Monday, March 14, 2005

Links: Miss Alli/TWoP

I'm not going to lie: I'm a huge fan of The Amazing Race. Huge.

In fact, there was one season where they didn't air it during the normal span of a season, and it didn't come on until July. It hadn't aired in over a year, basically, and I was jonesing. I would watch whatever episodes I had on tape to try to tide me over.

TAR remains the one show I have to set aside time for. I love 24 and Alias, Lost and Battlestar Galactica have made an impression on me, but if I miss an episode of these shows, it's nothing I can't get over. Not so with TAR, a status it used to share with Buffy/Angel/Firefly, but since those are no longer on the air...

I remember watching my first episode (ep. 2 Season 1), and being unexpectedly sucked in. The next day I went in search of whatever I could find on the show. Then I remembered the old Mighty Big TV site, and went there to see if they had anything. This was when I found out that they had morphed into Television Without Pity, and discovered Miss Alli's recaps of TAR.

While I dabbled in other recaps for other shows, I found that TWoP's M.O. (much like local rag The Stranger) was simply to be snide about whatever it was they saw. Occasionally you'd run into a recapper who'd be sort of in tune with their assignment, but more often than not, not.

With Miss Alli, it is like I have someone who is putting even more thought into the show than I am, and writing about it in a fashion that complements the show, rather than being snide for the sake of being snide. It's not like I agree with everything she says, but I do agree a good portion of the time.

And now that the show has become more of a ratings winner, there is reason for alarm. Over the last few seasons, the producers have been tinkering with the formula of what has made their show stand out. The result is a product that inches closer and closer to Survivor-style manipulations that just don't gibe with the show's premise.

Who has time for "alliances" or to be scheming against a member of another team, when you have to make sure you're not last for the leg? And yet, this is exactly the kind of thing they had in mind by creating the Yield, where a team has to consciously decide to stab some other team in the back. Does it make the race more interesting? Marginally. But not as interesting as watching two teams compete for the Fast Forward (an "advance directly to go, collect $200" device that allows a team to go right to the end of the leg without doing any of the tasks for that leg), knowing that one of the teams will be screwed should they not get it.

Also, what's with all of the volume eating all of the sudden?

Anyways, if you're a fan of the show, you could do much worse than checking out Miss Alli's humorous and insightful deconstructions. And if you're anywhere near NYC, go to their TARCons, which coincide with the airing of the last episode of the race. The majority of the racers from the current line up (along with more than a few from past seasons) end up showing up to mingle and get drunk with the fans. A raucous affair, by all accounts. Someday, I'll attend.

[Click here to go to the next in the "Links" series.--tbo]


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