U-TURNED U-TUBERS BARREL OUT OF THE RACE (Recap Of Episode 10 The Amazing Race Season 22)

This episode begins with Max and Katie checking out their prize for winning the last leg of the Race – two brand new Ford Fusions. I know many fans roll their eyes at such obvious product placement, but I don’t really mind. After all, someone has to pay for various expenses of The Amazing Race, and Ford compony is one of such sponsors. And do you know the golden rule?: who has the gold – makes the rules. Making us take another look at Ford Fusions was really a small price to pay. What was more difficult though was seeing Katie’s joyless face. Yes, she tried to fake some excitement, but joy and excitement and any positive emotion are such foreign feelings to her that it all came out rather pathetic.

Moving on. The teams have to fly to Scotland now, and they all learn that Double U-Turn is waiting for them ahead. We learn from snippets of conversations that the Boring Moms are in alliance with the You Tubers while the Honeymooners are in alliance with Kens (the Hockey Brothers) and Barbies (the singing look-alike blondes). The latter alliance is very much determined to U-Turn the former. But it looks like the Moms and the You Tubers are on a much earlier flight to Scotland. And we are treated to watching an awkwardly annoying (and probably as “for-the-camera-fake” as the rest of him) Joey’s joy dance. They are so happy that they don’t even bother to check if there are maybe even better flights to Scotland. But there is at least one, and the Honeymooners, Kens and Barbies manage to get on it.

The three leading teams arrive at the Roadblock where one member of each team has to play bagpipes with the Scottish Royal Regimen. The guys (Max and Bates are doing the Roadblock) finish relatively quickly while one of the blondes (still hard to tell them apart!) – despite making slightly double-entendre jokes – takes a long time to learn how to blow successfully. But eventually they, too, move to the Detour.

Whisky rolling

The Detour is a choice between Whisky Rolling and Pudding Tasting. In Whisky Rolling the teams have to roll 8 barrels of whisky to a designated area. The distance is not awfully long, but the barrels are very, very heavy. In Pudding Tasting teams had to make and taste Scottish pudding (called haggis). This dish is made out of sheep intestines, heart, lungs, liver and other offal. Strangely in Whisky Rolling no tasting of the product was involved. I mean – having rolled 8 huge heavy whisky barrels uphill and not having a taste from a barrel as a reward?! I would definitely NOT choose that one! As for the haggis – I never tried one, but I absolutely love French Andouillette – sausage made of the whole gastrointestinal tract of a pig, so for me personally Pudding Tasting would be a no brainer. Everybody else chooses it, too, except the Hockey Brothers – they are young strapping boys, so for them a few whisky barrels are nothing really.

The Hockey Brothers finish first and U-Turn the U-Tubers. The Honeymooners U-Turn the Boring Moms. Katie tells us that she would be glad if the You-Tubers go first, but she is also ok with the Moms going home now. I was pretty much with her on that – I just wanted the You-Tubers gone. To me – they seemed too unpleasant,too immature,too annoying and fake. I hoped maybe they would “grow on me” in time. But if anything they grew even more annoying. The moms, on the other hand, are bland and blah. They are not mean, but they are not fun. There is nothing to hate about them, but nothing to like either. They are just there, like paint on the wall. So – between annoying and boring – it’s a close call. And I knew I would be happy with either of these two teams to go. At the end it happened so that out You Tubers barreled out of the Race. Good riddance!

Making haggis
I hope that maybe the Moms would be next. Either them or sour Katie and her sidekick Max. But I have a feeling that it might be our ditzy blondes’ turn. We’ll see.

Who do YOU want to see go next? Are you glad the You Tubers are finally out? Do comment, please!

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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WHAT DO IGNORANCE, ADRENALINE RUSH AND HAUNTED HOUSE HAVE IN COMMON? (Recap Of Episode 9 The Amazing Race Season 22)

In case you are curious about the answer to the question posed in the title of the blog, here it is  – “Berlin”. That’s where this leg of the Race takes place entirely. Actually the teams arrive to Dresden first, but they stay there only long enough to pick their new shiny Ford Focus vehicles and promptly make their way to Berlin. I get it that Ford cars are taking almost as central a place as the contestants – after all, Ford is a sponsor of The Amazing Race (and for that alone I will tolerate all the hocus- pocus associated with Ford Focus). But what does Dresden have to do with the Race if they don’t spend any time there?

