JESTER KING AND SCORPIONS, FIRE AND SNARES (Recap of Episode 6 The Amazing Race Season 22)

I returned from Africa just a day before yesterday. Vacation withdrawals, jet lag, still unhealed bites from tsetse flies – all these nuisances were quickly compensated by the pleasure of catching up on the past two episodes of The Amazing Race.

I am quite satisfied, too, with seeing these two particular teams going home.

John and Jessica were far from my favorites – he appeared smug and conceited, she appeared just incurably mute (did anyone hear more than a few words from her during all this time?). And you can’t help but see some poetic justice when these over-confident over-achievers are eliminated with the Express Pass still in their pocket.

John and Jessica being eliminated

The other team – David and Connor – seemed nice people but bland and boring to the point of tears. Besides, their ordeals with cancer and leg injury were so overplayed that their story became almost a mini show in itself. Stale and dull show, I must say. It has become an eye-rolling experience to watch their misty eyes, trembling lips and solemn proclamations of love for each other. And maybe, after all, they were not as nice as they purported to be – remember how Connor declines Winnie’s offer to work together at the surf shop yet bends himself into a pretzel to “steal” the correct image from her surfboard? Sorry, not a fan of them – good riddance.

The new episode began unexpectedly – with an apology by the TAR production for sending contestants during the last leg of the show (in Hanoi, Vietnam) to the wreckage of an American bomber. Another supposedly awkward moment during the last leg was featuring a song glorifying the Communist Party of Vietnam. I agree that the show could have been a little more sensitive to the veterans who served in Vietnam, although I find that we as society are becoming awfully thin-skinned nowadays. As for the communist song – I actually found it amusing, almost hilarious in a way (and I used to live in a communist country, mind you!).

The rest of the episode was rather ho-hum despite the exotic location.

Chuck and Wynona

The teams had to make their way to Maun, Botswana. However, only the name of the city was revealed in the clue – the teams had to figure out on their own which country is that. I was in Maun just 2 years ago en route to safari in Okavango Delta, so I felt smugly superior watching them looking for internet access to find the location of Maun.

Chuck made me chuckle –  his novel strategy was to recite a long list of random countries until he miraculously stumbled upon the right one.  Max and Katie made me chuckle, too, although for a different reason – without a hint of self-deprecating humor or lightness or laughter or even relevance, they keep trying (too hard) to convince us (for the 100th time now) how smart they are. Don’t they realize how ridiculous they sound?!

Our Roadblock is to dig out one scorpion and place it in a jar. That’s all. Why, what for, what’s next – who knows? Each contestant performing this task has three (!) local helpers – the bushmen – who show them where to dig. By the way, the bushmen do most of the digging, too. And catching. And cleaning.  And carefully placing a freshly cleaned scorpion on a contestant’s open palm. Letting the scorpion drop from the palm into a jar is the only step performed by contestants independently. Extremely difficult Roadblock, no?

Scorpion Hunting

Speaking of scorpions: given a choice between sticking my hand into a jar full of venomous scorpions or having to re-watch Joey doing this Roadblock, I would choose scorpions without hesitation. Joey’s exaggerated grimaces, weird  mannerism, fake shrieks made it so painful to watch! Overplaying a little for the camera is one thing. But such grotesque, bizarre overdoing! Who is his You-Tube audience again?!

Anyway, away from this pain and on to the Detour. It’s a choice between two tasks: “Fire” and “Fowl“. In “Fire” you have to make fire, in “Fowl” you have to make a snare to catch a fowl (no catching of actual fowl required).

Anyone with a grain of common sense (let alone with a doctorate degree, like Katie) would know that getting fire is not an easy task to accomplish. At least not a quick one. Unless you are a boy scout, avid camper or maybe a past Survivor contestant. Yet everybody except Pam and Winnie and Chuck and Wynona chooses fire. Alas, only one team (Bates and Anthony) succeeds and is rewarded with the first place. The rest have to switch Detours, and our smartest ones (Max-the-cigar-seller and Katie-the-doctorate-degree-holder) are the last ones to switch and the last ones to arrive to the Pit Stop.

Fire making

Fortunately for The Newlyweds this was a non-elimination leg of the Race. I am actually glad to see them live another day. It’s funny because I do not really like them. Max might be selling cigars but has an air of a used car salesman. Katie might be having pretty hair but has a complete lack of anything remotely pleasant about her, let alone any charm whatsoever.

And as I said – I do not really like them. But! I like to watch them. There is a difference between liking someone and liking to watch someone on the show. Take David and Connor, for example. They were likable, nice people. In real life – I would definitely like them. But watching them was not fun. So, yes – there is a difference there. And that’s why I am glad to see Max and Katie still being in the Race.

