There's a lot of talk of The Amazing Race being the product of Jerry Bruckheimer, but really, other than a brain-hurting, overly-editted intro bit, this doesn't feel like anything associated with Mr. Bruckheimer. For a better idea, take a look at the other producer. Yes, that's right: Bertam Van Munster.
In addition to having what may be the SINGLE BEST NAME IN THE WORLD, Mr. Van Munster (I love writing that name) is the creator of Cops. (Editor's Note: Bertram Van Muster is not the creator of cops. John Langley is.) If you're going to talk about modern reality TV, it's Cops, The Real World, and Survivor. Clearly Van Munster has been surveying the competition and has come up with the perfect fusion.
Follow around couples under unbelievable amounts of stress as they try to follow clues and go to amazingly impressive (but not overexposed) location around the world. You get the backstabbing of Survivor, plus you get to watch existing relationships crumble before your eyes. You get to see the absolute worst of people as they do what everyone does on a trip (i.e., try to get cabs, directions, tickets from people whose language you do not speak) This past week, the couple that arrived at the destination last (and therefore got eliminated) did so because they couldn't change money. Who can't relate to that?
Really, I think this is about as good as reality TV can get. Whoever did the selection of couples did an amazing job. The incredibly smarmy and arrogant life partners. The utterly insanely aggressive personal trainer and his enabling ex-wife. The bald NYC fraternity brothers who are, without a doubt, the most caring couple on the show, despite occasional "Swing you fat bastard" comments and a tendency to use the word "Jackass" when addressing each other. (Let me take a moment here to reveal that, in our household, we have taken to appending "Jackass" to as many statments as possible. We love Kevin and Drew. I want a sitcom with them in it. It would have no script, just like Curb Your Enthusiasm. Just Kevin and Drew doing their NYC thing calling each other Jackass. Actually, you could combine it with Curb Your Enthusiasm. They could get internships at Larry David's company and the three of them could just wander around doing their thing. I'd watch it.)
So, great choice of contestants. Beautiful locations. The joy of watching ugly Americans incapable of changing money or dealing with cab drivers. Thank you, Bertram Van Munster!
Rating: A (Perfect Reality Programming. Jackass.)Reviewed by Padgett Arango