Wow...evidently there's no pleasing people who claim to be fans of TAR.
That's how it feels reading this thread.
1) The Family Edition was an attempt at brand extension--just like "Trading Spaces Family"--and, had it worked, it might have increased the fan base for the show. I think the producers were surprised at how different a show is when you double the amount of participants...and even with the cost cutting measures of not going anywhere interesting, it was far too expensive to just shelve...
That said...was it REALLY as horrible as we're making it out to be? Sure, they barely left the country...and sure, 90% of us hated the Weavers...and sure, 70% of us couldn't name a Godlewski if our lives depended on it...but I'd rather watch TAR Family Edition than Fear Factor.
2) Changing the rules of the race--eliminating the Yield, bringing back every episode Fast Forwards, somehow eliminating equalizers... OK, we've all discussed these elements ad nauseum over the years here on the FORT.
The thing we have to remember is that THIS ISN'T A SPORTING EVENT, THIS IS A TELEVISION SHOW.
The Yield is there to create interteam drama--which, based on the amount of FORT discussion any time teams start disliking each other, tends to increase people's interest in the show.
As much as all of us who dream about being on the show say "I'd run the perfect race, my partner and I would get along perfectly, we wouldn't fight with anyone, we'd be nice to little children and animals"--those are the very things that will guarantee that we will never be on the show...and spiteful, small-minded, quick tempered, poor decision making, overly emotional people will always spark furious message board discussions amongst TAR fans watching them...
Does the Yield increase my interest in the show? Not really...it isn't terribly strategic, most teams avoid using it...and it hasn't come into play in an interesting way (and, heavens forbid if it ever does...and a team loses because of the Yield--these boards would EXPLODE.) However, I don't think that it has any relationship to ratings being down...nor do I think that ratings would go up if you got rid of it...
The Fast Forward on every leg was making the show nearly too expensive to continue to produce--it was wasted money on most of the legs. I agree, it doesn't work only having one or two...and the show misses having the option, but I don't need to have it, if it meant risking not having a TAR produced at all.
The "equalizers" are also a cost saving measure--and they're also there to make certain that each leg of the race is competitive. Again, sure...if WE were racing, we'd want to get a huge lead that no one could ever chase us down. That would be an AWFUL show to watch... And, this is the 9th year...and there have been equalizers on every episode for the past 8 seasons...I'd think that we'd be USED to them by now.
I also think that we have to trust the leg designers with a very difficult job...to think of every contingency that might throw the race completely out of balance--and over 9 seasons, I think they've done a damn good job in ensuring that every episode has moments of tension and drama (or at least a facsimile of tension and drama can be found in the editing room...)
I do think that there are things they could do to bring more drama to the show--things that they've eliminated to make their own lives easier in producing the show that aren't as fun to watch...the shift to more and more "get to the airport to sign up for one of three flights to your destination" just isn't as fun as "figure out how to get yourselves to this place." And I'd still rather give teams a clue that says "go to the Mercedes Benz main corporate office" rather than one that says "Fly to Frankfurt, take a train to Stuutgard, take a cab to this address which is the Mercedes Benz main corporate office."--but, again, we're seeing that the show really isn't about the race...it's really more about the relationship between team members and between teams to the other teams.
3) Change who makes up the teams?
This is where I'm convinced that we'll never be happy. I mean, a couple of seasons ago, we were complaining that every team were models or actors, that they were all young and attractive...that there weren't enough "real" people on the show.
I like the fact that Nerdy Dave is still in the race. Would you who want to eliminate "out of shape people" have left him race? How about Chip--who wasn't exactly svelte? Or Gus?
As far as older couples go, I don't think you can ever discount an older couple ever since Teri & Ian got as far as they did... It isn't always about running to a pitstop (although, THAT was sure fun for the ending of TAR 2, wasn't it?)
I don't envy the casting director for this show--you want personalities that will cause friction, but you don't want teams that completely turn the audience off...you want good looking athletic people but you don't want this, one of the most populist of all reality shows, to be another Hollywood elite program...you want to cast a variety of different teams, but how many "differences" are there...especially when if you cast a "gay team" they become "the gay team." I mean, we'd never had "pseudo-hippies" before this season...but how many other easily definable character types are left unchosen?
And the bottom line for me is...I like The Amazing Race. I don't mind debating the decisions that are made, I don't even mind suggesting improvements or getting annoyed with how people race or act while on the show... But I'm watching. I'm watching every week.
Don't go changin' to try and please me, Amazing Race.