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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Itch Scratched

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

If you haven't yet seen (and you intend to see) episode 5 of The Amazing Race Series 9 (TAR 9), do not read any further!


The last TAR 9 episode we saw here in Australia was the first of a two-parter, where the competing teams discover (when they reach Phil on the mat) that this particular leg of the race isn’t over yet, and they’re still racing. Although a lot of fun for us to watch (and generally resulting in the next episode being even more stressful for the team members due to the absence of a rest period), it still amounted to a big tease for us viewers who were looking forward to the payoff of them all arriving at the pit stop and one team maybe being eliminated.

Well, last night, after a week of waiting, my itch was finally scratched.

For the record, this was the order in which the teams reached Phil on the mat, at which point they were told they were still racing:

1. BFG – Buff Frat Guys (Eric & Jeremy)
2. BSC – Bigoted Southern Couple (Lake & Michelle)
3. TBC – Token Black Couple (Ray & Yolanda)
4. FHG – Freaky Hippy Guys (BJ & Tyler)
5. DEC – Deceptively-Elderly Couple (Fran & Barry)
6. BBS – Blonde Bimbo Sisters [“The Dani Girls” / “The Double Ds” / “The Pinks”] (Dani & Danielle – although I might have that the wrong way around)
7. IMD – International Mom & Daughter (Wanda & Desiree)
8. DWC – Dating WASP Couple [“Team MoJo”] (Joseph & Monica)
9. NDC – Nerdy Dork Couple (Dave & Lori)

So that’s they order in which they set out on this half of that leg. They were still in Russia at the time, and were told straight away that they had to fly to Germany. Note: If you're already ahead of this point in the series, please refrain from giving any spoilers in your comments. Thank you.

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. Buff Frat Guys (BFG) - I wasn’t surprised to see them reclaim the lead and stay there pretty-much unchallenged. They’re a very effective team and they generally power ahead (although admittedly they had a stroke of good luck with flight times, etc – but still managed to break away from the two teams who caught up with them at the BMW test facility), and they’re able to have (their own particular brand of) fun as they go. Their brand of fun basically involves flirting with (and physically assessing) any good-looking females they encounter. And it seems to work for them; they still managed to come out with kisses on their cheeks and a pair o’ Pinks to “play with” during their pit stop.

2. Freaky Hippy Guys (FHG) - they played another good game this week, returning from fourth place to second place within this half of the double leg. I found it hilarious that they ‘tipped’ Phil some money when he handed them their clue for the second half of the leg (they very sensibly took it back; they only had the amount of cash they’d received when they set out on the first part of the leg to last them the extra-long amount of time – in retrospect, I remember hearing one of them say it was $130-something dollars, which I thought was high, so I should have known it was the double leg). Like the BFG and the BSC before them, they had incredible luck at the Russian check-in counter as far as getting on that flight was concerned. (And how crazy was the check-in counter at the Russian airport? Those wacky Russians!) Also like the BFG, the FHG tried to ‘chat up’ the blonde German girl at the bottle-smashing detour (but at least the FHG had learnt some German; unlike the BFG who could only try to pick her up in English). But the icing on the cake for me was when they finally arrived at the pit stop and decided to approach the mat – for some bizarre reason – backwards. And then, when reaching Phil and the German man (whose name was ‘Peter’, according to Phil’s obviously filmed-after-the-event question in order to edit it in later, “They’re walking backwards; do see that, Peter?” Yes, of course he sees it, Phil; he’s German, not retarded*), one of the boys (I think it’s BJ, but I’m not 100% sure at this stage; the shorter one with the darker hair and beard, anyway) looked at Peter and exclaimed: “Santa!” It might not be terribly original, but it made me laugh out loud at his sheer chutzpah, nonetheless. I still think these guys are the greatest, and are clearly the most entertaining team there is this season. I hope they don’t get eliminated. (Oh, but what’s with the “I need a changing room – I’m not wearing any underwear” line at the bottle-smashing detour? You’re traveling around the world in all sorts of weather and sweating up a storm as you do so in a mad panic … and you’re not wearing any underwear? Ewww!)

* Please forgive me for that comment, Phil. I know you’re only doing what you’re told to do. I understand that something needed to be said so it worked better when it was edited together later! Still, you must understand that it sounded a little redundant.

