Over the first 7 seasons, it's certainly had its ups and downs. A run-down of those seasons:
- Raw, new, great personalities, a surprising ending.
- A couple nasty teams, but a couple that were absolute delight (Danny & Oswald)
- The ultimate season for me. Racers I loved with a passion (Ken & Gerard) or hated with equal venom (Flo).
- Plenty of fighting between teams, but an exciting season, which ended with a disappointing finish.
- Similar to season 3 with loves (Chip & Kim) and hates (Colin & Christie). Also the season where I went to a finale party in NYC and met some of the racers in person!
- A nosedive season which featured the worst couple ever (Jonathan & Victoria).
- A redemptive season with a return to many of the things that made this show so great.
And now I come to season 8 - Family Edition.
OK, first of all whomever came up with this idea should be shot. Why take a great concept and try to make it more family-friendly? It was already a good family show! Sure there was the occasional cussing racer, but it gets bleeped out, and it's not like kids don't hear it on the streets.
And the show is just not designed for families. Everything is being adjusted in unhappy ways. In previous seasons part of the drama is in teams finding how to get from point A to point B. This season the transportation is almost always spoon-fed, and they "miraculously" find those van-sized taxis everywhere.
What's worse are the stupid locations. Nowhere, Alabama. Backwater, Louisiana. Amishland, Pennsylvania. The last two episodes they finally left the US to see Panama and Costa Rica, although even in those places they are seeing very little of interest. ("Go to a BP gas station...")
And tasks involved are so easy it's insulting to the kid racers. ("Fill 20 oil lanterns and light them.") I understand that with the family version you can't have everything be overly physical, but come on.
But I slog through each week, watching more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. CBS had better get their butt in gear and deliver a good "regular" season after this, or my faith in good reality television will be dead. (I'll just sit at home watching my delightful The Mole DVDs, given to me by the lovely Em.)
Also this is a heads-up that I will actually be starting to talk about things other than TV. I enjoy other types of entertainment as well!