10-Year Rewatch: TAR6: When Did the Race Turn into Couples' Counseling?
Posted May 29, 2011 @ 12:16 AM
There were some good things about this season.
The route was actually fairly interesting, starting in Europe, leaving it to go to Africa, going back to Europe, going back to Africa, and then finally hitting Asia. Very zigzaggy, and I loved it.
There were some pretty cool tasks, too, like the Ice Climb/Ice Search Detour in Iceland, the Viking games in Norway, the IKEA visit in Sweden, the Beers vs. Brats Detour in Germany, and even the blood-drinking Fast Forward in Hungary. Also, the deep sea diving suit Fast Forward in Corsica that brought about a lot of laughs.
There were a few casting gems, too. Avi & Joe made for some funny first-outs. Lena & Kristy were potentially awesome underdogs. Don & Mary Jean provided the role of the sweet, pleasant older couple. Gus & Hera started out irksome (mainly due to Gus in Iceland). Lori & Bolo had moments of dumbness, but were one of the few bickering couples to actually be entertaining in their bickering. And, of course, the saving grace of the season, Kris & Jon, the sweetest (if kind of bland) couple ever to race.
Probably the most welcome introduction, though, was the rule about evenly splitting Roadblocks. After the disasters that were Kim, Christie, and Nicole from TAR5, the show got busy fixing up the Roadblock rule and made sure every team member didn't do more than six (or, in later seasons, seven, if necessary). This finally made the womenfolk get to work at actually contributing to their teams' efforts.
Of course, there were also a lot of bad things, too.
First and foremost, TOO MUCH BUNCHING. Particularly on the Hungary and Sri Lanka legs. Gus & Hera and Lori & Bolo, respectively, might've been saved if not for those.
Some tasks were just unbelievable. The most egregious of these being the infamous hay bales in Sweden. I was just floored when they repeated the task nine seasons later. And there was also the tense key and lock search in China that took out Hayden & Aaron so close to the F3.
Then, there were some casting flops. Too many couples, and most of them were either actors, models, or both. To make matters worse, through possibly the most impossible odds ever, these young couples ended up making up the entire F6! Was this bad? Oh, yeah. Especially when the majority of them had screeching, nagging harpies that screamed at their men. We were treated to weeks and weeks of the likes of Freddy & Kendra, Adam & Rebecca, Hayden & Aaron, and Jonathan & Victoria. Sometimes, Lori & Bolo, as well. Kris & Jon were truly the one island of sanity in that bunch.
We also had the awful shoving from Jonathan at the Berlin Pit Stop, and on the leg before that, Kendra's horrible "breeding" comment that'd forever land her in the annals of the biggest ugly Americans ever to race. And of course, there was Adam, one of the biggest male wusses ever to be on the show.
And, of course, the ending. I'm sure many hearts broke when the very lovely Kris & Jon, after getting unjustly screwed over and lied to by an overly-biased ticket agent, ended up fifteen minutes behind the truly odious Freddy & Kendra, where they stayed the entire final leg, all the way to the finish line. I should know. My heart was one of them.
So on the whole, for a season part of the show's "Golden Age," it was all right enough. Locations and route were fine, but there were some major casting problems in this one. I'd personally rate it a 7/10. Maybe an 8/10.
Posted May 29, 2011 @ 3:45 AM
For starters, the route is a very good one - even if the European locales don't seem particularly exotic, we do get two excellent excursions to Africa and worthwhile visits to Sri Lanka and a different China to that we saw in TAR1.
And I stand by my belief that the individual tasks and challenges are right up there with the best the show has ever had - down to little things like the fact that the teams have to drive unreliable, erratic Trabants in Hungary or the devilish lock Roadblock on the penultimate leg. I'm not normally a fan of needle/haystack tasks, but the effect of that one is particularly amusing (unlike the hay bales in Sweden, the only real stupid task we have if you don't count eating a pizza as the final task).
Where the season falls down is the casting and planning. While bunching points had become a familiar part of the show by this time, TAR6 seemed to put one in every single leg; often more than one, and with ridiculous hours of operation to boot. This has a very disruptive effect on the flow of the race, and the situation is not helped by the fact that this season sees the beginning of airport tactics fading from importance, with teams largely on the same flights everywhere.