3. Bigoted Southern Couple (BSC) - to be honest, they played a pretty good game this week. I can’t fault them on their game-play and although they also had better luck than most teams at the airport in Russia, they didn’t do too much wrong. They obtained navigational assistance from a German man who was clearly walking home after a big night out (he was still drunk!), and then they ‘tricked’ the FHG to follow them as they drove their ‘rented’ inebriated tour guide home, under the guise of the two teams being able to work together to find their next stop (when in fact, certainly from the BSC’s perspective, it was really just an attempt to prevent the FHG getting too far ahead; a ruse that didn’t end up working for the BSC anyway). However, they shared the biggest argument stakes with the IMD this week. Additionally, I thought it was a real shame that Michelle’s not allowed to be negative (although Lake seems to be permitted to complain whenever he likes), and she has to madly puff his ego to get him off her back!**

** Not literally.

4. Deceptively-Elderly Couple (DEC) - well, finally! Seeing as all the teams from fourth place down to ninth place caught the same flight to Germany, I’m impressed at long last with the DEC for coming in first amongst the lagging six teams. Big snaps for having a map and using it so well when they were in Germany. That’s probably the first instance I’ve really noticed where their age and experience have meant they’re prepared and able to approach a challenge such as driving through a foreign country with some success. They did well with that, and I’m pleased to see them stepping up and showing their mettle. They’d just better keep it up! :)

5. Nerdy Dork Couple (NDC) - still haven’t seen too much of what makes this team worth being wary of. I know Spankk and others like them a lot, but all I can see that they’ve got going for them is the ‘underdog’ thing (and the same can be said of both the FHG and the DEC, too – they need to have and bring more to the table than just that). Yeah, I know they’re cute and dorky and in love, etc, but so what. That’s not enough to endear me to them for a race such as this. They also did well to move from last place up to fifth, but this was in part due to the BBS and the IMD making some big mistakes, and their luck at finding ‘Prost’ on a label before the DWC and the TBC. There wasn’t much more to it than that. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate them or wish they’d be eliminated; I’m just being tough on them because I want them to show me more of why they earned their position on the race. They were smart to stop working in tandem with the DWC, so hopefully this is a step in the right direction and the next episode will show them truly shining (although what we saw on the preview for the next episode didn’t look promising).

6. Dating WASP Couple (DWC) - I’ll say this for Team MoJo; they certainly seem to have a lot of fun, no matter what’s going on. They laughed their way through the bottle-smashing detour and had a great time on the BMW testing track (but then again, who didn’t?!). I was highly amused at the German band coming in and marching around the bottle-smashing teams playing their music. It was all very reminiscent of the Russian band doing a similar thing while teams tried to find a clue in the Russian dolls from the last episode. Making a decision that at least one other team copied (swapping from the bottle-smashing detour to the thigh-slapping detour) was a good choice; especially for Monica and Joseph, who seemed to pick up the dance easily and quickly (and well). I’m liking this team more and more each week, and I’m starting to wonder if Joseph really has a volatile temper at all. Maybe it was just utter frustration with the taxi driver who was costing them so much time in that early episode; perhaps he’s not nasty to Monica at all. Only time will tell.

7. Token Black Couple (TBC) - it was good to see Ray and Yolanda enjoying themselves more this week. We saw Yolanda make a joke about Ray’s butt being too big to fit in the German pants, and (more importantly) we saw the big grin that broke over Ray’s face at Yolanda’s comment. They were ‘robbed’ at the Russian airport check-in (because they’d been lining up the longest, however it was the FHG who got the last available tickets), but the mishap benefited my favourite team, so I don’t exactly intend to write a letter of complaint over the incident. I must say; although Ray was trying his best to learn the thigh-slapping dance at the detour (which they swapped to from the bottle-smashing detour after seeing Team MoJo do the same thing and get their clue fairly quickly), he really was making a mess of it. But it didn’t seem to bother the dancing judge, who just appeared to be happy with anyone who put in an effort. Obviously not the long-lost German cousin of this guy, or this guy, or this guy, or this guy, or this guy, or this guy, then. And once they received the applause of the German band, what’s with Yolanda yelling out: “I love you, New York!” when they’re clearly in Germany?! A little bizarre.***

*** It’s alright; I know she’s quoting the stereotypical shout from a rock concert, etc. I just wanted to point out the perplexing nature of the comment. I ain’t as dumb as I smell, you know.

8. Blonde Bimbo Sisters (BBS) - well, the girls came in second-last again; and they can’t blame anyone but themselves … again. I don’t think they have what it takes to go very far in this race, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to be one of the next teams to be eliminated. I wonder what they’ll think of Jeremy’s (from the BFG) comment about hoping the girls would make it to the mat in time so they can enjoy some tongue-wrestling over the course of the pit stop. Actually, they’ll probably be flattered, the silly little things. As far as game-play went, the girls made a couple of near-fatal flaws. Whereas the DEC had a map and used it well, the BBS had a plan and used it badly: To follow someone else who looked like they knew what they were doing. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the team they chose to follow was the rapidly-disintegrating IMD. I don’t think they’d recovered from their swimming pool meltdown from the previous episode (they certainly didn’t really have much time to recover; although it was about eight hours in a hotel, so presumably it wasn’t so bad). But I’m discussing the wrong team, here. The BBS shouldn’t have followed the IMD, especially when they went off-track twice. On exactly the same path. That, if nothing else before that, should have rung very loud warning bells in the girls’ minds to find someone else to help them. But they continued to follow the IMD and only just managed to beat them to the pit stop. The future ain’t lookin’ bright for The Double Ds; I don’t care how bright their pink clothing is.

