The Amazing Race’ sprints across Canada
© — Photo courtesy of CTV Media
The cast of “The Amazing Race Canada” in an undated handout photo.
There’s a great Corky and The Juice Pigs comedy bit called “Two Canadian Game Show Hosts Meet on the Street,” in which Sean Cullen and pals scream at each other in hyperventilating-announcer voices that someone just won prizes like an all-expenses-paid trip to downtown Hamilton, Ont.
I remember watching Canadian game shows in the ’80s and being completely underwhelmed when the top prize was often as low as $1,000, when counterparts in the U.S. paid a hundred times that or more.
But the top prize on CTV’s “The Amazing Race Canada” is nothing to sneeze at, even though it is still below the $1-million to $2-million prize to be won on CBS.
Then again, a race around our beautiful country is a cakewalk compared to having to deal with the climates and cultures of a race around the world on the American version.
Still, Canadian teams are competing for $250,000, a trip around the world from sponsor (investor) Air Canada and a pair of Corvette Stingrays from Chevrolet.
I’m under no illusion that the product placements make the show an advertisement in itself.
But how else do you finance the production and still have prizes worth risking blowing a gasket, and potentially ruining a relationship, on TV?
I was pretty excited about the Canadian version when it was announced and even more so when I received a message on Facebook asking me to like a page created by a friend from high school.
She and a friend, who live in Halifax, had applied to run the race.
I was excited for her and a little jealous. But ultimately, while I’d love to run such a race — maybe with Cousin Steve from the newsroom — I’m not sure how much I’d like to do it with the cameras rolling.
My friend did not make the cut, and I’m sure there are people out there angry that no team from Atlantic Canada — let alone Newfoundland and Labrador — is on the show.
But the American version of the award-winning reality series often has several teams from a single state, usually California, in one running and there are probably states that have never been represented in the show’s more than 20 seasons.
The race is slightly scaled down from the 11 teams that run the U.S. version of the race, but there are some really interesting folks among the nine Canuck teams.
Like most who watch these shows, I have teams I cheer for and others who annoy the crap out of me. I base my favourites on who works for it, but plays fair and those that overcome adversity without ever giving up, some tears aside.
I tend to boo the screen, literally, when one member of a team brow beats their partner, or does something really nasty — U-turns, of course, are within the rules — or even worse, intentionally gives another team erroneous information.
Two episodes in, I’m not disappointed about the production of the show, as the teams travelled from Niagara Falls to B.C. by air after a quick detour, and have spent the next episode and a half doing mainly physical challenges in the lakes and mountains before heading to Vancouver’s Chinatown.
I won’t say which teams have been eliminated already, but here’s who’s running and why I’m cheering or booing. My opinions of teams have been known to change somewhat as the race goes on:
• Twin sisters Treena and Tennille from Hamilton. They’re a bit cocky and fall in the undecided category.
• Tim and Tim Jr, from Winnipeg are on my cheer list. The father has early Parkinsons. The two have stayed positive, but have made small missteps.
• Jamie and Pierre are gay cowboys from Alberta, though not a couple. The two have struggled thus far, though they have remained pretty upbeat.
• There’s a pair of hippies from rural B.C., Kristen and Darren, who are adventure tour guides. They’ve done well in the physical challenges, but in the city they’re like rats lost in a maze. When they’ve struggled, they’ve been uncomfortable to watch.
• Sisters Vanessa and Celina from Ottawa have a nine-year age gap. The two haven’t been terribly nice to the Tims and kind of rub me the wrong way.
• There’s married doctors from Montreal, Brett and Holly, who are the cutthroat team that either win or shoot themselves in the foot by alienating themselves from everyone else. Boo!
• Jet and Dave of London, Ont., are muscle-bound lunkheads — good natured and goofy.
• Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod. Yes, from “Body Break.” “Keep fit and have fun!” Immediate fan favourites.
• And finally, brothers Jody and Cory from Kitchener, Ont. Jody was an army sniper who lost both of his lower legs in Afghanistan after stepping on a landmine. They haven’t missed a beat.
Are you watching? If so, who are you cheering for?
Dave Bartlett is a desk editor with
The Telegram. Contact him at email@example.com.