Costa Rica Part 2
Combining elements of The Amazing Race and trashy reality TV, The Pack is a series designed to test the limits of human and dog bonds. With 12 different owners (called partners here) and their canine companions, The Pack whisks these men and women up for a globe-trotting adventure to find the best dog and owner.
In theory, the idea is actually quite good and it’s clear this has been designed specifically for dog lovers to enjoy watching all the different canines on display. Unfortunately, contrived drama and some questionable challenges hold this back from being a better title. That’s before mentioning the usual sob stories and unnecessary reality drama that just feels like padding.
The competition begins in Los Angeles as the 12 dogs and their owners prepare to compete in a series of challenges for the lucrative sum of $250,000. There’s also an additional amount of money matching that given to charity. After a pretty cringe-inducing opening that parodies Lala Land, the competition begins with the group split into a Blue and Green team.
Then, the dogs and their owners compete in a Pack Challenge with the losing team then competing again in an elimination round. The last person to cross the finish line or complete the task heads home. It’s standard reality TV fodder, and a conventional, predictable format that’s very rarely deviated from despite the scenery change across the different episodes.
The challenges themselves are usually designed to test a dog’s sense of balance, smell or mobility but more often than not it’s usually up to the human companions to do most of the legwork. There’s driving, zip-lining, helicopter rides and even river rapids that usually just end up with the dogs sitting, excitedly wagging their tails without actually doing anything. It’s no surprise then when the finale includes three of the most athletic competitors.
This finale is admittedly quite good though and includes four separate challenges for the 3 remaining dogs and their owners. All of this comes down to a sprint finish with 10 seconds between 1st and 2nd place. It’s quite an exciting end to an otherwise mediocre series.
The real highlight here though comes from seeing these different locations. Switzerland is an absolutely stunning country as it is and seeing the snow-capped mountains and the challenges therein offers a nice change of pace from the sunny tropics of Costa Rica (which is split across a 2-part episode)
There’s a constant use of slow-mo shots here too; constant reminders of the incredible bond between human and animal which are repeated constantly. That’s before mentioning the “romance” between two dogs which brews in episode 2 and the contrived drama between dogs and humans when the team is balanced out after competitors are sent home.
To be fair there’s a couple of interesting facts thrown in and the charity donations are certainly a welcome inclusion too. Unfortunately The Pack is not a show to remember and beyond a few highlights, does little to… well… stand out from the pack of other, more prolific reality TV series.
Verdict - 4/10