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The Amazing Race - The First Season



DVD Release Date: September 27, 2005 (Paramount Home Video)
MSRP: $38.99
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: Approx. 12 hours, 49 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English Subtitles; Closed captioned
Special Features: All Access Pass - Branch to 90 minutes of additional scenes not shown on television; Audio commentaries on 4 episodes by 4 teams; The Lost Roadblock; Reliving The Race featurette; Creating and Coordinating featurette


Ready, set, go! Winner of three Emmy Awards for Best Reality Program, The Amazing Race throws 22 competitors into a planet-wide quest to beat overwhelming odds and cliff-hanger challenges in an all-out battle to win a race around the world - and claim the truly amazing $1 million first prize! Teams will have to make their way from country to country on everything from bicycles to camels with limited time and cash, facing language barriers and cultural differences. As team after team is eliminated, the field is narrowed to the final few, and the ultimate global adventure streaks down the stretch to its breathtaking, down-to-the-wire finish!

Available for the first time is the adrenaline-powered first season of The Amazing Race. Supercharged with a wealth of never-before-seen footage and bonus extras, this must-own 4-disc collection will take you around the world and behind the race...again and again.

Teams / Episodes Included:

The Amazing Race premiered on CBS on September 5, 2001. It aired on Wednesdays at 9:00-10:00PM ET. New Zealand born Phil Keoghan is the host. The show did not garner great ratings during the first season, but fortunately CBS continued to give it a chance and it's now time for the 8th season.

The first season started and ended in New York City. Various stops included South Africa, France, Tunisia, the Sahara Desert, Italy, England, India, Thailand, mainland China and Alaska. Eleven teams were part of the first season. They included Frank & Margarita (Separated Parents), Paul & Amie (Engaged), Kim & Leslie (Teachers/Roommates), Lenny & Karyn (Dating), Dave & Margaretta (Grandparents), Matt & Ana (Married), Joe & Bill (Life Partners - also known as Team Guido), Pat & Brenda (Working Moms), Rob & Brennan (Lawyers/Best Friends), Nancy & Emily (Mother-Daughter), and Drew & Kevin (Fraternity Brothers). My favorite team had to be Drew & Kevin. They were so funny. Who could forget the infamous line from the first episode: "Swing you fat bastard, swing!"

There are 13 episodes on this set. Here is the breakdown by disc with runnning times:

Disc 1
Episode 101 - The Race Begins (44:14)
Episode 102 - Divide And Conquer (44:14)
Episode 103 - Home For Some (44:04)

Disc 2
Episode 104 - Colossal Showdown (44:15)
Episode 105 - Desert Storm (44:15)
Episode 106 - Whatever It Takes To Win (44:14)

Disc 3
Episode 107 - Triumph And Loss (44:14)
Episode 108 - Competition To The Fullest (44:15)
Episode 109 - The Unexpected Twist (44:14)
Episode 110 - To The Physical And Mental Limit (44:15)

Disc 4
Episode 111 - Fight To The Last Minute (44:15)
Episode 112 - Race To The Finish (Part 1) (44:25)
Episode 113 - Race To The Finish (Part 2) (42:36)


The packaging is your typical cardboard box with 4 slimcases that slide out from the right side. The front cover features photos of Frank & Margarita, Rob & Brennan, Joe & Bill, and Kevin & Drew at the bottom. There are various other photos from around the world in a bluish tint in the background. The Amazing Race logo is in the center of the box. On the back of the box, they give a summary of the set and list the special features. They say the show has won two Emmy Awards, but the show recently won for a 3rd time. Congratulations to the best reality show on TV! The 4 slimcases feature various photos of the cast and have different colored arrows on them. There are pretty detailed summaries of the episodes on the back of the cases and the original airdates are listed as well. The actual discs have the Amazing Race logo on them with photos of 2 guys climing a mountain and some camels in the background. There are various photos inside the slimcases with different colored backgrounds.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus continue the same blue color theme. There are various photos of the cast and other scenes in the background along with the show's logo. The episode titles are listed vertically in yellow bars. When you highlight an episode, it turns red. Finally, the bar turns green when you select it. There is a Set Up option on each disc where you can select if you want English or no subtitles. There is an additional sub-menu when you choose an episode. It gives you an option to view episodes with the Side Trips (on 9 episodes) or audio commentaries (on 4 episodes). The Special Features option can be found on the third disc. There are chapter stops within the episodes, but no separate menus for scene selections. The chapter stops are well-placed after the previously on segment, the opening theme credits, and where the commercial breaks were originally placed. There is no Play All button, but that doesn't really seem necessary with only 3-4 episodes per disc. Creator and Executive Producer Bertram van Munster and co-creator and co-executive producer Elise Doganieri give a 40 second intro on each disc telling you about the "Side Trips" additional scenes footage.

