A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE (TAR 25, Episode 4)

We did not encounter any cute little ponies in this episode of The Amazing Race, but we had a delightful opportunity to witness someone eating a huge slice of humble pie. None other than Jim-the-dentist, my favorite so far in this Race.

Let me digress a bit to clarify the meaning of “favorite”. When I call TAR contestant a “favorite” or when I say I “like” him/her – it does not mean I am smitten by their charm or wowed by their athletic ability or blinded by their megawatt smile. It simply means they entertain me the best. They could be kind or mean, pleasant or annoying, smart or dumb –  the only  common denominator is that they bore me the least. By this definition Jim-the-dentist is my “favorite” among the current cast. And this time around he was served a generous slice of humble pie, which made it rather fun to watch. Let’s recap, shall we?

2

Jim-the-dentist and his sidekick wife Misti are the first to leave. They will be travelling by ferry to Aberdeen and then – by air – to Copenhagen, Denmark. They have enough time to do some research and find the best and earliest flight to Copenhagen. Or so Jim-the-dentist tells us. At this point I am glad that teams will be travelling on different flights, because with such travel there are lots of potential “surprises” and reshuffling. But Jim-the-dentist sounds so sure when he tells us his flight is the best that I believe him and do not expect “surprises”.

Meanwhile other teams make their own flight arrangements, not as good as Jim’s. Except one team. How did they manage to get tickets that would bring them to Copenhagen way before everybody else is still a mystery. Yet somehow they managed. It’s one of two female teams -I think they are Kym and Alli maybe? Anyway, Jim-the-dentist is on the second fastest flight, and he promises us he’ll catch up. Misti smiles her megawatt smile but otherwise remains a speck of paint on the wall. We feel somewhat blinded by the smile but assured by Jim’s confidence.

In Copenhagen teams have to pick newest Ford hybrids and drive across the bridge into Sweden. If they drive their hybrid efficiently (use less than 0.1 gallon of gas) – they will be given the next clue  (the clue directs them back to Copenhagen). If not – they’ll have to answer some geography questions. When I heard that – I was elated! Finally – some knowledge based tasks! some real geography tasks! But the questions were super easy (to name capitals of Denmark, Sweden and Norway) and help from maps and passer-bys was allowed. Tsk-tsk-task, TAR! Time to step up the difficulty level of your knowledge-based tasks beyond fourth grade.

4

Back in Copenhagen the Detour is a choice between Parking Space (where teams have to set up a parklet precisely like on the picture provided. If they cannot do it in 30 minutes, they have to start over in a new place) or Wedding Cake (where teams have to assemble a traditional wedding cake and transport it to a designated location in a cumbersome bicycle-like contraption). The female team that arrived to Copenhagen first (Kym and Alli?) finish the Wedding Cake Detour and now on the way to the Roadblock. Our Jim-the-dentist (and his sidekick Misti) chooses the Parking Space. At this point Jim-the-dentist shuts up about being first but still assures us that he will not need to use his “Save” (the special pass they won in the first leg that can save them from elimination).

Meanwhile that female team (Kym and Alli??) get to the Roadblock at Ida Davidsen – a sandwich place. Or rather – a smorrebrod place (that’s what sandwiches are called in Denmark). And there are lots of sandwiches…err…smorrebrods there! The task is to memorize the number and the ingredients of 4 such…smorrebrods.

Meanwhile, Jim-the-dentist is making his second (or third?) attempt of setting up a parklet according to the provided picture. Apparently his attention to detail is not as good as he lead us to believe.

The girls (Kym and Alli??) finish the Roadblock quickly, arrive to the Pit Stop first and win two new Ford hybrids. They don’t seem too ecstatic, too fun, too memorable or too anything. No wonder I never bothered learning their names.

At this point Jim-the-dentist decides to switch Detour to Wedding Cake. The surfers, by the way, switch Detours as well, but in the opposite direction. The rest of this cast are plodding along.

3

At the Roadblock it’s Misti who is memorizing the sandwiches. Jim-the-dentist tells us she has great memory. She struggles though. Surprisingly-  for the surfers it’s the sidekick (what’s his name?) husband that attempts the task. You would think that a non-physical task like this would be an ideal one for handicapped Bethany. But no, maybe her memory is not good. She has not completed a single Roadblock yet.