Anyway, the teams have to answer some questions (easy multiple choice) before they can move on. The ignorance begins there and continues through the leg. For the question “which president said ‘tear down this wall!” ?” even our oh-so-smart-because-I-have-a-PhD  Katie picks president Kennedy. Our ditsy Barbies – even though they are in Germany, en route to Berlin, – think the question refers to the Great Wall of China (!). If it were not a multiple choice test with multiple attempts permitted, that would be the end of the Race for all of them.

Hockey Brothers

Sooner or later all the teams make it to the Berlin Wall and pick up their next clue which says that they have to base jump off the roof of a 37-story-tall hotel. The jumping is where the adrenaline rush is supposed to kick in, but it’s quite underwhelming. Katie informs us before the jump that she needs to pee, but – disappointingly – doesn’t pee in her pants. Loco You-Tuber – as always – faking the exaggerated screams for the camera. Nothing new and exciting, so moving on to the Detour.

The Detour is a choice between Font Follies and Train Trials. In Font Follies the teams had to pick up two gigantic letters and transport them on foot (without breaking or chipping) to some obscure museum. In Train Trials the teams had to go to a train museum, assemble provided train tracks and miniature train and let the train complete one lap without crashing. Everybody but the You Tubers choose Font Follies. However, our Hockey Brothers break one of the letters and – instead of returning to pick up another letter, switch the Detours. At this point they were in last place while the Honeymooners were in first.

Katie and Max

On to the fun Roadblock. In this Roadblock one member of each team had to navigate a maze inside a nightclub. Or maybe it was a labyrinth. Or a haunted house. But whatever it was – it seemed awfully fun! Before the fun part, however, you had to answer this question: “Who said this phrase – “Ich bin ein Berliner”?  And of course the majority of our teams display their ignorance all over again. They are Americans, but have to resort to asking tipsy Germans at the bar for the correct answer to this question. Oh well. Anyway, eventually they all get the right answer “President John F. Kennedy” and move on.

The Honeymooners (Max and Katie) arrive to the Pit Stop first and win two new Ford Focuses. You Tubers are still (God, have mercy!) in the Race, and even managed the second place. The Ditsy Barbies are lucky and happily arrived third. The Hockey Brothers and the Boring Moms arrived almost together. I say “almost” because despite the moms being a little ahead, the brothers beat them in the foot race to the Pit Stop (predictably and not surprising – so no drama there). Luckily for the moms this was a non-elimination leg. So we will see all of them in the next episode.

Barbies doing Roadblock

Well, I liked this episode much more than the previous one even though the shots of urban Berlin were not as breathtakingly gorgeous as the shots of snow-covered Swiss Alps. But there was less bunching of the teams and more opportunities to get lost. I liked the fun Roadblock, and I actually liked the Detour, too. Especially the mini-twist of the Font Follies – where you not only had to carry cumbersome letters to an obscure place, but you also had to make sure that they were not broken or chipped during transportation. If you are not careful – you have to start all over again. Either that or – like the Hockey Brothers – switch to a different Detour. Liked that.

Speaking of the Hockey Brothers – they are sort of growing on me. I mean – I still resent seeing one team that is so superior to everybody else in their athletic ability. In my eyes this still creates unevenness and unfairness. But it’s the casting’s fault, not the brothers’ fault.

To the brothers’ credit – their attitude is light and fun not only in victories but also in defeats. One of them lost a backpack (or was it stolen from him?) yet he remained cheerful, optimistic and pleasant. Their flirting with the Barbies is slowly progressing, and it amuses me.

Anyway, Kens and Barbies – who would have thought! – are the two most likable teams in this bunch!

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

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

SAY “CHEESE” ONE MORE TIME… (Recap Of Episode 8 The Amazing Race Season 22)

So, after 2 week delay, the episode 8 has finally aired.

The “main number” of the program…er…of this episode… was the highly advertised, much talked about and eagerly anticipated( by some) Switchback (aka Throwback). A Switchback is a twist where teams are sent back to complete one of the most difficult or most fun (depending on how you look at it) tasks of previous seasons of The Amazing Race. In this episode the teams had  to do a challenge similar to that from TAR 14 – they had to transport four huge wheels of cheese from the top to the bottom of the hill.

I personally find the cheese task fun, and I was enjoying watching it. But the rest of the episode was not impressive.

