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10-Year Rewatch: TAR14: Can't We Skip Past This One?


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#1

TheGrimRecapper

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Posted Jul 24, 2011 @ 11:41 PM

Oh, dear. Between the annoyingly boring and/or boringly annoying cast (about half of which were brought back for TAR18 and mercifully eliminated early), and the producers apparently deciding that "cringe value" was the best way of making the tasks -- including multiple Austrian themed tasks in Germany, an offensive-either-way Detour between mocking vampires and mocking the Roma people in Transylvania, the Russian underpants run, a Detour ridiculously weighted to force people to beg for money on the streets of India, the second "people in South-East Asia have bad dental hygiene" task in as many seasons, two "Hey! Chinese is different to English! Isn't that Kee-ray-zee?!" tasks in three legs, and the whole nature of the opera make-up Detour -- seem cultural, and the repetitive route and tasks -- the third "eat gross local food" Road Block in Beijing in as many attempts, multiple tasks in Siberia designed only to point out that Siberia Is Cold, Y'all, and the cavalcade of drunken locals laughing, and... this was a flop for the ages.

Still? It was the last season (to date) to have won the Emmy, so at least it's got that going for it.

#2

enlightenedbum

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Posted Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:39 AM

The locals were the third best thing about this season. Second best was Amanda in a leotard. Best was the cheese task in the first leg.

Otherwise, basically a flop.

#3

Arlo Rowan

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Posted Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:56 AM

Oh, dear, indeed. I was supposed to start this one.

That said, I actually didn't find this season as bad. Sure, the route and tasks were definitely huge marks against it. Absolutely. Three legs in China, which made it pretty much tailor-made for one team to slip into the F3? Running in underwear in Siberia? One team pretty much knocked out in India just because their cabbie needed to stop for gas? A mostly taxi-heavy race just like this season's predecessor? Not really good things.

But I had few problems with the cast. Mainly because this season did have one thing going for it. Only two YDCs were cast, one annoying (Preston & Jennifer) and one pleasant (Amanda & Kris) . . . and as a big surprise, they were both eliminated early, Preston & Jennifer leaving first and Amanda & Kris leaving fourth! Actually, all four romantically-involved couples (Preston & Jennifer, Steve & Linda, Brad & Victoria, and Amanda & Kris) were the first four teams to go, leaving five teams of relatives (Mel & Mike, Mark & Michael, Kisha & Jen, Margie & Luke, and Tammy & Victor) and two all-female friends teams (Christie & Jodi and Jaime & Cara) as the F7. A refreshing change of pace.

Unfortunately, the editing was just as bad this season as it was in the previous one. While it started out fairly even-handed in the first five episodes, the final seven episodes pretty much contained the all-too-forced winners' edit of Tammy & Victor (their win honestly wouldn't have bugged me as much if it hadn't started so early or been so forced). I mean, it's hard telling between them and Nick & Starr for the most forced, obvious winners in terms of editing. I probably give the Jih siblings the edge, though, because when nearly every team in the F7 has their edit basically torn to shreds just to prop up your team to make you look like the most palatable ones (even early favorites Margie & Luke got their edit torn down just to make Tammy & Victor look better), that's forced to the max. It stopped me from liking them as much as I did at the outset of the season, to be honest. It's actually sad how many people here and on other boards fell for their edit, though.

But there were other teams to like in the cast. I adored Kisha & Jen despite how borderline-invisible they were. Kisha's weird laugh and Jen's bitchfaces were fun to watch. I also liked Mel & Mike (at least before Mel started his excessive pity parties over messing up tasks) and Christie & Jodi (I still remember how shocked I was when they won the first Siberia leg). I liked Mark & Michael at first until Mark turned into a major jerkface and Michael just let him.

I'm just gonna throw it out there. I also liked Jaime & Cara. Mainly for Jaime. I never minded her blowups at locals before, IMO, a lot of them deserved it. (Yeah, there were some who didn't, of course, but all of their cabbies certainly did.) I guess I sympathized because I'd be treating locals the exact same way if I ran the race. The EXACT same way. Her local abuse never bothered me at all.

And at least for most of the season, I liked Margie & Luke. There. I said it, to go against the obvious grain coming this way. Granted, by the end, I only liked Margie, but I liked Luke just fine for the first two-thirds of the race. (Wasn't till Guilen, China, that I gave up on him.) I know Luke was the team's main focus, but Margie I'd always thought pulled her weight a lot more than Luke did.