And then, the cast. Or perhaps the order in which teams are eliminated, because the first five teams to go are sadly the best ones. Although the bickering and other antics of Lori & Bolo provide entertainment value, the final six here are largely bad.
Unlike 99% of TAR fans, I'm not a huge fan of Kris & Jon. They are clearly lovely people and good racers, but it seems the need to have "white hats" to counteract "black hat" Jonathan crushed any real personality out of their portrayal and they drift through the race like bland models in a toothpaste commercial. Freddy & Kendra are hideous snobs (both of them!), and Aaron & Hayden are blighted by her growing shrewishness, which reaches its horrific apogee in China where she ends up quitting.
Adam & Rebecca start out annoying and mostly stay that way, although somehow you do warm to them enough to root for them at the end. The moment where Rebecca finally finds the right lock just after Hayden quits is an immensely satisfying moment, and although they were clearly the worst team to ever reach the final three to date I certainly wouldn't have been averse to a shock victory.
And then there's Jonathan. Oh dear. My main problem with him is that from his first appearance to his last, there is not a single moment that does not feel like watching a performance rather than a real person. I can't take his berations of Victoria seriously because it all feels so false - even if perhaps she wasn't in on the act. And at times it's actually difficult to feel for her, either.
So in the end I can only give this season 7.5/10 - with the .5 likely being for the immortal "Welcome to Budapest...HUN-gary!!!!"...
Posted May 29, 2011 @ 10:59 AM
I had no issues with the casting, and couldn't care less about whether someone was an actor or model or other profession. Overall, I have much more of an issue with casting teams from other CBS shows. I appreciated that this season probably had the most physically fit cast overall, if memory serves, as I have zero interest in teams in which one or both racers clearly aren't fit (i.e. Gus and Hera). Also, the varying dynamics of the couples was kind of interesting to watch. The character of Jonathan is certainly a blight, but that has more to do with HIM that the casting itself. I would have preferred Colin and Christie on this season, if only to see how they would have held up under the split roadblock rule. Oh, and to see how Colin competed with several other comparably fit men. I can only imagine the trainwrecky result.
While Kendra wasn't my favorite person, I didn't hate her. The girl was clearly ignorant, but unlike other women of couply teams, she didn't appear to be dead weight, despite the snooty attitude. I had no issues with Freddy, either. And while I do oh-so-wish that Kris and Jon had won, ultimately, I think it was the lame final task that made it so unsatisfying, rather than the fact it was Freddy and Kendra who won. If there had actually been a head-to-head battle between the final two, a Freddy and Kendra victory wouldn't have left such a bad taste in my mouth.
Never been a fan of bunching, but on the other hand, I remember thinking the tension was ratcheted up due to the constant "resets."
The most memorable moment for me is the penultimate leg where Hayden and Aaron quit and were thus eliminated. The utter WTF? faces of (particularly) Adam and Rebecca, and Phil barely containing a pokerface, when Aaron proposed to Hayden mirrored my own WTF-ness and was sooooo hilarious. I still chuckle about that one. Good times.
Edited by redrobin27, May 29, 2011 @ 11:02 AM.
Posted May 29, 2011 @ 8:33 PM
I never got the problem with this. There've been lots of teams both before this season and after who went really far in spite of being not in the best of shape. Kevin & Drew, Tara & Wil, Ken & Gerard, and Linda & Karen all did so before this season, and teams like Meredith & Gretchen, Fran & Barry, Lyn & Karlyn, Charla & Mirna (All-Stars incarnation), Ronald & Christina, Nicolas & Donald, Toni & Dallas, Gary & Matt, and Louie & Michael all did so afterwards. Plus, Chip & Kim and Uchenna & Joyce are two of the least fit teams this show's seen, but despite that, they won.
I appreciated that this season probably had the most physically fit cast overall, if memory serves, as I have zero interest in teams in which one or both racers clearly aren't fit (i.e. Gus and Hera).
Physicality isn't the be-all, end-all of the race, and it never has been.
Edited by Vyk, May 31, 2011 @ 7:40 PM.
