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Friday, May 12, 2006

Oldies But Goodies

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

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


The last TAR 9 episode we saw here in Australia ended with the BSC, or Bigoted Southern Couple (AKA Lake & Michelle, dentist/wife-beater and part-time dental assistant), being the sixth team to be eliminated. The pit stop was located at the Fortress of Rion in Greece.

For the record, this was the order in which the teams reached Phil on the mat last episode, and the order in which they started this leg of the race:

1. BFG – Buff Frat Guys (Eric & Jeremy)
2. DWC – Dating WASP Couple ["Team MoJo"] (Joseph & Monica)
3. TBC – Token Black Couple (Ray & Yolanda)
4. DEC – Deceptively-Elderly Couple (Fran & Barry)
5. FHG – Freaky Hippy Guys (BJ & Tyler)

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. Deceptively-Elderly Couple (DEC) - there are many things that pleased me about the race these guys ran this week. For one, obviously, they came in first – and well done to them for that (Pomgirl must be so proud). But the other reasons included their ever-predictable reactions to certain things, such as finding out they’re not eliminated when they reach Phil on the mat ("Oh my God!"), and learning that they’ve completed a task properly and are about to receive their next clue ("Ahhhhhhh!") [listen for these reactions next time if you don’t believe me; I guess after 237 years together, you learn to mimic your partner’s responses and take them on as your own], ... and also their strength of spirit. In the digging task particularly, where luck had a lot to do with a team’s success, there was also a fair bit of back-breaking work involved. Under the heat of the desert sun, they had to dig up an unknown number of sand piles until they found one with hot food cooking inside, then dig that out of the pit and pull it up to the desert floor. Barry said in the car afterwards that his back was really sore, and I’m not surprised (my lack-of-surprise had nothing whatsoever to do with his age, although I'm sure that would only have made it worse for him; but rather because I know my back would have been aching as well). It was the wrong kind of lifting entirely (there was no room in that little hole to ‘bend with your knees’ when picking up the food basket). For the first time in what seemed like ages, I didn’t hear these two moaning about being the last team (of course, it helped that they knew for certain that other teams were still behind them), so seeing them be more positive helped endear them to me a little more. And naturally, it’s human nature to barrack for the underdog. No offense to Fran & Barry (or The Franberries, as Wifey calls them*), but they’re clearly the team least-likely to win this race (even in their current position). I loved Barry’s statement at the start of the show, when they didn’t want to let on to the other teams about their flight information: "We’re beyond being the genial grandparents we were in the first few rounds." And so you should be – you’re not there to make friends; they’ll all double-cross you eventually (with the possible exception of the FHG – yes, I firmly believe that), so you all need to look out for yourselves. That’s the only way to ensure your survival from week to week. But perhaps the most heartwarming part of the DEC’s victory to me was the statement made by Fran in her interview to camera before the leg started, when she said they were hoping to move from their regular fourth position (as I noted just last week, that’s many weeks in a row that they’ve come fourth!) up to third. Well, they out-did themselves by coming in first. Nice work, oldies. You finally made good on the nickname I gave you in episode one. Deceptively-elderly. I’m glad they proved they’re capable of so much more than playing golf and knitting.

* Think 90s band The Cranberries, with an F. But make it sound just a little bit more like Franbarries when you pronounce it. ... Hmm, not bad, but you still need to work on it a little. Get back to me in a week and we’ll see how you’re doing.

2. Dating WASP Couple (DWC) - I was pleased to see that Joseph managed to control his temper somewhat on this leg; he only really lost it when they lost their way as they drove to the pit stop at the end (and were overtaken by the DEC). Not that that excuses it, as such ... but it shows that he kept it at bay throughout the rest of the leg. I think he’s just passionate, but likes to argue, as many men do (not me, though), and unfortunately for Monica, she seems to get in the way of that a lot. Perhaps he has a lack of respect for her, rather than an anger issue. Dr BEVIS says so. Anyway, I thought it was a poor decision to swap from the three towers detour to the camel one, but they did all right in the end (largely due to the BFG getting lost on the camel detour, ... but the same can be said for the DEC coming first due to the DWC getting lost). Monica did well to lift the bag of food out of the sand pit (but why didn’t she understand what the clue was saying in regards to it being hot because it’s still cooking down there?), and they both played a strong game. I was quietly amused at Joseph’s pronunciation of the pit stop location; "Jamborine Castle" instead of Jabreen Castle. I know they hoped and expected to be the first team there, but could they maybe have looked a little happier with getting second place??

