The Amazing Race (U.S. TV series)

The Amazing Race (U.S. TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = The Amazing Race

caption = The current "Amazing Race" logo
genre = Reality game show
creator = Elise Doganieri
Bertram van Munster
presenter = Phil Keoghan
theme_music_composer = John M. Keane
composer = Lee Sanders
Mark Phillips
Erik Aho
Dan Beyer
Christopher Holden
country = USA
language = English
num_seasons = 13
num_episodes = 155
list_episodes =
executive_producer = Elise Doganieri
Bertram van Munster
Jonathan Littman
supervising_producer = Elise Doganieri
Anthony Dominici
location = see below
camera = Multi-camera
runtime = 42 minutes
network = CBS
picture_format =
audio_format =
first_aired = September 5, 2001
last_aired = present
related = "The Amazing Race Asia"
website = Season 12
imdb_id = 0285335
tv_com_id = 6686

"The Amazing Race" is an American multiple Primetime Emmy Award-winning reality game show in which teams of two or four race around the world against other teams, with the first-place team winning $1,000,000. As the original version of the "Amazing Race" franchise, the CBS program has been running since 2001 and has completed twelve seasons, with a thirteenth that premiered on September 28 2008. The show was created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, who, along with Jonathan Littman, serve as executive producers. The show is produced by Earthview Inc. (headed by Doganieri and van Munster), Bruckheimer Television for CBS Paramount Television and ABC Studios (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company). The series is hosted by veteran New Zealand television personality, Phil Keoghan.

The series has won all six of the Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program awarded since the category was created in 2003. Although it has had several prime time time slots, the program has averaged about 10 million viewers per season. [cite web|last=Serpe|first=Gina|title=Amazing New Teams Rev to Race|publisher=E! News|date=2007-10-24|url=|accessdate=2007-10-27]


The original idea for "The Amazing Race" began as a bet between current producers Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, with van Munster challenging Doganieri to develop a concept for a TV show in less than five minutes while both were attending a trade convention. With Doganieri's suggestion of a race around the world, the two refined the concept and sold it to CBS. [ [ CBS Biographies of Elise and Bertram] ]


The present form of "The Amazing Race", for the most part, has not changed from the first season. The race utilizes progressive elimination: the last team to arrive at a designated checkpoint (Pit Stop) leaves the game. The race starts in a US city. Teams must then follow clues and instructions and make their way to checkpoints in places around the world, eventually racing back to the finish line in the US. Along the way they perform tasks that represent the culture of the present country or city. Tasks include Detours (an option between two tasks of various difficulty) and Roadblocks (a task that can be done by only one member of a team); additionally, other optional markers, if reached first, can provide a team with a Fast Forward (allowing a team to skip remaining tasks and go to the checkpoint), a Yield (the ability to delay another team for a short amount of time) or a U-Turn (the ability to force another team to do the other detour they didn't choose). Teams race with limited possessions and are given a fixed amount of money for all travel purposes save for airline tickets, which are paid for by production-issued credit cards.


The production of "The Amazing Race" is an extremely difficult aspect, given that unlike other reality TV shows, the show continues to move about the world all the time. Despite such difficulties, the show has been nominated twenty times for Primetime Emmy Awards, winning ten times. [ Awards for "The Amazing Race"] on the Internet Movie Database.]


Production will scope out several locations for the race and will send people to investigate potential tasks and activities to be performed in the tasks. Production also must work with the local governments to acquire filming rights and allowances for the race. Most of the tasks are attempted by production to determine the difficulty and timing with each task as well as to determine how to shoot that task.

Teams are selected through a multi-step interview process, usually starting with country-wide interviews at a few major cities. Once teams have been selected, teams are given a list of countries that they will need to apply for visas for. To avoid spoiling too much of the race, this list includes more countries than are planned to be visited, so that teams cannot plan on where they will be visiting. [cite web |url=|title=How is the whole visa situation handled?|accessdate=2007-01-15|author=Lingo|date=2005-02-11|publisher=The Amazing Race FAQ: Casting and Pre-Race Activities. TARflies Times|quote= ]

For clothing, teams are generally asked to plan for coordinating clothes, at least in the first few legs, to help with team identity and differentiation. Some teams have taken it upon themselves to procure custom clothes with their personal team moniker or names (examples include Joe & Bill from Season 1, Ken & Gerard and Aaron & Arianne from Season 3, Marshall & Lance and Linda & Karen from Season 5, Joseph & Monica from Season 9, and Erwin & Godwin from Season 10), though these are not required. [cite web |url=|title=What is up with the matching outfits? Are they CRAZY?!?|accessdate=2007-01-15|author=Lingo|date=2005-02-11|publisher=The Amazing Race FAQ: Living on the Road. TARflies Times|quote= ]

