The Amazing Race: Complete First Season

The Amazing Race: Complete First Season (2001)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Hosted by: Phil Keoghan
Extras: Selected Audio Commentaries, Deleted Footage, Featurettes

Today in network television, reality is king. With new shows involving groups or individuals that compete for a cash prize, while enduring everything from boxing their way to the top or loosing that few extra pounds, it seems no one is safe from the next "big" reality proposal. Enter "The Amazing Race," a show with a surprising amount of wit and compassion behind its exhausting production, which makes for quite the entertaining arrangement.

Traveling the globe in an adventure of a lifetime, "The Amazing Race" takes eleven teams of two, who compete against one another during various challenges from; mountain climbing and swimming violent currents to just plain running on no sleep! While searching for clues that will lead them to their next worldly location, teams must also navigate through language and cultural barriers all with limited time and money. During each episode, the last team to arrive at the pre-determined rest stop is sent home, leaving fewer teams each week vying to cash in on the one million dollar prize!

Paramount Home Entertainment crosses the finish line with a great package of the complete first season of "The Amazing Race" on DVD. Presented in its originally broadcasted ratio of 1.33:1 or full frame, the transfer was clean of any visible dust particles, while exposing some compression elements in the form of minor grain and aliasing. The color saturation more than makes up for the minor transfer issues, by offering up quite a vivid display that provided nice highlights of some of the rather exotic locations. I found myself pleasantly surprised by the deep black levels, which provided fantastic overall detailing throughout the presentation.

The soundtrack for "The Amazing Race" is available as a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix, which nicely complimented the visual portion of the presentation. The vocal reproduction was good, but overall provided a "television" quality sound that was not quite as enjoyable as a good polished film. The narration from host Phil Keoghan appeared slightly distorted during some episodes, but for the most part, is not too bothersome. There was a surprising amount of deep bass that rumbled its way into most of the soundtrack that combined with good use of all available channels, which left you with the impression that you were not just watching a repeated television broadcast, but rather a well put together DVD.

Audio commentaries, including various participants from the race, are available during four selected episodes in the special features section. A neat feature called "Side Trips" allows viewers, through seamless-branching, to view additional deleted footage during various portions of the show, by simply pressing the "enter" button on the DVD players remote whenever a small yellow icon sign appears on screen. A featurette titled "The Lost Roadblock" that shows never-aired footage of teams having to eat an ostrich egg! "Reliving The Race" is a segment that reunites some of the team members from the first season and "Creating and Coordinating" brings together host Phil Keoghan, executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer and creators Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster to discuss the production behind 'The Amazing Race".

If you like reality television and never had the chance to experience "The Amazing Race" in its first Emmy Award winning season, this set is well worth the time invested.