The Amazing Race Sept. 27 (Ep. 1)– Wow, we avoided total embarrassment!
Welcome to a new season of Emmy award winning The Amazing Race, the reality show that success is based on speed and skill (and sometimes a little luck), but not social conniving. This season we start the race in Hollywood, at the Los Angeles River, which looks more like an aquaduct that a river as it really is just a concrete gutter. Many movies have filmed in this cement drain hole, including Terminator 2 and other famous car chase scenes. Phil is looking smashing as always.
Twelve teams are on their way to the starting line. Let’s meet them now, based on their introductions from the show, but also some information from their bios on the show website. Everything went so fast, it was hard to catch it all in real time.
Brian and Ericka – She was Miss America 2004, and they are a married interracial couple (apparently the first of which to participate in the race). They have been married for two years and live in Nashville. They seem very compatible and we see clips that show that regardless of race, anyone can be a dorky dancer.
Lance and Keri – A self-proclaimed “powerhouse team,” which according to “self-made lawyer” Lance bring “too much” physically and mentally to this game. I’ve heard that you can never be too rich or too thin (which is very, very wrong), but I’ve never heard that anyone was “too smart” and I really wouldn’t ascribe that fault to this couple. I’m pretty sure that all practicing attorneys are self-made, as no-one else can go to law school or pass the bar for you (just ask John John Kennedy, who failed the New York bar exam multiple times until he quit trying). Now that we’ve established that legal practice is not an inherited title, let’s discuss Lance and Keri’s strategy of getting engaged first, and then go on the show to “test out” their relationship. This guy is annoying me already with his arrogance. I hope they are the first out.
Maria and Tiffany – These two pretty ladies are professional poker players, who claim they are well “suited” for this contest because they play games for a living. I’m not sure they’re “playing with a full deck” with that logic, as the race involved traveling around the world and not just sitting one foot away from a table covered with green felt for hours on end. Until then I will go “all in” with the lame card playing jokes until I get a sufficient number of groans from the readers. So shuffle up and deal with it people.
Zev and Justin – Next up are two best friends from LA, one of whom (Zev) has Aspersers’ syndrome. They seem nice and supportive. Zev mentioned hoping that he’s going to be able to deal with being outside of his routine. I can’t imagine being much more outside of a regular routine than racing around the world on this show.
Mika and Canaan– Another couple, these two are newly dating from Nashville. Did they have a casting call in Nashville this year, as this is our second team from that city, and again, we get to hear some country music in their clips. Canaan is a Christian country songwriter who says he has a song on the charts right now. Let’s just hope that it isn’t a number one song in Tijuana, Mexico like that tool from the last season of the Bachelorette. I’m not sure if they met in church, but they are both emphasizing their Christianity (and the fact that they haven’t consummated their relationship yet – hello TMI), and Mika says that she plans to pray about winning. You know, I remember being taught to pray for strength, patience and insight, and then doing your best, but that The Almighty doesn’t really care about the outcome of a reality show. But hey, that’s just me.
Flight Time (Herbert) and Big Easy (Nate) - This season we have two members of the Harlem Globetotters basketball team, and they sure stand out in a crowd. They are extremely tall and are used to performing for crowds. They seem to be natural ham actors. I think that they will be a very entertaining team, and it will be interesting to see how often they are recognized around the world. They are experienced travelers for traveling with the team, but I’m guessing the Globetrotters don’t usually fly coach, which would be especially uncomfortable for Big Easy who is 6’9”. Wow, let’s hope nobody reclines their seat into his lap.
Sam and Dan – These brothers from Missouri were raised in a Christian household, but didn’t really bond with each other until they came out to each at the same time. I can’t tell these two apart yet, so I think I’ll call them Dam or San until I figure it out.
Gary and Matt – The perennial “parent-child” team this year is a father and son from Montana, who are making up for lost time. From their description it sounds more to me like the son is sending his dad a major guilt trip, but hey, if they get to see the world, what is a little extra baggage. Gary looks to be one of the older contestants, but he’s an outdoorsy guy, so I think he’ll be good with the physical challenges of the game. Did I mention Matt has bright pink hair? Matt, Perez Hilton called and he wants his hair back.
Lisa and Eric – These yoga teachers have been married for 18 years, which is probably 126 in downward dog years. Yeah, I went there with the yoga joke, and here’s a sun salutation for your standing warrior pose. I’ve just exhausted all of my knowledge of yoga. What are these vegans planning to do about the obligatory “eat something gross” challenge which usually involves massive quantities of meat? They come off as smug and annoying, claiming that they are the zen yoga in the ‘hood. They are immediately my husband’s least favorite team, and he predicts that they reek of patchouli.
Garrett and Jessica – This pair are going on the race to (sigh) test their relationship. After dating “on and off” for 7 years, they still can’t decide whether they want to get married or split up. Jessica, girl, if you’re dating a guy for 7 years and he hasn’t proposed – he just isn’t that into you. He claims that he can’t decide because Jessica is a “fiery Colombian” and he is scared of her emotions. After seven years is that getting any better for you, Garrett? They are scoring high on the frustration scale, to each other and the viewers.