9. International Mom & Daughter (IMD): ELIMINATED! - okay, their mistakes were plentiful and their wise decisions were few. They didn’t use a map; they argued a bit when the mother was driving down the same (wrong) stretch of highway – both times; they argued a bit about the mother’s inability to speak in German properly; they panicked when they were the last team at the gnome roadblock (and the mother began taking it out on the daughter – which I thought was a bit rich after her own behaviour at the swimming pool the previous day!); and they parked their car properly rather than ditch it somewhere (even double-parked!) so they could beat the BBS to the pit stop. Anything to stay in the game! I must say, however, that the “Schnell or schlopp?” exchange was quite amusing. But in the end, they weren’t good enough – despite showing earlier promise – to remain in the game. And they said it best themselves, when Phil gave them the bad news: “You can’t win ‘em all.” Amen to that.


Last week's tips:

First Team: BFG Correct!
Last Team: DEC (Wrong – the IMD fell apart only a bit, but it was enough to make them bring up the rear; I also said the BBS and IMD were possibilities and they were the last two teams, but I’m not going to claim this as ‘Correct’ when my actual tip was the DEC)
Elimination Week? Yes Correct!
Biggest Argument: BSC Correct! (Although the IMD also argued a bit – you could be forgiven for saying they argued more. I’ll call this one a tie between the two teams but still take it as ‘Correct’ for me. :) )
Smartest Team: NDC (Wrong – I’m not too sure who it was, but it certainly wasn't the NDC. I’m going to say it was the BSC, as much as it pains me to admit it, for picking up their ‘rented drunk German guy’, and then keeping the FHG from racing ahead them until they’d dropped the guy home)


Next week's tips:

First Team: FHG (It’s time to support my favourite team again)
Last Team: BBS (Here’s hopin’!)
Yield? No (I forgot about the Yields until this week, so this is a new category that will be included here in future reviews)
Elimination Week? No (We’ve got to see the first ‘safe pit stop’ soon)
Biggest Argument: NDC (But this is almost a given, from the ad we saw of Lori losing it at a roadblock)
Smartest Team: TBC (Just to be different)


What really annoys me is that Lost and TAR 9 will be on hiatus again next week ('due to Easter'), so it’s another two week wait for the next episode. And that probably means our American friends will edge even further away from us, making Channel Seven’s promise of screening each episode less than 30 hours after it airs in The States a total farce (and a massive let-down).

That sucks. And it means a further delay in these reviews (which I know upsets the two of you who read these things – one of whom is me feeling sorry for myself). But it sounds like you’ll just have to wait.

Phil, if you actually are reading this, can you give your contacts at Channel Seven Australia a call and let them know that the show's Aussie fans are not amused?




At Sunday, April 09, 2006 5:27:00 am, Blogger Ang said...

and from the ashes she rises....

new look, new link, back with avengence...this time it's personal!

At Sunday, April 09, 2006 6:17:00 pm, Blogger Living in Canberra said...

Nice wrapup of the episodes. TAR craps it in over any of the other so called "reality" shows - although there seems to be a lot of taxi riding this time, as opposed to using the local public transport, which is generally more interesting (eg crammed into trains in India). Pity about 7's inability to keep to its commitment to keep our screenings close to the US. I've been weak and looked on US sites so I know who's out in the next couple of episodes (but I'm not going to blab).

At Saturday, April 15, 2006 12:04:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

Ang, it's great to hear from you again! I'm so glad my little 'jinx' didn't keep you away forever. (Of course, I hope you understand that officially I have to deny that I did anything to cause those problems you faced. But a word to the wise: Don't get on my bad side! You don't know what I can accomplish!) That's all bunk, of course. I'm lovely, and so are you. Welcome back to the blogosphere.

Living in Canberra, welcome! Thanks, I hope you've been enjoying (and will continue to enjoy) the summaries I write as I watch each episode. I definitely agree that TAR is the best reality TV show ever. It's loads of fun. Hopefully they'll have to rely more and more on other 'local forms of transportation' rather than so many taxis, as you observed, as the legs go on. I have considered looking at the official site as well myself, but my thrill of watching it all unfold before my eyes without knowing the outcome already has kept me steadfast and true. But I think no less of those who 'read ahead'. I certainly appreciate your promise not to spoil! :)


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