AND THE RACE HAS BEGUN…(Episode 1 TAR 23)

This blog is coming out a little late because I just returned from Europe – still slightly jet lagged, still with Sangria swirling in my blood.  Meanwhile – the Race has begun.

Our contestants start at what looked like a Hollywood movie studio that produces westerns. I personally adore westerns, but I am torn between liking the visual effect and hating it being so obviously fake. While I am pondering the question “to like or not to like?“, the contestants are making their way to LAX airport to catch one of two flights to Iquique, Chile.

There is a few hours difference between the two flights, so getting on the first flight is the first challenge each team is facing. While they are arriving in Iquique, I am thinking that just spelling that name would make for a decent challenge.

cast1

This leg of the Race had 2 Roadblocks. The first Roadblock required one partner to do some paragliding from a mountain down to the beach while the other partner makes his way to the landing place. The second Roadblock required the partner who did the paragliding to take a rowboat and collect 5 fish from nearby boats. After that the teams had to make their way on foot to the Pit Stop.

Now, since there were no Detours on this leg of the Race, please allow me to make my own rhetorical detour here.

To me personally the very first episode of each season of TAR is less about the tasks, challenges, excitement, and more about getting to know the teams better – getting to know them beyond their pictures, short videos and answers to standard questions.

So, what impressions did we get from this “first date”?

The pink-haired ex is shrill, loud and ruthless. I sort of expected that, so – no big surprise there. It wasn’t a surprise either that the exes came to the Pit Stop first, winning two Express Passes – one for themselves and one to give to a team of their choice in the future.

The Hippies and the dating couple seem quite bland so far, but I would be easy on them since it’s only the first episode.

The cloned blondes are all smiles, golden locks and undulating bosoms. The purpose for them being on the show is unambiguous – to lure young male audience away from other shows and to The Amazing Race. Whether they would fulfill this purpose or not – who knows? – after all, there are plenty of  “beauties” on other reality shows (and on Survivor they wear less clothes!), and the attention span of young male audience is quite short. So – who knows?…

The ex-NFL “Teddy Bears” and the “Bingo Queens” seem quite funny. I liked how Rowan took the rowing challenge lightly : “They call me Rowan for a reason!” It is very enjoyable to see light-hearted attitude and self-deprecating humor on TAR. And – speaking of Rowan – it’s also fun to watch someone less than athletic to hold his own (at least so far) on the Race.

As for the ER doctors – they seem to take the Race way too gravely which drains all the joy out of it. They also misread the clue and took a taxi to the Pit Stop instead of walking. And seeing ER physicians misunderstanding directions or misreading clues – it does give you a pause, doesn’t it?

The baseball wives – you can just gloss over them, nothing would grab your attention. Unless you are a fan of cliches and solemn proclamations. “I will face my fears!!! I will follow my dreams!!! I will do it for my son!!! I will be a role model!!!“…You would think they are talking about climbing Mount Everest, not some leisurely paragliding down to the beach. Please! *yawn*

The sweet and innocent boys from Oklahoma, well – guess what? – they are not in Oklahoma no more. They are in wondrous land where people do strange things and speak strange language, and everything is new and exciting. The boys don’t get eliminated. So – all is great. I like them. They make me see the world through their “just-out-of-Oklahoma” eyes, and it is amusing.

Now, “Afghanimals” – I thought they would be funny, but they are majorly annoying. Their jokes are anything but funny, their loudness is devoid of genuine joy, their enthusiasm comes across as fake. Perhaps I would have attributed it to cultural differences, but! they both are born and raised in America, so – here goes that excuse.

Who did we miss now? Ah, yes – father and daughter team! Well, they were the last team to get to the Pit Stop, and so they were eliminated before we even got to know them.

Let’s hope the second episode will give us more excitement.

Phil

Meanwhile I want to mention one thing. I do follow TAR fans discussion groups, Facebook posts and various TAR-related forums. I can tell that a lot of fans resent having so many “recruited” teams. In a way I agree, even though there is a huge difference between recruited “baseball wives” and recruited “Bingo Queens”. As long as the teams are fun and make the season exciting – I can live with “recruited”.

What I do, however,  strongly disagree with is the common complaint among the fans that the teams should be chosen for the show based on who “really need money”.

Please don’t confuse the show with a charity. The show is supposed to entertain the viewers, not distribute prizes according to participants’ net worth. Whether a homeless person or a billionaire – if he is fun, entertaining and has the ability to glue me (or you, or the next person) to my TV set – then he deserves to be on the show.

As for the major prize – that “million dollars” that teams are salivating about – remember that it is divided equally between both members of the team…and at almost 40% tax, well – should we say it’s much less than a “million dollars”?

This is my humble argument that the joy and the excitement of the Race should come first. Money is good, and all of us need it, but how could it even compare to the thrill and fun of running the Race itself?! Or is it just me?!

Till next episode! 🙂

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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