‘Treasure’ doesn’t touch ‘Race’s fortune

  • By Victor Balta / Herald columnist
  • Wednesday, June 14, 2006 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

When it comes to reality TV competitions that makes teams hop around the world putting clues together, “The Amazing Race” has pretty well cornered the market.

So, when you set out to make a show that makes people hop around the world putting clues together, the challenge is to differentiate it from the three-time Emmy winner that came first.

NBC’s new reality competition, “Treasure Hunters,” does exactly that.

The major difference, however, is that “The Amazing Race” is awesome and “Treasure Hunters” is not.

“The Amazing Race” runs circles around “Treasure Hunters.”

“The Amazing Race” buries “Treasure Hunters.”

“The Amazing Race” uncovers success where “Treasure Hunters” does not.

Shall I go on?

The good news for “Treasure Hunters,” which premieres with a two-hour special at 8 p.m. Sunday on KING-TV, is that “The Amazing Race” isn’t on right now.

The better news is that not much else of interest is on TV now, either.

This gives NBC an outside shot at digging up an unlikely summertime hit on this expedition.

“Treasure Hunters” tries to piggyback on the intrigue of “The Da Vinci Code,” whose producers are also involved in the reality show.

Ten teams of three set out to piece together clues around the United States and beyond to find a treasure that is protected by “an ancient secret society that still exists today.”

All the requisite reality show accoutrements are in place right from the start: the overly dramatic music, the precommercial cliffhangers, the close-up shots of women swimming in bikinis and “The Southies,” who provide the New England accents that became essential when “Boston Rob” made waves on “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.”

But you’d think “Treasure” would have found some clues by studying “Amazing Race.”

For starters, teams of more than two people are too much to track. “Race” learned this a season ago, when it tried teams of four for the first time in its “Family Edition” and quickly went back to pairs last season.

“Treasure” has an even more awkward three team members, which makes no sense. We see teams of a husband and wife and their friend, or two sisters and their friend. It’s just weird.

The premiere also doesn’t tell us enough about the players to form any attachment. Instead, it’s a mix of contrived teams, such as ex-CIA agents, Miss USA contestants and grad students.

They don’t even tell us what the big prize is. It’s like they don’t want us to care.

So I won’t.

Victor Balta’s column runs Mondays and Thursday on the A&E page. Reach him at 425-339-3455 or vbalta@heraldnet.com.

For more TV and pop culture scoop, check out Victor’s blog at heraldnet.com/blogpopculture.

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