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Saving The Amazing Raceby Jason Borelli -- 09/09/2003
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The forbidden question was on everybody’s tongue on a warm Thursday night: was this truly the end? At the Q Lounge in New York City, I attended TARCon, a gathering for the finale of The Amazing Race thrown by posters from Television Without Pity. We hobnobbed with Racers past and met those who ran in the latest season - from Debra & Steve Carmody, the married couple who were the first to fall, to Reichen Lehmkuhl & Chip Arndt, the winners of $1 million. That’s me with them in the photo. Is it bad that I still don’t know which one is which? I have the same problem with the Clowns and the Supremes/Falconettes. But the morning after, we fans woke up to two sobering facts:
It’s a depressing thought. In the ever-expanding, ever-mutating reality genre, few shows carve a niche for themselves. The Real World is still the senior representative, allowing viewers to become voyeurs in the lives of the young and the sexy. Big Brother is summer’s guilty pleasure. American Idol is the show of choice of the young - a supersized Star Search for a new generation. (And even Star Search itself tried to get in on the act. - Assistant Editor) Survivor is the main event - the show most synonymous with reality television. And The Amazing Race? In my opinion, it’s the best damn genre show, period.
What makes The Amazing Race stand out among the others? I’ll try to list a few reasons:
I’d write more reasons, but I want to keep this brief. CBS has recently renewed Big Brother, and Survivor will air as long as the ratings hold and as Mark Burnett wishes to put it out. The Amazing Race has no such guarantee. The only other show of quality that was ever in trouble was The Mole. ABC “fixed” it, and now only celebrities appear on it. I’m not ready to watch another kickass show like Race go down the path to ruin. And neither should you.
Can one person make a difference? Probably not. Can hundreds of people make a difference? Yes. I don’t care if you got hooked in the first episode or the last. I don’t care if you love to love the players, or just love to hate them. You can make the difference.
On this page, you will find addresses for Les Moonves, the chairman of CBS, as well as others in the network hierarchy. Write about how much you like the show. Mention TARCon if you went there. Keep it short and civil. Also, write to the sponsors and let them know you appreciate their support for the show. If the sponsors are placated, that could push CBS into slating the show in the near future. Finally, drop a line to Bertram van Munster, the show’s co-producer. Tell him that you appreciate the show and hope there will be more on the way.
What if you’ve never watched the show before? I won’t browbeat you. There’s plenty of good stuff on television, and you slipped. Happened to me during the first season. It took the online buzz to get me hooked on the second season. If you know some fans, ask if they recorded any episodes. While there have been ongoing storylines (estranged couple Frank & Margarita reconciling their differences, the Alex/Tara flirtation, Flo’s increasing screechiness), the episodes are mostly self-contained. Recently, an online friend lent me her tapes of the first season. Let me tell you, the legends of Racers like Team Guido and the Frats were well founded. The effort to extend the show’s future is done for your benefit. Once you’re hooked, you join the most hardcore fan base in reality television today.
What are you waiting for? Let CBS know what’s on our minds: “Keep ‘em racing!”
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