Barbies

The whole episode can be summarized in less than a paragraph: regardless of the placement, teams bunch up together…take the same flight to Switzerland…bunch up again while picking up and delivering rescue dogs to a designated area…arrive all together to the Roadblock…and basically stay neck in neck all the time…

Pretty boring description, no? But that is how it was. Sure there were minor details. Our Kens (Hockey brothers) were awkwardly flirting with Barbies (singing blondes). It was expected, but it was not too amusing to watch. The Barbies were showering their dog with kisses, not the brothers – so in addition to being awkward, the flirting was not much success either. You Tubers shrieked. As always. Do you enjoy hearing the sound of a chalk against a blackboard? The sound of a nail against a window pane? If yes- the You Tubers are the team for you to enjoy. The dogs were cute. Actually the dogs (along with the cheese wheels) were probably the highlight of the episode. Katie’s golden locks were flawless (how does she keep them in this perfect condition on the Race?!). But sometimes “too perfect” is too much. The Roadblock was walking on a narrow ledge of a mountain to retrieve one of the Travelocity gnomes. Didn’t seem awfully hard. Even Wynona eventually completed hers. Would have completed much faster if she stopped whining non-stop. You Tubers were stuck behind Wynona waiting for their turn at the Roadblock. Only because of this these two teams had to take a later train to the Cheese Challenge. But not much later. That pretty much sums it all up.

My Cheese is Out of Control

At the Cheese Challenge the teams struggled to get up the hill in a deep snow. All teams but the Hockey Brothers – they actually ran up the hill as if it was an easy jogging trail. And of course – because of this – were the first to arrive to the Pit Stop. Phil said “Unbelievable!” – yet another first place finish! Are you serious, Phil –  what is so unbelievable?! Did you see how easy Anthony and Bates ran up that hill?  That’s what happens when there is a team of two professional athletes among the teams of regular people. It’s as if you had a team of two PhDs in math completing a task of  “finding a differential of a, integral of b and logarythm of c without a calculator” ahead of the rest. Would you find it unbelievable, too? Well, to me it was no surprise whatsoever.

The rest was equally predictable. The only minor drama came when Chuck and Wynona arrived to the Pit Stop ahead of the You Tubers. But my delight at the thought of the You Tubers are being finally eliminated was short lived. Apparently Chuck and Wynona did not “properly” transport their cheese wheels and – as the result – got a 30 minutes penalty. 30 minutes were enough for the You Tubers to arrive and remain in the Race. Chuck and Wynona were eliminated.

Mona, Beth and cheese

That was the episode. Now – to my impressions of it.

Shots of Switzerland covered with snow were stunningly gorgeous, but apparently not gorgeous enough to offset the ho-hum episode. The rescue dogs seemed to have more charm and personality than the contestants. There was no Detour in this episode, unless you consider dog delivery a Detour. But normally a Detour is a choice between two tasks. And there was no choice. Unless choosing a dog is a “choice”. Weird.

I am sad to see Chuck and Wynona go, but only because of Chuck. He was cheerful and joyful. Wynona – on the other hand –  was a whiner and a burden to him. And no, I don’t buy the explanation that she was “older”, “out of shape” and some such. She jogged when she had to. She completed Roadblocks when she had to. And! There were much older people on The Race before her. There were out of shape folks, too. A much younger and much skinnier Flo in TAR 3 quit rappelling task while Wynona completed her similar height-related Roadblock. So, no – I don’t buy that explanation. It’s Wynona’s attitude that was the problem. She – unlike her husband – was not happy and excited to be there. She was negative and whiny, not optimistic and enthusiastic. If only Chuck had a different partner!

Chuck and Wynona

And I have to finish with my personal free (yet definitely unsolicited) advice to TAR production (and casting). I am not delusional, so I know they would never come across it, but! I must vent nevertheless:

Please try to structure the Race in a way that prevents teams from bunching together. This bunching kills all the excitement, and drama, and suspense. It is b-o-o-o-ring to watch. And it makes things sooooo predictable.

Please don’t put a team of professional athletes among the non-professional-athlete teams. When your challenges are mostly physical, it’s a no-brainer which team will have an unfair advantage. Especially when the teams bunch up, and the placement is largely determined by who can run faster. It  makes things predictable, and pretty boring. Yes, there were teams in the past where one partner was a professional athlete. But both partners? Professional athletes in a sport like hockey that requires huge strength and endurance? Not fair. And not fun – because it leads to quite predictable results. The Race is at its best when we see ORDINARY people going through EXTRAORDINARY circumstances.

