Two episodes into “The Amazing Race Canada,” and we’re starting to get a feel for what the show is currently trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, we’re also at the same time getting a feel for some of the flaws of having a version of the show set in one country, and having a major airline as a sponsor.
Problem 1 – Less drama. Are the challenges still tough? Definitely, and we give them credit this week for exploring Vancouver’s historic Chinatown and doing their best to show off Canada’s diversity. But nearly everyone in Vancouver speaks English to some degree, and there’s not as much of that “Lost in Translation” feeling where your back is up against the wall and nobody can help you. It also creates less drama with the cab drivers, who on this version of the show seem to be terrified to appear on-camera.
Problem 2 – Less drama with airplanes. Great for CTV that they have Air Canada on board giving them money. Bad for us that there’s less of the traditional panic at the airport over various airlines and flight times. The biggest drama you get is landing a ticket on standby, and since Air Canada is a sponsor of the show, everyone has to act super-nice about it. This is like having KFC as a sponsor then making a Roadblock “serve fried chicken in a store.”
Problem 3 – This one isn’t so much the Canadian version’s fault as it just as a natural symptom of the Amazing Race. If you have a weak team, you have to find a way to make them look competitive. Jamie & Pierre really should have been eliminated last week, as much as we like them, if this episode was going to be interesting. We don’t really know if they were ever close to anyone, and we were just getting some clever editing tricks.
There were some positives still to this episode, so we don’t want to sit here and act as though everything is horrible. Most of the times left this season are interesting, and Emily & Brett may be one of the strongest teams that we have ever seen on the show so far. (Granted, it is just two episodes in.) Jody & Cory are inspirational, the Body Break duo are entertaining, and even the hippies are more competitive than we predicted. There still hasn’t been a challenge to really test anyone that much, but we like that this does not feel like anything but an equal to the original U.S. version.
Next week, the teams head off to Vancouver with the married doctors in the lead, but we have a feeling that some sort of equalizer is coming. After all, this is another “Amazing Race” tradition: Your past accomplishments mean nothing in a new city.