This year, we've once again decided to take a "before the race starts" look at each team, and evaluate them for race-worthiness. Of course, everything tends to change once the race starts, but this is Part I of our pre-show thoughts. Part II will be posted tomorrow!
Amanda and Chris: Dating
cali says: Their fear of heights, flying and the dark will certainly hinder their advancement. Chris is ready to stab people in the back to win. This is not Survivor. Deals don’t work for more than one task at a time. You really don’t have the time to stab people in the back. They don’t seem to prepared for this race.
lurkinggirl says: This will end in tears. He’s going to be cranky and she’s going to be scared, on her first trip out of Sioux Falls. I really don’t see that they’ll be able to compete with all the emotionality they’ve shown in their profile.
caligirl says: For some reason, these two remind me of Flo and Zach. Not that we want to repeat that experience. She has a self-described toilet mouth and is very emotional, so I'm guessing Chris is the yin to her yang. However, in reading further about them he is willing to "scheme, betray, plot and backstab" so he now takes on the qualities of Wil. Hopefully, neither of these assessments is true.
Bill says: Chris has a fear of flying and is out of his “comfort zone” when traveling. Yes Chris, this is the show for you my friend. Meanwhile, Amanda tends to be emotional. This is a train wreck, or plane wreck for that matter, waiting to happen. On the positive side, at least neither one of them is a model or actor. These two probably will not make it to the midway point before being eliminated.
paulie says: Chris wants to scheme and backstab. Amanda is afraid of spiders. Chris will quickly realize that the only person he can effectively stab in the back during the actual running of the Race is Amanda. He will throw a deadly brown recluse spider on her back right before she attempts the first Roadblock of the game. They will arrive at the Pit Stop last, and a drooling, feverish Amanda will barely escape with her life.
john says: This team embodies everything I can't stand in TAR teams, rolled into one ignorable package. I hope they are eliminated quickly, before I have a chance to really develop a dislike for them.
David and Jeff: Best Friends
cali says: I’m confused about this team. They could make it far as it seems as though they are pretty fit but then they have gotten in a fistfight over a girl in the past, which could mean they have a volatile relationship. That will not help them in a race where you are often time stressed. They could be their own undoing.
lurkinggirl says: Alpha males generally do well in the Race, with Rob and Brennan willing the first series, Chris and Alex the second series, and Drew and Derek quite competitive (but eventually done in by their failure to find an essential clue). Look for Dave and Jeff to dominate in physical tasks and to take the faster road block challenges, but I’m really hoping for a surprise early exit from this duo as some of their profile information makes them seem quite arrogant and unlikeable.
caligirl says: These guys strike me as a fun team and they are nice looking. What could be bad? I'm already cheering them on. Uh oh, David has a fear of heights. Pssssst, Dave, rappelling, bungee jumping and climbing are favorite feats in TAR and this one will be no exception. Jeff seems to be the quieter one of the duo and still remains close with David despite the fact that David once hit on Jeff's girlfriend. Is this ability to forgive a good quality to bring along to the TAR party?
Bill says: These two are in good shape, and probably will communicate well through the race. I like their chances to win. David is yet another person with a fear of heights. I wonder if they asked the question in a certain manner to elicit all of these contestants who fear heights. Jeff likes to paint “artistically”, is there some other way of painting? Hmm, maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that.
paulie says: David and Jeff are rough-and-tumble workout guys on the outside, heights-fearing wussies on the inside. As usual, the first Detour will involve some pulse-racing activity from a dizzying height. David and Jeff will embrace each other in fear and cry tears of terror. Then they'll pick their way gingerly down a mountainside using the wimpy Detour option. They will arrive last at the initial Pit Stop with bags over their heads to conceal their shame.
john says: David is a jerk who can't decide what he wants to do with his life - apparently all the jobs he's held so far haven't quite conveyed enough power to keep him happy. Jeff is, unfortunately, a nice-sounding guy - which means this team is destined to a lot of fighting.
