In defense of bunching

November 30, 2004

Despite a poor showing for the two teams from NYC, The Amazing Race continues to roll with another entertaining episode. This week's Detour tested real world important skills (assembling Ikea furniture.) However, I did think that a roll in the hay with Lena and Kristy would have been much more fun than it was at this Roadblock...

Besides the structural reasons for the race being consistently entertaining, the sharp editing helps. For example:

Hayden: "Did you hear Jonathan screaming at Victoria?"
Cut to taxi cab
Jonathan (screaming): "Will you shut up and let me talk?!"

The editors have to go through a lot of footage to put together 44 minutes of TV and not miss gems like Bolo counting: "66, 68, 80."

By staying in Iceland and Scandinavia for the first three legs, the race has spent less time testing the racers' airport skills than TAR5, but been no less bunched. In this leg, the teams were all bunched together at two points-- due to the operating hours of the train station in Voss and the Ikea in Stockholm. Although it seems to penalize teams that race well, bunching is a vital element of keeping the race interesting. If teams were truly able to capitalize and accumulate leads on a cumulative basis as the race went on, the race would lose much of its excitement and after some point in the race, there would be little to no drama about which team would win the leg and which team would be eliminated. The bunching keeps all the teams competitive.

The bunching also requires teams to run the best race at all times-- no team can sit on a pre-existing lead. Instead, teams have to run each leg (or at least from bunching point to pitstop) well in order to advance.

ALoTT5MA: Now You Understand that "Needle in a Haystack" Expression

Previous TAR-related posts:
On Like Donkey Kong, My Ox is Broken!.

Posted by Andrew Raff at November 30, 2004 11:36 PM
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