Thoughts on Expedition Impossible

Expedition Impossible Logo 2

I didn’t really have the opportunity to share my thoughts following last weeks premiere of the new ABC reality television show Expedition Impossible.  Prior to its debut, I had been writing about the program with some regularity, and even posted videos from the start. Before seeing the show, I noted that it appeared to be a mix of adventure racing and the show The Amazing Race. That description holds up to a certain extent, although Expedition Impossible charts its own course as well, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.

First, I’ll say that as far as first episodes go, this wasn’t a bad one. I found myself enjoying the show overall, in no small part because the Moroccan landscapes look absolutely spectacular in HD. The setting was fantastic and offered some great challenges for the three-person teams who were setting off on the race, many of which seemed completely unprepared for the environments that they would be racing through. (I’m looking at you “Country Boys”!)

Much like Amazing Race however, Expedition Impossible suffers from having too many teams in the first few episodes. It becomes a bit overwhelming for the camera crews and editors to keep up with, and as a result, the audience doesn’t get to see too much of the teams in the early going. This was evident when the “Gypsies” won the first leg, although we hardly saw them at all throughout the episode. This will become less of an issue in a few episodes however, as teams are eliminated, giving the remaining teams more screen time. It will also make it easier for us to get to know the racers and start cheering for the ones that we like best.

Unlike in adventure racing, it didn’t appear that the contestants in Expedition Impossible were actually having to navigate anywhere. Sure, we saw them carrying compasses at some points, but I believe those are more for show than anything else. It appeared that the trails were marked to some degree, making it easier for the racers to find their way. This made for more of a canned feel to the “expedition,” something that doesn’t happen AR or The Amazing Race. On the other hand, I’m not surprised by this, as even expert navigators can get lost in the desert, and I’m sure ABC didn’t want anyone wandering off to die in the Sahara, despite the fact that it would probably be a rating bonanza.

The challenges that we’ve seen so far haven’t been all that impressive either. In the first one, the teams were told to find water “the local way,” which meant digging under the sand for buried water. This made perfect sense to me watching at home, but it seemed to stump all but one of the teams on the show. But once one of them figured it out, they all got it, making it an irrelevant challenge to those that followed. Once the original team had dug their well, everyone else was able to use it afterwards, making it little more of a speed bump. Hopefully future challenges are designed to challenge every team.

The five minute commercial for the Ford Explorer was also a bit much. Sure, Ford is one of the sponsors of the show, and it was disguised as a behind the scenes look at show creator Mark Burnett scouting Morocco for the race, but it seemed to go on forever, and wasn’t all that interesting in the greater scheme of things. Hopefully we won’t have something similar each week.

Now, all of that said, you would probably think that I hated Expedition Impossible, but on the contrary I still found it enjoyable. I think it’ll be better in the episodes to come, and I think it showed a lot of promise. I loved seeing the Moroccan countryside and it was fun to see a pseudo-adventure race on television. The teams are a bit archetypal for me, but hopefully as we get to know them, that will resolve itself as well. As it stands, some of them are quite impressive so far.

Speaking of the teams, one of them, Team No Limits, is probably destined to become known as “the team with the blind guy.” While they didn’t play it up a ton, it should be mentioned that the “blind guy” is mountaineer Eric Weihenmayer, who became the first blind person to summit Everest a few years back. Eric has notched many adventures in his climbing career and is more than capable of winning this race, which is why I get a chuckle when ever someone says something about not wanting to lose to a bling guy or that he would be out of the race in no time. I have no idea how No Limits does in the race, but I know I’ll be cheering for them as long as their still competing.

So? Did you tune in and watch? What are your thoughts on Expedition Impossible so far? Will you give it another go this week? Without a doubt, it is a canned adventure, but hopefully it’ll be a fun one to watch during the long summer months. Post your thoughts in the comments!

