'Amazing Race' May Lack Polish, But It Is Fast-Paced Fun
By Vince Horiuchi
Salt Lake Tribune TV Critic http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jun/06112...esda/64975.asp
It's no wonder that a show like "Amazing Race 4" would move at the same breakneck pace as a Hollywood car chase -- the CBS reality show is produced by popcorn movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer ("Bad Boys I and II," "Gone in Sixty Seconds").
Having missed the first three "Amazing Race" installments -- there is only so much reality TV one can digest -- it was high time to join the chase. So far, I'm glad I'm along for the ride.
"Amazing Race 4" may lack the polish of "Survivor" but this worldwide race for a million bucks is a quick hour that breezes by like a real-life version of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." It airs Thursdays at 7 p.m. on KUTV Channel 2.
The rules: A dozen teams of two start in Los Angeles and race across the globe to win $1 million. During each episode, the teams are ordered to move to a checkpoint through a series of conventional and oddball means of transportation. Last week, for example, the teams had to sled down an icy hill on a raft then jump on a train bound for their next checkpoint.
The last team to make it to the final point is eliminated from the race. Sometimes, the teams encounter a spot where they can take one of two paths (usually one is harder, but shorter, than the other). And a team can take a shortcut, called a Fast Forward, to the next checkpoint but only once during the entire game.
Along the way, viewers get to know a little more about the participants, which this season include a pair of sloth-like middle-aged air traffic controllers; a rebellious son and his father; a pair of NFL players' wives; a married gay couple; several other nagging couples; a pair of circus clowns; and a couple of virgins who have dated for 12 years. There also is that one team you love to hate, in this case a pair of self-absorbed models who so far are self-absorbed buffoons.
Most of the time, the series shows the teams running maniacally through the cobblestone streets of Europe, abruptly asking the poor natives for directions -- just like real American tourists.
It's not a lot of substance stuffed into 60 minutes, but Bruckheimer, who is taking the TV industry by storm with hits like "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "CSI: Miami," knows how to keep up the tempo -- throw in a lot of quick edits and pack it with clips of people shouting, "No, this way!" Then, he includes a rousing musical score.
If we're not careful, watching "Amazing Race 4" may suck out the remaining brain cells we have left, thanks to an already frothy summer TV schedule. But at least that lightheaded feeling might leave you with a smile.