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I really like The Amazing Race. This season though... is doing nothing for me. It's the first season where I've had absolutely no one to barrack for from leg 1. The problem is that they've cast it as an "All Star" season. Then they've applied an extremely loose definition of "All Star". None of the teams have won before. Three of the teams have competed twice before. I was watching the opening and literally going "oh. Them again? Oh God. Not them" for the entire team introduction sequence. Part of the problem is that we had a season with teams who'd previously competed only 6 seasons ago. At least then there were some teams I quite liked (and some I no longer liked by the end of the season.)

I don't know. If you're going to have an "All Star" season, I think you should run it with teams that have actually won, or at least come in the top three.

To be fair to the teams currently competing, there are a few that qualify under that definition. Brendon and Rachel finished 3rd on their original season, Jet and Cord finished 2nd and Margie and Luke 3rd. Flight Time and Big Easy finished 2nd on their second season. There's a few teams in there that finished 4th.

And then there's the teams that finished 8th and 9th for whom the title "All Star" is a freaking joke.

The gender balance is pretty ordinary this season too. There are 4 male:male teams, 5 male:female teams and 2 female:female teams, for an overall cast comprising 13 men and 9 women. Considering some of the really strong female teams that have competed recently that seems a little unbalanced. It would have been even more unbalanced except that one male cast member developed pancreanitis just before the season started and was replaced by a woman. This was another problem - why on earth you'd replace one half of a team instead of the entire team I don't know. As it was the hybrid team didn't know each other at all, and were really uncomfortable to watch as a result. I really hope they don't do that again.

The race course itself... well, it's been a bit haphazhard. The original race had 12 hour pitstops (with a few extended pit stops in there so everyone didn't die of exhaustion.) This race doesn't - the race itself hasn't for a while now. If you're running an "All Star" version though, you'd kind of expect the race to be, well, a bit tougher than your normal course. This course really hasn't been. The first three legs were reasonably close at least, but weren't particularly inspiring and who went out tended to be a matter of luck. The third leg in particular was badly structured, with three teams being stuck on a producer-organised flight two hours behind the leading six teams and with absolutely no bunching or opening hours catch up points.

Compared to some recent series which have had bounce legs in the early legs, or long travel times... well, these legs were OK for a normal season but a bit meh for an "All Star" season. The countries were also a bit disappointing - it went China (Guangzhou), China (Guangzhou), Malaysia (Kota Kinabalu), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Sri Lanka (Colombo-Galle-Colombo), Sri Lanka (rural), Italy (Rome), Italy (rural), Switzerland and now the UK. I don't mind having some double legs in countries, but all of them? Seriously?

Compared to the first non-All Stars (but which had more likeable returning teams) season which went US-Ecuador-Chile-Argentina-Mozambique-Tanzania-Poland-Malaysia-Hong Kong-Macau-Guam-US in 13 legs, this route feels a bit short. Even the more recent "Unfinished Business" season had a course running through 9 countries. Hell, even the most recent season ran through 9 countries.

6 countries... are you serious? Especially when they're spending over half the race in SE Asia where there are a lot of pretty cheap destinations in close proximity to each other.

The main problem is really the casting though. *sigh* I'm not engaged because I don't like any of the teams particularly much. The final four is the worst since the race began. If they've got enough energy to form cliques and bitch, they're not tired enough (obviously).

It's a disappointing season, and I hope it's not the last one - I'd hate it to finish on this bad a note.

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November 2016

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