As for the early boots . . . I liked Brad & Victoria quite a bit and wish they'd stuck around longer. While I was okay with Amanda & Kris, Amanda was one of those borderline-useless girlfriends, so it was good to see her and Kris go early so that could be nipped in the bud. Same for Preston & Jennifer (minus me liking them), as it was clear that Jennifer would be doing the same with Preston. And I liked Steve, but Linda was a dead weight whiner. The most dead weight female racer ever? Not sure, but probably one of them.

The two good things about the route were the new countries: Romania and Siberia. But not much else. India and China in the same season? Not really cool at all.

In the end, I really only came away liking the cast. Everything else was either bad or "meh." Not one of my bottom five seasons, but more in the middle ten. Upper middle due to the cast, though. 7/10.

#4

Vyk

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Posted Jul 25, 2011 @ 1:06 AM

It should also be noted that this was the first season to use the new format of the show. The new opening sequence, the revamped theme music, and the updated title cards for the tasks and teams. I admit it did feel fresh, but it also kinda killed the original feeling of urgency the first thirteen seasons of the show evoked.

#5

TheGrimRecapper

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Posted Jul 25, 2011 @ 1:53 AM

The two good things about the route were the new countries: Romania and Siberia. But not much else. India and China in the same season? Not really cool at all.


Siberia's part of Russia, which in addition to being overused in general was part of the previous season's route.

#6

Pooki

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Posted Jul 26, 2011 @ 4:08 AM

Although it definitely had its faults, I enjoyed this race. There were racers who definitely weren't race fit (Linda, Mel, Jennifer), or were douchebags (the stunt brothers, Preston, Jaime, and arguably Luke), bickering, an overdose of laughing locals, and a few possibly culturally insensitive tasks, but it still kept me interested throughout.

Best was the cheese task in the first leg.


That task was hilarious. I totally didn't blame the locals for cracking up at that one. I know I was.

I'm just gonna throw it out there. I also liked Jaime & Cara. Mainly for Jaime. I never minded her blowups at locals before, IMO, a lot of them deserved it. (Yeah, there were some who didn't, of course, but all of their cabbies certainly did.) I guess I sympathized because I'd be treating locals the exact same way if I ran the race. The EXACT same way. Her local abuse never bothered me at all.


Seriously? I guess this is where MMV, because I thought Jaime was totally out of line in almost every case, and if anyone treated me like she treated them, I think I'd have at worst punched them in the face, and at best given them a torrent of verbal abuse. I loved the taxi despatcher in Hawaii who gave her a massive dose of karma by basically telling her to shove it where the sun don't shine.

I don't think a team has gone so quickly from like to hate for me as Mama Bear Margie and Princess Luke. I admired Margie's toughness still, but Luke got on my last nerve.

I liked the stewardesses a lot, and was sorry they didn't get further. They didn't have quite the smarts of say Nat & Kat, or the hustle of Brooke & Claire for instance, but for me they were one of the more likeable all-female teams there have been.

Actually, all four romantically-involved couples... were the first four teams to go



I was really happy Preston & Jennifer were the first to be eliminated - carrying your useless girlfriend in a footrace to the mat, in the first leg? Really? One of the most deserved first boots ever for me.

There was definitely a surplus of teams from this season who came back for Unfinished Business, including Mel & Mike, who really shouldn't have returned - as nice as they are as people, they weren't cut out for the race. I'm kind of disappointed Brad & Victoria didn't get asked back though, if there had to be a lot of teams from this season. They seemed at the beginning like one of the only older teams who had a real chance, and if that flight gamble hadn't happened I think they would have got a lot further. It would have been good to see them get a second chance.

Tammy & Victor were kind of the obvious winners, but I was definitely rooting for them over Margie & Luke and Jaime & Cara.

#7

NotPatrick

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Posted Jul 26, 2011 @ 4:24 AM

Outside of Margie & Luke, the odd late-game spark from Kisha & Jen, the occasional bit of comic relief from Tammy & Victor's more endearingly sheltered and effete musings ("How can nobody have heard of Chekov?!?!?!", "the only thing I've driven before is my Mercedes", "oh, I went here for summer camp!", *I can't accept my sister is right so I'm just going to sit on the floor and cry* "YAY! TRANNIES!" *tries to invent a run for men that is half-run half-vogue*) and maybe...whichever flight attendant it was that was built like an Outback Steakhouse, I'd say the cast was a near total bust. Even with Margie & Luke it's the precipitous drop from Leg 1 heroes to constantly tantrumming villains that makes them interesting, and it sucks up an awful lot of screen-time from others to do it. All the dating couples apart from Steve & Linda are anonymous, and Steve & Linda are too painfully out of their depth from the off to be really enjoyable. Mel & Mike are too self-aware by halves, Mark & Michael are sinister and unpleasant without any pay-off, and Jamie & Cara have no real personality outside of Jamie hating Indians and the Chinese and taxi drivers. It's no surprise that when half the cast were brought back for All-Stars they were all pretty much busts again, especially with Margie & Luke being robbed of their story-arc from the first run.