Misti still struggles. Apparently she memorized the ingredients just fine, but she forgot that she needed to recite the numbers under which the sandwiches were listed. So much for attention to detail again.

By this time Jim-the-dentist knows they are in the last place. And indeed they are. He handles his “Save” to Phil, and he looks humble now. Humble, but not defeated. Good! I don’t like my “favorites” defeated. And then – surprise-surprise! – it’s a non-elimination leg! So Phil returns the “Save” and Jim-the-dentist (along with Misti) lives to run a few more legs.

Let’s see how beneficial the humble pie meal was. See you next time.

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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PRETTY IRRESISTIBLE PONIES (TAR 25, Episodes 1-3)

I haven’t been deliberately ignoring The Amazing Race; it’s just that there are too many shows, too little time. Gone are the times when TAR was my # 1 – with blindsides on Survivor and some drama even on Project Runway (not to mention some gorgeous clothes!), who has time for that “let’s all be nice and play well together” type of fun that became so common (and so boring ) on TAR? But then –  purely by chance –  I caught a glimpse of Shetland ponies in a preview to TAR 25 episode 3…There were sheep, too. And animals on TAR are always irresistible and fun to watch (which you cannot say too often of the contestants). And that’s how – thanks to the ponies! – I got finally caught up on the current season of TAR.

Ponies

I actually liked the first episode a lot. It was nice to have a different startline for a change – in NYC, surrounded by fans (not in some guarded location in LA or the vicinity). It was also nice to see an homage to TAR 1 by featuring its finish line in the first episode of TAR 25.  A new feature is introduced – “Save” – the team that has it can save itself from elimination if it comes in the last place. Did TAR “borrow” it from Project Runway where “Tim Gunn’s save” has been  a feature for a couple of seasons? Either way – it seems more valuable than previous incentives.

But the most delightful for me personally was the Roadblock in the US Virgin Islands where the contestants had to find treasure chests using a traditional liquid compass and shovel with 1-yard markings.  Finally, finally!  Such a rarity nowadays on TAR! – the contestants’  mental abilities are put to test!!! Finally!  And of course – the majority struggles. Delightfully so. You don’t really need to know how this compass work, but if you have reasonable intelligence and minimal knowledge – it’s not too hard to figure it out. But then I hear one of the blonde sisters (presented to us as most successful real estate agents in Miami!) proclaiming that  “the sun rises in the north and sets in the east“…and – what can I say? I don’t even bother shaking my head or rolling my eyes.  But I made sure I learned the name of the only person who figured out the compass quickly and all on his own – Jim-the-dentist (a side note here: you don’t really need to be a dentist or even have a college degree for that matter to figure it out).  We had a little deja vu, too – much like in the first leg of TAR 22, several teams chose to take 4-hour penalties rather than finish the compass task. Tsk-tsk-tsk!. Anyway, Jim-the-dentist along with his wife Misti-the-dentist got to the Pit Stop ahead of everybody and earned the coveted “Save“. The blonde “most successful real estate agents in Miami” got eliminated . Not a huge surprise but hugely satisfying.

Ponies -)

Leg 2 was far less fun. The teams fly to the United Kingdom and then it’s a hodgepodge of Queen’s Guards, pancakes, London, Oxford, boats, bowler hats, umbrellas…The leg  was hard to follow and not that interesting to begin with. There was a little twist that allowed teams to make a little detour in search of the Express Pass, but since the first team – surfers Bethany and Adam – were safely ahead of the other teams, they could afford the luxury of spending time in search of the Express Pass. They got both – the Express Pass and the first place in this leg of the Race. Now I hear some rumors in social media, suggesting that the Express Pass thing was “rigged”/”tailored”/”designed” specifically to be found by handicapped Bethany and her sidekick husband, that ” it would improve her chances to complete (or bypass) future Roadblocks“. I truly hope it’s not the case. I would despise it if it were the case.

