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...the Mullet that ate Manhattan (it wouldn't all fit)

Hi, and welcome to the first part of the recap for the first episode of Treasure Hunters. The second part will be up soon, but things like having a life, a job, and sleep have forced me to split this inaugural recap into two parts. Anyway, I’m Lucy, and I’ll be guiding you through this show, which in my own humble opinion is a damn sight better than being guided by an anonymous talking head on a cell phone. But that’s just me.

So, Treasure Hunters. Everyone’s been eager for this, wondering if it would be a lame take-off on The Amazing Race, or a cool take-off on the Amazing Race. The verdict – more on the lame side. Don’t get me wrong, lame is good. Lame rocks for recaps, because this way I don’t have to make up jokes, they get handed to me. And it’s not that lame, at least not yet. It’s just not The Amazing Race. And hell, even TAR has had some crap challenges lately, so maybe this’ll turn out better.


It was Better With Nic Cage

Not based on the intro, though. It promises a hidden treasure “worth millions,” secrets protected by history, founding fathers and secret societies. *sigh* Has anyone else ever seen “National Treasure”? Fun, light, I think it had Nicholas Cage in it. Yeah, go rent that, and then ask yourself why Treasure Hunters isn’t being sued for being a copycat. “Hidden messages left by our forefathers” indeed.

Anyway, rather than try to tell you that George Washington and the Freemasons probably did not hide a secret treasure that was just waiting to be scooped up by NBC, let’s just get on with it for now.

For reasons not explained to me, the show’s ten teams have been divided into two groups of five. One group will set out from Alaska, the other somewhere in the South Pacific, and so far neither group knows the other exists. They’ll all have to solve clues to progress in the race, and at some point, teams will start being eliminated.

Both groups are briefed by some bland-looking pretty-boy who looks like he was reading the weather in Omaha two weeks ago. I hope he keeps his resume up to date, because as hosts go, this twit is dull, dull, dull. I guess it’s hard to match the appeal of TAR’s Phil, but couldn’t they have found someone with a personality? Anyway, Prettyboy Floyd is briefing both groups via video. He tells them they all have product placement from hell Motorola Razr phones, laptops connected to Ask.com, and a team Visa card. Is that it for the product placement? Could they not get Nike as a sponsor and give them all shoes?

Anyway, Floyd – I don’t know his name, so that is now his name. I so decree it. – says their first test is to find their next destination. The clue is given to both groups in Morse code, and they have to figure it out from there. Each place – the ship, in the case of the South Pacific group, and some mining camp, in the case of the group in Alaska, has a book explaining Morse code somewhere. So we see a lot of people running around looking for that book.


Beep beep bebeepbeep bebeepbeep. Repeat.


By the way, Floyd didn’t take any time out to really introduce the teams, so I won’t either. We’ll figure it out along the way. But first to speak is the Air Force team, who feel like they should have known Morse code, and bemoan the fact that there’s no Navy here to call upon for that. The AF people are on the boat, along with a group of nerdy looking boys who call themselves Team Geniuses. A third team, comprised of girls, say they’re going to follow the geniuses for now – let the geniuses do the thinking, I guess is the plan. Which works – the geniuses figure out the Morse code, which tells them to dive Hana Bay, and they and the girl team dive off the ship and swim off to little boats, which will take them to this bay.

In Alaska, teams are doing the same thing. There’s a team of hunks from Boston, who call themselves the Southie boys, but I fear for their future already when one introduces his twin “sitting right next to me” even though the third member of their team, not the twin, is next to him. That doesn’t bode well for his attention to detail. Anyway, the Southies say they think their street smarts will trump book smarts. Um, ok. We’ll see.

The Alaska group also includes a family of camouflage-clad men who call themselves the “Wild Hanlons” but whom I may dub simply “Team Mullet” in honor of the ornate mullet sported by one of them. Now, I am from the south, and I have seen my share of mulletage, including some far more impressive than Papa Hanlon’s, but his ranks right up there nonetheless. Anyway, this team is from Texas, they’re related in some way, they’re clearly blue-collar – their reaction to the Morse code was: “it wasn’t the Looney Tunes” – and if anyone’s going to test the relative merit of common sense versus book sense, it’s the Mullets.