Debra and Steve: Married Parents
cali says: I already don’t like Debra. Yes I realize it’s unfair. She seems like she is going to be loud and obnoxious, and I can take that for a little while, but it gets old rather quickly. I hope I am wrong, as I would love to see a happy, well-adjusted, married couple on this show. I just don’t think these two are it. She also lists one of her fears being heights. I tend to think that is a big deal on this show. If there are too many instances where heights come into play, I can see it slowing them down.
lurkinggirl says: As much as I’d like to root for a team that doesn’t look like models, their profile doesn’t mention anything in particular they’ve been doing to prepare for the rigors of the race. I predict they’ll get exhausted and fall behind early on, miss a crucial connection and end up getting notified that they were eliminated by someone other than Phil (which was the case with the Gutsy Grandmas and the Guidos a couple other “really far behind” teams) as Phil needs to be ahead of the racers to introduce the challenges and greet the first place finishers for each leg.
caligirl says: Superficially, this couple seems the most likely to run out of breath first. However, their chutzpah alone in joining this year's Race shows their determination, or just a masochistic streak. Neither of them speaks any foreign languages which is a definite plus when asking for directions. However, Steve claims to have people skills and that might work for him. These two have been married for 8 1/2 years and are to be considered the prerequisite "married parents." Historically, this team is among the first to go. Wait, I am forgetting Teri and Ian who almost won.
Bill says: Let me say right up front that I have sympathy for Debra’s recent tragedy. I hope that the race might provide her with an experience worth remembering. That said, I don’t see these two making it very far, and in fact, they could be eliminated first. Debra admits to being a control freak, and that will provide friction from the word go, meanwhile Steve claims to be sneaky and devious. That is all well and good, but it doesn’t help if you are in last place.
paulie says: Debra is a "controlling and dominating know-it-all." Steve is deceptive but cautious and reserved. To preserve his dignity in front of America, he will set sneaky traps for his wife so that her dominating nature will backfire, making him appear to be the hero. Early in the game, for example, she will insist they board a plane in order to fly to Europe. Steve will quietly deceive her into thinking a submarine is faster. They will arrive at the first Pit Stop three weeks after the other teams have already left, where a cardboard cutout of Phil will greet them and a nearby tape recorder will announce their elimination.
john says: Debra refuses to eat fish. I can only hope that's one of the detours. Because I'm not sure I'll be able to take this team for very long. The only bright side - maybe I'll learn the secret to having a spouse who blows off steam by cleaning the house - that could come in veeeeerrry handy!
Jon and Al: Best Friends/Clowns
cali says: Being a substitute teacher, like Al, I have to cheer for these two. Throw in the fact that they could bring in some truly fun comic relief and I hope they stick around. Seeing how these two were in the circus and are used to traveling in some not-so-fun conditions, this race might be right up their alley. I see them making it far into the race.
lurkinggirl says: What else can you say: they’re circus freaks. No, really, Jon is a “human cannonball” and Al has sold out and gotten a regular job, but he traveled with the circus too. They’ve traveled around in less than glamorous conditions before and have done all sorts of odd things, so I think they’re ready for the race and should make it entertaining as well.
caligirl says: They are circus clowns and good friends although polar opposites in personalities. Jon is the easy going one (think Zach) and Al is the "stressor outer" (think Flo). Al once lived on a train for six years while traveling with a circus so the hubs should be a piece of cake for him. I am looking at these guys for providing the laughs, but please -- no face paint.
Bill says: Get warmed up for the long line of recap jokes available to Cali with these two. “What are those clowns up to?” “Quit clowning around!” Suffice to say I think these two will be quite entertaining, and they have a lot of travel experience to use. They could go far.
paulie says: Jon and Al are clowns. Actual genuine real-life circus clowns. Jon can balance pretty much anything in the world on his nose and chin, as long as he can pick it up. That is a truly incredible skill, but it's completely worthless in The Amazing Race. It's exactly that sort of pigheaded adherence to the rules of clowning that will cost this team the game. The silly red noses and colorful makeup will frighten the citizens in the communities they visit, which means they will garner none of the valuable help from the locals that other teams will receive. Their resourcefulness will keep them close, but they will ultimately lose a foot race to the mat at the first Pit Stop by tripping over each other's giant floppy shoes.
john says: Jon and Al will have no problem with confined travel arrangements - trains and planes will be nothing for them. This is a team I want to go far...even if they're not funny (and come on, when's the last time a pair of clowns wasn't funny?) then they'll at least be good competitors.
