I hope against all hope that there are at least some TAR fans who could decipher the title of this blog. None of TAR contestants (“All Stars”!) would. Not on their own anyway. If it were not for Roman passerby’s, they would be still in Rome, trying to make sense of the Roman numerals. By the way, IV-XIII, MMXIV simply means April 13, 2014 – the day that episode aired. “Mystery” solved.
I have a confession to make as to why I am writing this recap (or should I call it “musings”?) 5 days after the episode aired. I was not too busy. I was not traveling. I was not otherwise too occupied. I simply forgot to watch the episode. Forgot that TAR was on. It is sad to me – I watched every single season of The Amazing Race (except the family edition), and I would never forget. So that’s the first. Is it me or is it TAR? – I don’t know. But the “Survivor” this season has a whole bunch of memorable, daring, deliciously “evil” and very colorful characters, and that’s where my attention is diverted. TAR, on the other hand, might call its cast “All Stars” all they want, but if the most loyal fans forget the show is on, there is a problem.
All this being said, it’s not TAR production – it’s TAR cast that is the problem. I still think the production didn’t do a bad job with the challenges. The episode began with a puzzle the contestants had to solve : “you are going to the Eternal City”. You would say – what kind of puzzle is that? – everybody knows that it’s Rome that is called the Eternal City! But it’s TAR All-Stars we are talking about! Of course half of them have to consult the internet to find out what the “Eternal City” is (wish those who used help would incur at least some penalty to slow them down!). The look-alike blondes (the ones that called the Berlin Wall the Great Wall of China in their season) look at each other with their expressionless (frozen by Botox?) faces: “Eternal City? What the …. it is?!” and I can’t help but wonder once again: “how did they end up on this show? whom did they have to bribe to be there?“…
Anyway, the teams all end up on the same flight to Rome – zero excitement there. The Detour was so-so in terms of fun and excitement – you either had to impersonate a gladiator (wooden sword, ferocious facial expression – all that) or you could instead impersonate your 5-year old nephew (and operate remote-controlled toy chariot). But the Roadblock was great – kudos to TAR production! It was both fun and painful to watch.
I know Phil called it the most difficult task ever, but don’t be deceived by that. The task was very simple – to count the number of steps of the Spanish Steps in Rome (135) and add this number to the date written on the monument above (1789). That is all. Simple arithmetic. You don’t even need a pen to do this calculation. Then why, or why not a single “All Star” could solve it on his own?! Not even the “brilliant physicist” Brendon. Not even old (and supposedly wise) Dave. As for the Globetrotters – they had a deja vu, just like in Prague where they (unable to solve the task) had to take time penalty. If it were not for Roman passerby’s – none of our “All Stars” would be able to complete this Roadblock. None. Why? The date on the monument was written in Roman numerals. And the final calculation has to be expressed in Roman numerals. Yes, we don’t use Roman numerals routinely, but they are all over you – how could you not know them? Have you never seen “XX century” written with Roman numerals?! Have you never seen “King Louis XIV” written with Roman numerals?! Have you never seen “Chapter IV” written with Roman numerals?! Apparently none of the “All Stars” have.
I was cringing and felt shame for the fellow compatriots, but still – I loved watching this challenge! The only improvement I would make is that I would not allow contestants use any help from passerby’s. Or at least – make them take some time penalty for using help. After all, people who do know their Roman numerals (ditto for people who know their geography, history, art, etc.) should be rewarded. To show the viewers (whatever viewers are left) that knowledge is power is advantage on TAR.
It would help to choose more erudite contestants, too. And more fun contestants. And more memorable ones. And more entertaining ones. But that’s asking too much 🙂
Team “Oy Vey” was eliminated, by the way. But do you really care?
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