The Amazing Race season 29 debuts tonight, and let us be honest: the future is bleak for the venerable CBS series. And host Phil Keoghan was honest in a recent radio interview about its challenges.
- Season 29 was filmed last summer, but was saddled with a twist that fully abandons one of its central strengths, though the show has been moving away from preexisting relationships for a while.
- The show was not scheduled for fall.
- A new season did not film in November, as is typical.
- The show was not scheduled for spring, but instead got an end-of-the-season timeslot.
- TAR had its premiere moved up to fill the timeslot of a low-rated show.
So here we are with The Amazing Race 29 debuting on a Thursday night at 10 p.m.: not the best timeslot, especially for a family-friendly series.
Phil admits that in an interview on Paul Harris’ radio show, and was absolutely candid and clear: the ratings for this season will determine whether or not the show is renewed.
Here’s his full explanation:
“Well, I don’t want it to be the final season. Television is incredibly competitive. The way people watch entertainment has changed dramatically. CBS decided that they wanted to try some new and different things in the fall, and we weren’t a part of that plan in the fall.
Again, operating in a very competitive entertainment space, they felt that they wanted to try some new and different things. At the end of the day, it all comes down to supply and demand. If audiences tune in on March 30 at 10 p.m. out this way, as you said, 9 p.m. central—if they turn up and they watch The Amazing Race.
And I do believe that because the show’s on quite late and it’s a new timeslot, that we’re going to get a lot of people watching over the weekend, so we’ll get a lot of the plus three ratings.
But if an audience turns up to watch our show, and an audience still wants our show, then we’ll be back, it’s really as simple as that. It’s just: if the demand is there, then, you know, CBS love our show, they’ve been supportive of our show, obviously, because we’ve had so many seasons. But they’ve also got to look at whether the demand is there.
So it really comes down to will viewers continue to say, Hey, we love the show and we want to keep watching it. It’s as simple as that.”
Phil on international travel, divisiveness, and fear
Here are a few other highlights from the interview, with quotes from Phil:
- The season was filmed in 21 days.
- “We’re trying something that is unprecedented—but it will create, very quickly, some baggage.” That may take two episodes, though: “By the time we get to episode three, they’re like a bickering couple.”
- “Right now, Amazing Race, more than ever, is more relevant than it has been ever. Because in this political time right now when there’s a lot of divisiveness and there’s a lot of people talking about how scary it is to travel … this is a great opportunity for viewers to be able to experience what’s right in the world.”
- “We cannot lock ourselves away and tuck ourselves away and become more and more divided and divisive with each other. We really have got to create dialogue and to travel and to push back against those types of evils, and not let them take control, because that’s exactly what they [evil people] want.”
I’ll have a recap/reaction to tonight’s episode tomorrow morning—and, of course, live commentary on Twitter.