Posted May 29, 2011 @ 11:34 PM
A good many, dare I say most, of the teams you mentioned aren't even on my radar in terms of "clearly aren't fit" (not to mention they're not in season 6). Nowhere in my post did I mention the best of shape, or a requirement to be the pinnacle of physical fitness. And to be clear, I'm not equating fit, in this context, with young(er), zero percent body fat and body of a model (I assume that's the point in listing teams from other seasons). I don't expect teams to be triathletes or anything - far from it. But I take no pleasure in watching racers/teams clearly a struggle to do even basic physical things, say short-distance jogging or running, especially when their team member can, and it sort of holds the team back. In this season, that was Gus.
All that said, I DO think that when several teams are more physically fit, it makes the race more competitive and interesting for me to watch. Sometimes, I get the sense that physically fit and mentally fit are deemed mutually exclusive in TAR-world, and I disagree. TAR has always been a mostly physical race, which is fine by me. If I was interested in a mostly mental show, I'd have enjoyed Treasure Hunters (unfortunately, I found it rather dull).
Posted May 30, 2011 @ 3:22 PM
Also, whoever designed this route, take your mid-leg bunching, and stick it where the sun don't shine. It's REALLY annoying when roadblocks and detours become utterly pointless because of hours of operation, or when people who screw up horribly are saved because of this bunching (Meredith and Maria got saved by it multiple times after reaching several route markers literally HOURS after everyone else. And let's not forget Lori/Bolo getting to the internet cafe about 10 hours after everyone else, yet getting saved by bunching).
And finally, those needle/haystack tasks REALLY suck. There is NO EXCUSE for a team getting screwed over by Hay Bales of Death after gaining a FIVE HOUR LEAD from the tasks involving skill (yeah, I'm pretty sure Lena/Kristy were at least five hours ahead of Lori/Bolo and Don/MJ judging from next leg's departure times). And NEVER put hours of operation in these types of tasks, or not put an equalizer afterwards (when it's not the teams' fault when they fall behind, I'm fine with equalizers). Those 3000 locks basically made the race unwinnable for 2 teams.
Edited by Zach808, May 30, 2011 @ 3:29 PM.
Posted May 31, 2011 @ 7:02 PM
The other two dating couples were fine, although I would have liked someone more normal and likeable around at the end to counter-balance their cartoonishness. Lori & Bolo in particular were about 70% hilarious and 30% kind of oddly bitter and unpleasant to watch. Adam and Rebecca I have no problem with, and Rebecca's jealousy of every other couple's more functional relationship is one of the few stabs the show made to show actual inter-team relationships and opinions amongst the top set. I remember vaguely rooting for them at the end, especially when she totally gave up on tolerating Adam and seemed to be blasted a good 50% of the time, but they're still a second-tier team at best.
I think the early boots are a mite over-rated. I never got the Avi & Joe fuss (people who self-describe as "hating everyone" always put me off), Meredith & Maria are utterly self-defeating, as were Don & Mary-Jean and Lena & Kirsty however likeable they are. Gus & Hera are the one team I think were likable and I can see making a go of getting further, and one of the last truly interesting parent-child teams before the tidal wave of beige ones that starts in a few series time.
The course feels like a decent set of locations, the order of which was determined by a chimpanzee with a crayon, and a decent set of tasks, made entirely irrelevant by the constant stopping for no fucking reason. The very first TBC leg is anti-climactic to say the least, the Yield-Turn (which was an integral part of what made the end of TAR 5 exciting) is revealed in its true form as merely a catalyst for boring tit-for-tat bullshit, and the whole thing is really the first season to just feel churned out on a factory line, and oh my god eat a pizza?!
Definitely down there amongst the worst seasons for me.
Posted May 31, 2011 @ 10:02 PM
What I disliked: Jonathan. The never-ending bunching. Jonathan. The theory that we only were interested in photogenic but bicker-prone 20-something young dating couples. (Seriously, who watched season one and thought "what we need is more Lenny and Karyn!") Jonathan. The fact that most legs boiled down to how well a team performed the final task and sprinted to the finish line. Jonathan. The fact that frickin' Kendra won over Jon and Kris. Jonathan.