Ron and Marcy – As always, we have our requisite older couple, and this time it is internet daters who have been dating for a year. They seem in pretty good shape (for oldsters), going fake rock climbing, and seem like normal folks. I’ve met lots of nice people over the internet (including my own husband), so I can’t knock the internet daters. I will point and laugh, however, if they’ve brought paper underwear, like one of my favorite “older couples” Teri and Ian did.
Megan and Cheyne – These kids are dating and from San Diego. They met while playing tetherball, which meant that they were either young or are huge fans of Napoleon Dynamite. We’ll see if they have a llama named Tina or not. I’m going with “young” as they mention later that they had been looking forward to going on the show since they were in high school – and this show premiered in 2001.
Don’t Race Off to the Airport Just Yet!
The first clue is sitting on top of their luggage. But wait, here’s something new: There is a new challenge that will have a devastating effect for one team. One team will be eliminated at the very first challenge right at the starting point. Phil advises the teams to “travel safe” except for the one team that is going nowhere, and will be abandoned in the Los Angles River / sewer.
The teams run to the piles of luggage where the clues are located. First, search the wall of license plates for 1 of the 11 license plates from certain part of Japan. The symbol for the location is written on their clue, but not everyone notices that, and some teams are just grabbing anything with Japanese symbols on it. They show us that Zev and Justin have figured it out. Poker chicks Tiffany and Maria were the first to find a correct license plate and can now proceed to the airport.
Teams line up and Phil sends some to the airport and others back to the wall of license plates. If it weren’t on a different network I’d swear that this was a leftover challenge from last summer’s “Great American Roadtrip” where families raced across the US in RVs, doing similar challenges. One team that makes it through voices the concern of all teams not wanting to get eliminated at the starting point: “Wow, we avoided total embarrassment.”
There are two teams left fighting for the last ticket to Tokyo. It is the annoying yoga teachers and the arrogant attorney – either way, we win! We go to commercial while my husband and I congratulate ourselves on our good fortune for getting rid of one of the annoying couples right away.
Phil informs Eric and Lisa that there are no more correct license plates left, and no more tickets to Tokyo. Poor yogis Eric and Lisa, they never got a chance to be truly annoying. Oh wait, they have some parting wisdom. Eric tells us that they have taken: “the shame and pain of being the first eliminated is gone for everyone,” and Lisa adds: “we did it for them.” Really? We thought you did it because you didn’t figure out that the symbol was on the top of the clue (and you were in fact, quite clueless). Thank goodness those martyrs got to climb up on that cross for everyone. Namaste, Eric and Lisa.
Getting to Know You – And Lying For No Reason
Everyone else is hanging out at the airport, getting to know each other. The poker chicks decide to lie about their jobs, saying that they work with children at a homeless shelter, thinking that people will help them more than if they don’t sound like they make a lot of money. I think people will like you more if you’re not a pathological liar, but that’s just kooky me. Or you could ask my wife, Morgan Fairchild. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Seriously, what is the point of lying to people in this game when you aren’t trying to win people’s votes.
Why risk being caught in a lie and coming off like a jerk. Especially when you’ve appeared on tv doing your “real” job, and are traveling to places where people may recognize you. On Big Brother this year, Natalie thought she was quite the brainiac for having lied about her age for 3 whole months this summer. In the end, pretty much no-one voted for her to win, even though she had been friends with them in the house. People like liars even less then they like poker players (unless you’re talking to Joan Rivers, and then, all bets are off).
Sayonara, Love of Sushi
The teams are divided into two groups flying, but arrive at nearly the same time. They need to find a tv station and go to the filming of a Japanese game show. Again, this is straight out of the plot of a reality show from another network last summer. I loved I Survived a Japanese Game Show, and we get the mini version of it for tonight’s challenge. People in the studio audience are cheering the arriving teams, and they are going to play some type of sushi themed game. The adorable Japanese host asks: “Are you ready to play Sushi Roulette?” When is anyone ever to truly play that, but play they must.
It’s a Road Block, so one teammate of each team needs to compete. Contestants from each team stand at a spot along the wheel of sushi (which looks like the Wheel of Fortune, only with sashimi, nigiri, and maki-sushi instead of cash and valuable prizes. The players need to eat whatever sushi lands in front of them when the host spins a roulette wheel. If one of the two wasabi bombs lands in your space, you needed to eat it within 2 minutes, and man, that had a lot of wasabi in it.
Cheyne and Ron were the “lucky ones” who got wasabi bombs on the first spin. They both managed to eat it, so then they were allowed to move on, and start the next part. Everyone else is stuck there, waiting for their turn to eat the wasabi bomb while eating whatever other sushi lands in front of them.