And speaking of challenges – can we see more challenges that utilize “brain”, not just “brawn”? Yes, there were couple of “memory” challenges. But brain is more than memory. One has to be resourceful, clever and knowledgeable to travel successfully. Not only run fast. At least in real life. Can you approximate real life? We, the fans, would be able to relate more.

Ok, getting off my horse now! 🙂

What do you guys think? Will Anthony and Bates come first again in the next leg? Are you sad to see Chuck and Wynona go? Do you think the Barbies are over-botoxed despite their young age -their foreheads look quite  frozen? Do you know how Katie manages to keep her hair all the time in “just out of the hair salon” condition? And nails, too. Do they have hair-dresser’s services at the Pit Stops?  DO COMMENT PLEASE!

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

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

 

LET’S VOTE! (Most Entertaining Team So Far; TAR-22)

To my huge disappointment there was no Amazing Race yesterday due to CBS and CTV’s broadcasts of the Academy of Country Music Awards. Maybe it was worth it, but not for me. I don’t mind country music, but I do mind it preempting The Amazing Race!

Anyway, to make the time fly faster until next Sunday, let’s turn to voting. We only have 6 teams left –  let’s see which of them is the most fun and entertaining to watch.

Fun-3

From talking to many fans, reading TAR related blogs and forums, I can tell that the least-likable team seems to be either the Honeymooners (Max and Katie) or the You Tubers (Joey and Meghan). The most likable team seems to be either the Hillbillies (Chuck and Wynona) or the Hockey Brothers (Bates and Anthony).

But “likable” and “entertaining” are not always synonymous. Remember this season’s David and Connor? – Likable people, no doubt, but “please-shoot-me” boring! Or take the ex-Survivor player Boston Rob (and his bride) – not very likable at all (especially if you remember how he drove past the car accident of his fellow racers without even slowing down to see if they were alive or not). But entertaining to watch nevertheless.

Paraphrasing a famous quote about well-behaved women seldom making history, I must say that likable teams are seldom entertaining to watch on the Amazing Race. Not that it’s impossible – remember the Globetrotters? – both likable AND entertaining. But it’s rare.

To me – the most entertaining team of the remaining 6 teams is Team Honeymooners (Max and Katie). Chuck and Wynona would be runner-ups (mostly because of Chuck; Wynona is not much fun).

What about you – which of the remaining teams are the most entertaining for you to watch on the Race?

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

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

SPEED LIMITS, SPEED BUMPS AND ANIMALS GALORE (Recap Of Episode 7 The Amazing Race Season 22)

So The Race continues in Botswana. Our hockey brothers are the first to depart, and they manage to get to the next clue box without any adventures whatsoever. Or misadventures for that matter. At the clue box they get an option to take a Fast Forward and decide to go for it. The Fast Forward seems to be tailor-made for these strapping boys – it’s some water skiing. To make it sound less like fun and more like a serious challenge, the production tries to convince us that the water is infested with crocodiles: we are shown several shots of these reptiles (mostly in a state of repose) and some warning signs implying how dangerous, hungry and vicious these crocodiles might prove to be upon a close encounter. Color me skeptical – crocodiles or not, the production would go to a great length to make sure the contestants’ lives and health are not compromised. So I never thought crocodiles would be a problem. What seems to be a problem is that one of the brothers apparently failed water skiing in the past and was slightly nervous about this challenge. Such a big, young, athletic guy – and couldn’t get up? – Funny. But somehow he managed to rise to the occasion (on his water skies) and – along with his brother – complete the Fast Forward just fine. They come to the Pit Stop first and win $7500 each. The cameras at the Pit Stop show a toothless brother without his false teeth – maybe he lost them along the way, or maybe it’s his way of showing us on what he is planning to spend his prize money.

Fast Forward

Meanwhile, the remaining teams are trying to get to the clue box. Three of the teams – Pam and Winnie, Chuck and Wynona and the roller derby moms – make it there fine, while three other teams struggle. You-Tubers struggle with navigation, and it seems they are circling Maun for the 100th time (and I’ve been to Maun – it is NOT a big city!). The Barbies and The Newlyweds got pulled over by local police for speeding. They had to go to the police station to pay the fine. Surprisingly neither of the ticketed teams was slowed down too much by this. As for the You-Tubers – they finally got lucky by spotting one of the teams (The Newlyweds) whom the followed to the clue box. If it were not for that – they would be circling Maun for as long as the capacity of the gas tank would allow. Anyway, everybody finally got to the Roadblock. The Newlyweds had a Speed Bump (dressing up and dancing with the locals) which hardly even slowed them down.

