I am glad I am travelling at the moment so I can use my busy schedule as an excuse for not writing a proper recap of this episode. I say “I am glad” because to me –  it was a pretty bland episode. If it were not for the elephants (much bigger stars than our so-called “All Stars”) and a mildly amusing moment where Rachel misinterpreted the Roadblock clue and filled the wrong tuk-tuks with gas, there wouldn’t be anything to write home about, much less write a recap about.

Always the stars - on TAR or not

Yes, the locations are green and lush (of which we are being informed by so staged and so predictably unexciting comments of the contesters – as if we cannot see it for ourselves!); but the locations alone cannot make a successful season. There are lots of equalizers, we are shown train and taxi rides for almost a third of the episode, even the foot race to the Pit Stop is not a nail biting event despite being a close one. And on top of all that it happened to be a non-elimination leg. The over-botoxed blondes, whom most viewers still can’t tell apart, will face a Speed Bump in the next episode. At the Pit Stop they were blabbing something incoherent “like, we are so like sort of like happy kind of…” and so I just had to press the “OFF” button…

After all, the elephants were in the picture no longer, and they were the only real all-stars on this show…

Well, since the episode was of very little entertainment value, I kept wondering – why? Why indeed? The locations are beautiful…the challenges are alright, too…TAR production people are quite experienced and had some great seasons that many of us like to re-watch…I am firmly convinced it’s the cast…so, please allow me some entertainment of my own – a couple of polls…


1. Which team on this Oy-Vey…err…I mean All-Stars season you find the most boring?


2. Seriously, guys – how many of you can tell those botoxed blondes apart? It’s their second season and they are called “All Stars”, but everyone I am asking can not tell one from another. (For the record – I do not know for a fact whether they are botoxed or not, but what else can explain their look-alike frozen foreheads?!)



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WHEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE (Episode 5 TAR 24 “All Stars”)

Episode 5 takes us to Colombo, Shri Lanka. So I almost (quoting the Afghanimals) entitled this recap “Twinnies’ Motherland“. Too bad they are no longer on the Race to see their home country. But then I decided to use Rachel’s quote for the title. Even though I like Twinnies a lot, Rachel grows on me more and more. She is a fighter and a risk taker, she is what makes TAR fun to watch. I know there are some fans who like “nice”, non-controversial teams (snoozer teams, like David and Connor), but it’s teams like Rachel’s, teams that are “loud”, “annoying” and “too much” that really make the Race fun. Shall we recap?

So the teams are told that they will be flying to Colombo, Shri Lanka where they will get their next clue in a Buddhist temple after being blessed by a monk. There is a direct flight to Colombo, and it can take all teams but two. Predictably (predictability is so exasperating!) the order of the teams after the previous leg determines the order they get on this flight. The last two teams are Margie/Luke and team “Brenchel”, so of course they are the ones that find the direct flight full. There is however a flight with a connection in Singapore that arrives to Shri Lanka even a little earlier than the direct one. The caveat is – the layover in Singapore is only 30 minutes, and everybody who flies would know – it’s insanely tight and the chances of making that connection are extremely low.

TAR 24 Episode 5

Margie and Luke prudently decide not to take that risk. They get themselves on standby for the direct flight and hope for the best. Rachel, however, decides to take the risk. Against the advice of the travel agency, against doubts of her own partner Brendon, against prudence. “What do we have to lose?” – she says. And that makes us cling to the edge of our seats – “will they make it? will they not make it?”. That’s what makes the show exciting – the risk takers like Rachel, not the prudent ones like Margie. So I am glad the risk takers got rewarded and made it to Colombo ahead of all the rest.

There is an equalizer in Colombo – it’s late at night, the temple will open in the morning, so all the teams are together again. All except Margie and Luke. I don’t know about you, but I was pretty sure that was the end of them.

The rest of the teams get pretty much together to the Detour. In “Fishing Poll” each member of the team had to catch a fish with provided gear, in “Spin Control” they had to learn and perform a local dance while holding spinning plates. Dave and Connor are lucky enough to catch their fish right away. I had actually noticed before how lucky they were. And if catching fish can be (at least somewhat) attributed to the skill, getting a fast taxi (which had been happening to them a lot) is pure luck. Watch them in the future to see if I am right (and I know I am!) – they are very lucky.