Cheyne and Megan round up their group of 20 audience members wearing matching colored visors, as do Ron and Marcy. The teams all need to gather up members of the studio audience wearing special colored visors and lead (or herd?) them across town to a shrine, asking tons of people along the directions. Ron and Marcy decided they need to truly “bond” with their blue team before trying to find their destination. Marcy gives her “blue team” a motivational pep talk that is some awful Spanglish-like combination of English and Japanese that no-one can understand, but she seems awful excited about it. Now I’m worried that Marcy has the potential to turn into the crazy old lady like Jan on Survivor: Thailand, who had funerals for dead bats and assorted other insanity.
Maria is the first person unable to eat the wasabi bomb in the allotted 2 minutes. It looks like she had it all in her mouth and had about 10 seconds to swallow it but didn’t. Maybe that was just the editing, and she really had more to eat. Or maybe she thought they’d give her credit for having it in her mouth, because she was cute. Our Japanese game show host calls her bluff (I warned you I’d keep at these lame poker analogies), and she has to stay in the challenge, and gets the wasabi roll the very next turn.
Will Maria be able to succeed where she didn’t just minutes ago? There is suspense. And nearly two minutes of watching some poor girl try to eat an enormous pile of rice, seaweed, and wasabi. Why yes, she does manage to eat the wasabi bomb within the allotted two minutes and Maria and Tiffany are on their way across town with 20 new friends wearing matching pink visors.
I’ve Been Waiting More than One-Third of My Life to Meet Phil at the Pit Stop
Meghan and Cheyne were the first to arrive at the first pit stop. They win a trip somewhere and then mention they’ve been waiting to see Phil on the mat since they were in high school This show started in 2001, so I guess I’m a little older than they are.
I’m predicting that this leg will be a non-elimination leg, as losing two teams in one leg would make the season shorter than usual. Especially with two episodes airing on the first night, as that could mean losing three teams in one night – not that they actually had any clue about the airing schedule when they were filming this show, but from my perspective, it would be tough to introduce and then promptly forget about three teams in one night. Yes, that’s right, it is all about the recaps.
Big Easy eats the wasabi, and he says it tastes like money. My daughter asks why he knows what money tastes like. I guess it is other things that I’ve heard used as comparisons in cooking shows, including bulls testes, as discussed in last week’s episode of Top Chef (which Padma has apparently tried). The crowd definitely likes Big Easy and Flight Time, and then they take their group out into the streets. Big Easy mentioned that he looks like Godzilla taking to the streets. Oh no! There goes Tokyo. Here comes Big Easy. Nah, it doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Lead a Group of Twenty People Across Tokyo - Herding Cats Would Have Been Easier
Other teams are stuck at the Sushi Roulette game show and don’t get the chance to even try the wasabi bomb. It’s the dad, Gary vs. Mr. America Brian, and Gary the dad certainly has an easier time of it than non-sushi eating Brian. Brother Dan gets a chance while Brian waits out a turn, and he wastes no time, downing the entire wasabi bomb with more than a minute left in his time. I leave the speculation as to why this challenge was so easy for Dan up to others. Ms. America 2004 Ericka points out the obvious, that she should have done this road block instead of Brian, who really can’t handle the sushi.
Brian gets another chance, and with Ericka encouraging him on with the cheer “you can throw up later.” Mr. America Brian finally gets it down in time, and they are on their way across town with twenty Japanese audience members.
They show the remaining teams trying to get their groups across town, and it was confusing. One group had an audience member who needed to use the restroom. For some reason that I didn’t understand, the American spoke English to the Japanese store owner to see if a Japanese person could use the restroom, rather than just having the woman ask by herself.
Mika and Canaan have a woman with a sore foot or broken shoe or something, and she is lagging behind. One team had lost someone, and went looking for her. I’m glad they found her, as she looked lost and confused. My daughter thought she looked like she was crying, and wondered what would happen if she didn’t get back with her group. I assured her that she’d be fine, and wasn’t required to get to the end. That lady looked happy to be reunited with her group. Unlike the two audience members that Maria and Tiffany lost, who were headed for the bus after Maria and Tiffany didn’t seem to notice their absence until they were very far apart. Maria and Tiffany searched for quite a while before thinking they need to go see Phil before they lose any more of their team to attrition. As I was suspecting because of the two hour premier and immediate elimination, this is a non-elimination round.
Maria and Tiffany incur a two-hour penalty for not completing the challenge (which is likely a whole lot faster than they would have been able to find their lost people), plus they will need to do an additional challenge (a Speed Bump) in the next leg in order to stay in the race. Let’s hope that the show has learned from prior seasons and will have the Speed Bump early enough in the leg to give that team a fighting chance to stay in the race.
Here’s where I’d usually say “join us next week for another episode” but WAIT, there’s another episode. Just when I had great intentions of getting my recaps posted very soon after the episodes aired, I have two on the very first night. So, rather than delay all of it, I’m posting this episode now, but join soon for the next recap.