Nine times it’s zoomed over the Emmy finish line first and now it’s jockeying for a tenth victory in 11 years. Only one show — “Top Chef” — managed to overtake it. That was back in 2010 and “The Amazing Race” rebounded the very next year to continue building upon its impressive Emmy haul.
Now competing against “The Amazing Race” are nine-time nominee “Project Runway,” eight-time contender “Dancing With the Stars,” thrice-recognized “So You Think You Can Dance” and last year’s buzzy newcomer “The Voice.”
Can “The Amazing Race” go the distance again? Or will another show finally get its due at the Emmys? Based upon the episodes submitted to judges by each of the nominated series, a few contenders have an outside shot to take down the frontrunner, but that’s only if Emmy voters finally decide to be generous and rally around a new show this year.
Below are descriptions and analyses of the sample episode submitted by each nominee to Emmy judges.
“The Amazing Race”
Episode: “Be Safe and Don’t Hit a Cow”
Airdate: March 31, 2013
Seven teams have arrived in Botswana, and their tasks include water skiing in a crocodile-infested swamp, transporting goats in a dugout canoe and using a carrot to lead a donkey through the jungle. Drama unfolds when the cute country blondes get a speeding ticket and have to take time away from the million dollar race in order to pay their fine. But when they arrive at the ticketing place they discover that their American money won’t be accepted, so they have to trust a local man to drive away with their money, exchange it for them and then return. It’s nail-biting stuff and helps articulate why “The Amazing Race” is such a strong competitor in this field.
Episode: “Glacial Gourmand”
Airdate: February 13, 2013
Forget the competition — the real drama in this episode comes at two distinct points that have nothing to do with cooking. At dinner, guest judge Roy Choi tells returning judge Emeril Lagasse that Legasse’s old cooking show is the reason Choi cleaned up his act and changed his life around from being the guy you wouldn’t want to meet on the street to being a renowned chef. It was an inspirational moment, made all the more real by the fact that Lagasse seemingly had no idea that revelation was coming. And later on, one of the contestants gets a phone call from his pregnant wife because she’s gone into labor, and yet the contestant decides to stay in Alaska (where much of this season was filmed) despite her tearful wishes for him to return.
Episode: “Women on the Go”
Airdate: August 9, 2012
The fourth episode of Season Ten begins with a bang, as one designer has left the show during the night without even saying goodbye to the contestants or production team. Things go from bad to worse when another designer decides to leave midway through the challenge because he wants to continue creating fashion in his own way. In order to make up for the sudden loss of two people, Tim Gunn announces the show is bringing back a contestant who was previously eliminated. Talk about a dramatic triple whammy, and all within the first 20 minutes! The rest of the episode plays out like normal, but that “oomph” of a beginning could initially wow voters.
Episode: “The Blind Auditions – Part 1”
Airdate: March 25, 2013
TV’s hot new reality show submitted its fourth season premiere. Blake Shelton sums up the two-hour event as, “The blind audition, that’s like Christmas morning. That’s the magic of this show.” And he’s not wrong. Much of the buzz tends to fade away after the blind auditions end every season, so it’s a smart move to submit one of these episodes to Emmy judges. Shelton is joined by returning coach Adam Levine and two newbies to the series, Shakira and Usher. As host, Carson Daly excels in the moments backstage with the contestants’ families as they pray for one of the judges to turn their chairs around. The episode begins in a way that makes it stand out from its competition, as all four of the famous coaches take the stage together and put on a kick-ass concert for excited fans.
“So You Think You Can Dance”
Airdate: September 18, 2012
The Top 20 return to celebrate the show’s ninth season finale. At the top of the show, Nigel Lythgoe mentions the Creative Arts Emmy for Best Lighting they won the week prior and wishes host Cat Deeley luck at the Primetime Emmys with her Best Reality Host nomination (she ended up losing to Tom Bergeron). The two-hour episode spotlights the judges’ and contestants’ favorite dances from the entire season and culminates with the reveal of the season’s two winners. For the first time ever, there is a girl champion and a guy champion.
“Dancing with the Stars”
Episode: “Performance Show: Week 3”
Airdate: April 1, 2013
It’s Prom Night at “Dancing with the Stars,” as the class of 2013 takes the stage dressed in classic promwear. Host Bergeron embraces the cheesiness of the event, saying, “Welcome back to Prom Night, or as I like to call it, ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time’ night.” This is the show’s eighth consecutive nomination in this category, but can’t seem to catch a break with voters outside of the Reality Host race. Will Prom Night be enough to swoon Emmy judges?