For the first time in my life, I felt compelled to write a letter to a newspaper complaining about a story. Below is the text of my letter (the actual article is located below my letter). The writer ANDREW RYAN of the Globe and Mail wrote a glib piece in which he linked The Amazing Race and Big Brother together. Among other things, he says about both shows that they are "closer to reality-TV albatrosses" and that these are "two middling reality series, which have never paid off, in respect, ratings or general buzz." I was appalled that the one gem on reality TV was linked to Big Brother simply because a writer did not have the decency to actually do research prior to writing the article. Heck, he never even mentioned that it won the Emmy Award! How can you leave that out?? I may be overreacting, but like many here, feel protective of TAR. And seeing it written off like it is The Mole 2 was disgusting. Feel free to write the editors as well if you get a chance.
I have never before written to comment on a newspaper story, but after reading your "preview" of The Amazing Race/Big Brother, I felt compelled to write. While I agree with your comments on Big Brother, you lump together the The Amazing Race race with it in a way that seems more dictated by a headline "Oh Big Brother, it's the Amazing Race, again" than reality. Your article also seemed to be more about what a clever writer you are, then about anything factual. Rather than rant on about how much I disagree with your comments, I will simply quote them and then attach evidence that you wrote an irresponsible story with very little or no research involved.
"It either takes guts or lack of imagination to back lost causes, though it's not clear which is the case in CBS persisting with Big Brother and The Amazing Race. Maybe neither. Maybe they just have to fill the hours with something."
you also write
"two middling reality series, which have never paid off, in respect, ratings or general buzz. "
Ok, now, point blank, how do you come to the conclusion that The Amazing Race lacks "respect" when it won the Emmy Award (see link below) last year? Please provide me with a rational reason why a show that won such a huge award can be said to not be respected? Seems an oxymoron to me: Emmy Award - lack of respect.
the below articles are by respected TV Critics concerning The Amazing Race. One article by HAL BOEDEKER KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS starts off by saying
"Fans know that "The Amazing Race" is the cream of the reality crop. Emmy voters know it, too, and last year honored the CBS series over "Survivor" and "American Idol."
now contrast that with you writing that both shows are "closer to reality-TV albatrosses". Again, please justify (if you have the guts) how you can call the defending Emmy winner an albatross? Once again this is evidence that you did not know the true nature of opinion on The Amazing race" and simply took the lazy way out by assumming it had the same rep as most of the other reality shows. You should admit that you were wrong to group The Amazing Race with Big Brother which I have admited is as bad a show as you have indicated.
Another article linked below (by respected Boston Herald TV Writer Sarah Rodman) starts off by saying
``The Amazing Race'' is like the Johnny Cash of reality television. Just as people who disliked twangy country music enjoyed the late Man in Black, those of us who loathe the conniving on most unscripted series adore CBS' Emmy-winning, globe-trotting competition. " Contrast that with your quote of that both shows are "High-concept shows that never clicked".
And finally, NY Daily News writer James Endrst writes ""Amazing Race" is one of the few reality shows in the overcrowded genre that receives critical praise." Once again flying in the face of your claim that the show is an albatross.
Oh, and with regards to your comments on ratings that CBS will "back lost causes" check out the article below which indicates the show had awesome ratings:
I do not mean to be nasty, but with so few quality shows on Network TV anymore, it just galls me to see someone take cheap shots at one of the few gems. I would not have even minded it if you would have said that you personally did not like the show, but to throw out generalizations (incredibly uninformed ones in fact) that it is not respected in showed me that you did not do the proper research for your article. Heck, you never even mentioned it won the Emmy! Did you even know this? If so, then how can you justify leaving it out? Because it would contrast with your so clever article? or if you did not know it received TVs highest honor, then can you admit your preparation for the article was lacking?
Either way, you did a great disservice to readers who may now never give a chance to a show that is deemed as one of the most exciting on TV, because they read your article and took it as fact.
I do not expect you (or the editors I copied) to have the decency to admit your article was not accurate. But by providing quotes from some of the respected TV writers that leave no doubt as to the respect The Amazing Race gets, I at least feel that in your hearts you will know that the article was wrong. Hopefully you can write a follow-up someday and right the wrongs.