The biggest frustration to me, more than the oddly cartoonish casting, was that the pacing seemed off. Too much bunching, not enough reward for ability to navigate or perform consistently, it was just leg after leg after leg of artificial bunching, task performance, sprint to the pit stop without screwing anything up. A couple of legs like that per season are fun because of the potential for photo finishes, but this season those legs were the norm.
What I liked: There were some genuinely diabolical tasks (the spicy soup, even though it turned into a vomitorium, the keys, the hay bales...) that were memorable even if they wouldn't have been pleasant to perform. There were a lot of genuinely competitive teams... any of the final six save for Adam and Rebecca could easily have won. The locations were actually pretty cool, and they did a good job of mixing self-navigation legs with airport skills legs. Jon and Kris mostly rocked. Oh, and Victoria finally filed for divorce.
Other thoughts: I think Kris and Jon were saved from being a bland-but-tolerated team like, say, Meghan and Cheyne or TK and Rachel by the sheer fact that the other endgame teams were SO hard to like, and having one couple that seemed both likeable and functional made them shining stars by comparison. On rewatching, I didn't dislike Kendra as much as I had remembered. She was pretty game with completing the tasks and challenges without complaining, she was a supportive teammate to her fiance.... if you can overlook the princess aspect where Kendra did not cope well with being in a developing country. Jonathan is still a waste of oxygen, though.
Posted Jun 1, 2011 @ 5:06 AM
There were a lot of genuinely competitive teams... any of the final six save for Adam and Rebecca could easily have won.
I disagree that they weren't as good as the others. In a race where the basic goal until the final leg is "don't be last at one of these eight specific points", they managed to avoid getting any clue (either by arriving at a location or finishing a task) in last place until Sri Lanka. That was the tenth leg of the race (assuming you count the TBC as two separate legs with no actual Pit Stop, like the TBCs this season were), which far beats anyone else in the season (the next closest were Jonathan/Victoria, who lasted into Leg 8), and puts them in the top dozen or so teams in Amazing Race history -- and if you ignore the recent seasons because the bunch-free legs are making it harder for positions to change, they're in the Top 5.
I really liked the little running theme they tried with the season of having random Olympic-themed locations and tasks. Obviously they couldn't have actually gone to Greece because the Games were held at the same time as the race and spoilers would have been EVERYWHERE, but I think they did pretty good -- the zipline and bungy were both at Olympic stadiums, then you've got "skiing", cycling, water polo, track running, swimming, and (arguably) rowing. All they really needed was some horses somewhere (which could easily have replaced the haybales as a Swedish task, given Stockholm hosted the 1956 equestrian events due to Australia's tight quarantine laws at the time), and shooting (well, they DID finish in Chicago). It's one of only two times they've deliberately tried to have a recurring theme -- the other was "animal tasks" in TAR3 for that final task -- and it's the sort of thing they should really do more often.
Posted Jun 1, 2011 @ 3:10 PM
Season six, to me, had the potential to be a great season that went horribly awry. I think that the location choices were actually really good... the first jaunt into Scandanavia was good, the Hungary and Sri Lanka legs were memorable, and I think the Senegal and Ethiopia legs were some of the best and most scenic African legs we've seen. During season 5, the flight-booking prowess of Colin and Christie (and, to be fair, Charla and Mirna) reawakened the producers' fear that a season could end like the first season (with two teams pulling a full day ahead. I feel that there was way too much bunching to overcompensate, to the point where the ability to self-navigate was almost a non-factor (being reserved for the non-elimination legs) and the ability to book better flights was only a factor in the final leg. Problems in executing the final task of the leg were the cause of the majority of the eliminations for that reason.
The casting, too, went a bit astray. They were trying to use the same idea of casting "big personalities" like season 5, but instead we got a lot of bickering couples, most of which had some connection to the entertainment industry. Think about what was so captivating about the endgame casts of season 1, or season 3. That, and I think the pressure to have more women winning the race caused them to eschew teams of two men in favor of teams of athletic young couples. Remember, at this point, they had only had two women win the race in five seasons.... both of whom had only completed one Roadblock apiece throughout their entire season... and one of which was widely panned as being an undeserving winner. Casting athletic women like Kris, Hayden, Rebecca, Hera, Lori, and Kendra I think was their attempt to counterbalance that perception. Ultimately, though.... this cast came across as a bit too cartoonish and too bickery.