Sheep

In Leg 3 teams travel to the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Phil earnestly tries to educate us, the viewers:
the Shetland Islands are known for the  Shetland Pony“. No kidding! Who would have thought! It’s bad enough TAR has a penchant for choosing some rather ignorant contestants, but please don’t dumb down the show any further.

The stars of this leg were definitely the ponies – cute, diminutive, intelligent yet capricious. I know Detours that involve animals can become unpredictable and sometimes disastrous, but I personally would never have considered making a torch (the other alternative of this Detour) if  I could get a chance to be close to the ponies. But ponies were not the only animals in this Leg of the Race. There were Shetland Sheepdogs – well, the cameo appearance of one real  Shetland Sheepdog and the teams’ impersonation of the rest. There were flocks of sheep that our contestants had to corral. There was even a minor mystery clue to the Pit Stop. Nothing that would overheat the contestants’ brain (practically everybody got the answer right with the help of locals), but at least the directions were not spelled out. Good. Once again – Jim-the-dentist and Misti-the-dentist were the first team at the Pit Stop.

 

So, after 3 episodes, which team(s) seem to stand out and which are still a blur? Well, for me – Jim and Misti definitely belong to the former. And not only because of their blindingly white teeth. I find such unnatural whiteness a little too artificial for  my taste, but they are dentists, so I guess it’s a professional requirement of sorts. I noticed they are somewhat disliked by TAR fans in the social media. Mostly Jim,  since Misti is quite invisible (except for her teeth of course). But so far I dig his no-nonsense attitude. I imagine he can be ruthless and unapologetic. I imagine he wouldn’t hesitate to use a U-Turn on someone. I can’t see him holding hands of another team of finishing someone else’s Roadblock. Good! All fun qualities for a TAR contestant in my books. The qualities that make watching contestants (rather than animals) interesting. So I don’t even hold his fake white teeth against him. For now, at least 🙂

Next team that stands out to me is Bethany and Adam, the surfers. For obvious reasons – she has only one arm (the other one she lost to a shark). So of course she is noticeable. But she comes across as artificially childish (“Ohh, can we play with the Puffin?” “Ohh, can I go for a swim?”) rather than genuinely exuberant and excitable (like Mallory Ervin – remember her?). She is quite bland even though she has an unusual story (which she worked into  various book deals, movie deals, endorsement deals and what not). Her sidekick husband is largely invisible – even after 3 episodes I wouldn’t be able to pick him from a lineup even if my life depended on it. I don’t mind them though, but only because they pick my curiosity – how would she do in Roadblocks with one hand? So far she hasn’t done a Roadblock, but the talk in social media is that “they’ll tailor a Roadblock to her“. I hope not. But when people ask “so why there were no Roadblocks in Episode 3 but 2 Detours instead?” – it makes me wonder. Why indeed? It also makes me wonder – does she have priority boarding as a handicapped person? Do people go an extra step in helping her seeing that she has only one arm?  The step they would not make for the others? All this would be very commendable in real life, but on TAR – everybody should be equal, no special treatments. Well, we shall see.

Phil and Puffin (TAR 25, Ep 3)

Another team that stands out to me is mother/daughter Shelley and Nici. Mostly because they look like sisters rather than mother and daughter. But also because they seem full of life and sound very genuine when they talk about being real fans of the show. I somehow doubt though that they would go far.

The rest of the remaining cast is sort of a blur – two pretty interchangeable female teams (one team is the cyclists, another – the food scientists), a cute (but nothing more) college sweethearts team, a team of ex-Survivors (were pretty much invisible then and are pretty much invisible now) and a team of pro-wrestlers. The pro-wrestlers are walking stereotypes of their profession – both  a he and a she appear overly muscular, overly tattooed and not overly bright. The appearances can be deceiving of course, but they have not yet managed to deceive by the end of the Episode 3.

 

That’s where we stand so far from my humble point of view. I might or might not return for the future recaps. Depends on how entertaining the contestants prove to be (the only one I am willing to bet on right now is Jim-the-dentist and – largely by association – Misti). But TAR always has a foolproof way of bringing the viewers in – just bring back the ponies! 🙂

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

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

U-TURN IS THE SPICE OF THE RACE! (Episode 8 TAR 24 “All Stars”)

We find the remaining teams leaving la bella Roma in cute, fast, little Ford cars. I know, I know – some of you are rolling your eyes now: “spare us the product placement!” But! Even though Ford has nothing to do with this blog, it does sponsor The Amazing Race show. And with less than stellar casts there is potential loss of viewers –  so, God knows, TAR needs all the sponsors they can get! The least I can do as a fan is mention their sponsor here.

