The 32nd season of the show, which premiered in October 2020, featured legs through the Amazon and across Kazakhstan as well as its first ever “mega-leg,” which saw contestants face two detours and two roadblocks in India.
Co-creator Elise Doganieri, speaking during Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted awards-season event, said it was like a “military operation.” “That was new and exciting and it really pushed the limits not only for the contestants but also for production,” she added.
Doganieri’s co-creator Bertram Van Munster added that these kinds of twists helped it feel “fresh” and “energetic.” “Elise and I have kept a very strong hand on the creative and logistics of this show and it has worked out for us,” he said.
Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted: Livestream, Schedule, Lineup
Host Phil Keoghan said that this season, which includes 11 episodes filmed in 21 days, has said that this season was the most physically demanding to film since the third season. But van Munster said he never finds it exhausting, rather it’s “obsession and addiction.”
The show has come a long way since 2001, where they had to use walkie talkies and satellite phones because cell coverage wasn’t universal. “We would have to wait for the cloud coverage to clear before we could call to the next location,” said Doganieri.
“We never imagined we’d be on for so long. We’re shocked and happy. Our backdrop and studio is the world and the world has changed since we started in 2001 — if we go back to the same place it really doesn’t look the same,” she added.
Next up, the pair is trying to figure out how to get the show, which over the years has received over 80 Emmy nominations and 10 wins for outstanding reality competition series, back in production for its 33rd season, pandemic permitting.
“Everyone is getting the vaccine right now so as soon as there’s global immunity, we’re moving in the right direction we have to wait until it’s safe to go back out there,” said Doganieri. “Then we’ll go out there.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.