Posted Jun 2, 2011 @ 9:04 PM
Posted Nov 15, 2011 @ 2:45 AM
I know that I've said it on these boards, but I'll repeat it for anybody just checking in . . . I firmly believe all the crap fans had to endure was due to Chip & Kim winning TAR5. Since we had fan favorites triumph over assholes*, the balance had to be restored. So we wound up with the nicer teams getting eliminated right off the bat, teams with sucky attitudes thrive, and fucking Jonathan & Victoria. In my world, in the week after we saw her meltdown and his smacking her backpack, the episode would have started with Jonathan sporting a black eye, while Phil's hand being noticeably bandaged. I forget why Hayden & Aaron sucked, mostly because of wuss boy Adam and his castrating shrew girlfriend Rebecca, who might have been as much a "girlfriend" as Danielle on TAR11. And Freddy & Kendra? Uggggggh. Shit, seeing the Racers have fun with the kids in Africa last week, did anybody else mentally insert Kendra, having her whine about how they keep breeding and breeding?
Any season can suck eggs, but this one punched us in the balls at the very end. Kris & Jon were the only bearable team left in the finale. They came across as an experiment to cross John Vito & Jill with Colin & Christie, while eliminating their weaknesses (bad navigating and treating people like shit, respectively). You know the scene in Back To The Future Part II, where Doc Brown is going on about how he and Marty have to back to 1955 to prevent Biff from getting the almanac from 2015? Marty's all, "Yeah, but what if we don't succeed?" Doc Brown looked at him sternly and hissed, "We must succeed!!!" That's how I felt about Kris & Jon. They won the penultimate leg and looked awesome doing it, nailed a Detour choice that looked like shit going in, but fucking Freddy & Kendra (the number of K's varies with her) snuck past them, endured a crappy deep dish pizza-eating challenge, and got a million bucks they didn't deserve. Meanwhile, we had Kris & Jon hugging and kissing as they waited for the train to pass. If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, not much will. They were awesome, awesome people. Thankfully, we had to wait a mere three weeks before getting TAR7. Even with friggin' Ramber looming, we needed to get the rancid taste of TAR6 out of our mouths.
PS: Freddy & Kendra? Didn't show up for TARCon. So they were assholes and cowards in the end, because they didn't want to take the heat. Crap, we let Jonathan live, so we weren't going to hurt those two nitwits.
*Okay, you can make the case for Chris & Alex rallying from behind to beat Tara & Wil. Crap, that was the most thrilling finale in TAR history. But fan favorite status got locked up early by Oswald & Danny. Just my humble opinion.
Posted Nov 15, 2011 @ 3:55 AM
In my world, in the week after we saw her meltdown and his smacking her backpack, the episode would have started with Jonathan sporting a black eye, while Phil's hand being noticeably bandaged.
You're not far off - Phil was sporting a broken rib during the season and noticeably winced when Lori squeezed the stuffing out of him at the Pit Stop after The Shove.
Posted Nov 15, 2011 @ 12:33 PM
Lantern7, I tried to notify you several times via PM since I knew you'd want to weigh in on the seasons. But your inbox was always full.
I didn't know about the "10-Year Rewatch."
Posted Nov 18, 2011 @ 4:12 PM
How bad was this season? We had a married pair of wrestlers who probably played bad guys in their matches . . . we found out that Lori got Bolo to fake a mental condition to get good airplane seats . . . and they were the good guys in comparison to most of the field. Would it have been as awful for them to have won instead of Freddy & Kendra, even though Lori tried to take a chunk out of Phil's neck?
Edited to correct spelling. Also, to make everybody remember Bolo trying to count, and the time he attempted to pronounce the capital of Ethiopa. Good times.
Edited by Lantern7, Nov 18, 2011 @ 4:13 PM.
Posted Apr 15, 2012 @ 4:00 PM
I think it started going off-course in a major way in episode 5, boring detours and perhaps the biggest Amazing Race cliche of them all...the black contestant travelling to Africa and finding his 'homeland' while being 'moved emotionally' by the experience, with manipulative music hammering home the heavy handed message.
Edited by starrynight71, Apr 15, 2012 @ 4:35 PM.