Anyway, while our teams are driving to an Italian town of Civita, we are being informed : Caution: Double U Turn ahead!” and it’s music to my ears! Of course it could mean disappointment if the teams – one by one – solemnly proclaim near the U Turn sign: “We choose not to U Turn!” But it also can mean spicing things up. Now, this spice can taste somewhat bitter to me – like when Travis and Nicole last season chose to U Turn my favorite Afghanimals for no reason at all (the Afghanimals survived though!). Or the spice can taste sweet to me – like when James and Jaymes from season 21 U Turned presumptuous and annoying Abbie and Ryan (they did not survive!). But no matter bitter or sweet – I would take it. Anything but bland and boring! And to me, the U Turn on The Amazing Race  is that much needed tool that can make things slightly more exciting. So – spice it up!

Episode 8 TAR 24 Detour

Team Brenchel is the first team to leave, and they make it to their destination without problem. They inform us that they plan to U Turn the Cowboys – to flush out the Express Pass. I might be mistaken, but I thought this leg was the last leg to use the Express Pass anyway, so – it would be “flushed out” regardless.

The look-alike blondes are next. They tell us how much they like team SobStory (aka Father&Son) and how much they want to work together. Team SobStory, in turn, tells us how wonderful and smart (?!) the blondes are. They all praise each other and leave together as a little caravan – with the blondes following the SobStory. I can’t even tell you how much I dislike it when teams work together. Collective efforts make this show soooo much less fun. Less fun, less exciting and less fair even. The show is about teams of two competing against each other, not teams of four or teams of six working with each other. It might be more convenient and safer for the teams to work together, but much less fun for the viewers. Wish it was disallowed by the rules! Luckily, the blondes got separated from their two-team caravan.

Team Brenchel is the first at the Detour. There are two options – “Donkey Run” (you have to ride a real live donkey) or “Donkey Build” (you have to build a toy donkey from provided  parts). Is it just me, or we have one too many toy building challenges this season (building a toy car in China, building a toy donkey in Italy?)

The live donkeys are fun though. Animal-related challenges always bring fun to the Race. Donkeys are very stubborn and somewhat unpredictable, and we have a few laughs watching our teams trying to ride them. Team Brenchel finishes their ride quickly, but team SobStory is hot on their heels. Brenchel is currently in the first place, and they want to keep it this way. So I was not surprised at all that – to distance themselves from the next closest team (which was the SobStory), they decided right on the spot to U Turn them rather than Cowboys (whom they originally planned to U Turn).

The U Turn seemed quite logical to me – the first place is desirable and there is a prize that goes with the first place. I would have done exactly the same to separate myself further from the next closest team (thus increasing my chances to get to the Pit Stop first). Very logical.

Episode 8 TAR 24 Roadblock

Yet team SobStory proved to be sore “losers” in this situation. “They never helped us!” – complained Connor – “remeber how in Rome they didn’t tell us where the clue box was?”  Oh, why should they, Connor? “How could she U Turn 60 year old man!” – lamented Dave. Oh please, Dave, no need to play the “age card” here!  If your age is such a handicap that you need a special consideration, why don’t you just enjoy this show from the comfort of your armchair? You area so boring anyway!

A few blogs back I made a poll asking the readers to name the most boring team this season. The poll is made in such a way that multiple votes are not allowed. Of the 117 people that voted so far (as of this day), a third finds team SobStory (Father&Son) the most boring team this season (they share the top 3 with now eliminated team Oy Vey and the lookalike blondes):(https://amazingracefan.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/the-only-all-stars-were-the-elephants-episode-6-tar-24-all-stars/)

While Dave is whining about being U Turned, the Cowboys and the Afghanimals arrive to the U Turn sign. Dave promptly chooses to U Turn the Afghanimals (since the Cowboys had already used their Express Pass to skip the Detour completely) with teary explanation that he was left no choice by that awful, mean Brenchel team. The Afghanimals – to their huge credit – take it in stride, not as a personal offense. “It’s the game,” – they say – and I can’t agree more. U Turn is a feature of this game you are all playing – why not use it? There is nothing awful, cruel or illegal about it. Kudos to the Afghanimals for recognizing this and remaining their usual cheerful selves.