TAR 24 Episode 5 Roadblock

Anyway, teams finish their respective Detours and make it to the Roadblock at the clothing factory. In this Roadblock called “A stitch in time saves nine” one member of each team has to sew a shirt after a quick demonstration. Connor informs us that he hasn’t sewn since tha sewing class he took in high school. At least he had a sewing class! Many others didn’t know sewing from sowing. Anyway, I had a feeling that Connor (what with his previous sewing class and them just being a lucky team) would finish first.

Sure enough, Connor did finish first, and his father and he got to be the first team at the Pit Stop.

At the Pit Stop we (for the millionth time!) are reminded about Connor and David’s ordeal last time around. It is emphasized that it was in the 5th leg that David and Connor had to leave the race last time, and it is in the 5th leg now that they came first to the Pit Stop. TAR production hopes to get our eyes misty but instead makes us gag. Please stop doing that. Nothing against David and Connor. I almost wish they annoyed me, but they don’t. They don’t annoy me, don’t make me laugh, don’t bother me, don’t excite me. My eyes just glaze over them, my emotions unstirred. If it were not for that constant pushing of their “sob story”, I wouldn’t have even noticed them. That is how remarkably unremarkable they are. Dare I hope that the “sob story” is now over?

Predictably enough Margie and Luke are the last team at the Pit Stop. In their goodbye they tell us all that standard boring stuff. How their relationship grew. How they understand each other much better now. *Yawn* 

Team “Brenchel” survives – even moves up a few places. Despite the Speed Bump (painting 15 t-shirts) and all. I am so glad that risk taking worked for them. So glad they are still there…

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TANTRUM IN THE BAR (Episode 4 TAR 24 “All Stars”)

The 4th leg of the Race begins with … nausea. Why nausea, you would ask. It’s because TAR production keeps jamming down our collective throats that stale overused “sob story” – once again we are reminded of David and Connor’s ordeal in their past TAR season, once again we are “treated” to shots of David hopping on crutches, of tears glistening in the corners of his eyes, of solemn proclamations and some such. For many viewers (myself obviously included) it has become a severe allergic reaction by now. What makes it worse is the fact that – aside from that “sob story” – there is nothing memorable, fun or even remotely interesting about David and Connor. Granted – they might be sweet, nice, decent and what not in real life, but watching them on a reality show is about as exciting as watching paint dry. But – alas – we have no choice but to endure this if we want to go on with the show.

The teams are sent to a park where the Roadblock awaits. In “Leaps and Bounds” one team member has to pull a flag while jumping on a bamboo trampoline. Some succeed sooner, some – later. Eventually everybody makes it to one of three flights that take the teams to the next destination – Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Somewhere along the way TAR production decides to inform us (via Margie) that Luke, Margie’s son, is gay. So? What’s your point? Maybe the “gay quota” for the season is not reached (after all, there is no obviously gay team on this so-called “All Stars”) and TAR production feels it’s imperative to assure the viewers “dot you worry, we do have at least one gay this season! Here, see – Luke!” But Luke’s sexual orientation is totally irrelevant. What IS relevant, however, is that he is an impatient brat, a spoiled momma’s boy and a total cry baby. Which we would see proof of once again, at the Detour.

TAR 24 Ep 4 Detour.

First plane carries the Cowboys, the ever joyful Afghanimals and ever bland David and Connor. Second plane is delayed and takes off practically at the same time as the third plane. Once in Kuala Lumpur, the teams head to the site of their Detour – SkyBar at the rooftop of the Traders Hotel. The Detour is an homage to the local night life – in Mix Masters both team members have to successfully learn DJ’s duties, in Master Mix they have to pour colorful cocktails from a single stack of glasses into 7 martini glasses without mixing colors. Both tasks are challenging, although teams who attempted Mix Masters seemed to finish faster.

Leo and Jamal – our cheerful cousins –  had to switch Detours (aye! that didn’t work for them well last season!), yet it didn’t slow them down much. Actually, all three teams from the first plane were the first three teams at the Pit Stop (the Cowboys took the first place and won a trip to London).

