely did save the show. In fact, it ushered in the three seasons known as TAR's "Golden Age," and for that, I'd give it a 10/10. But what about all of you?