Video and Audio Quality:

The episodes are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio as they were broacast originally. The quality of the video is generally excellent. They use mostly handheld cameras, so the picture quality can vary depending on the conditions. Some scenes look very crisp and clean. They didn't have the best lighting for some scenes, so they may look a little grainy or out of focus. The episodes are well spread out over 4 discs with no more than 3-4 episodes so there are no compression problems. The overall cinematography of the show is gorgeous. They visit so many great locations. The episodes appear to be complete and unedited. It's nice they included the "Previously On" and "Next Time on The Amazing Race" segments as well. It was also nice to see and hear the closing credits without any voiceovers. Episodes are presented in their ogirinal airdate order.

The audio is a Dolby Ditigal 2.0 Stereo track. It's at a good level. Sometimes they use subtitles where the dialog may not be totally comprehensible. The music of the show really stands out. It's always been one of my favorite parts of the show as it adds to the fast pace of the show. John M. Keane (also the composer of C.S.I.) composed the main title theme and did the music for about 5 episodes. Some of his cues have been used in later seasons. A number of other composers have done the music for other episodes. There is an option to use English subtitles on all episodes. Unfortunately, you can't turn on the subtitles for the "Side Trips" additional scenes footage. Closed captioning is also available for all episodes.

Special Features:

There is a nice amount of special features that add to the enjoyment and value of this set. Here is a breakdown:

Side Trips - All Access Pass - Branch to 90 minutes of additional scenes not shown on television: You have to enable this option before you start an episode. A little, yellow signpost icon will appear on the lower right hand side of your screen. They pop up at the approximate location where these additional scenes would have aired had they made the final broadcast. There is no music on these additional scenes and there are no commentaries on them either. Watching the scenes without any music shows me how integral the music is to the show. It adds so much to the viewing experience.

There are additional scenes for 9 of the 13 episodes. When they only have 44 minutes (actually less than that with the opening credits and other weekly segments), they have to leave out a lot of footage. Here is a breakdown with the approximate running times of the extra footage along with the spot that they appear in the episode. This amounts to nearly 90 minutes of additional scenes.

Episode 101 - The Race Begins (8 Scenes) - :58 at 8:36, 1:50 at 10:26, 10:06 at 11:53, 2:24 at 14:05, :59 at 16:39, 3:34 at 19:30, :47 at 21:46, 3:30 at 38:51
Episode 102 - Divide and Conquer (7 Scenes) - 3:35 at 7:21, 4:19 at 16:34, 2:00 at 18:21, 3:38 at 19:40, :40 at 25:51, 2:34 at 33:30, 3:02 at 37:52
Episode 103 - Home For Some (3 Scenes) - 1:11 at 17:00, 2:35 at 30:42, 5:46 at 33:36
Episode 104 - Colossal Showdown (4 Scenes) 5:14 at 11:54, 1:28 at 17:35, 1:28 at 22:51, 2:14 at 27:58
Episode 105 - Desert Storm (3 Scenes) - 2:28 at 6:35, 4:11 at 23:01, 4:36 at 39:10
Episode 106 - Whatever It Takes To Win (3 Scenes) 3:36 at 15:15, 4:43 at 24:46, 1:52 at 38:53
Episode 107 - Triumph And Loss (1 Scene) - 2:12 at 11:46
Episode 108 - Competition To The Fullest (1 Scene) - 4:45 at 7:39
Episode 109 - The Unexpected Twist (2 Scenes) - 2:04 at 14:52, :41 at 36:30

I like the idea of the additional scenes, but I think they should have been included as a special separate section. Watching them within the episodes, it takes the flow out of watching the original episode. It is nice to see the approximate location where these additional scenes would have originally aired, but on movie dvds they usually provide a little clip with the original scene - then the deleted scene - and then back to the original scene. Maybe they could have given you the option to play them within the episode or as an option to play all the additional scenes by episode.