A few days before the race, teams and last minute replacements are flown into the same city (usually not the same as the actual start city) and sequestered in a hotel. Teams are not to interact with other teams during this time, as to allow intra-team relationships to develop in-race. [cite web | url = | title = The Day I...Won The Amazing Race | first = Alex | last = Boylan | coauthors = Bernstein; Ryan | publisher = Hall of Fame Network | accessdate = 2008-07-03] Teams are asked to prepare their bags for the race, and production verifies the contents, removing any items prohibited by the race. On the day before or the day of the race, teams are then flown to the actual starting city and to the start line.

Prior to actually starting the race, teams are asked to take off by foot from the starting line several times in order to get several shots of the teams both in close-up and while racing away. [cite web |url=|title=Bowling Moms Rule!|accessdate=2007-01-15|author=TARflies Times Staff|date=2005-01-22|publisher=TARflies Times|quote= ]

During the race

Each team is accompanied by a two-person camera crew (camera operator/sound mixer), who must stay with the team at all times, except at Pit Stops and during certain Detours or Roadblocks. The crews rotate between teams at Pit Stops to avoid any possible favoritism that may develop between a team and its crew. The camera crew must be able to ride with the team when they take transportation such as cabs or planes. Even though the program shows teams asking for only two tickets, they actually have to purchase four tickets to account for the camera crew; what usually happens is that teams first ask the agents for four tickets, and then the camera crew re-shoots the request, this time only asking for two. [cite web|url=|title=What if the crew can't get on the same train/plane/whatever as their team?|accessdate=2007-01-15|author=Lingo|date=2005-02-11|publisher=The Amazing Race FAQ: Filming. TARflies Times|quote= ]

Similarly, the camera crew will often ask teams to redo certain actions during a leg in order to get a better camera angle (such as getting into and out of taxis), or to adjust the wireless microphones that each team member is wearing. These events can lead to "production difficulties", which are usually credited to the team when they reach the Pit Stop.

Many Detours and Roadblocks use special cameras to get more dramatic shots of the racers as they complete the task, such as helmet-mounted cameras for climbing, rappelling, and sky-diving stunts. The producers may also use helicopters and high overhead cranes to get wide-area camera footage when appropriate. There are also special camera crews known as 'Zone' cameras that are used near clue boxes, Detours, and Roadblocks, which take over for the team's assigned camera crew in order to get more dramatic shots. [ [ Bill and Joe explain about Zone cameras] , accessed December 11, 2006]

If a team should engage with a non-"Race" participant, they will need to have the camera crew get the consent of that person to be used on camera via agreement forms. Footage of people that have not consented is either not used, or is used with the person's face pixelized out.

The production team tends to arrive in a country a day or a half-day before the racers themselves arrive; however, there have been times that the lead production crew, including Phil Keoghan, has flown along with the racers into that country. [cite web |url=|title=Interview With Kristy Jensen From “The Amazing Race 6”|accessdate=2008-02-13|date=2005-02-11||quote= ] While the teams are racing, production sets up shots of Phil describing the various tasks, and then prepares for the arrival at the Pit Stop. In a few cases, production had barely arrived just before the teams started to arrive at the Pit Stop.

While in a country, the various production crews keep apprised of the status of each team in order to prepare the location for the arrivals [ [ CBS - FAQ for the Amazing Race] ] . For example, clue boxes are only set up minutes before the first team arrives to prevent non-racers from getting involved or stealing clues. Additionally, any obvious penalties or missed tasks are relayed to the Pit Stop crew so that Phil can inform teams appropriately of these. Once teams have arrived at the Pit Stop, production checks with each camera crew to identify if any additional penalties or time credits are necessary. [cite web |url=|title=INTERVIEW: Kevin and Drew talk about their 'All-Stars' experience|accessdate=2008-02-17|last=Rocchio|first=Christopher|date=2007-02-26|publisher=Reality TV World|quote= ]