Oh, and there’s also team ex-CIA here, although from what I can tell, their CIA experience consisted solely of internships. It’s not like these are 20-year spy veterans who just came in from deep cover in Moscow. Still, they’re confident in their information-gathering skills.

Last team in Alaska – unless I’ve left out a boring one, which is entirely possible – is team Miss USA, so named because its three members competed in, but did not win, that particular beauty pageant. “Over our dead bodies will we lose this,” claims one of them (I will never be able to tell them apart. Blonde? Plastic? Could be any of ‘em.) Before they even find the Morse code book, they want to flirt to get help. One decides to be the voice of reason: “Let’s save our manipulation till we really need it,” she says.

Anyway, the CIA team figures it out and gets their clue, followed by the Southies and the professionals – oh, I forgot them. Some group of young professionals, who just can’t compete with hot guys or mulleted rednecks for my attention.

Oh, by the way, their clue tells them to helicopter to a glacier.

Icy Clue, Hot Mullet Lovin’


Back on the ship in the Pacific, we’re meeting some more of those teams, starting with the Fogal family. Pa Fogal is a minister, there with his wife and daughter. He says they’re willing to stretch the truth now and ask for forgiveness later. Wasn’t that Jimmy Swaggart’s philosophy?

Also on the ship is the Brown family, a team of three large brothers who I think used to play football. One – Keith, I think -- is much more large than the others, and he says he’s never swum in the ocean, and the others are worried he’ll manage to drown even with a life vest on. And he nearly does, apparently – he has to be thrown a buoy to reel him into the little boat. He says three weeks of swimming – I guess he took classes? – didn’t prepare him for the ocean. I’m guessing 30-odd years of cheeseburgers didn’t either.

Back in Alaska, the teams are arriving at the glacier, when their cell phones ring. What the hell? They can get cell service on a glacier, and I lose calls if I go in my back bedroom? No fair, man.

Anyway, Floyd’s on the phone telling the teams that their clue is frozen in ice. They must follow a trail marked by rock cairns to get it. Also, inexplicably, we have a shot of a Miss USA telling us that she thinks “Papa Hanlon’s mullet is sexy.” She goes on to say she wants to play with it, brush it, and apparently make sweet love on it. Or with it. Let me just say for the record that I disagree.


Pride and Joy are Fine, But Luck and Reasoning Skills Win Every Time


Speaking of the mullet, Papa Hanlon – Pat? Is that his name? – is reluctant to go on the helicopter. He says it reminds him – stay with me now – of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s death in a helicopter crash, and ever since that he hasn’t gotten in a helicopter. Um, ok. Because I make my life decisions based on what Stevie Ray Vaughan would have done all the time. I think there are even wrist-bands for that – “WWSRVD”. They’re denim.

Anyway, everyone eventually copters to the glacier. There they have to hike, as already stated, then one member of the team will rappel down a cliff and walk a bit to find the clue. There are coordinates on a map of Alaska, and the ice block in which their map was hidden said “Stillwater, Washington” on it. A little thinking should clue teams in that Stillwater = Lake and Washington = George and the clue is that they need to go to Lake George.

Well, deductive reasoning works better for some than others. The CIA team get it first, and arrive at Lake George where Floyd tells them, again by phone, that their clue is buried there. Somewhere. Could be anywhere. It’s a big place. Very TARish.

But there are piles of rocks, so the CIAers dig under them until they finally find the clue – a metal cylinder, with a code on it (a pretty damn simple code, looks to me like). They’ll need that at their next stop – the state capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The other teams in Alaska eventually figure out Lake George, get there, and start digging. The Mullets wind up helping the whiny Team USA girls, which I hope they stop doing right now. This is a race, fellas, and those chicks will stab you in your hairy back when they get a chance.