Kraig Becker

14 thoughts on “Thoughts on <i>Expedition Impossible</i>”

  1. not getting the show here in the UK, I couldn't comment on the whole episode – however watched the first few minutes on the CBS web site.
    I am definately rooting for Eric's team; at least he has some adventure cred (Everest summit, check….), whereas some of his rivals seem… a bit dumb ass. That's the problem with these shows, too many times I am watching thinking how much I'd love to be doing what they are, when they're just moaning about the heat/sand/bugs etc. Guess putting people on these shows who enjoy this sort of stuff wouldn't connect with the 'average joe' audience (although Bear does quite well!)

  2. I thought very much the same Justin. I think they pick some of these people for the drama, but I couldn't believe how much they were complaining and the race is just getting started. Heck, the "Country Boys" had a hard time on the first sand dune. Now granted, it was hot, and the dune was massive, but still! It looked like they were going to quit before they ever got started at that point.

  3. I was a bit disappointed too, but will probably keep watching anyway. My AR team and I applied to be on the show as we thought it was going to be real adventure racing. I guess silly us for thinking that. Suppose there's not a big enough audience that would actually enjoy watching it as a real athletic event.

  4. I saw Eric Weihenmayer speak a while back in Denver, so I'm rooting for team No Limits, too. I enjoyed the show over-all, but it always takes a few episodes to really get hooked. I'm interested to see what challenges they come up with the rest of the season.

  5. We are also rooting for the No Limits team.

    My problem with the show is that it has too much of the AR/Survivor drama because of the team choices. Watching the Latin Persuasion team yell at each other for 20 minutes only made me want to change the channel. They obviously had no idea what they are getting in to.

    I guess I was hoping the show would be more like the Eco Challenge than AR.

  6. Some really good points that you all have brought up…however let me share my take on the show.
    By nature most(a lot) of us are adventurers that read your blog and that is great. Some like me are adventure racers and are addicted to the sport. Again, I am treading lightly here, most of us who do these kind of things are not the average guys who you meet everyday on the street. Most of the people I talk to about getting involved in AR can not see themselves doing a race for a variety of reasons. Having said that I think this show does not cater to the average AR racer…we are way ahead of these people in some respects…however it does appeal to the average person. That is not a bad thing…because what happens is that when somebody gets hooked on a show like this…it is possible that they might begin to explore the possibilities of them being involved in something similer and the only thing for the most part is AR. We will always be a alternative sport and will never go mainstream like some sports…however, if one person gets inspired to get of the couch and race an adventure race then we all benifit from it. I believe it is good exposure for us…it takes our passion…not in the strictest of terms …to the masses and that I believe is a good thing. Just my thoughts…God bless

  7. Excellent points, and I agree all around. I know the show is aimed at the mainstream, and not meant for adventure racers in the strictest sense of the word, and I think it more than serves it's purpose in that regard. It is also a great adventure for the contestants, and viewers, which is something that I always support.

    Also, without going into too much detail, I received some behind the scenes info on the race and can tell you that the teams do have to do some navigation. I'm told it isn't super complex but there is the potential for people to get lost, which we'll see more in future episodes.

    As I noted, I really do enjoy the show, and think it'll only get better as we get to know the teams more and get use to the format of the race. It should be fun to watch the rest of the way.

  8. Have been watching since the beginning. ABC should be ashamed of themselves. On many occassions the contestants have done very dangerous things, all for the measly $150 3 car team prize. Nothing special for coming in first each week either. Most of their chalenges are not that interesting – just physical. Will finish out the season, but won't tune in next.

  9. I feel very similarly Midge. While I've enjoyed elements of the show, and continue to cheer on Team No Limits, I'm disappointed in some of the aspects of the program as well.

  10. im rooting for no limits because they have the blind guy. tonight they barely missed evacuation and the cops got booted instead. abc should raise their prices sky high. i want my mom to go on because its a little too hard for me so i can sit at home and watch her work hard while listening to katy perry and eating chocolate chips. id go on if kids could.

  11. gooooo no limits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    standing ovation cheerleaders!!
    The last two episodes you barely escaped evacuation. You booted off the country boys and the cops. Eric, I bow to your whole team!

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