Will vocal talent win for a second year? Or will the intrepid travelers regain the Emmy competition crown?
"The Amazing Race" may have an unprecedented nine wins for reality -- competition program, but last year "The Voice" became one of only two shows to break its winning streak, which began in 2003 ("Top Chef" was the first to beat it, in 2010).
Last year both shows had five nominations apiece. "The Voice" doubled its nominations to 10 this year, while "The Amazing Race" only nabbed six nods. Could the former champion be showing its age?
NBC's "The Voice" might boast the higher ratings of the two shows, but "The Amazing Race" airs Sundays on CBS, the night when football delays have frustrated fans of the network's lineup for years. Despite those disruptions, "The Amazing Race" has held its own for 24 seasons.
"The Voice" keeps things fresh by mixing up the coaches and mentors, this season bringing in Jill Scott, Aloe Blacc, the Band Perry and Coldplay's Chris Martin to work with contestants and help them hone their musical chops. The show has also upped the stakes by allowing coaches to steal one another's team members and by introducing Twitter saves. This season's "Race" was an all-star edition, a gambit that reunites fans with past favorites, creating buzz in "Race" forums.
However, it hasn't yet delivered a star on the scale of "American Idol," which gave the world such performers Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. A broad social media platform helps "The Voice" thrive on near-constant interactivity with its audience, especially on nights with live performances. That results in the type of spontaneity and immediacy that's simply not possible in pre-recorded episodes.
"The Voice" may have an edge in that some episodes are aired live, and fans get to vote on the outcome, but few reality shows can match the location shots and real-life action "The Amazing Race" packs into each episode. Those are real people performing difficult and dangerous tasks, not stuntmen. This season, the all-star edition made for some interesting allies among the teams. The Las Vegas finale, with David Copperfield delivering some magic, saw the first father-son team win.
"Dancing With the Stars" (ABC)
Don't count out this aging series, which may have lost a step in ratings but is still a force for the Alphabet.
"Project Runway" (Lifetime)
Last year, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn took home the Emmy for host -- is it time for the series to take the big prize?
"So You Think You Can Dance" (Fox)
Series continues to spotlight jaw-dropping talent and heart-tugging stories in a well-produced package.
"Top Chef" (Bravo)
Embraced since season 1 by the food world, this series continues to showcase serious cooking talent, and last season's New Orleans run did deliver its share of characters and controversy.