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Paramount Home Video presents
The Amazing Race: The Seventh Season (2005)

Kelly: You don't make commitments.
Ron: I was only committed to the military.
Kelly: And you got out of that one.
Ron: How did I get out of that one?
Kelly: By being a P.O.W.

- Kelly McKorkle, Ron Young

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: December 19, 2005

Stars: Phil Keoghan, Rob Mariano, Amber Brkich, Brian Smith, Greg Smith, Uchenna Agu, Joyce Agu, Meredith Smith, Gretchen Smith, Ron Young, Kelly McKorkle, Lynn Warren, Alex Ali
Other Stars: Debbie Cloyed, Bianca Smith, Ray Housteau, Deena Shane, Susan Vaughn, Patrick Vaughn, Ryan Phillips, Chuck Horton, Heidi Heidel, Megan Baker
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 10h:50m:00s
Release Date: December 20, 2005
UPC: 097368883246
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A AB+B+ A-

DVD Review

In the current television world of pop star wannabes, sexy teens "forced" to live in a loft, and gross-out competitions, one remarkable series continues to stand apart from all the others. My admiration for The Amazing Race remains higher than ever after seven nail-biting seasons. The unfortunate current family edition does not truly count. The last real version of this exciting series aired during the spring of 2005, and it receives the quick DVD turnaround with this reasonably priced four-disc set. Offering mad dashes to the finish line, shocking accidents, plenty of arguments, and lots of fun, the seventh season is one of the show's best editions.

The Amazing Race brings together a group of teams with an existing relationship for a fast-paced adventure around the world. I will now repeat my description originally used during my review of the show's first season, with some slight modifications to reflect tasks from this version. Eleven two-person teams begin in the United States and follow a series of clues that take them to a wide array of destinations worldwide. Eventually, their progress will take them in a complete circle around the planet and back to their home country. The race is separated into a series of legs, usually lasting for a day or two, that conclude at a pit stop for resting and socializing with the other teams. During most segments, the last team to arrive at the pit stop is eliminated. Several legs do not remove a team, but this fact is not revealed until they reach the end. The final three teams will race to the finish line for the ultimate one-million-dollar prize.

Much of the players' success is determined by their ability to catch a taxi, choose the right flights, and handle the nominal funds wisely. Teams may not bring their personal money and must rely on the small amounts provided at the beginning of each leg. In addition to finding a specific city and site, they must compete in a series of detours and roadblocks that will test additional skills. The detours allow teams to choose between a quicker (and more difficult) task and a longer (and easier) choice. For example, while racing through Peru, the teams may choose to carry heavy baskets on their backs for a short distance or guide two stubborn llamas into a holding pen. The roadblocks are tasks that only one team member may perform, and they must choose before the action is clear. This activity could involve eating large quantities of meat, maneuvering double-decker vans into a small parking space, or driving a jeep through crocodile-infested waters. Difficulties with even one detour or roadblock can quickly eliminate even the most capable team.

The Amazing Race: The Seventh Season offers possibly the most unique cast assembled since the series' first offering. The most notable team is Survivor's Rob and Amber, who immediately draw ire from the other teams for doing whatever it takes to stay around. Speaking with his trademark Boston accent, Rob appears to relish playing the villain and drawing hate from other players. One of these frustrated duos is Lynn and Alex, a gay couple who deliver many of the season's funniest moments. Lynn's spontaneous song and dance with a goat while riding through Peru is a classic scene. Another entertaining team is Brian and Greg—two athletic brothers who use the word “dude” without a hint of irony. On the other side are such cringe-inducing teams as Ron and Kelly, an Iraqi prisoner of war and Southern beauty queen, and Ray and Deena—a nasty personal trainer and his much younger girlfriend. The former are completely unlikable people with little to say, while the latter appear to enjoy almost zero of the time spent in other countries. The remaining teams included the retired Meredith and Gretchen, upbeat couple Uchenna and Joyce, blonde beach girls Megan and Heidi, country boys Ryan and Chuck, mother/son combo Susan and Patrick, and lifelong and very attractive friends Debbie and Patrick.

It becomes difficult to discuss too many of the season's plotlines without giving away the order of elimination, but I'll describe some pivotal moments in general terms. The season's ongoing story involves the other teams' constant irritation at Rob and Amber's tactics, which include messing with a roadblock, paying off drivers to keep other racers out, and caring little for the safety of others during a harrowing car accident. That scene is especially stunning, even for a show of this nature, and it is not the only rough moment. Meredith and Gretchen take the role of the strong old couple, but they aren't as endearing as past teams, largely due to her difficult voice. But they deserve credit for sticking together while other teams bicker constantly. Uchenna and Joyce generate interest as parents hoping to use the million dollars for fertility treatments. They also have financial difficulties caused by unfortunate layoffs from two companies involved in corporate scandals. This season also adds a new twist to the non-elimination rounds, which leads to some silly closing scenes. This unpredictable, entertaining tone carries throughout the season and helps to create another wonderful ride.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Amazing Race: The Seventh Season offers the series' original full-frame image and showcases the chaotic moments positively. The footage obviously is limited by its digital cameras and the constant movement, but it comes across very well on DVD. There are few defects or overly grainy scenes, which leads to an enjoyable presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: This release improves significantly over the first-season discs, which offered quieter dialogue and less-powerful audio. While it still utilizes a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround transfer, the seventh season includes louder, clearer dialogue, which almost certainly is due to better technology and a larger budget. Limitations still exist, but the overall listening experience remains strong throughout the season.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
1 Documentaries
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by Lynn and Alex with Brian and Greg on two episodes; Rob and Amber with Uchenna and Joyce on two episodes
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Over three hours of additional scenes
Extras Review: The Amazing Race: The Seventh Season mirrors the successful first-season release, but it provides even more additional footage, called "Sidetrips," which present silly human moments not as pertinent to the final results. The new inclusions this time are the "Mat Chats," which offer lengthier conversations between Phil and the contestants after they land on the mat. They focus on the racers' opinions on the other teams and their own race performance. The extra material runs for more than three hours and is spread across the entire season. Viewers have the option of enabling this feature, which places a small sign image onto the screen when the sidetrips are available. I still wish that we could watch these scenes apart from the episodes, as they halt the overall flow, but that option is not available.

This release also includes four commentaries with two groups of four people on each one. Uchenna and Joyce join Rob and Amber to discuss their much-different approaches to running the race. The other group offers the highly amusing combination of Lynn and Alex paired with Greg and Brian. This foursome has loads of laughs viewing the episodes and making fun of both themselves and the other teams. These tracks offer plenty of information on the racers' experiences and numerous hilarious moments from the speakers.

Viewers interested in both the contestants' and producers' opinions should enjoy Recapping the Race—a 25-minute collection of interviews and clips that effectively summarizes the seventh season. Phil Keoghan gives safe, but honest comments about the racers and the year's pivotal events. His comments make me wish that he'd provide an entire commentary like Jeff Probst on the Survivor releases, but Phil seems more content to remain in the background. The commentary participants all appear here and provide shorter sound bytes about their opponents and the overall experience. Executive producers Bertram Van Munster and Elise Doganieri also briefly discuss their casting choices and feelings on the contest.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

I can't get enough of The Amazing Race. I'm obsessed with being on the show and have dreams about traveling the world and participating in exciting challenges. This competitive, exciting atmosphere moves the series past all others and makes it a must-see for adventure lovers everywhere. The seventh-season release offers an unending series of thrilling moments that helped to generate the show's most popular edition. I can only hope that the earlier seasons will also find their way to DVD in the near future.


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