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Friday, March 24, 2006

Worth The Wait

... Spoiler Alert! ... Spoiler Alert! ...

If you haven't yet seen (and you intend to see) episode 3 of The Amazing Race Series 9 (TAR 9), do not read any further!


The last TAR 9 episode we saw here in Australia was two weeks ago, and ended with the Token Gay Guys (TGG) being the first team to be eliminated. The pit stop was located on a soccer field in Brazil. Note: If you're already ahead of this point in the series, please refrain from giving any spoilers in your comments. Thank you.

Although we had to wait two weeks before we could see this episode, it was worth the wait. If for no other reason than we were desperate for the next installment of the show! I'd been having Lost and TAR 9 withdrawals all week, and by the time Wednesday night rolled around, I was practically salivating at the mouth in anticipation of the following night's viewing.

As always, I’ll provide my thoughts on each team in this episode, listing them in the order in which they arrived at the pit stop (hence the 'Spoiler Alert!').


1. Freaky Hippy Guys (FHG) - they played a good game this week, although they'd better watch out and not be too trusting of other teams who may appear to be helpful and friendly. As we saw in this episode, not everything is as it appears to be, when it comes to friendships formed and alliances made. As with any reality TV show, people are going to break alliances and turn on each other sooner or later. These guys seem to already be setting themselves up for an easy fall. The first chance any other team gets, they're going to screw the FHG over, no matter how nice either team is. I still really like the FHG; I don't think there's anything to dislike about them so far. I'm also very happy they won a spot-prize of a romantic holiday away together (!), but I must warn new TAR viewers not to expect a prize for coming in first at every pit stop throughout the race (unless they've changed it this year). The last season I watched (which was TAR 7, featuring Rob & Amber from Survivor; this was the one before the family version which will apparently air in Australia after the season currently being aired is completed), I think prizes were awarded for first place at the pit stop for most legs, but not all. (I may be remembering this wrong, though. Does anyone remember this part with certainty?)

2. Buff Frat Guys (BFG) - unlike the above team, there seems to be plenty to dislike about these characters now. They made a few too many crass comments for Wifey and I to warm to them, and it even got to the point that I was laughing at them (not in a good way; I said I was laughing at them), due to the amount of times they made comments like, "You gotta be nice to the girls so you can get into their pants later" (funny enough once, but in the context of so many other similar remarks, it wore thin pretty quickly). Not to mention this exchange, while they watched Monica from Team MoJo (DWC) running from her car ... BFG # 1: "Too bad she's got a boyfriend." BFG # 2: "Yeah. I'd spank her butt." Neanderthals. It's guys like this who give the rest of us a bad name and reputation. I wonder if Spankk and others still think as highly of them now as they did before this episode was aired. However, all of that being said, the BFG did have the best line of the show, when approaching host Phil Keoghan at the pit stop. They were frustrated with themselves for having 'allowed' the FHG to get away from them and come in first because the BFG lost faith in the local guy leading both teams to the pit stop, and had stopped to ask for directions (letting the FHG move ahead on their own). So as the BFG ran up to the mat, one of them yelled out: "Phil! Do you know how angry I am with you? I'm going to slap you, woman!" I laughed long at hard at that, and also at Phil's very Spock-like reaction of raising one eyebrow in a show of distain and not being amused. Hilarious!

3. Dating WASP Couple (DWC) - these guys played a surprisingly good game, and as is often the case early on in the race, we didn't see enough of the teams that arrived at the pit stop in the middle of the pack because generally they weren't racing for the lead or striving not to come last or be eliminated (this lack of coverage is due to there still being so many teams to fit into one hour at this early stage of the race; it usually settles down into a good hour where we get to see a lot more of and know a lot more about each remaining team when we're down to seven or six couples ... and from there it just gets better and better!). From memory, both members of the DWC climbed the waterfall thing very well, and that's about all I can remember about them. It was a good leg for them, or so the editing would have you believe.

4. Nerdy Dork Couple (NDC) - what impresses me most about this duo is their happy outlook on everything. They're in love, they're having fun, they're out there going places and doing crazy stuff, they're dorks and proud of it, and they're just having a great time. I think their positiveness is a credit to them, and perhaps part of the reason for their relative success up to this point. On the other hand, we haven't seen them in too much hot water yet (arriving at the wrong gate at the soccer field for the first elimination and seeing the team behind them overtake them has been the closest we've come to seeing them slip up), so maybe their cheeriness will flicker and die if they encounter troubled times. So far, they're having a great time while still playing a good game and coming in at a reasonable time (unlike the SSM, who only appear to be having a good time and not caring about the rest).

5. Token Black Couple (TBC) - hmm, again we didn't see too much of them. At least we got to hear Ray talk this time (although it was mainly in his interviews to camera after the event). He strikes me as a bit of a sulker, which would be a shame for him if it turns out to be true. The chick was a far better waterfall climber than he was (although he happily - and proudly - admitted this fact to the camera himself, bless him), so it's good to see a strong woman hidden inside her small and fairly mousy frame. They're both pretty quiet people, so I guess we'll see if the mounting pressures of the race will bring more friction and/or personality to the surface as time goes on.