Kelly and Jon: Engaged
cali says: Another couple looking for their elusive fifteen minutes. I am saddened that the powers that be at The Amazing Race have so many model/actor wanna be’s on this season. They don’t seem to want it in my opinion. Just a gut feeling.
lurkinggirl says: Too pretty and arrogant to excel in some of the tougher parts of this race. Flo was high maintenance to the extreme, but she had loyal and trust-worthy Zach to see her through. I predict they will take a longer road block challenge to avoid doing something “yucky” perhaps involving talking to fat people or eating cheese (like Jon Vito and Jill’s fast forward last year).
caligirl says: Kelly is a nice looking woman who has been modeling for 10 years and met Jon at a bar in South Beach. The surprise is that they're still together and undertaking this adventure after breaking up and getting engaged all over again. Kelly is another one who is afraid of spiders and heights. This should be fun. Jon has also modeled and worked as a bartender. These two are athletic and that might stand them in good stead when running to get first in line to score tickets.
Bill says: Apparently Kelly likes to hit on ex-Presidents. I guess we all need hobbies. These two are high-maintenance, and about the time they need to sleep on a bench overnight is going to be the end of them. As an added bonus they self-describe as bossy and critical of other people. I suspect this team will be soloing through most of the game.
paulie says: Kelly gets motion sickness, and she fears spiders, bees, heights, and sharks. Jon doesn't fear anything, mostly because there's nothing left to be afraid of once Kelly's done being frightened. They'll make an early play for the Fast Forward, but in a stroke of colossal bad luck, the Fast Forward will require them to dive off a steep cliff into a tiny boat anchored in a particularly choppy, shark-infested portion of the Atlantic Ocean. Once on board, they must don beekeeper outfits and sort an angry swarm of African killer bees and a writhing pile of black widows into separate boxes. Hours after the 11th team arrives at the first Pit Stop, Jon will arrive, carrying a catatonic Kelly on his shoulders.
john says: I refuse to comment on this team, because I'm hoping if I'm very quiet, they'll disappear quickly. And, my momma always told me, if I can't find something nice to say, not to say it. Once in my life, I'll follow that advice.
Millie and Chuck: Dating 12 Years/Virgins
cali says: These two seem almost to sugary sweet to be in this competition. It’s not as though I think you need to be mean, I just don’t view them as tough enough. She claims to be an adventurer, but it’s just not the vibe I am getting. These two will have to really work hard together in order to make it past the first couple of legs.
lurkinggirl says: Dating for 12 years, these two virgins have been waiting for something pretty darn special to happen before they consummate their relationship. Maybe it’s been marriage, but perhaps it was the opportunity to go on a TV show. Hmmm, that could be an interesting detour.
caligirl says: Millie is not afraid of anything but mayonnaise and I hope we really get to hear that story. Did a jar of Best Foods (Hellmann's on the East Coast) fall on her head in the supermarket? She's athletic, well traveled and reads the Bible. Looks like it's all working for her. Chuck is self-employed and has done everything from construction work to being a personal trainer. Maybe he'll find himself after this adventure is over.
Bill says: Why do we care that they are virgins? Is this how they got on the show? Was proof provided? I just don’t see how this has anything to do with their competitive abilities. They have been dating for 12 years, so I suppose they are being completely honest when they say that they are afraid to commit. On the other hand, Millie is hot and she speaks three additional languages to some extent (French, Mandarin, and Russian), so I hope they go far, and I predict they will.
paulie says: The innocent young couple will foolishly make the mistake of wearing their homemade "Virgins rule!" T-shirts on the first day of competition. Curious villagers will swarm them at every turn, trying to get their pictures taken with the crazy sex-free Americans. Chuck will endure this treatment for a while, but he'll eventually lash out and beat somebody up. The police will arrive and throw the unpredictable hothead into the local jail. Millie will sing showtunes on the street corner to raise bail for her fiance, but by the time he's out, the rest of the teams will already have arrived at the first Pit Stop.
john says: This team has "bible thumper" potential hidden deep within their interview statements. I make my prediction that this will become a theme with them, to the annoyance of most of us.
This article is a group effort - I'd like to thank everyone who added their thoughts, and wish all the readers a great TAR adventure! Don't forget to catch Part II on Tuesday! Part II is now posted. Read it here!