I'm not one who really pays close attention to the route (I think I'm one of the few who doesn't give a stuff how many new countries they visit on a particular route) but even I can tell this one was bad. Apart from the first and last legs everything just seems really murky and dingy and yes, far too long was spent in China.

Edited by NotPatrick, Jul 26, 2011 @ 4:26 AM.


#8

Arlo Rowan

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Posted Jul 26, 2011 @ 6:39 AM

Pooki
Seriously? I guess this is where MMV, because I thought Jaime was totally out of line in almost every case, and if anyone treated me like she treated them, I think I'd have at worst punched them in the face, and at best given them a torrent of verbal abuse.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'd never like to get spoken to like that, and I didn't like it when she did it to non-cabbie locals. But the cabbies did deserve it. Nearly every one lied to her and Cara and said they knew where they were going and totally turned out not to. I'd be pissed at them, too. Hence why I'd act the exact same way. Unlike her, I'd have stayed the same way in Unfinished Business. (She curbed things a bit, but I wouldn't have.)

I'd be a much-maligned contestant, basically. But if I got the cash in the end, I wouldn't care.

I definitely think Cara was a saint to have dealt with her as well as she did, though. I can even see why they were asked back. Jaime was very much loved at other places. (I was surprised, too.)

#9

graytex

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Posted Aug 23, 2011 @ 10:12 PM

This was the season where I really noticed TPTB had started dumbing down the route, and my guess is to save money or to aide in bunching. Somewhere around this time we also lost the "arrived at 8:00am, leave at 8:00pm" 12 hour pitstops. I still love my show but I hate how scripted it feels. And do we need 3 episodes in 1 country? I think not. That said, Guilin China looks like one of the most beautiful places in the world.

I also like Jaime & Cara, but mainly for Cara. She is the most zen racer ever and seems like an awesome person. I hope she ended up passing her bar exam!

#10

The Australian

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Posted Mar 8, 2012 @ 9:38 AM

Gee, this is a strange season to watch. More so than almost any of the others, it starts out as one thing and becomes completely another by the end.

On a positive note, the refresh for the titles and graphics works extremely well. Let's face it, they had barely changed since TAR2 a whole seven years earlier - and while the revamped theme music does seem a little anaemic in comparison to the sweeping majesty of the original, I do like the little touch of updating the team intros to feature scenes from the race as the season goes along. And the split screen editing adds a little more spice than we had seen previously.

The opening five legs in Europe are very strong and hold out much promise. While I'm not such a huge fan of the cheese carrying task in Switzerland as others, it certainly gets us off to a rollicking start and for the most part this continues though Austria, Romania and Russia.

The elimination order is brilliant here, too - annoying bickering dating couple out first, unfit cannon fodder out second, very likeable older team making silly blunder out third (not so good), and then bland dating couple (the kind who usually long outstay their welcome) out fourth. Deaf TAR superfan and his mother are competent and likeable, as are Mike & Mel and Jodi & Christie. All is going well.

And then...as soon as we hit the second Siberian leg, the entire season slowly starts to skid...until it ultimately goes completely off the rails. In part this is because once we get to India, everything afterwards seems very old hat and derivative of much better legs from the past. Three legs straight in China is overkill in anyone's book, and even the finale in Hawaii has a dull "seen it all before" quality.

Matters are not helped when great teams Mike & Mel and Jodi & Christie get eliminated successively through sheer bad luck, leaving us with a final five who all grow increasingly unlikeable. Mark & Michael are interesting antiheroes, but Mark's obsession with impeding the other teams in some way becomes quite irritating until TPTB see fit to impose all manner of hitherto unexplained penalties on them. Even their elimination irks me, because it manages to keep Jen & Kisha in the game despite some of the sloppiest racing ever in Bangkok.

They may have improved markedly for TAR18, but in this case Jen & Kisha don't display their best side. They have huge navigational issues, Jen's breakdown in Beijing seems out of all proportion to the stakes involved (fatigued or otherwise), while their elimination is editing to be about the most demeaning boot ever.

The likeable Cara gets completely smothered by Jaime's bitchy attitude to every non-English speaking person they meet, which sours everything about them. It's one time you actually enjoy seeing a team fall hopelessly behind in a finale, because of the schadenfreude, and that despatcher's line "I am not your personal concierge!" is one of the very best put-downs in the show's history.

