The Good

The Bad

This show is addictive. Seeing 22 competitors race around the world like rats in cage, all to possibly win $1 million dollars is fascinating. I am truly blown away by the things that people are asked to do on this show, as well as the things that people do do all in the name of the almighty dollar. Whether they have to find a ferris wheel, journey through India or do a “Roadblack” that is just exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally this show doesn’t let up.

I always saw this show when it was advertised on TV and I guess I just thought there was too much going on in it for me to just sit down and start watching. However, after watching The Amazing Race - The Complete First Season, I can only imagine what the other seasons are going to be like. Truthfully, I don’t know that this show can sustain this level of intrigue. One thing is for sure, you put 22 people together and you’re gonna have a lot shoulders bumping, elbows rubbing and attitudes clashing. What I think is genuinely good about this show is that it takes people and viewers to places that we might never get to see. Sure, this is a Hollywood TV show (it’s Executive Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer for crying out loud!) and as such I am sure that some “cinematic” things found their way in here. That said, I really did find myself getting caught up in what was happening on this show.

Features

All Access Pass and Audio Commentary Tracks

The “All Access Pass” is something that takes the form of 90 additional minutes of this show (called “Side Trips”) that viewers didn’t get to see on TV. However, as with most documentary films, they still add the TV flair to it so it’s still like watching the show. A yellow sign comes up on the screen, and if you select it you are taken to the extra scenes. What I did was, I set up the “Side Trips” feature and let the Commentary Tracks run at the same time. There are 4 tracks on 4 of the episodes and we get to hear from Karyn & Lenny, Drew and Kevin, Rob & Brennan and Team Guido. What this did was give me the “Total Amazing Race experience.” I got to watch the show and at the same time I could hear the people on the show tell me what was really going on at the time the everything was shot. Then, whenever a “Side Trip” came up, I could just venture down that road on the DVD or stay where I was if I wanted to. I don’t think I have ever had this much of a fun, “interactive experience” screening a DVD. Ever.

The Lost Roadblock; Reliving the Race and Creating and Coordinating

These are 3 featurettes that look at various aspects of the show. “The Lost Roadblock” is a disgusting “stunt” in which in order to get to the next part of the race, the team members have got to eat an ostrich egg. Now, I like eggs just as much as the next guy, but I don’t like them that much, and this little featurette makes the whole process of eating them gross. Why didn’t they air this on TV? “Reliving the Race” talks to Kevin & Drew, Team Guido, Rob & Brennan and Lenny & Karyn about what it’s like doing this show. We get to hear first hand accounts of what scared them the most, what they thought was the worst challenge and what was the toughest part of the “Amazing Race” for them. This would normally be pretty standard, but after spending so many hours with them it’s nice to be able to see them in a more relaxed setting. “Creating and Coordinating” is a nuts and bolts look at everything that goes into getting this show done. We get the hear from the show’s host Phil Keoghan, executive producers Bertram van Munster and Jerry Bruckheimer, as well as the shows initial creators. Viewers are taken from this show as an idea, to it being created and put together all over the world. I have no idea how they get this done, but speaking the universal language of “dollars and cents” probably helps.

Video

Full Screen. While it seems like something with Jerry Bruckheimer’s name on it could at least be “letterboxed,” hey, it’s a TV show, right? Shot on whatever high end videocameras are used for this type of show, everything looks almost too good and here’s where the problem lies. I just find it hard to believe, with the money that is being spent, they don’t do things like recreate shots to heighten the drama. I am not saying that they do it all the time, I just think that things on these shows are always a little too “nail biting” for my tastes, and if you have ever shot a documentary of any length (a birthday party or wedding, anyone?) life “as it is” is just not that interesting each time out.

Audio

Dolby Digital - English 2.0 Surround. English Subtitles. As this is a fast paced reality show, the audio is very good. There’s nothing special about it, it’s just used to heighten a mood or stimulate various emotions for the people watching at home. There is “wild” sound FX that are supposed to give us a sense of the natural setting the contestants are in. There’s the music of “impending doom” when we don’t know if our favorite character is going to survive a challenge. And then there’s the music when they “make it” and everything’s a success. As I said, the audio is simply used to enhanced the viewing experience and as such it is subservient to the images.

Package

They have an “early morning” blue used over various landscapes of the world, to give the cover of this DVD an international feel. On the bottom of the cover are all the main contestants. The back features some pictures from the show with a globe as the backdrop. There is a description of The Amazing Race - The Complete First Season, a minor specs list and a well written Special Features listing. All 4 discs that make up this season are housed in slim, plastic cases inside this vinyl, cardboard cover. As usual, all the seasons are indexed on the back of the cases and there are descriptions of each episode as well. I love this packaging simply because they took a very big show, and made it not as cumbersome by placing it in a digipack.

Final Word

I think Reality TV gets a bad rap. Everyone is talking about how TV will get back to normal as soon as all this “reality stuff” gets off the air, but I don’t think that will ever happen. Reality TV has shown itself to be a viable way to make money. I also read a study recently in Entertainment Weekly, and they were saying that there are actually more “sitcoms and one hour dramas” on TV than there are reality shows. What this says to me is that Reality TV is here to stay. It probably won’t dominate the networks like it did for awhile, but I think shows like “The Amazing Race” are going to have a lot more seasons and even some spinoff shows. Afterall, with all the characters that we see roaming around the world on this show, I think eventually some Producer is going to figure out a way to do a spin off show on these people, if they haven’t already.

I am not at all saying that I prefer Reality TV over my beloved TV LAND. I’ll take “Andy Griffith” or “The Brady Bunch” or “All In the Family” any day over Drew, Kevin or Team Guido.

The Amazing Race was released .