The 14th installment of The Amazing Race kicks off Sunday (CBS, 8 pm/ET) as 11 teams dash around the world toward the finish line and the $1 million dollar prize. TVGuide.com checked in with Murtz Jaffer, editor of InsidePulse.com and host of Reality Obsessed, to get his take on the teams to watch, what's up with those pit stops, and why patience is the key to victory.
TVGuide.com: Who are your teams to watch?
Murtz Jaffer: There's one team that I'm favoring and that's Cara and Jaime, the cheerleaders from Florida. One is 26, one is 29 [and] typically younger teams win the race. Everybody wants two females to win this show. They're my heavy favorites right now, I have a feeling about these two.
Another team that I like is Tammy and Victor, the lawyers. Victor is modeling his game-play style on Rob and Amber [Season 7]. You drop Boston Rob and I'm obviously going to pick you. I like the fact that Tammy is 26 and Victor is 35, that's a really good age. You got the mature one who's not that old but has still been around, and you have the younger one to dominate the physical. Plus they both went to Harvard.
Mark (48) and Michael (51) Munoz, the stunt brothers, are another team. They remind me a lot of Jon and Al, the clowns [Season 4]. Whenever Jon and Al were at the airport they'd put on their noses and make nice with the ticketing agent and I can see [Mark and Michael] doing a lot of tricks and stuff. [Their height —4'9"] can work for them, it can work against them, too. We'll never know what we're going to get in a challenge with them. They're either going to kill it, and we'll be like, "Oh my god, I can't believe those guys won" or "I feel so bad for them, this is totally not fair." Either way you're entertained.
TVGuide.com: Are there any other interesting teams?
Jaffer: Everybody is going to be talking about Margie and Luke. Luke (22) is the first-ever hearing impaired contestant. Communication is a big thing on the race. Teams that do well are the ones that don't freak out at the ticketing agent, that keep their cool. Obviously Margie (50) is patient, she had to learn sign language to communicate to her son [Luke]. In the pandemonium of the whole, "Let's go, we gotta go to the pit stop," they're going to be more concentrated on doing their own thing. Boston Rob and Amber have long said that that has always been their secret; they just did not care what anyone else was doing.
TVGuide.com: So who's most likely to go first?
Jaffer: Linda (52) and Steve (43), the married couple, are going to be in trouble. Brad (52) and Victoria (47) are also going to be in trouble, once again because of age. On Survivor you can get past age. You have the opportunity to align and you can bring in people to make up for any deficiencies you may have, whether it be social, physical, or survivalist. On The Amazing Race sorry, if you're old you're not going to be able to run as fast. It's over.
TVGuide.com: Can you tell us any other scoop about this season?
Jaffer: Less airports. It gets annoying when one team just kills at a challenge and all of a sudden they go to bed, the airport opens at 7 am, and they're all evened up again. Very annoying, I'm sure, for the contestants and for the people watching. I think that reality shows now, in 2009, are actually learning. And that's a very big thing — not just going with the status quo. The Amazing Race has learned that these airports and conjoined pit stops have to go.
Also, they are going to suffer through blizzards in [Russia] and I'm also hearing that there's going to be Olympic-themed challenges because the teams went to Beijing. Other locations that were featured are Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Siberia, Thailand, and Beijing.
There are no alpha male teams at all, not one. It's such an interesting thing to make a reality show, you have to make it fair and it's hard to answer what is fair. One person could say it's only fair that they have two males on the show because that means that the race wasn't watered down. So now if two older people win, I'm always going to say, "Well yeah, they won that season with an asterisk," because they didn't really have to face two 30-year-old guys. At the same time, you put two 30-year-old guys there and they're going to win every single time. My ideal casting would be two 30-year-old guys that are like Napoleon Dynamite because then you still have two 30-year-old guys but they're not these physical power houses.