For the Roadblock one member of the team had to navigate a dugout canoe called  mokoro along a – guess what? – a crocodile-infested river (a few shots of vicious crocodiles are shown to make us better believe it!). Two little goats had to ride in a canoe along with the teams. I think the whole purpose of the goats was to be sacrificed upon an encounter with a crocodile. But everybody completes the Roadblock, and no goats are sacrificed in the process.

Mokoro challenge

The Detour of this leg of The Race is Brains or Brawn. In Brains the teams had to ride horses at a leisurely pace and spot 10 cut-out animals along the ride. Then they had to arrange the pictures of these animals in the order in which they encountered them. I wouldn’t say the task requires you to have a super IQ, but at least it does require paying attention and memory. I love these types of challenges! Using one’s memory, erudition, knowledge, brain power – it is delicious to watch (educational and inspirational, too). I was pleasantly surprised to see Chuck and Wynona choosing this task and completing it successfully. Funny, but our self-proclaimed super smart Newlyweds (PhD and all notwithstanding) decided to forgo Brains and went with Brawn instead.

In Brawn the teams had to transport some wood for half a mile in a cart pulled by donkeys. Donkeys are notoriously stubborn and unpredictable animals, and – although I bet it was not much fun for the contestants – it was amusing to watch the teams struggling to control these animals. Unfortunately, Pam and Winnie gave up the donkeys too quickly and switched to the other task. Failing the Brains twice, they switched back to donkeys, lost a lot of time and came in last. I feel bad for these girls – in my view they had quite a bit of potential. But! Being indecisive and switching back and forth between different tasks of the Detour is never a good idea. Remember Maria and Tiffany and leg 7 of The Amazing Race Season 15? Switching once might make sense once in a while, but switching back and forth is never a good idea.

Anyway, I am sad to see Pam and Winnie go. I wish it were You-Tubers instead. They are still annoying, irritating and immature. I understand that by casting them the production hopes to attract some of the You Tube audience to The Amazing Race. They might or might not succeed, but in the process they could repel some of the long-term fans. Consider pros and cons. Just saying.

Donkeys

I am warming up more and more to the Barbies. I don’t find them especially beautiful or smart. And they still look like identical twins to me. Sure, they are sweet and nice and silly in a good way. But they have something more precious than that, they have something I dig a lot in contestants – the light-hearted attitude. It has been always painful and unpleasant for me to watch when contestants make solemn proclamations (roll my eyes), when they say they want to prove something to somebody (who cares?), when they take mishaps way too seriously (please – it’s a game!). Sure, there is a million dollar prize for the winner of this game, but it is still a game, so – take it lightly, make it fun for yourself and for the viewers. And I think that’s what the Barbies do. And it is very refreshing to watch. And fun.

I am trying to make myself like roller derby moms – Mona and Beth, but I just can’t. Not because there is something wrong about them – rather because there is nothing really about them. They are not interesting, not controversial, not fun. There is nothing to hate about them, there is nothing much to like about them. They are just there. They might cruise all the way to the end, to the first place even. But they are just so boring. Argh.

The Newlyweds are still mean – in general and to each other. Well, at least they are not boring. I would take anything over boring …except the You Tubers maybe…on the second thought…yep, I would take anything over boring!

Chuck and Wynona

Chuck and Wynona did quite well during this leg, but I still have a sinking feeling they might be the next to go. They went far though. Mostly on Chuck’s enthusiasm and his palpable happiness from just being on The Race. That is inspiring to me. Not some supposedly tear-inducing stories and personal confessions and what not, but this – happiness, light-heartedness and enthusiasm. It is contagious and fun to watch. And it is more inspirational than any supposedly “inspirational” story re-told over and over again for (supposedly) our benefit. Again – just saying.

I am looking forward to the next episode with some slight apprehension: I am afraid that one of the teams that I want the most to stay in The Race (The Barbies or Chuck and Wynona) might go home. I still hope it would be You Tubers, but things don’t always happen the way I hope them to be. Oh well – we shall see.

Do share your thoughts. Who do you want to see eliminated next?  Who do you want to win? How do you like the Detours where at least some grey matter (brain or memory – no matter) is involved?

Do comment please.

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

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