Posted Dec 29, 2012 @ 5:27 PM
I had originally thought that this was the worst season of TAR's "golden age" (seasons 1-7), and while it might still be true (hard for me to rank any of the other ones lower than it, but I'm going to rewatch 7 soon), its still a great season, and a lot better than many of the more recent dumbed down races.
As has been mentioned, the two things that nearly ruined this season were the bunching and the casting. Having 4 young white dating teams is one thing, but having them be the entire F4 is another. Lori and Bolo were the only really entertaining team left of the F6. Their bickering was at least fun to watch, and often hilarious.
I was surprised on rewatching how little Kris and Jon affected me. They are clearly lovely people, but had they not been in a season of so much bickering, I don't think we'd care about them nearly as much. They are practically invisible for much of the show, and I didn't really connect with them on any level. Jonathan and Victoria are obviously a horrible casting choice, but if you overlook all the phony performances, you can see that there is genuinely some love there, and their few genuine moments I really enjoy (mainly the Senegal leg with him dishing out candy and such). And the recap show does have one completely hilarious moment IMO, of Jonathan grabbing the bull in the ice bar and snapping off the horns accidentally. It's kind of horrible to watch, but completely hilarious.
Rebecca I feel is among the more competent female racers the show has ever had, and I did generally enjoy watching her enthusiasm. Adam not so much. And its odd that in a season of so much bunching, their was no bunching on the final leg, so they were never able to recover from taking too long at the lock/key task.
It's a shame that the 3 same-sex teams, who were probably the most interesting teams in the season along with Gus/Hera, were the first 3 out. Avi and Joe would have been a lot of fun to watch, as well as the girl teams.
As for the route and design, obviously the bunching was horrible. Lena and Kristy were nearly eliminated by one tiny wrong turn in leg 2 because they had been bunched 3 times in the leg before the detour. The Hungary leg 7 is a complete joke with Lori and Bolo finishing first (I realize that was a logistics issue as there was originally a pitstop planned before they found out begging wasn't an option in Hungary). Speaking of which, episode 7 is pretty horrible overall and edited really lazily, with Gus and Hera kind of invisible for most of the episode despite being in last place. They mention what a perfectly horrible day they had to Phil, but other than Hera getting whacked in the noggin by the gate, we don't really know what else happened. Bunching also eliminated Lori and Bolo, as it should have been Adam and Rebecca eliminated there.
However, take away the bunching, and this is a superbly designed, and brutal, race. Driving almost the entire length of Iceland in leg 1 was awesome. The Sri Lanka and Xi'an legs were also brutally designed, with Sri Lanka featuring tasks and markers always 50ish miles away while mixing up the transportation requirements between buses/trains, tuk-tuks, etc., and Xi'an having really tough language barriers despite long distances to travel. And the world landmarks this season were numerous: The Terra Cotta Warrior Museum is one of the single greatest locations the show has been to. Throw in an emotional visit to the Slave House gate of no return, the Berlin Wall, Napoleon's birthplace, and a great visit to Ethiopia. All great stuff. The IKEA detour is an all-time classic, the Norway viking games/roller-skiing is also pretty great. The Senegal leg is fantastic, as well as the Berlin leg. The one area the design falters is the final city, with the deep dish pizza eating being the final task. Just a poor choice. I'm thinking that something else was edited out along the way, as when I freeze-framed the clue they read at the water tower, it said the one about going to Gino's East. But when Adam and Rebecca read it, they show them saying "You're in front of the great Water Tower" or whatever, then dub them in saying Go to Gino's East, making me think something else was omitted along the way. I'd be curious to know what that was.
Overall, a great season that was hindered by way too much bunching, a handful of poor casting choices, and the bad luck of all the interesting teams leaving early. I'll give it an 8/10.
And I think my personal highlight of the season, and what I always remember most about it, as the constant and hilarious mispronunciations of landmarks. Particularly in Norway with the pitstop, and Berlin with almost every destination. The little montage of all the teams screwing up saying the name of the church they need to go go is one of my all-time favorite moments.
Posted Apr 22, 2013 @ 7:05 PM
This season has its problems, but I still prefer it to most of the post-Family Edition era. It has a lot of genuinely memorable moments, for good and for bad.