Saturday, July 23, 2005

FROM RUSH HOUR TO MUSH HOUR: Tonight marks the conclusion of GSN's airing of season 1 of TAR, and I figured a thread was appropriate for the occaision. I'd never seen these episodes before, and it's interesting to see how things have changed. A few more noticable things about the first season that have changed:
  • Phil plays a much less prominent physical role in the earlier season--he's not there to greet/interview at the close of the leg.
  • It seems odd to have all the teams pretty much sitting and waiting for the later teams to arrive at every pitstop.
  • Season 1 doesn't seem to have relied much on "pitstop interviews." It's much more narrative and talking to the camera during actual racing or in pauses in racing. The good thing is that it's contemporaneous commentary rather than retrospective, but also, it undermines seeing the drama between teammates.
  • Leg structure has changed dramatically--now, a flight or long-distance travel typically leads off the leg, creating an early bunch. In a lot of legs in TAR1, it'll be route marker/task in location one, then long distance travel, second task, and finally, pit stop. One important impact this has--it can minimize the helpfulness of a Fast Forward, since the Fast Forward is invariably before the long distance travel, giving a bunch opportunity. Interestingly, the late bunching potential didn't have that much impact in most cases--often, teams would have gotten so backlogged earlier in a leg (Kevin and Drew and the Guidos) that they miss the bunch opportunity.
  • Interestingly, while other reality shows, like Survivor, have become much more "alliance-centric" over the years, there's been much less chat of alliances as TAR has evolved.
  • For all the complaints about recent years featuring "unlikable" teams like Jonathan and Victoria and Colin and Christie, basically, all of the final teams in TAR1 are kind of dicks to each other and/or other teams. Kevin and Drew and Frank and Margarita spend much of their time yelling at each other, the Guidos engage in blatant deception and borderline cheating, and Rob and Brennan can be pompous assholes. (That said, I'd probably race much like Rob and Brennan did.)

Other thoughts on TAR Classic are invited.

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