When teams check in, they are usually requested to move to the lodging area for the Pit Stop, though during Season 1 this usually did not occur, as teams can be seen hanging around the Pit Stop to greet the other teams as they arrived. The eliminated team usually gets a chance to say goodbye to the remaining racers. Teams eliminated early in the race are then flown to a common location known as "Sequesterville" where teams are allowed to relax and sight-see (though with restrictions), until they are then flown to the final city for the very end of the Race. [cite web|url=|title=Where do the eliminated contestants go? I've heard of a place called "Sequesterville."|accessdate=2007-01-15|author=Lingo|date=2005-02-11|publisher=The Amazing Race FAQ: Eliminated Teams. TARflies Times|quote= ] The 4th, 5th, and 6th place teams do not necessarily go to Sequesterville; instead, they may either accompany production through the last few legs and meet up with the rest of the eliminated teams at the finish line (in order to cut down on travel costs), or they may be asked to perform "decoy runs", usually flying into the final city or a different city with a camera crew, a day or so before the final three teams arrive, in order to throw off potential spoilers for the final teams. [cite web|url=|title=INTERVIEW: Joe Baldassare and Bill Bartek talk about 'All-Stars'|accessdate=2008-02-14|last=Rocchio|first=Christopher|date=2007-04-02|publisher=Reality TV World|quote= ] [cite web |url=|title=Elimination Staton|accessdate=2008-02-12|last=Swain|first=Brennan|date=2007-04-05|publisher=Television Without Pity Forums|quote= ]

The finish line is usually located in an isolated spot, and planned so that teams will arrive mid-day during a weekday, or early on a Saturday or Sunday, in order to reduce the amount of potential sightings of the final teams.


All teams are compensated for the time missed from their jobs, though the amount is undisclosed and confidential. [cite web |url=|title='Bowling Moms' answer lingering questions about the race|accessdate=2007-01-16|date=2005-08-19|publisher=Movie Usenet|quote= ] As with most reality TV shows, teams are not allowed to reveal their performance on the race until the episode with their elimination has aired (or, in the case of the final three teams, until after the season finale), with an exception in Season 10 when Tyler and James got to call their families after they had won and when Eric got to call Jeremy after winning . Even after their elimination episode has aired, teams are not allowed to reveal any events, eliminations, or the ultimate winners of the race. In the past, eliminated teams have typically been asked to appear for an interview on The Early Show on CBS on the day after the airing of their elimination episode, though this practice has been hit-or-miss in later seasons.

Each episode is worked on by a separate team of editors as soon as the race starts; [ [ A TAR Editor responds to questions regarding the editing process] ] as such, there are usually no story arcs unless they develop naturally over the course of the season (for example, the dislike of most of the teams in Season 1 towards Joe and Bill, or the so-called Six Pack/Backpack alliance between David and Mary, Lyn and Karlyn, and Erwin and Godwin in Season 10).

Complete tasks have been known to be cut from an episode, usually due to the lack of impact on race standings for that task. Roadblocks are most commonly edited out should teams depart in the same order as they arrive, though evidence for these Roadblocks can be found from footage still shown, interviews with racers, or from spoiler information. For example, teams arriving in Mauritius for a kayaking Roadblock in Season 10 were recorded by vacationers and posted to the Internet shortly afterwards, but the entire Roadblock was removed from the episode that aired. In another case, in the first leg in Poland in Season 11, Joe and Bill confirmed that a Roadblock involving rowing across a pond to the Pit Stop was edited out. An ostrich egg-eating Roadblock was edited from the first episode in Season 1 but included as part of the extras in the DVD release. In order to keep continuity with clues, editors will combine sound bites from multiple clue-readings to mask the missing task.

The opening credits for the first season used a combination of pictures of locations in the race and teams, both posing as well as performing tasks during the race. However, many fans were able to identify the elimination order simply based on these task shots. Since then, the introduction sequence has used only a combination of location shots from both the current race as well as past races, and only teams posing at their residence or home city, reducing the amount of spoiler content within the introduction.

In two instances of the race, a natural disaster occurred in an area after the race was filmed going through it, but prior to the first episode of the season airing; specifically the 2004 tsunami which struck Sri Lanka during Season 6, and Hurricane Katrina which struck New Orleans during Season 8. In the latter case, one of the teams racing, the Schroeder family, lost their home in the disaster. In both cases, the episodes which included race legs within these areas were preceded by a message, read by Phil, which addressed the situation and expressed solidarity with the people in the affected regions.

Countries and locales visited

As of the twelfth season, the Amazing Race has visited 67 countries.a

The production staff of "The Amazing Race" has been nominated each year since 2004 for the Producers Guild of America's Golden Laurel award for Television Producer of a Non-Fiction Program, and won this award in 2005.

