Lost; The Amazing Race

NBC, Wednesdays, 8 p.m. E.T. CBS, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. E.T.

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Time was, the ugly Americans on reality shows only bothered one another and the occasional wild pig. Now they've become a problem for the rest of the world. On Lost, below, three pairs of players are abandoned in a remote, unidentified spot somewhere on Earth and must find their way to the Statue of Liberty; Amazing's 11 duos, above, chase around the globe by plane, car and bungee cord completing challenges. Amazing has slick, Survivor-like production values, Lost a rawer, made-for-cable feel. But both, by forcing contestants to interact with the natives, prove that loosing Americans to inflict their geographic and cultural ignorance on the world is a guaranteed hoot (as when a Lost contestant insists that Cyrillic script "looks like Israeli"). Never mind "The tribe has spoken"; this season's big reality-TV catchphrase will be, "Do you speak English?!"

--By James Poniewozik