The last two teams stuck at the Master Mix task were team “Brenchel” and Margie/Luke. I found it mildly ironic that Rachel (who tells us she used to be a cocktail waitress and who seems like she belongs in a bar) found the task too difficult. But it’s one thing to find a task difficult yet keep trying, and another thing to throw temper tantrums upon finding a slightest difficulty. I am talking about Luke here –  an almost 30 year old strapping lad smashing stacks of glasses on the floor and slamming doors in frustration. You would think he has grown up since his last tantrum on TAR (tea tasting ceremony Roadblock in TAR 18), but no – his tantrums grew, not he. Just to think of all the fine china and crystal glasses he destroyed!

TAR 24 Ep 4 Detour

Anyway, it is obvious that Margie and Luke should be the last team. Margie, ever so protective of her grown up brat, even suggests to “Brenchel” taking penalty instead of completing the Detour. To Rachel’s honor, she declines the offer. Thank you, Rachel, from all of the viewers. If fate has it that you are the chosen ones for the Race – then at least race. Do something. Try. Persevere. Laugh. Cry. Entertain us. But don’t take stupid penalties.

Unfortunately, team “Brenchel” is less lucky than Margie (I am only counting Margie since Luke is less of an asset and more of a liability here), and they are the last team at the Pit Stop. But! Fortunately, it’s a non-elimination leg, so we don’t say goodbye to team “Brenchel” just yet. Good, because I grew fond of Rachel. She is a strong and gracious competitor, and she is entertaining. And even that green sequins that somebody on my blog commented about – hey, they are fun! Not many would dare, but she did. And for that – I like her even more 🙂   Glad she and hers are still alive in the Race.

TAR 24 Ep 4 Team %22Brenchel%22

till next episode!

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FIVE MYSTERIES OF BORNEO (Episode 3 TAR 24 “All Stars”)

Our contestants depart to their next destination –  Malaysian Borneo. The destination is quite exciting! Borneo is the largest island in Asia (and third largest in the world), and it is divided between 3 countries: Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. The island has one of the oldest rainforests in the world and one of only few remaining natural habitats of endangered orangutan. There are rivers, caves, mountains, and from what I hear – the beauty of the island is exquisite. Besides, correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think TAR had been to Borneo ever before.

There are only two flights available to our contestants. The first of two flights can only take 6 teams, and it has 3 hour lead. Everybody rushes to the airport to get on that flight and everybody encounters traffic on the road pretty much equally, so here is our Mystery# 1 – how come team “Brenchel”, who are the first team to depart, barely make it to the second flight?

Anyway, the first plane arrives to Borneo. Cowboys exuberantly tell us that they are glad they got rid of the second Express Pass.

The blondes say something, too, but I am too distracted by their foreheads –  trying to figure “Botoxed or not botoxed?” On one hand, they seem somewhat young for Botox, but on the other hand – their faces are so expressionless and empty! Their words (and probably minds) are empty as well. Somehow they seemed nicer the first time around. Once again – why are they on this race?!

Meanwhile Dave (the father of the father and son team) emits dullness pretty much like the Afghanimals emit joy. He might be nice and all, but he has a weird gift of sucking excitement out of anything and everything. “Beautiful place. Lush” – says David – and the surrounding rainforest vegetation wearily wilts from boredom and depression. Just don’t say anything, David. Please. I know the producers love a good “sob story” and all, and I know you and your son are probably nice enough people. But! You both are so d-u-l-l, sorry.

TAR 24 Ep 3 Roadblock

We encounter another Mystery # 2 at the Roadblock. “Face the Falls” is a task of rappelling through the waterfalls to the bottom and picking up the next clue half-way down. The task seems super fun if you don’t mind to get wet. Was one of the Cowboys having so much fun that he decided to repeat the rappelling, or did he really miss the clue on the first try?

All the teams from the first plane are done with the Roadblock while the second plane is probably still in the air. They take taxis to the place of their Detour. The Detour is the choice between “River Delivery” – where teams need to deliver goods and “Run to the Jungle” – where teams have to hit a target (fake parrot) blowing a mini-arrow from a long tube. But first they all have to build their own rafts and use them to get to the task of their choice. It’s not quite white water rafting, but at certain places the river seems very turbulent.

