The long-awaited day finally arrived, the 22 chosen hopefuls gathered in Griffith Observatory of Los Angeles, Phil said his famous “Go!”, and The Amazing Race Season 22 has officially began. And most of us – TAR fans – have already seen Episode 1. Time to take my twisted scalpel and dissect the episode.
What disappointed me from the very beginning was the absence of a pre-race challenge. Remember how in Season 18 at the Starting Line, teams had go through a million paper airplanes in search of the few with the correct airline name written on them (Qantas)? The order in which they brought it to Phil determined the order in which they departed for the airport.
Or remember the beginning of Season 19 when they had to search through lots of paper umbrellas for those with the correct set of letters – a clue to their destination (Taipei, Taiwan)?
Or how in Season 20 teams had to search for their clue in 100 air balloons?
It was fun to watch! Besides, pre-race challenges can minimize the advantage that the LA native teams might have in getting to the airport quicker (which means getting on the first and not the later flight). This season there are 3 teams from the LA area – 3 teams that most likely knew the quickest way to the airport. Two of them got on the first flight. Only Team You-Tube (Joey and Meghan) – who by the way both list “moving to LA” as their biggest accomplishment – managed not to make the first flight.
This season The Amazing Race went to a place they have never been before – Bora-Bora, French Polynesia. I loved to see the new destination, and even their first challenge – sky diving from a helicopter – was visually spectacular. What I liked less was that except for visual effects, sky diving was not really entertaining. Nobody was much afraid of heights, and it seemed this whole task was designed for the pleasure of the participants rather than for the pleasure of the audience. Yes, Meghan (Team You-Tube) kept squealing all the way to the ground and Connor (Team Survivors) shouted “I love you, mom” before falling off the helicopter. But her squeals were more out of “hyperness” than fear. And I would find even something like “OMG, I’m gonna pee in my pants!” more entertaining than Connor’s declaration.
Now off to the roadblock happily we go. In this challenge our contestants had to search through 400 sand castles to find their next clue. In a way this challenge is similar to the one they had in Season 6 (and revisited in Season 15). Only back then they had to look for their next clue by unrolling hundreds of bales of hay. Unrolling bales of hay was physically more demanding, but at least the contestants didn’t have to roll them back. In the sand castle challenge, however, they had to rebuild each sandcastle they destroyed in search for a clue.
I hear many viewers didn’t like this challenge. Maybe it’s a sadist in me, but I really enjoyed watching it! True, it had an element of blind luck (I don’t mind it that early in The Race though), but it also tested their patience and perseverance. And sure enough – three teams failed that test and chose a 4-hour penalty instead of completing the task. One of the three (the firefighters, Team Aw-Shucks) paid for that failure by being completely eliminated from The Race, and the other two teams (The Honeymooners and The Barbies) will pay one way or the other when they start their next leg 4 hours later than the rest of the teams. At least I hope they’ll pay – I want justice!
Now remember that “2nd Express Pass” twist that is introduced this season? The winners of the 1st leg of this Race (Team Perfect Hair – John and Jessica) in addition to their own Express Pass won a second one – to be given to any team of their choice. On the flight to Bora-Bora, however, they made an agreement with 4 other teams (David & Connor, Chuck & Wynona, Jamil & Idries and Pam & Winnie) that whichever team wins the Express Passes would give one to the team that arrives second. But the team that actually arrived second (Team Hockey-Pokey – Anthony and Bates) was not part of this little agreement. So it remains to be seen if our winners would give it to them regardless, or give it to the second team from their alliance (which happens to be the team that actually arrived third – father and son), or give it to yet another team altogether.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like this twist. It is confusing, and it makes people suck up to each other, and it makes someone worthy at mercy of someone who might not be, and it is just not fun.
Well, now let’s see if in just 45 minutes that this first episode lasted we managed to learn more about our lucky 11.
They did actually show us various dead animals on the walls of Chuck’s house – so we did learn that he fondly preserves the memories of his past dinners. The stuffed dinner reminders on the walls look quite macabre, but Chuck himself (Team Hillbillies, Chuck & Wynona) seemed even sweeter on the Race than in his interview (and a doting husband, too!).
The twin doctors (Team C-Section, Jamil & Idries) looked even more alike on The Race than on their photo, and wearing the same t-shirts did not help – you should have color-coded, guys! We can’t tell you apart!
Ditto for the Team Barbies (Jen and Caroline), even though they are not twins. But despite them being unrelated to each other (yet related to famous dead people) – it’s hard to tell them apart. Their hopes are just as alike as they are – to find themselves nice husbands on the Race!
That’s where Team Hockey-Pokey (hockey-playing brothers Anthony and Bates) might find their purpose – from Episode 1 it seems they are becoming Kens to our love-searching Barbies!
Jessica (Team “Perfect Hair”, John & Jessica), on the other hand, is not in search of a husband – she has already found a perfect candidate. Now, if only the “white dress” comes soon enough!
For Katie and Max (Team Honeymooners) that “white dress” stage is in the past. Now if only they could show the world how evil they are! Oh, and also how smart they are – after all, Katie has a doctorate!
Listen, as someone who happens to hold a doctorate degree as well, I can tell you – one doesn’t need to be an Einstein to earn one. Just your average intellect plus hard work and persistence is all that is needed. And from what I have seen – persistence is not Katie’s strong quality, or else she would not have taken a penalty instead of searching for a clue. As for being smart and evil – that still remains to be seen.
The alleged You-Tube sensation (Joey and Meghan), on the contrary, are far from “evil”. But they are awfully close to “certifiably crazy”. “Crazy” in that “what have you been smoking?!” way. Maybe it’s part of their supposed You-Tube appeal, but they still don’t appeal to me.
The father and son (Team Survivors, David & Connor) keep talking about their experience in surviving testicular cancer. It is touching and inspirational when you hear this for the first time, and even for the second time. But when you hear it time # “I lost count, and this is only episode 1” – the story produces the opposite of its intended effect, it makes you go like “ok, ok, let’s move on”. Maybe it’s not their fault though, maybe it’s how the overzealous editing presenting them to us.
Team Roll-A-Derby (moms Mona and Beth) are evoking this same “ok, ok, let’s move on” with their clichés. “We want to show our kids you can do anything you put your mind to” Please! You can show it in many more meaningful ways than being contestants on a reality show. Just be honest: “Mommies want to have fun!” Or be brutally honest: “Mommies want to win that million dollars!”
Judging from Episode 1 Team Double Trouble Double Fun (Pam & Winnie) is a candidate for a new name – Quadruple Boredom. I am not giving up and still hope they can be entertaining, but the chances are slimming significantly.
And Team Aw-Shucks (the firefighters) – oh, well…aw-shucks…for them The Race is over. Nice guys, but not memorable. Maybe if they didn’t choose to take that penalty they would have been luckier. Or not.
Who’s next? Do you think the quitters of the roadblock (Max & Katie and Jen & Caroline) would regret choosing that 4-hour penalty? Do you like that 2ndExpressPass twist or hate it?
Share your thoughts, and I promise to chime in. See, none of my friends and family is into The Amazing Race – shame of course, and I am working on putting them on the path to enlightenment; meanwhile, this blog is all I have to vent about The Race. So – do comment, please! And – in true spirit of The Amazing Race – the clue to the “comment” button: it’s in teal color, at the very end of all the tags. Hit it and voila!
And also enjoy some TAR-related links: