In a move that has pleasantly surprised long-suffering The Amazing Race fans used to wondering whether each actively airing edition of the lacklusterly-rated show will be the last, CBS has already ordered a sixth edition of the series, despite the fact that the fifth installment will not
As we had reported back in April, CBS had quietly begun
accepting applications for The Amazing Race 6 in late March, a move that didn't mean that the network was committed to greenlighting the show for another season, but an announcement that still came as quite a surprise considering the network's previous comments on future Amazing Race editions.

According to a Daily Variety story that broke word for the sixth series pickup, the quiet casting announcement was no accident, and although the exact reasoning for the hush-hush casting remains unclear, it is reportedly a sign of how pleased CBS is with the way that The Amazing Race 5 turned out (which we assuming, at minimum, means no "sour grapes" winners such as The Amazing Race 3's Flo Pesenti... and probably that former unpopular Big Brother 4 contestant and Amazing Race 5 competitor Alison Irwin and her boyfriend Donny don't win TAR5.) For its part, CBS declined to comment on the pickup.

Of course, given The Amazing Race's difficult renewal history, it almost wouldn't be an Amazing Race story if there wasn't some possible bad news. In the case, it comes in the form of Variety speculation that the reason that CBS might have given The Amazing Race 6 an early pickup is that in addition to Survivor's Thursday 8PM time period, the network might be considering opening up a second hour for reality programming on its 2004-2005 schedule... on of all places, the Death Valley known as Saturday nights.

Whether The Amazing Race 6 might occupy such a slot or when the series, which will film in August, will air is still very much unknown, although given the show's recent history, Winter or Summer 2005 are considered most likely. Then again, given the early pickup, perhaps the rest of TAR's recent history is also no longer relevant.