The number of team members may have changed, but everything that makes The Amazing Race the best reality show on television is still intact. The shear increase in number from two team members to four makes for a much more complicated logistical situation, but the increase in dynamics with two extra members was fascinating last night. Trying to get four people all on the same page and working together in order to stay in the race and, hopefully, eventually win $1 million is really difficult. Two of the teams have small children, which makes the task even harder. I was really impressed with the sportsmanship displayed in last night's episode. Teams were helping other teams with directions and pitching tents, among other things. Not that it was all happy helpfulness the entire two hours, but this crop of teams seems to more in the traditional spirit of The Amazing Race that has made it the best of the best and a three-time Emmy winner for best competitive reality show. Here are some highlights from last night's premiere of the Family Edition:
Most Heart Wrenching Team: The Weaver family. The mom and her three teenaged children stole this award with their backstory. The family lost their father and husband in an accident at Daytona International Speedway almost two years ago. The youngest member, Rolly, says he is racing for his dad.
Team with the Most Heart: The Black family. This team has the honor of having the youngest member to ever race on TAR. Eight year old Austin and eleven year old Kenneth join their parents, and this team believes that nice guys finish first. The team pulled together and worked well together last night. Too bad their motto didn't pan out.
Most Annoying Team: The Paolo family. Every edition of this show has a team that fits this bill, and this edition is no exception. The team argues non-stop, and the two older sons are almost unbearable. Their only redeeming member is their father Tony. He immigrated from Italy and worked his way up so his family could live the "American Dream." The mother, Marion, almost had a breakdown in the car near the end. I can't imagine this team sticking around too much longer, but then again, it always seems to be these types of teams that go far.
Team that Works Together the Best: The Rogers team. So far, most of the teams seem to be working pretty well together, but this one from Shreveport, LA stands out the most. They quickly and efficiently navigated the confusing New York streets, built a waterwheel complete with shed, and found a super-fast shortcut to the pit stop. Older daughter Brittney is a huge asset, but the entire team seems to pitch in and pull their own weight.
Scariest Moment: During the Detour, the Weaver family chose "Buggy It" over "Build It" (I wonder how long it takes the producers to come up with these clever names?). The extremely arduous task required two members to move the buggy while the other two sat inside it for a mile and a half. During the downhill portion the brakes failed, and the buggy ran right over the mom, prompting her shaken-up daughters to recall their father's tragic death. Scary, indeed.
In the end, the Black family found themselves at the pit stop last, and thus were eliminated from the race. It was a pretty intense moment between them and the siblings team, The Linz family, as both teams finished the Detour at the same time. The Black family wound up in last place because of a decision to go a different, longer way than the Linz family. I found myself rooting for most of the teams because most of them seem to be great, so I hope the trend continues. Also, I missed the Roadblock feature, so I hope it returns.
About Last Night...CBS took the 8 o'clock hour with NCIS, followed by a tie between ABC's According to Jim (an hour block) and NBC's The Biggest Loser. At 9, the victory went to the debut of Commander In Chief on ABC. Fox's House moved the network up to second, followed by the premiere of The Amazing Race: Family Edition, and NBC's comedy block of My Name is Earl and The Office in fourth. The final hour went to NBC's Law & Order:SVU, followed by the premiere of Boston Legal. The final hour of The Amazing Race landed in third.
Premiering Tonight!!! It's the much-anticipated second season premiere of Veronica Mars on UPN. I know we've talked about the much-maligned scheduling of this show up against mega-hit Lost, but I have come up with a solution. Lost has enough viewers that it's not in any danger of cancellation, but Mars has struggled from the beginning, so TiVo Lost, and give the viewership to Mars. You can always watch Lost after you finish Mars. Both shows are well worth watching. Remember if you are unable to record one and watch the other, check your local UPN station's listings for Mars' reruns on Saturdays or Sundays. And if you need to catch up (like me), the DVDs hit stores on October 11th. Also premiering tonight, the third and less popular installment of the mega CSI franchise CSI:NY on CBS. This year promises to be lighter (literally, as the sets have been changed), and one of the CSIs is leaving the show.
*Forest Whitaker is joining the cast of the FX drama The Shield. He'll play an officer with Internal Affairs who goes after Michael Chiklis' character and his team. His arrival will fill the void left by the departed Glenn Close. Look for Whitaker's character to start with the new season early next year.
*The first lady is coming to a television near you. She'll make an appearance on an upcoming episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The show is heading to the hurricane ravaged Gulf states to shoot an episode with the crew delivering supplies to a shelter in Biloxi, MS. The show will stray from its usual formula for the episode and focus on giving out the supplies donated by the show's sponsors. The episode is slated to air this November on ABC.
*And finally, it's Nielsen Wednesday. It was a split win for both CBS and ABC last week, with CBS receiving the most viewers and ABC receiving the most viewers in the advertiser coveted 18-49 year old group. CBS was led by CSI (#1), Criminal Minds (#4), and CSI: Miami (#5). ABC saw big returns for Desperate Housewives (#2), Lost (#3), and Grey's Anatomy (#6). NBC broke into the Top 10 with Law & Order: SVU (#8). For the full Top 20, visit USA Today.
That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for more mysteries on Lost and Invasion (Like, will this show's premise pick up and become more interesting?) and all the latest television news! Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts on last night's television line-up.