6. International Mom & Daughter (IMD) - not as impressed with them in this episode (the mother's silly comments while doing the sugar cane challenge especially), and they also started to have doubts about the number of their arrival at the pit stop, as no one was behind them after they completed the sugar cane challenge. But they didn't go overboard about it. All-in-all, they did a good job and didn't really make any major mistakes. They were only put back in the pack because they had to grab a ticket for one of the later buses, but I think otherwise they would have made good time.

7. Bigoted Southern Couple (BSC) - I was a little surprised by the fact that the BSC guy didn't lose his temper at his wife; especially after they got on the wrong bus and went to the wrong terminal. I could see that he was grumpy (once they were on the third of the three chartered buses), but he was pretty level-headed with her and seemed to maintain his cool. Frankly, I expected far less of him and am happy to be proven wrong on this point. However, that doesn't mean I'm gonna change my ways!! :) I think he'll be even more ready to 'crack it' with her this coming week! Or the one after. Or the one after that. It'll happen, and it might be very soon. For her part, she brings a massive amount to the team; namely ...... um ...... right.

8. Blonde Bimbo Sisters (BBS) - these girls are more than simply "narh-dee" (that's "naughty", if you can't read the accent). They're also dumbasses. They shouldn't have run up the staircase they ran up, if three teams had already chosen that one. It would only mean they were going to have to wait for ages while teams on other staircases overtook them (which is precisely what happened). They could have stopped to help the DEC when the latter's car broke down (or at least checked they were okay before proceeding), but frankly I think in the same circumstances I would have driven past them as well (let's hope that selfish decision doesn't come back to haunt them, though, eh?). And here's a tip: If you're afraid of heights, DON'T VOLUNTEER TO DO THE RAPPEL CHALLENGE DOWN THE SIDE OF A FIFTY-STORY BUILDING, YOU STUPID PINK WOMAN!! Seriously, I've seen smarter potatoes than these girls. I can't see them getting very far in the race - sorry. I think they're there for their looks and sex appeal, but not their brains. And I think that will become self-evident when they inevitably stumble across the line at a pit stop in last place and get eliminated. It's bound to happen. They haven't had very good results at either pit stop so far, so we'll just have to see how long they can last.

9. Deceptively-Elderly Couple (DEC) - buckle up; this is going to be a long one. So it turns out that these guys aren't 'deceptively elderly' after all; they're just elderly! The three things that have turned me off them in the three episodes we've seen so far have been: (1) missing the cluebox repeatedly AS THEY WALKED STRAIGHT PAST IT; (2) choosing the motorbike-building challenge when they clearly didn't have any idea what they were doing; and (3) opting to go with the waterfall climb, which could easily have cost them the game this week (if not for a team even more useless than them). As promised, I've given up on them. Three strikes; they're out. In this episode, the DEC did three things wrong. First, they (like the BBS before them) ran up the first staircase in that rappel challenge. Both of these teams would have been far smarter to have run up the same staircase as the FHG, because the FHG was the only team to use that staircase, so the others would not have had to stand around waiting for their turn anywhere near as long. Most of the teams were guilty of making this error, but none moreso that the DEC and the BBS. Even if they didn't see who had run up each staircase, they could have worked it out by who was left on the ground, and where they were looking. It was poor game-play that put them back into last place at this point in the leg; particularly after the BBS team member freaked out at the top of the building. Second, they chose to do the waterfall climb rather than the sugar cane thing, based on a fear of having to work out how to turn it into ethanol. It would appear that they didn't read the clue's instructions very carefully, as they didn't have to work this out at all. I think it would have been far better for them to complete the sugar cane task than the waterfall one. Third, and by far the most important, was that when their car broke (itself not something they can be blamed for), they immediately started wailing about their impending elimination and how they were definitely going out this time for sure. They did it all again! Did they not learn their lesson last time, in the helicopter??! As Spankk said, they (particularly she) go/es on so much, that their defeatists' attitude is very annoying. I'm quite disappointed with them now, to be honest. I expected a lot more from them and wonder if the producers of the show did as well, when they selected them. After showing so much potential in their pre-race interviews and sounding so promising ('for an old team'), I have to say I feel let down. Maybe they'll bounce back and 'wow' us, but for now, they're not winning any friends in my household. Case in point: It was getting very dark when they arrived at the pit stop. How far behind the others are they now, in terms of time? We won't know until the teams all set out next week, and we can read and compare their starting times on the bottom of the screen. I suspect they may be quite a while behind the others, but there's always an "airport equaliser" or similar that may give them a chance to get back in the game. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, most legs - in fact I think all legs - have an 'airport equaliser', which basically means all teams generally have a chance to catch up to each other at some point throughout the leg ... unless they've fallen really far behind. In this episode, the equaliser was the building that didn't open until 8am for their rappel challenge (no flights were required for this leg because they're still in Brazil at the end of the episode), but more often than not the 'equaliser' takes the form of an airport where everyone pretty-much catches up with each other. Some (not looking at anyone directly, John B) have expressed a very real (and in a sense, fair enough) annoyance at this, arguing that anyone who breaks away from the pack based on good fortune, strategic game-play or just old-fashioned skill, should be able to maintain that lead and not let everyone catch up and nullify the advantage they worked so hard to gain. While I completely understand this point of view, I also accept that a better hour of television can be gleamed from a show that isn't as predictable or ridiculously weighted in one particular team's favour. The pit stops would also be much harder to manage if the first team started reaching these stops up to days ahead of the other teams (if the advantages were cumulative as has been suggested). This would also make the show boring, and it wouldn't be the suspense-filled show it is now. I know there are more elements to this debate that could be addressed (and perhaps will be, in the comments), but I'm getting way off point, here ... and I want to post this thing tonight, if I can!