The Cowboys build a nice sturdy raft. The blondes’ raft is falling apart. Luke (of Margie and Luke team) is falling apart himself. The dull father and son miss the right turn and keep going.

Meanwhile, the second plane lands and the last three teams arrive to Borneo. I think it’s obvious at this point that these last three teams will be the last three teams at the Pit Stop. No surprise here whatsoever: the time difference between two planes was big enough, and there were no interesting twists along this leg to allow much surging or falling behind.

It’s also pretty clear that the winner of this leg of the race would be someone from the first plane. The Afghanimals seemed to be the first one to make their “goods delivery” (with the Cowboys close behind). So here comes Mystery #3 – how did father-and-son, despite getting lost, managed to be the first team at the Pit Stop? Did they take a shortcut? Did they run over land as opposed to returning by raft? We did see the Afghanimals struggling in the river on the way back. We saw the Cowboys making their way back smoothly and steadily. But we never saw the father-and-son on their raft sailing back. There must be an explanation, but since it was not given to us – I’ll assume they had some help from the production. Or else – they did cut some corner and were not penalized for doing it.

TAR 24 Ep 3 Detour

Two of the last three teams (from the second plane) are making it to the river bank for their raft-building task. These teams are “Brenchel”, and “Oy vey”.  Team “You Tube”, however, cannot find a taxi no matter how hard they try. And here lies Mystery # 4 – how come every other team had no problem finding a taxi yet You Tube struggled so much to find one? Was that because they let their own taxi go as opposed to asking the driver to wait for them? Was it because all the taxis in the area were taken? Was it just terribly bad taxi luck?

Back to the river. I am impressed by team “Brenchel” – they built a sturdy raft, and even though they encountered a lot of difficulties on the river (and some outright dangerous moments) – they didn’t fall apart, but supported each other and proved themselves to be good competitors.

Team “Oy Vey” built a barely there raft, which brings us to Mystery # 5 – how come that flimsy raft of team “Oy Vey” outlived the much sturdier raft of team “Brenchel”? And I am surprised team “Oy Vey” outlived hapless team “You Tube” in this race (taxi troubles rarely have happy endings, so team You Tube were the last team at the Pit Stop).

So “You Tube” was eliminated from the race. I was never a fan of them, but at least I could see the purpose for them being on TAR – the production hoped their presence would increase the number of viewers (by luring some of the You Tube fans away from YouTube and to TAR). I doubt that really worked, but at least I see the reason. What was the reason for inviting team “Oy Vey” on TAR (the 2nd time!)? Just beats me. Sure, they had that memorable (for us) yet stupid (for them) “oy vey” moment. But other than that? They are not entertaining, not even remotely interesting, not especially capable, not memorable, not even photogenic. Their attempts at jokes are lame, and they take themselves too seriously. What are they still doing here? I seriously would rather have team “You Tube” still racing. Oh well.

Till next time, fellow fans of TAR.

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We find our teams departing in search for their first destination of this leg of the race – a martial arts academy. Some take metro, others take taxi. Still others (like our fearless Cowboys) run who knows where for 50 minutes straight. By the time each team reaches the academy and gets their foreheads stamped by the martial arts instructor (the stamp bears the name of their next destination), their positions get reshuffled quite a bit. Getting ahead of myself, I would say that this was the most exciting part of the whole episode – it’s all downhill from here. Even despite two little twists ahead.

TAR 24 Episode 2

Everybody eventually finds their way to a toy land or kids’ amusement park – whatever that place was it was full of kids and toys. The Roadblock here was to build a toy car using instructions written in Chinese. Instructions provided pictures, so everybody manages ok, more or less. Except the blondes (who probably paid someone to get on the show or else they wouldn’t be even near the All Stars). The blondes apparently think that they need to read Chinese in order to complete the task at hand (but no surprise there – these are the same blondes who couldn’t tell Berlin Wall from the Great Wall of China). While one of them (isn’t it funny how you still can’t tell them apart?) just stares blankly at Chinese hieroglyphs, the other is begging one of the Cowboys for an Express Pass. The Cowboys pretty much let us know in the beginning of the episode that the second Express Pass was “burning their hands”, so I knew they would try to get rid of it sooner rather than later. And here was a perfect opportunity – a completely non-threatening and quite inept team who would be advantageous to keep. Our brothers understood this well and produced the Express Pass for the blondes. Of course the blondes were absolutely sure they got the Express Pass on the merit of their charms alone. Well, blondes will be blondes. At least these ones.

