Phil Keoghan is gearing up for a big weekend. On Saturday, his documentary The Ride — in which he biked across the U.S. to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society — premieres on Showtime at 8/7c. On Sunday, The Amazing Race returns for its 20th season (8/7c, CBS). "[The scheduling] was not planned. It just ended up being that way," Keoghan tells TVGuide.com. "The great thing is it's almost three years to the day I started my bike ride and we just hit the $1 million mark. Now the teams are starting their Race for $1 million. One's for charity and one's a race around the world, so it's pretty cool." What was planned though was having Racers start off their globe-trotting adventure on — what else? — bikes, and infusing the season with a wee bit more drama by casting everyone's favorite Big Brother couple they love to hate: Brendon and Rachel. We caught up with Keoghan to get the scoop on Season 20 and why it's not to be missed.
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Is there friction between other teams or does it all stem from Brendon and Rachel?
Keoghan: Yes and no. We have some very strong personalities and the strongest personalities are absolutely the women. Rachel's one of them, Vanessa's another, and they all clash. We have a good mix of people. We have some eye candy with the twin brothers. We've got the border patrol agents, who are all business, the federal agents who are women and tough as nails, but are also eye candy. Things just really clicked this season.
Do you watch Big Brother? Were you aware of them?
Kepghan: No. I don't watch a lot of TV. ... I had to literally hunt down clips and discover who they were and why people hate them so much. I saw why when I saw the clips. [Laughs] I realized, "OK! There you go." I think it's important to have an adversary. That's what life is like. There's no point in casting a show where everyone is perfect and no one pisses you off. Every day you're going to get rattled by somebody because they cut in front of you at the grocery store. Brendon and Rachel are, let's be honest, a truly unique relationship. Nobody should judge anybody in any relationship if it works, but it's definitely an out-of-the-ordinary connection. [Laughs] It's not your vanilla ice cream relationship. It's definitely a rocky road chocolate. I'm sure Ben and Jerry's has some crazy flavor that epitomizes what they are.
You still have the Express Pass, but no Hazard. Any new twists we should keep an eye out for?
Keoghan: Just little tweaks here and there. Right out of the gate, you've got teams leaping out of a plane at 14,000 feet sort of under false pretenses. But there's not gonna be a trick every task.
Is there any task we should look forward to or you were particularly fond of?
Keoghan: The stuff in Azerbaijan was really interesting because the culture is so centered around oil. There's a challenge where they have to get involved in oil, quite literally. It's very unique. ... Everywhere we go, we're always looking to tap into something that's ordinary there, but is extraordinary here. That's why we always look fresh. I think it's difficult for a variety type show where people are singing or dancing on a stage setting. I think they have a much tougher time looking fresh. "Let's try red gels instead of blue gels. Let's put balloons out instead of streamers." There are tricks you can do, but it's still less surprising because for the most part, it's still a performer on a stage. I think we're lucky that we're always able to explore and do new things.