Team SobStory – to minimize the “damage” they just did to the Afghanimlas – offer to work together. While they are working together, the lookalike blondes arrive and join the collective effort. Grrr! That collective work should definitely be disallowed! Take the blondes, for example – had they been doing all the challenges by themselves, do you think they would have still been here?

Meanwhile, we see a glimpse of the Globetrotters – lost and so hopelessly behind that it’s all but certain that (unless it’s a non-elimination leg) they will be going home.

While the Globetrotters are finding the way, team Brenchel arrives to the Roadblock. The Roadblock “The write stuff” involves diligently copying a page from an ancient manuscript. It requires attention to detail, steady hand and patience.

Rachel finishes first and off they go to the Pit Stop (although not before hearing David’s sarcastic “thank you”). Brandon tries to explain to Dave that the U Turn was not personal (they want to be first, they want to get the prize – what’s not to understand?) yet team SobStory is still bitter. So bitter in fact that 60-year-old Dave resorts to mocking Brenchel behind their back with some silly pantomime. It all looks clumsy and  pitiful. And still – can I say it often enough? – sort of boring. Team SobStory and fun are mutually exclusive. Yes, I hear it – they are nice people in real life. Helpful. Gentlemanly. But -alas – it does not translate to entertaining or fun. I don’t really care what they are in real life. They bore me to tears on the show.

Team Brenchel gets what they hoped for – first place at the Pit Stop. And $7500 each. Try to tell them it was not worth it to U Turn the SobStory! 

The Afghanimals survive the 3rd U Turn in their Amazing Race history. Good for you, guys! Way to go!

The Globetrotters are the last team to arrive (soooo predictable) and are eliminated from the Race. The Globetrotters used to be one of my favorite teams. They delighted me in their first Amazing Race. I still liked them in their second season. But now – I couldn’t care less about them. Despite their impressive sizes, they were largely invisible on this Race. And not entertaining at all. Keep in mind though – they are professional entertainers! If the professional entertainers cannot entertain – there is a problem. Or maybe it’s just that 3rd time on the Race is a little too much, even for the team that was fun in the past. Anyway – no tears here at their departure.

Now – there won’t be any blog next week or the week after. I am going to Europe for a couple of weeks, and I doubt that I’ll have access to watch (or time to write about) TAR. I don’t think I’ll miss much – if it were not for animal-related challenges, U Turns and maybe perhaps the exuberant Afghanimals, there wouldn’t be much excitement anyway.

travel-agency-merchant-account

The preview of the next episode shows that team Brenchel becomes “enemy # 1” while teams SobStory, look-alike Blondes and Afghanimals make a pact to be the final three. I know Rachel and Brandon are fighters, so I would not discount them so easily. Still – I am afraid the final three will be  just like that preview – SobStory, Blondes and Afghanimals.

I have high hopes for the Afghanimals. The other two teams of this new alliance are sooooo undeserving. The blondes just rode coattails most of this (and their past) season. The SobStory might be strong, nice, “gentlemanly” and all that in real life, but they have been boring most fans to tears (for the 2nd season now!). For that alone – their victory would be a letdown. Much like the previous season’s victory of that nice but so boring couple whose name most of us don’t even remeber.

But let’s see. I hope to be back from Europe in time for the Season Finale. Meanwhile – enjoy what’s left of this less than star-like “All Stars” and don’t completely defect to Survivor (although I must say – it is very tempting this season!) 🙂

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

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

IV-XIII, MMXIV (Episode 7, TAR 24 “All Stars”)

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?“…

TAR 24 Episode 7

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?

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

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

 

THE ONLY ALL-STARS WERE THE ELEPHANTS (Episode 6 TAR 24 “All-Stars”)

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?!)

 

 

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

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

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…

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

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

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!

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

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