Bert Van Munster was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs award for "The Amazing Race" in 2005 and 2006, and won this award in 2007. [cite web | url = | title = Joel & Ethan Coen Win DGA Feature Film Award Other Winners of 2007 DGA Awards Announced (January 26, 2008) | date = 2008-01-26 | accessdate = 2008-01-28 | publisher = Directors Guild of America]

Due to its favorable portrayal of gay couples, "The Amazing Race" has been nominated in 2004 and 2006 for, but not won, the GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Reality Program.


*Countries and cities that are featured on the show often see the exposure as a boon. A member of the Icelandic Tourist Board noted that after their country shown as one of the locations in the "The Amazing Race 6", their website saw an increase in information requests, and they worked to develop a "Trace the Race" travel package to allow visitors to see the same locations shown on the show. [cite web | url = | title = 'Amazing Race' fans tag along for worldwide ride | first = Laura | last = Bly | publisher = "USA Today" | date = 2008-09-25 | accessdate = 2008-09-26 ]

*The popularity of the series has also spawned two board games: a DVD Board Game [cite web|url=|title=Amazing Race DVD Board Game |accessdate=|accessyear=] and a traditional board game, as well as local homemade races, [cite web|url=|title=DIY Amazing Race |accessdate=|accessyear=] [cite web|url=|title=TCSSC Amazing Race 2005 |accessdate=|accessyear=] [cite web|url=|title=The Amazing Hunt, a vancouver based spin-off|accessmonthday=December 2 |accessyear=2006] some of which have been mistaken for actual filming of the television program.

*The show has also inspired a book, written by Adam-Troy Castro, titled "My Ox Is Broken!": Detours, Roadblocks, Fast Forwards and Other Great Moments from TV's The Amazing Race", which features an introduction from Season 8 racers Billy and Carissa Gaghan. [cite web|url=| - "My Ox Is Broken!" |accessdate=September |accessyear=2006]

*"The Amazing Race" has also inspired popular culture, with notable references to it in such shows as "Robot Chicken" [cite episode | title = Atta Toy | episodelink = Atta Toy | series = Robot Chicken | airdate = 2005-05-22 | season = 1 | number = 13 ] , "MadTV" (in which Charla and Mirna of Season 5 participated), [cite episode | title = Episode #1001 | | series = MadTV | airdate = 2004-09-14 | season = 10 | number = 1 ] , "30 Rock" [cite episode | title = Somebody to Love and | series = 30 Rock | airdate = 2007-11-15 | season = 2 | number = 27 ] and "Sesame Street". [cite episode | title = August 10, 2007 show | series = Today Show | airdate = 2007-08-10] [cite episode | title = Episode 4154 | series = Sesame Street | airdate = 2007-09-28 and The Office (U.S. TV series).]


Despite "The Amazing Race's" popularity, the show is not without its share of criticism and controversy. Main problems include:

*The stunt casting of teams where producers have tended to cast models, actors and past reality show stars.
*Clues becoming less cryptic in later seasons; e.g., directing teams to a specific location as opposed to giving them a clue or picture that they must decipher in order to find their next destination.
*The design of challenges, especially those requiring eating large volumes of food or that require "needle in a haystack" searching.
*The introduction of the Yield, and the reduction in the number of Fast Forwards available. It should be noted, however, that during some races, a Fast Forward which is not taken by any team is usually edited out of the program altogether, giving the appearance of there being fewer than there actually are.
*The nature of the last leg of the race, where luck becomes more important than racing skill.
*Excessive product placement, particularly in Season 8. [cite web |url=|title=Primetime Placements on TV Jumped 30% in 2005|accessdate=2007-01-15|last=Schiller|first=Gail|date=2006-01-06||quote= ]
*The amount of spoiler information generated during some seasons, such as Season 7 and Season 11 (All-Stars).

Foreign versions

In October 2005, CBS optioned "The Amazing Race" for franchising to other countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment's AXN bought the rights to air and produce regional versions of "The Amazing Race" for Asia and Central Europe. "The Amazing Race Asia" began airing its second season on November 22, 2007 and "The Amazing Race Central Europe" has been cancelled. "", the Brazilian version, the first season was premiered October 13, 2007 and ended on January 5, 2008.


External links

* Official season websites: [ 1] · [ 2] · [ 3] · [ 4] · [ 5] · [ 6] · [ 7] · [ 8] · [ 9] · [ 10] · [ 11] · [ 12] · [ 13]
* [ Official "Amazing Race" wiki]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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