Phil and The Eyebrow are back for the fourteenth installment of The Amazing Race, and with it, a few little changes you may or may not have noticed. And may or may not have liked. The opening credit music is a little more epic, with a bit of crunchy electric guitar and some bass in the background, and they’ve added more up to date shots of gorgeous scenery. And, split screens, for those of you who are 24 fans. Because the hectic pace of this show isn’t confusing enough, I suppose. Er, yay. The best part: no more corny simultaneous team head-turn shots in the opener! Big yay to that. There will supposedly be less airport drama shown, but we’ll have to see how that pans out. I like the subtle freshening up they did, but then, I’m easy like that.
And with that, let’s meet the new teams!
Mark and Michael: short-statured (4'9") stuntmen, these two athletic brothers will have no issues with the crazy tasks they’ll need to perform on TAR. Tonight is a perfect example.
Mel and Mike: father and son team, and as close to quasi-celebs as we’ve gotten on this show. Dad Mel is a gay-rights activist, and you may recognize son Mike from his role in School of Rock. He’s also a writer as well as an actor, having had a hand in Nacho Libre, which I’ll forgive him for. School of Rock totally made up for that.
Cara and Jaime: redheaded ex-Miami Dolphins cheerleaders that I still can't tell apart. Yet. They’re not the tee-hee flirty kind of girls - they have attitudes and aren’t afraid to use ‘em. Aka the bitch edit.
Christie and Jodi: blonde airline stewardesses who think their insider knowledge of airports will help them out. They also think that blondes can get away with murder in foreign countries. I don’t know about all that. Petty theft, maybe. Arson. But murder?
Margie and Luke: mom and son, with a twist: Luke is deaf. They believe their silent communication will help them conceal hints from the other teams. Could be. Unless they get separated.
Jennifer and Preston: and here’s our stereotypical arguing couple, aka Nate and Jen v2.0. Because what would TAR be without one of these? A lot more pleasant, I tell you what.
Linda and Steve: self-described "hicks from the sticks," and they’re fine with that. Well, Steve is, anyway. Linda looks sorta overwhelmed by this whole thing right now. Casting just loves stereotyping Southerners, and I can practically hear the banjo music in the background.
Amanda and Kris: this dating couple is too adorable to be believed. They spend all their time together, AND they get along. You’ll either want to pinch their rosy little cheeks or retch over their utter cuteness. Either way, they’re the anti-Jenn and Preston.
Tammy and Victor: über-competitive siblings, a la Azaria and Hendekea. Both are lawyers. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them tonight. I foresee some excellent brother/sister bitching in the future, however.
LaKisha and Jennifer: sisters and former college athletes. This is another team I didn’t really get a good feel for in the premiere because, well, it’s only a stinking hour and there are eleven teams. Get with it, CBS, and give us a two hour premiere, huh?
Brad and Victoria: Victoria proclaims them the “bad ass older couple,” and she may be right. Don’t look for these two to be wheezing up hills, they’re in most excellent shape. And they get along! Awesomeness.
And away we go. The teams get dropped off by Marine helicopters in Los Alamitos, California (very cool), Phil gives the obligatory speech about the world waiting and all that good stuff, raises The Eyebrow, and sends the teams on their way in style. With Mercedes sedans. Hey, guys, maybe you could cut back on the car budget and use, say, Toyotas next season and take that extra money to produce a longer premiere? Just a thought.
First stop: Switzerland. Teams squeal in delight, all kinds of hyped and happy. And they weren’t kidding about cutting down on the airport drama time: wham, bam, here they land. They had a choice of two flights, and it apparently didn’t matter which one they chose, everyone got there and began the mad cab scramble.
Oh, and tell me Jennifer didn’t speak Spanish to a Swiss cabbie. “Mas importante?” Tell me I misheard that. Please.
Preston, to Jennifer: “You say stuff that irritates me because you just don’t think.”
Boobalicious Jennifer here has never been to a train station in her life, she says, and I wonder why this was really necessary for her to share. It’s just a train station. You go, buy tickets, get on the train. Except, they didn’t. They missed their train. And began to do what they do best: argue vigorously. Ah, love.
The others, having been to a big bad train station before, make it aboard and are loving the scenery of the Swiss Alps. Stunning, really. I want to go now. The Department of Tourism in Switzerland is grinning ear to ear at this beautiful, free ad for their country.
