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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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