Audio Commetaries - There are a total of 4 audio commentaries. Karyn & Lenny and Drew & Kevin provide the commentaries on Episode 101 - The Race Begins and Episode 107 - Triumph and Loss. Rob & Brennan and Team Guido (Bill & Joe) do the commentaries on Episode 106 - Whatever It Takes To Win and Episode 113 - Race to the Finish (Part 2). These are very fun to listen to. They give some updates on some of the other participants. They give a lot of interesting trivia and behind the scenes details. Kevin & Drew are funny as ever. I love how they have nicknames for all the teams. It was great to have 4 teams back to give commentaries, but it would have been ever better to have more people back to give their thoughts. I suggest you watch the episodes first as these commentaries do contain some spoilers on the final outcome of the race.

Reliving The Race - This feature runs 22 minutes, 18 seconds. It includes interviews with host Phil Keoghan; race participants Kevin O'Connor, Andrew (Drew) Feinberg, Bill Bartek, Joe Baldassare, Brennan Swain, Rob Frisbee, Karyn Jefferson, and Lenny Hudson; Creator and Executive Producer Bertram van Muster; and Co-Creator and Co-Executive Producer Elise Doganieri. They talk about the development of the show and how it was originally called Race Around the World. They cover various topics on how the crew members would race the participants to the next destination, about the difficulty of booking flights, the most challenging locations, and how the show is unpredictable and there is a certain amount of luck involved.

Creating and Coordinating - This feature runs 9 minutes, 24 seconds. It features interviews with Bertram van Muster, Executive Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Phil Keoghan, and Elise Doganieri. They talk about how the idea of the show came up and how they pitched it to the network. Various other topics include how they scout locations, what Phil does (no, he doesn't go shopping) while waiting for teams to arrive, how the challenges were born, and how they shoot the episodes.

The Lost Road Block - This never-aired footage runs 5 minutes, 50 seconds. Bertram van Muster and Elise Doganieri give a brief introduction. This clip was part of the first episode, but was cut from the final broadcast. It involves the teams eating a huge ostrich egg (which is the equivalent of about 22 regular eggs). They've had other difficult eating challenges in other seasons, but maybe this one just took too long to complete.

Final Comments:

Wow, I can't believe it's been 4 years since the show premiered. I started out as a Survivor fan, and The Amazing Race looked interesting to see me so I gave it a chance. I was hooked from the first episode and I've watched every episode since the beginning. Not only has The Amazing Race become my favorite reality series, it's become of of my favorite current shows overall. I really look forward to each new episode and season.

It was a lot of fun to see these episodes again. I haven't watched them since the original airing. A lot of the teams I could still remember, but there were a few that I didn't know a lot of details about. There were so many memorable teams and personalites on the first season. It was probably the best mix of people they've had from all seasons. Phil looks completely different with his hair now then he did during the first season. It's also interesting how he wasn't there to greet each team as they arrived. He was only there when a team was eliminated.

Overall, this is a very nice set. The extras are interesting to watch even for the most die-hard Amazing Race fan. I suggest you watch the episodes first, and the extras and commentaries last as they do contain some spoilers if you don't know who ended up winning. If they include the "Side Trips" on future DVD sets, I hope they include them as a separate option and not within the episodes.

Look for The Amazing Race 7, which featured reality show darlings Rob and Amber, to be released on December 20th. I really hope they go back and release seasons 2-6 at some point. You can also catch The Amazing Race repeats on GSN. The Amazing Race 8 (Family Edition) premieres on CBS on September 27th. It will air Tuesdays at 9PM ET/PT.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/27/2005

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