10. Silly Sister Moms (SSM): ELIMINATED! - I'm so glad they're gone; they were driving me insane with all their squealing and carrying-on and uselessness and their incredibly slow pace. I'm glad I tipped them last week to be eliminated this week. I found it quite amusing that the most annoying of the two - the slightly taller and (fake-)blonder one - started to cry when they were eliminated. Not because I'm overly cruel and enjoy other people's misfortunes*, but because she then wailed to Phil, "I wanted to do this so bad." Well, darlin', don't worry your pretty little head - that's precisely what you did. In fact, you did it atrociously! < -- START TIRADE -- > Can any Americans out there please explain to me why, as a nation (and I know I'm generalising, but we hear it in American movies and on American TV shows all the time) you always say this kind of thing instead of the correct "so badly"? I'm serious - it's a disgraceful indication of someone who doesn't know what they're saying. Is this what gets taught in schools over there? I mean, did she want to do a really bad job of it (which is what she said), or did she want really badly to do it (which is presumably what she meant)? This really irks me. My favourite moment in the season two premiere of Lost was when Kate made a similarly ignorant comment to Locke and he corrected her. Bravo! At last! Someone who understands that dropping the "-ly" off a word like that actually makes it mean the opposite thing to what was intended, and causes the speaker to look both uneducated and dumb. I'm so glad the writer of that Lost episode was clearly as annoyed about this as I am to bother including such a throw-away remark in the show. < -- END TIRADE -- > Anyway, if she wanted it as badly as she claimed she did, once she'd been eliminated, perhaps she should have considered showing a little more enthusiasm while she was playing the actual game! She and her sister were both wet blankets, in my opinion. Their departure is no loss whatsoever.

I mean no offense to Americans as a people, and I certainly don't mean to sound like I'm attacking them as individuals. I love all Americans as individuals, but sometimes their culture leaves a skidmark on our planet that not even the best nappy-poo-stain-remover can do anything about. If I have insulted anyone with my above tirade, I apologise.


Last week's tips:

First Team: BFG - (Wrong - but close!)
Last Team: SSM - Correct!
Elimination Week? Yes - Correct!
Biggest Argument: BSC - (Wrong - it was the SSM in the Volkswagon)
Smartest Team: DEC - (Wrong - it was either the BFG or the DWC; and my preference would be the latter)


Next week's tips:

First Team: BFG (I think the boys will reclaim their lead)
Last Team: DEC (They seem to be a disappointment on most levels; let's make it official by getting rid of them next, shall we?)
Elimination Week? Yes
Biggest Argument: BSC (I’m sticking with this guy's short fuse - I'm sure it's going to cause problems, and I reckon it'll be sooner rather than later)
Smartest Team: DWC (They impressed me this week, so I think they might hold it together for at least one more leg before he blows his top at her; which I also think is inevitable)


* Although of course I do -- who doesn't!!?



At Saturday, March 25, 2006 1:49:00 pm, Anonymous John B. said...

I liked your dig at my annoyance with the equaliser aspect of the airports! ;-) Actually, I think it was more to do with the 'Rob and Amber from Survivor' season of the show. I certainly understand and accept why they do it the way they do now.
Do you happen to have this weeks episode on tape? If you do, please email or call me. I want to see it so bad....oops, I mean bad-ly. ;-)

At Sunday, March 26, 2006 3:40:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

So it was only a problem when it was affecting Rob & Amber's chances of streaking ahead, but not when it comes to anyone else? How interesting ...


And I'm sorry, John B, but I don't have the episode on tape.

At Sunday, March 26, 2006 11:50:00 am, Anonymous John B. said...

Hey, everyone else was against Rob and Amber, so someone had to be on their side. ;-)

I did catch the first half of this episode, but missed the last half. So at least I have your 'non-biased' description to go by. :)

At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 12:42:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

I'm going to pretend I didn't read that ...



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