Every episode up to and including All Stars were all decent, some standouts for sure, but they were all similarly good to watch because they had an Amazing Race vibe that is not really seen in the recent seasons. A huge factor that contributed to all those seasons was self-driving, which we have had a lack of in the last 5 years of TAR. But there are some highlight legs in post All Stars seasons, and for me they were:
TAR14 (Switzerland) - probably the best premiere in Amazing Race history, and I wish every premiere would follow the same format:
1. An awe-inspiring location (the mountain scenery is always a winner)
2. A thrilling, adrenalin-rush challenge (the bungee jump)
3. An entertaining
team challenge (CHEESE!)
I honestly feel like the production in recent seasons has forgotten that this race is made for TV. TV is meant to be entertaining. A lot of challenges in recent seasons are not difficult enough, and they are just straightforward and not fun to watch, regardless of whether they are culturally relevant.
TAR17 (Russia 2) - probably my favourite leg in Amazing Race history. It was set in a superb location with an entertaining Detour which was also difficult, add in a few cryptic clues (I thought the treasure hunt was a great touch and wish they'd do one in every leg) and the Roadblock was standard/difficult, but also culturally relevant. There was constant drama in the leg (taxi trouble) and lots of position shuffling. Almost perfect!
TAR20 (Paraguay) - this leg was in the limelight only because TAR19 was pretty bland. There was flight drama, which stood out only because there wasn't really any real flight drama in the 2 previous seasons. The Detour and Roadblock were devilishly difficult, and lots of position shuffling.
TAR21 (New York City) - my favourite final leg of all time! I wish every finale followed the same format. We got an adrenalin-rush challenge (I believe that every season should START and FINISH with one of these), a somewhat culturally relevant challenge (pizza delivery? I'm not sure, but it was good enough) and the final challenge which should always be memory. I thought the producers had run out of ideas for memory challenges, but this was stellar!
TAR22 (Botswana 2) - as I said, the Russia leg in TAR17 is my favourite of all time, but this is probably the only leg which did have that early Amazing Race vibe that I love to watch and dearly miss. Self-driving was one factor, but in an unexpected country like Botswana? AWESOME! There wasn't even an equaliser in this leg and there was STILL position shuffling (Pam & Winnie going from first to last). The actual challenges were all pretty standard, but due to fumbles by the actual teams, they were so entertaining and the episode had me on the edge of my seat 'til the very last minute. It was truly an amazing episode
TAR23 (Chile 2) - did not expect this at all to be a fantastic leg. I really liked the history-related task at the beginning, even though it didn't really contribute anything. I loved the setting of a salt mine for the Detour, which I thought was cool. I'm not really a fan of mid-leg travel but teams were split up so it was okay! And going from the desert to Santiago, for a Roadblock which involved interaction with the locals was really cool. Since this was only leg 2 and we were still getting to know the teams, the tasks helped us get to know them. Woo!