On to the second “twist” of the episode. Mark (of team “Kentucky” Mark and Mallory) finishes the Roadblock in no time – well ahead of all other teams. Now they have to deliver the assembled toy car to the children somewhere at the cultural center. In all the commotion and excitement, however, Mark and Mallory forget a backpack behind. Unfortunately they realize it too late  – after they get their next clue. Here is a dilemma now – keep racing while they are still a little ahead? or make a detour to pick up the backpack and then continue on with the race? If there were passports in the pack – it would be a no-brainer: you cannot travel without your passports. But what if it’s only full of clothes? Mallory proposes to forget the pack and keep racing because the other teams are on their heels. She has Mark’s passport and medications with her, so she thinks losing a bag of clothes is no big deal compared with the possible consequences of losing time. “So what if you lose your clothes?   – begs Mallory – We could lose the Race! If it was my bag, I would forget about it and race in the same clothes!”  But Mark doesn’t want to race in the same clothes. He says he can’t really afford to lose them. And his backpack was borrowed anyway. “I’ll buy you a new one!” -“No! we just don’t understand each other!“…And on that I have to agree with Mark – that is what happens when two people who don’t know each other are put together by the circumstances beyond their control.

TAR 24 Episode 2 Roadblock

While Mark and Mallory go back and forth about the backpack , the rest of the teams catch up and surge ahead. The Detour is a choice between two tasks “Feather Ball” or “China Cup“. In Feather Ball you have to score a certain number of points playing Feather Ball with a group of Chinese people. The caveat is – you have to use the body parts other than hands or arms to hit the ball. In China Cup you have to experience an ancient form of Chinese alternative medicine – cupping therapy. It supposedly detoxifies your body and increases the flow of blood, but it involves glass suction cups placed on your body with the help of fire. Even though it looks like a form of a medieval torture, it’s actually not that bad – in the past I used to be both the giver and the recipient of this therapy, so I do know. But I am sure most of the teams did not know, so everybody chose the Feather Ball Detour.

And from now on everybody is pretty much together , neck in neck. I have no idea why anyone can find this exciting. I certainly don’t. The whole cast arrives as a single group to the Pit Stop with barely seconds separating the teams. Poor Phil even lost track of who is in what place. Not exciting at all…Mallory and Mark – who went to retrieve the forgotten backpack – are the last team to arrive, even though they are just several minutes behind the team before them. Makes you wonder – what if they disregarded the forgotten backpack and kept racing instead? They would definitely still be in the race. Chance for a million dollars or a bag of clothes? I wonder if Mark regrets his choice. I know Mallory does.

Other than that – what can I say about the teams? The stars seem pretty dim so far. Even my favorite Globetrotters are not their usual funny selves. The Afghanimals (my other favorites)  – disappoint me by recycling their old jokes (“my wife is pregnant! let us through! we need to go to the hospital!“). The Cowboys (neither favorite nor unfavorite) also keep recycling their “oh my gravy!” *Yawn*…

Surprisingly (and I know I might get some personal enemies by writing this) I find team Brenchel quite appealing. To me it’s obvious that it is Rachel who drives that team. Like her or hate her – you cannot deny she has certain tenacity and fire in her. And whatever she is – she is not boring. You sort of want to watch her, not just glaze over her (like you glaze over, say, Dave and Connor or John and Jessica). And for that I do appreciate her. So I said it – go ahead, hate me for that 🙂

Now, before I say “until the next episode“, here is a little poll. If you were part of team Kentucky (Mark and Mallory) – would you return to pick up the backpack full of clothes? Or would you keep racing, even if it meant racing in the same clothes?

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