Christie and Jodi befriend a local on the train so they had someone to lead them to the Church of San Antonio, but they never showed what became of it. No clue if that got them any further. Luke literally drags his mom by the hand, Linda puffs and wheezes the whole way, and they all manage to find the church just so they can get bunched up, signing up for morning departure times fifteen minutes apart. Off to a campsite for the night, where they will be napping on hay and providing free American blood for the apparently vicious hordes of Swiss mosquitos hanging around. Remind me to pack a can of Off if I ever make it on this show.
Steve gets the jackass edit as they show his wife Linda bawling over not being able to keep up, while he makes nasty, unsupportive comments to her. I can slightly sympathize with him, because really, you know you’re going to have to do a ton of running on this show. Why wouldn’t you try to train, work out, something? But, he’s still an asshat for his comments.
Morning breaks, the mosquitos are sated, and teams all get a picture of a local dam, which they must now try to find. Once they do, they’re rewarded with a Roadblock: make the second highest bungee jump in the world, off the dam. Holy four-letter-word-I can’t-say-here. No way. No freaking way could I do this. I got nauseous just watching them do it.
Lucky Victor gets to go first, and I don’t know who screamed more: him or his sister. One of the stuntguys sailed over the edge with a smile, making a perfect dive off the board like he was jumping into a pool. Fearless! Luke, Preston, Mike, Victoria, Jaime, Jen and Steve all take their turns while Jodi is a trembling, petrified mess. Bungee jumping isn’t her thing, and if the Botox would allow it, her forehead would be all wrinkled up in terror. She eventually takes her turn, letting out a squeak and keeping her eyes tightly closed on the way down.
Back on trains to Interlaken they go, where they run into one of the best Detours I’ve seen yet: tote 200 pounds of cheese wheels down a hill. So what, you say? Well, the hill is muddy, steep, and slippery. And they must use these rickety traditional wooden cheese-toting devices that strap onto your back. They all begin the trek up the hill, slipping and sliding and in Linda and Jennifer’s cases, huffing and puffing. Seriously, y’all, a treadmill could have been your friend pre-Race. Sheesh.
Hilarity ensues as cheese-toting contraptions break, people bust their behinds in the mud, and cheese wheels go flying every which way like barrels in Donkey Kong. And I mean flying. These things are 50 pounds a piece, at the rate they were going down the hill they could do some major damage to anyone standing in their way. Say, where’s Steve when you need him?
Mel has the bright idea to scoot down on his butt, holding the cheese wheel after his cheese-toter broke. Some people use them as sleds, loading up the cheese and sliding them down (Steve came up with this!), some just say the hell with it and carry them by hand. A pack of locals roll in laughter at the silly Americans sliding around Mount Cheese, and I’m right there with them. Preston says he now hates cheese along with his girlfriend, and I’m sure the others will be loathing the stuff for some time to come. Cheese, I mean.
The only ones to come out with mudless behinds? Brad and Victoria, who were the only team to use the cheese-toters correctly, without breaking them. Thumbs up to them. And many cool points to whomever came up with that Detour.
As we reach the end of our way-too-short premiere, the teams are headed to the Pit Stop in Stechelberg. To find it, they must listen for a group of yodelers and follow the awful noise - er, lovely singing - to find Phil and the Mat. Linda and Steve somehow manage to muck this up, getting lost and wandering around the woods/parking lot while the yodelers could clearly be heard. Here’s how they ended up:
1st – Margie and Luke. Phil tells them the good news in sign language, which was pretty cool of him. Phil rawks! Mom and son win a trip to Puerto Vallarta, and proceed to cry tears of happiness.
2nd – Tammy and Victor
3rd – Mark and Michael
4th – Mel and Mike
5th – Amanda and Kris
6th – Brad and Victoria
7th – Jaime and Cara
8th – Kisha and Jen
9th – Steve and Linda
10th – Christie and Jodi
Eliminated – Preston and Jennifer. Actually it was a pretty close footrace at the end, but Jennifer couldn’t bring herself to run to the mat for whatever reason, leaving Preston to physically carry her butt there. This is after he had to carry all the cheese wheels down the hill, too. You know you’re in bad shape when Linda beats you to the mat (said with love, Linda!). Anyhow, the snippy dating couple is disappointed, Jen thinks she let her man down – well, yeah – but they love each other lots and lots and plan on spending their lives together. In between fights.
Next week – Germany! Linda gets lost, shocker, and Margie and Luke get pies in the face. Luke didn’t look too overly pleased about it, either.