The actual article
Oh Big Brother, it's the Amazing Race, again
By ANDREW RYAN
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
It either takes guts or lack of imagination to back lost causes, though it's not clear which is the case in CBS persisting with Big Brother and The Amazing Race. Maybe neither. Maybe they just have to fill the hours with something.
The network has invested time, money and Julie Chen in the two middling reality series, which have never paid off, in respect, ratings or general buzz. But CBS is sticking to the game plan tonight with Big Brother 5 (CBS, CH, 8 p.m.) and The Amazing Race 5 (CBS, CTV, 9:30 p.m.). I think most people are surprised to hear these shows still exist.
Neither show has been a hit for the network; far from it. They're closer to reality-TV albatrosses: High-concept shows that never clicked. CBS no doubt intended either or both to be the next Survivor but it hasn't happened, yet. And in reality-TV terms, these are fairly elaborate and expensive undertakings.
Big Brother places 13 unwitting ninnies in the same house/TV studio to feed off each other for three months; the last standing wins $500,000 (U.S.). The Amazing Race flies 11 two-person teams all over the globe on an ersatz scavenger hunt for a million-dollar bounty. Think of the air miles! Big Brother was a hit on European TV, but flopped miserably here when launched four years ago. The sequels have been even more dismal. The fifth attempt comes with a new timetable and will air three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). The Big Brother house in L.A. is again a virtual TV ant farm, equipped with dozens of video cameras and microphones, and fans can also watch 24 hours a day on the show's website. Let's hope no one is that curious.
Beyond that, not much has changed on Big Brother. The aforementioned Chen is back as the host and sassy provocateur who interviews the housemates and helms the live ejection vote that occurs each Thursday. The people handpicked to live together are once again mostly in their 20s and cover off the dull, American working-class stereotypes: the firefighter, the single mom, the model, the skater dude. Back to life, back to reality.
There's considerably more promise to the return of The Amazing Race. As before, the reality-entertainment quotient of the show is based on an internationally known fact: Americans are terrible, terrible travellers and most foreign people hate them. This is why, years ago, everyone told you to put a Canadian flag on your backpack before that trip to Europe.
The Ugly American doctrine works well in Europe and darn well everywhere else and it's the single driving force behind the show. The best moments from previous seasons have always involved the overwrought Yanks stranded in a strange land, bickering with cab drivers over directions or whatnot. Here again, the players are told nothing going in, so you know they're already wound up. The 11 groups are instructed to show up at the start-off location, in this case, Santa Monica Pier in L.A., and to bring their passports. And away we go. As with Big Brother, or any reality show, really, there is great care given to the selection of the participants, who are simply everybody's All-American: The born-again couple, the Internet date couple, the twin sisters who don't get along, the father-daughter military team. Ack.
The Amazing Race also has a website, a very good one, on a PBS level, that enables surfers to track the precise daily whereabouts of the travellers, along with their diary updates. On the Big Brother website, you can watch someone walk to the bathroom, or make a sandwich.
There's no fair comparison between the two shows, obviously. Both are an acquired taste, but The Amazing Race does deserve some credit for ambition. That show is at least about people doing things -- and madly so, in and out of airports and getting stomach ailments and bouncing about on donkey carts. The sluggards on Big Brother sit around the kitchen, or the pool, babbling about nothing, and each other.
At least the people on The Amazing Race are moving.
For a needed reality alternative, there's a NOVA rebroadcast of the acclaimed Galileo's Battle for the Heavens (PBS, 8 p.m.).
This is an academic's profile of the man known as the father of modern science. The two-hour program is based on the bestseller Galileo's Daughter, by Dava Sobel, and employs a thorough approach to the subject. The interviews with Harvard historians and other bigwigs are interspersed with extended dramatic soliloquies from British actor Simon Callow, who plays Galileo at various stages of his life.
As Galileo, Callow expounds on his discoveries and has strongly formed opinions, especially in regard to the church authorities who accused him of heresy. In keeping with the book, Galileo also reveals that his closest confidante was his illegitimate daughter, a cloistered nun, named Sister Maria Celeste. He kept that quiet.
Callow is remarkable and romps off with the role. He makes an appropriately steel-minded and intense Galileo, a man still unmoving in his beliefs and grudges. It's a brilliant portrait of a genius.