Thou Shalt Not Steal, Remember?

Let’s get back to the people in the tropics. According to Floyd on someone’s phone, when they reach the dive site, teams must retrieve a steel box from the ocean floor. It contains a captain’s log with coordinates – that will tell them how to find the wreckage of a plane on the land nearby.

The Geniuses find their box first and head for land. Then things get tricky – there’s a girl diving, I’m not sure what team she’s on, but she tries to open her box underwater, runs out of air and has to drop it. A guy from another team grabs it, pulls it up to the surface, but says he’d feel bad taking her box so he gives it to her and goes for another. But then, when the girl opens it and grabs her clue, she says she felt another hand snake in and grab it too. It’s the minister. And they both cling to the clue, but Reverend Fogel steals it away from the girl. She says she doesn’t know what kind of man of the cloth he is, and I agree. That was dirty pool from anyone, but from a professed man of God? God saw that, Fogel. It’s a sad day when other teams are playing with more Christian charity than the minister is. And my mother wonders why I don’t go to church.

Anyway, the clue in the box tells the teams to find the wreckage of the plane, which it claims was named the Monticello, which I do not believe. Who names a plane Monticello? Only network executives who want a tenuous way to tie in a twist – in the wreckage are boxes that teams must open with a two-piece key they’ll find hidden in walking canes. NBC calls it a “Jeffersonian cane,” which was an excellent chance to teach a little bit of history, except of course the show explains nothing. *sigh* Allow me, as a graduate of Mr. Jefferson’s University, to step into the breach, and offer some sort of history, even if it’s not that relevant or helpful. The only reference to a Jefferson cane that I can find involves a carved cane, with no mention made of it containing secret keys. Jefferson was an inventor, so it wouldn’t be surprising if his walking stick contained a key, or a sword – it seems to me I heard of someone having a cane that concealed a dagger or something, but it could as easily be the Dread Pirate Roberts as Thomas Jefferson.


Name Yourself Genius, Have Nowhere To Go But Down

Anyway. The so-called “Geniuses,” who had a head start going onto the island, get lost, allowing the Air Force team to pass them up. The not-so-geniuses wander around lost in the jungle for a bit while other teams easily find the plane wreckage and start figuring out the keys.

Team Air Force cracks it first. Their clue is a painting; on the other side is a coded map. They’ll need it when they get to Lincoln, Nebraska. In other words, all roads lead to Lincoln, and the purpose of separating these two groups is beyond me since they’re meeting up anyway.

The Brown family is currently in last place, due to Keith’s problems with swimming. He basically has to be hauled to shore by staff, while he says the time in the hot sun “just drained me.” Sure, it does that, but dude, face it – you’re Out. Of. Shape. The Brown brothers execute a long-winded football analogy, about it being halftime and a lot of teams not making mistakes in the second half. Whatever pep talk you need, guys, but you ought to maybe talk and walk at the same time, because the other teams are getting the jump on you.

Like the sneaky Fogals. At the plane, they find their box, and daughter Katye (is that how she spelled it? Do I care?) somehow injures herself and thinks she broke her thumb. Not to be held back, her parents barely even pay attention. They keep going at cracking the box, and they succeed. As they leave, another team – I think the same whiny girls that Rev. Fogal stole the clue from – ask if they can have the Fogals’ key, but the Fogals refuse to give it to them.

At this point, the Geniuses finally find the plane and easily crack the riddle of the key – on the box that the girls couldn’t pry open. The girls say it’s frustrating to feel like they’re playing a fair game and getting run over. At any rate, they finally figure it out, as do the Brown brothers.


Nebraska, Rarely Seen On the Reality Show Race Tour


And, we flash forward to Lincoln, where both groups race into a much more imposing-looking state capitol than one might have expected Nebraska to have. They round a corner and everyone comes face to face, finally realizing that there are ten teams in this, not five.

So, I declare that to be the halfway point (it’s hard to tell when you videotape it) and will be back later with the second half, which could very easily be far shorter.