While Margie gets nothing but admiration from me for the heaviest workload ever endured by any racer, her trigger-happy mama bear instinct does her no favours as Luke descends from plucky underdog to unbearable tantrum thrower at the speed of light. He undoes all his early good work by continually collapsing at the slightest hint of pressure and picking a very overstated fight with Jen & Kisha which swallows an entire episode. Indeed, as soon as he begins that final Roadblock you instinctively know it will all end in tears.

And that leaves Victor & Tammy - OK people but winners by default, really. His strange perky voice wears on you quickly, and while their dominance in the final stages is something they didn't really have any control over, seeing them lead everyone else around is hardly scintillating viewing.

So overall, TAR14 promises a lot but fails to deliver on just about every score. 6/10.

#11

SnideAsides

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Posted Mar 10, 2012 @ 6:04 AM

So overall, TAR14 promises a lot but fails to deliver on just about every score. 6/10.


I think the other thing that saps away all the energy is that it feels like so many of the tasks are mocking the local cultures rather than celebrating it. Yes, the cheese (which we later learned was Italian for no particular reason) was entertaining but after that you have nothing cultural in Germany, the dual offensive stereotypes of Romania's "vampires versus gypsies" Detour, the mail-order bride detour, the underpants run, begging for money in a fairly poor city in India (which isn't helped by being paired for the Detour with an overly physical needle-in-a-haystack task right after an overly physical Road Block), the questionable animal cruelty in Thailand, a rickshaw race, Tammy's "mai tai trannies", not one but two challenges specifically revolving around the fact that Chinese people write and speak differently than Anglophones (complete with requisite "Isn't that kee-razy?!?" editing, especially in the second), the first of the "endure this for X minutes" filler tasks, an obnoxious tie-in to Michael Phelps (plus a Pit Stop in the same episode at a very questionable site given said "Olympics, eee!" link), the opera makeup Detour, and the luau task straight out of a 1960's book of stereotypes. Considering ONE task like these is often enough to sully the memory of an otherwise fairly decent season (panto cow?), it's amazing that this season almost survives so many.

Edited by SnideAsides, Mar 10, 2012 @ 6:06 AM.


#12

starrynight71

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 5:58 AM

I looked through this one and it wasn't the tasks that annoyed me so much as some of the cast members. The good thing is most of them are not completely forgetable, but some potentially more likeable ones were eliminated early. I think it just showed why a single u-turn is just so unfair, it virtually eliminates someone without giving them a chance.

Luke was just another case of someone put on the race to 'educate' the audience about something, how patronising. Even though we were supposed to like him from the start I can't say that I did. He just became more insufferable, I felt a bit sorry for the black couple who seemed to be painted as the villains by the others.

Victor was incredibly annoying in Romania, and it made me wonder if with his arrogance he would ever learn much during the short time of this race anyway. I liked Tammy though, and ultimately they weren't bad winners having been quite competitive. I actually didn't mind Cara and Jaime that much even if she got frustrated as it was funny at times. In the herb shop she went too far, but I still felt sympathy when even on the last day they had a taxi driver who had no idea where he was going. By the final 4 it was a case of anyone but Luke and Marge for me.

And the stunt guys were rather ridiculous in their efforts to get ahead, and I wasn't sorry to see them go. I wonder though if selling your belongings is worse than begging for money (encouraged in earlier series).

Edited by starrynight71, Apr 11, 2012 @ 1:18 PM.


#13

TDWT Kristen

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 4:07 PM

starrynight71
I felt a bit sorry for the black couple

Kisha & Jen were sisters, not a couple.

#14

starrynight71

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 4:47 PM

Yeh I didn't mean in a relationship sense, just as in 2 people.

#15

fredfunk

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 5:57 PM

Yeh I didn't mean in a relationship sense, just as in 2 people.


Completely understood what you meant starrynight71

#16

soapygirl

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Posted May 4, 2012 @ 7:25 PM

Considering this was the first season I watched, it's amazing I kept going. Although this season did spoil me with it's early exit of the YDC that always seem to end up getting on my nerves. Hell Jennifer cost their team on the first leg because she wanted a piggyback ride to the mat. Talk about being a literal deadweight.

Mike and Mark were so incompetent at being the race villains. It was hilarious to see them keep thinking how devious they could be and then Phil would always clue them in. They were so damn clueless. Also remember when they thought the Thai ladyboys were actually ladies?

#17

Jyn

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Posted May 18, 2012 @ 11:54 PM

Victor was incredibly annoying in Romania, and it made me wonder if with his arrogance he would ever learn much during the short time of this race anyway.

Victor didn't learn a damn thing. According to Tammy, he went right back to the way he'd been in Romania after the race. I'd been positive that Victor's "improved" attitude was a put-on for the cameras (and as a lawyer, of course he'd know how to present himself well), but that all but confirmed it to me.