Fresh off its Best Reality-Competition Program win at the 2012 Emmys, CBS’ “The Amazing Race” sent contestants racing across the globe from the Colorado St. Bridge in Pasadena, Calif., during last night’s season premiere.
Unlike seasons past, Season 21 of “TAR” is offering would-be winners a chance to double the show’s $1 million grand prize, but with a major stipulation.
In order to double the jackpot, the winning team must also win the first leg of the race, which means last night’s leg-winning team of Abbie and Ryan is the only team eligible for the $2 million bonus.
Pretty cool incentive, but not enough to lift the long-running series to ratings glory. The Phil Keoghan-hosted show premiered to 9.7 million viewers for a 6.0 Nielsen Fast National overnight rating.
The show finished in third place in its time slot behind NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles (19.6 million viewers, 11.9) and ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” (11 million, 6.4).
“SNF” won each of the three time slots it appeared in and peaked during its second hour with 21.7 million viewers and a 13.2 rating.
“TAR” did finish ahead of Fox’s one-two punch of “The Simpsons” (8 million, 4.8) and “Bob’s Burgers” (5.4 million, 3.1).
Fortunately for Fox, last night was a non-elimination round.
It’s hard to find a better reality show than “The Amazing Race,” which is why it’s so deserving of its Emmy Award.
Last night’s premiere did nothing to dispel that notion.
After the big announcement regarding the doubling of the jackpot, teams began their quests by rappelling off a bridge and then hopping into some fancy (and sponsored) Ford vehicles before heading for Los Angeles International Airport and then Shanghai, China.
The first seven teams to arrive at the airport secured seats on the first flight to China, while the remaining teams were bumped to the second flight, putting them at an immediate disadvantage.
Once in Shanghai, teams were sent to a sports stadium where they were given the challenge of scoring a point against a 10-year-old Chinese ping pong champion. A seemingly easy task that proved not so easy for many of the teams, even when the child began leveling the playing field by using household items instead of a paddle, such as a frying pan and clipboard.
Once past the table tennis challenge, teams were given the gag-worthy task of eating frog fallopian tubes, a Chinese delicacy. The team member that didn’t do the ping pong challenge had to complete this “tubing” challenge.
Monster truckers Rob and Kelley were the first to fall victim to not reading the challenge’s instructions properly this season, as Rob used his hands to complete the task before rereading the directions and realizing his blunder.
Next, teams were required to find a woman sitting under an umbrella with an abacus—which several contestants amusingly created alternate pronunciations for—who provided teams with directions to the leg’s pit stop.
Double amputee Amy and on-again-off-again boyfriend Daniel were the first to find the abacus-toting woman, but mistakenly provided Abbie and Ryan—the team that finished first—directions to the woman, who many teams were having difficulty finding.
In the end, Amy and Daniel finished second behind Abbie and Ryan and Caitlyn and Brittany finished third, while twins Nadiya and Natalie and monster truckers Rob and Kelley finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Rocker friends Abba and James (6th), goat farmers Josh and Brent (7th), substitute teachers Gary and Will (8th), dating couple Trey and Lexi (9th) and Chippendale dancers James and Jaymes (10th) rounded out the teams that will continue racing next week.
Engaged couple Rob and Sheila were the last to arrive on the mat and were unceremoniously eliminated.
It’s hard at this point of the season to say which teams are the strongest, but based on last night’s performances, Amy and Daniel and Abbie and Ryan have got to be the favorites.
Aside from a few blunders, rocker friends Abba and James and substitute teachers Gary and Will could be in the mix, as well.
One week does not a season make, so don’t count on last night’s finish to be indicative of the way teams will reach the pit stops throughout the season.
Having said that, here are the predictions for next week’s finish:
- Rocker friends Abba and James
- Dating couple Trey and Lexi
- On-and-off couple Amy and Daniel
- Dating divorcees Abbie and Ryan
- Best friends Caitlyn and Brittany
- Substitute teachers Gary and Will
- Monster truckers Rob and Kelley
- Goat farmers Brent and Josh
- Chippendale dancers James and Jaymes
- Twins Nadiya and Natalie
“The Amazing Race” continues next Sunday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. on KUTV 2 in Provo.