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What to Expect in The Amazing Race 9by Jenn Brasler -- 02/28/2006
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After seven seasons of The Amazing Race, the producers spent season 8 trying to shake things up. Instead of 11 teams of two, they had ten teams of four. Instead of a race around the world, it was a race around… well, the western hemisphere. Due to kid-friendly challenges and lack of exotic locations, there wasn’t a lot of tension or intrigue. Most people agree that season 8 wasn’t the show’s best effort. So will things be different in the series’ ninth outing?
So far, so good. This season returns to the two-member team format, and with 22 racers instead of 40, there are fewer faces and names to remember. The teams will travel outside of the United States starting in the very first leg. They will visit locations they’ve never been to before, including Oman, Sicily, and Moscow. Host Phil Keoghan stated in a conference call interview that he thinks one of the keys of the show is “less faces, more places.” The international locations (which many people missed last season) are as much a star of the show as the people are.
So what makes this season different from others? On the surface, not much, but that might not be a bad thing. The producers are definitely given the audience what they asked for - a return to the show’s roots. However, they’ve added some more tension, starting with time constraints. The racers will be covering 60,000 miles, the second-most distance in any season (season 5 covered around 72,000), in just 29 days. Detours and roadblocks will be scarier and riskier, and one task could even affect travel for the rest of the leg - teams will have to turn sugarcane into fuel in order to drive their cars.
As of right now the standout racers, at least according to Phil, seem to be Tyler & BJ (the “hippies”), Fran & Barry (the older couple), Lake & Michelle (the potential villains), Wanda & Desiree (the mother and daughter), and Lori & Dave (the “nerds”). Phil says that BJ & Tyler are goofy and funny but might annoy some people. Barry & Fran shouldn’t be underestimated, since they’re fit and well-traveled. Michelle & Lake have an interesting relationship, as do Desiree & Wanda, who Phil thinks are the opposite of most mothers and daughters. He describes Dave & Lori as “adorable.” According to an interview in Entertainment Weekly, Phil also has a soft spot for Yolanda & Ray, who are dating long-distance. He especially enjoys watching Yolanda run to the pit stop, as her legs are so attractive.
In the first episode, the teams appear to set the stage for how they’ll act through the rest of the season. Lake is about as annoying as I thought he might be. In fact, he may start verging on Jonathan territory. Dave & Lori are absolutely adorable and obviously care a lot about each other. BJ & Tyler are as fun-loving as they look; they’ll probably be the most laidback of the teams and enjoy the experience the most. Phil says that the point of casting so many different people is to polarize viewers, though they don’t want people to hate any of the teams. They want to give each viewer someone to root for. The teams this season are definitely different enough to provide each member of the audience with someone he or she will like.
Season 9 of The Amazing Race premieres with a two-hour episode February 28th at 9 p.m. EST. The show will move to 10 p.m. starting March 7th. Join me for all of the fun, tension, and action we always enjoy.
Jenn Brasler is an Assistant Editor of Reality News Online and an aspiring writer from Falls Church, VA. You can e-mail her at email@example.com. She doesn’t think it will take much to make this season better than the last.
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