Pam in Winnie are back in my good graces. They seem smart and funny and quite competitive. Maybe it just took them this long to get their bearings. Mona and Beth are growing on me, too. Ditto for the country singers (whom I still can’t tell apart, by the way) despite their “blondness”  (and no, I am not referring to their hair color here). Anthony and Bates I can take or leave. As for Chuck and Wynona – how about I take Chuck and leave Wynona? 🙂

The only team I hope to see gone next time is the You-Tubers. They seem so annoying. Not in a villainous sort of way. Not in “annoying, but you want to watch precisely because of this” way. More like in a way a mosquito can be annoying. Please, go away. To You Tube or anywhere…

Do comment, please! You don’t have to agree with the opinionated author! 🙂

And here you can find the most up-to-date links on all things The Amazing Race:

http://www.sirlinksalot.net/amazingrace.html

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WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO?

So, tomorrow I am going on a long trip to a faraway land. On one hand, I am happy because the trip promises to be an amazing one. On the other hand, I will have to miss The Amazing Race – two episodes of it, to be exact. Where I am going – I might not have internet connection, let alone TV. That means that  I would not even know for quite some time which team is eliminated next. That also means – no recaps for the next two episodes.

But I am trying to prolong the pleasure of The Amazing Race. So, why not play  a TAR-related version of children’s game “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” Only it’ll be called “Where in the world is the author of this blog going?

Clue

Here are 3 clues, take your pick or use all 3 to help you find which country I am going to:

1. The Amazing Race was there in Season 5, after Kenya but before The United Arab Emirates.

2. In Season 20 of The Amazing Race the adorable team Mark and Bopper won a leg of the Race in this country.

3. This country has a prominent landmark featured in the title of one of Hemingway‘s short stories.

So – Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Well, guys, stay safe and enjoy the upcoming episodes of The Amazing Race! I will be back!!!

WHAT DOES JAMES BOND HAVE TO DO WITH IT? (Recap of Episode 3 The Amazing Race Season 22)

So, the vacation continues… Our contestants almost leisurely travel from Tahiti to New Zealand. If any team happens to get a little ahead or drag a little behind – no worries, there are plenty of “bunching up” along the way where the teams get a fresh start. They all travel as a pack, get to the Detour and Roadblock pretty much together, and that precludes any suspense, uncertainty or drama. Alas!

The only drama is of medical variety – apparently David (team “Survivors” – father and son) seriously hurt his Achilles tendon; he is still racing for the time being but with crutches and medical boot. Everybody seems to realize that for David and Connor the Race might come to an end sooner rather than later. How many legs of the Race can you successfully complete with an injured leg, after all?

Fishing, episode 3

Team “Perfect” (John and Jessica) can kill two birds with one stone now – which they do by giving the Second Express Pass to David and Connor. For one, they are giving it to a team who are no longer strong competitors and no longer a threat due to David’s physical handicap. On the other hand, they now earn some brownie points for being nice, compassionate and keeping their word. Never mind that just a short time ago they contemplated other possibilities for the Second Express Pass.

We are now arriving with our teams to the beautiful New Zealand. The shots of the countryside are gorgeous, but the visual pleasure is spoiled by auditory torture – it’s our shrieking You-Tubers Joey and Meghan with their never-ending “Ahhh! New Zealand!“, “Ohhh, the sheep!” “Whoopee! Like James Bond again!“…What does James Bond have to do with it, again??! …I dig the enthusiasm in contestants, but theirs comes across as overdone, annoying and phony, and even a couple of “shaken, not stirred” would not make it less painful.

The Detour is a choice between “Rev it up” and “Reel it in” – in one each partner has to drive a car through an obstacle course under a certain time, in another each partner has to catch a fish over a certain size. Almost everybody runs to do “Rev it up“, including David and Connor who realize a little too late that David cannot drive a car in his medical boot. The father and son switch to “Reel it in“, but – not having much luck with fishing – decide to use their Express Pass.

Shemuzzling

With David and Connor slightly ahead, the rest of the contestants pretty much reunite at the Roadblock. This Roadblock is something I would gladly pay to take part in – a Shemozzle Race. It’s a bizzare, dirty and f-u-n. It involves molasses, feathers, mud, dogs and carrying eggs without breaking them in the process. If it were not for such challenges and beautiful locations, The Amazing Race might be in trouble  – the contestants so far do not add any spice to the show.

I get it that not everybody is as fun as, let’s say, the Globetrotters, or as memorable as Charla and Mirna, or as polarizing and energizing as the last season’s Twinnies; but this season’s cast seems so bland. Sure, they mostly are nice (except perhaps the Honeymooners), but neither memorable nor fun. Even Tim-the-dog at the Pit Stop seems to show more personality. Well, at least the locations and challenges are fun.

Tim the dog

David and Connor are the first to the Pit Stop, but the Race continues. And the episode ends with “to be continued..“, so we don’t know yet who would be eliminated. I especially hate such ending because I will be in a far away land for more than 2 weeks with no internet connection (most likely). So I will remain in the dark for quite some time. Not that it terribly matters – at this point I really am fine with any of these teams going home, except maybe Chuck and Wynona, solely for Chuck’s genuine and infectious enthusiasm.

What do you think, guys? Who will be going home next? Would David and Connor continue racing despite David’s injury? Do you care one way or another?

And here you can find the most up-to-date links on all things The Amazing Race:

http://www.sirlinksalot.net/amazingrace.html