July 6, 2004 -- HOW do I love thee? Let me count the teams.
This season of "Amazing Race," there are 11 to be exact, and they incorporate the usual-unusual mix, including one dwarf and two beauty queens.
* Charla and Mirna, 27-year-old Maryland cousins, one of whom is — yes — a dwarf.
* Linda and Karen, 40-something bowling moms from California.
* Jim and Marsha, a 53-year-old military guy and his 26-year-old daughter from Florida.
* Dennis and Erika, a mortgage broker and a wedding planner, are 20-something NYers who used to be engaged but broke up after she went naked sky diving.
* Marshall and Lance, 26- and 31-year-old pizza shop brothers from Dallas who clearly were supposed to be the much-missed Kevin and Drew. (Clue: They aren't and just look like out-of-shape whiners.)
* Colin and Christie, perfect people from Texas. She was Miss Teen USA.
* Brandon and Nicole, 25- and 21-year-old dating models who praise the Lord. She was Miss Texas and is virtually indistinguishable from Christie.
What with all the unnecessarily beautiful people and two — count 'em, two — beauty queens, I was prepared to be bored out of my gourd.
And really, let's face it, when you start pitting dwarfs, fat pizza guys and beauty queens against each other, you are probably a tad desperate.
But I was wrong.
I was also prepared to hate "The Amazing Race" because, frankly, I'm desperate to run that race and have never applied because I figure they'd never allow a TV critic on the show — or if they did, they'd make sure to drop me off a cliff by mistake.
But I can't help it — I love this show anyway.
My daughter the athlete and I watched it together and laughed and screamed our heads off. (Mostly we were saying: "We could do that!" and "Why aren't we doing that?" )
Each couple brings something new — although for some of them it appears to be just good looks.
Replacing Drew and Kevin's famous "Swing, you fat bastard, swing" is this season's equally outrageous, quote: "The midget's already been here!" I mean, it's not all that often you hear that in a race.
The teams start out in California and must make it to Uraguay on the first leg of their 72,000-mile journey around the world. While the usual "route markers," "detours," "roadblocks" and "fast forwards," are included, this season, there is also a "yield" at each leg, where one team can elect to force another team to sit out the race for a set amount of time.
What's most exiciting about tonight's race?
Stop reading if you don't want to know but right off, two people get injured when the frothing group breaks from the starting gate and nearly trample (or did they deliberately get tripped?) two contestants.
One, the 53-year-old military guy falls on a nail sticking up out of the boardwalk and requires 25 stitches. He doesn't want them but will simply not be allowed on the plane with a gushing knee.
Will the stop at the emergency room cause his team to miss the flight and be out of the race before it begins? Would he even be able to compete with 25 stitches in his knee? Would I spoil it for you?
Can the dwarf carry a 55 pound slab of beef several miles? Don't ask.
"The Amazing Race 5"
Tonight at 10 on CBS