On Tuesday, I was a contestant on The Amazing Race Canada… well, kind of.
Earlier this week, CTV hosted a special version of its groundbreaking reality series. The Amazing Race Canada Media Challenge invited personalities from all of the city’s major media outlets to compete in a one day race across the city of Toronto. This was in an effort to offer reporters the chance a chance to experience what being on the show is really like.
After initially receiving the invitation to participate, I had to consider who the best partner would be. My reality instincts told me to choose someone athletic who could make-up for my deficiencies in anything requiring running shoes. I also had to consider who would look good on camera (one of the primary requirements of any casting agent). Ultimately, as fans of the genre know, the best alliances on these types of programs are that remain loyal to each other.
I met Bill Brioux a decade ago. He curmudgeonly disparaged the greatest reality show in the history of the world (Survivor) back when he was writing for the Toronto Sun in 2004 and I used to routinely write into the paper to defend my favourite program. This eventually led to us writing a Survivor column together and working alongside each other at the daily paper. Bill also visited the set of my old television series and proved his loyalty at our last Media Day Challenge. While I had concerns about how seriously he would take the Amazing Race Canada Media Day Challenge (it was of life and death importance to me), I also knew that I could trust him. He was the only choice.
Prior to the Race, I consulted with as many previous Amazing Race winners as I could. Considering my involvement in helping to plan their finale parties every year, many were willing to help and offer advice.
It was at that point where Bill and I decided that our sole goal was to not finish in last place. After covering reality television for the past 15 years, I was not under the guise of false aspiration. The mistake that so many people make on these shows is not realizing what their strengths and weaknesses are. Bill and I cover television for a reason. Our definition of the ‘gym’ are those programs you channel-surf through when you are trying to watch The View. Just kidding.
In any event, on Tuesday, “Team TV” took their spot on the mat alongside teams from almost every major Bell Media property as well as a couple of other outlets as well.
The first clue asked us to find Stanley Park, and Bill and I were already baffled. Luckily, I knew that we would need some help and I conveniently had some allies placed in strategic locations in downtown Toronto (just in case we needed to borrow a cell phone as ours were taken). Unfortunately, this brilliant scheme proved to be ineffective as we were asked to go to locations where I didn’t have any of my secret agents stationed. I guess it is the thought that counts right?
As our first plan didn’t come to fruition, we decided to do what so many teams on The Amazing Race Canada do. Play a game of follow the leader. As the teams all rushed off , Bill and I sat back and when the time was right (or more appropriately when a cab finally decided to stop for a couple of journalist rapscallions), we followed another cab to the location.
The first roadblock asked us to choose the team member that was feeling more patriotic than the other and we decided that Bill was more comfortable singing the national anthem (even though I suggested that I knew a lot of it in French). It turns out that this ended up being the most pivotal decision of the day.
I will tell you that what ensued combined all of the mystery, intrigue, and emotion of my favourite reality shows put together. In the end, I pulled off what I consider to be one of the most villainous moves in reality media day history.
As I don’t want to spoil what happened, you’ll just have to watch the video above to see.
I’d like to thank Bill Brioux for being a great partner and for single-handedly building our canoe at the detour (as it was clear that I couldn’t offer much to this enterprise).
I’d like to also extend a big thanks to CTV for giving us the chance to participate. Trying out the Amazing Race Canada Media Challenge was something that I have always wanted to do and it was everything that I dreamed it would be.
Cheers to Insight Productions who coordinated the Race and made it as authentic as the show. A simply incredible achievement and kudos to all involved.
Finally, I’d like to offer my best wishes to all the teams who are currently competing on the Race. Let’s just say that I won’t be as harsh in my critiques this season as I now know how tough the Race can be.
The video of my experience is available at the top of this article and here is the accompanying photo gallery.
To read Bill Brioux’s accompanying recap of the day, visit Brioux.tv
The Amazing Race Canada airs Wednesdays at 9 PM on CTV
Photo Credit: Mark O’Neil
All of the competitors
We are in trouble…
“You are in last place.”
“I don’t think so, I convinced them to take a time penalty!”
Murtz Jaffer is the world's foremost reality television expert and was the host of Reality Obsessed which aired on the TVTropolis and Global Reality Channels in Canada. He has professional writing experience at the Toronto Sun, National Post, TV Guide Canada, TOROMagazine.com and was a former producer at Entertainment Tonight Canada. He was also the editor at Weekendtrips.com.