3. Token Black Couple (TBC) - whoa, okay – somebody didn’t get enough sleep last night! It was pretty embarrassing the way these two behaved during this leg, even though it wasn’t the most dramatic blow-out we’ve seen on the show (not by a long shot!). I’m going to make some sweeping generalisations here, and I want you to go with me until I’ve made my point before you get your knickers in a knot. I realise these are generalisations, but I’m trying to help out both sexes. When it comes to a race like this, everyone’s heartrate is pumping like crazy. Emotions are jumping all over the place, tension is high, sleep is constantly interrupted by a 3am departure, etc. And the anxiety and panic levels are just crazy! So everyone’s going to come across as a jerk or a moron from time to time; it’s unavoidable (as much as I like to jump on it here when it happens - purely for entertainment purposes, you understand). So to be fair, each team’s pre-existing relationship is going to be tested at some point in the race no matter how well they know each other beforehand. That’s what happens when you’re out in the unknown for a full month of tearing around the world in a mad dash to avoid being eliminated, being filmed the entire time, trying to be the smartest, fittest, cleverest, funniest and fastest team there, and still be thoughtful, considerate and loving to your teammate. The other thing is, sometimes you work something out but you don’t want the other teams nearby to know it as well (or you’re out of breath from exerting yourself too much), so you indicate to your teammate to go, or move aside, or hurry up. Thing is, your teammate may think you’re giving up, or that they know better, or that you’re somehow being weak or a let-down or a crutch. Because they’re thinking the same things you are, in their head, and they’re in just as much of a panic as everyone else. Throw into that mix the male/female roles of a couple’s relationship. Men don’t ordinarily share their feelings much, and they want to appear strong and capable and the ‘provider’. Women want to be treated fairly, with respect and love, and as an intelligent being (especially if their hair is blonde and they're already fighting against the unfair stigma of a ‘dumb blonde’). Put these two types together in a race of this nature, and you’re eventually going to have a moment where the man won’t want to talk about ‘touchy-feely’ stuff on camera, and the woman won’t want to continue with a jerk who doesn’t understand her until the problem has been talked out. I noticed the same thing with Dave & Lori the other week, where he didn’t want to stop and ask for directions. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to find the place first, or that he knew where he was going in the country he’d never visited before; it was that he felt his woman was implying – on camera! – that he couldn’t be an effective man. Sound silly, girls? Well, consider it from the other perspective with Ray and Yolanda. She initially got upset with Ray as they set out from the starting mat. Nothing had happened in the race yet for that leg, but within minutes they had a communication breakdown. He’s constantly aware of the camera filming everything they say and do, and if she snaps at him for something she mistakenly perceives as being an irritable response to her joke (when in fact – and I’ve watched the moment back a few times now – he was replying-in-kind to her comment, which she then misinterpreted), then he doesn’t know what to do. The more she pushes it (out loud), the more embarrassed and humiliated he becomes ... and the more he shuts up. And unfortunately, the more he shuts up, the more she presses the point, until you eventually have a man who won’t talk and a woman who won’t stop talking. And each team member feels that the other one is making things worse, which also ignites a mild fury at their apparent intent to embarrass them both. Neither one is trying to be obnoxious or repugnant, but both come across that way because both feel slighted and want to fix the problem / prove themselves right. In this case with the TBC, once Yolanda had decided Ray was being a pig, she made matters worse by speaking to him in anger, raising the humiliation stakes for him. He then made matters worse for her by giving her ‘the bird’, which is inexcusable anyway, but clearly struck him in that split second as being the only way to (silently) regain the upper hand - from the audience's point-of-view. (Unfortunately for him, the light from the camera cast a shadow in front of her that she could plainly see!) So although I’m talking in sexual stereotypes here, I’m trying to be fair to both sexes and acknowledge that we’re different for good reason, but too much high-pressure containment with little or no time apart can cause friction to develop (which is what this show thrives on and what the producers hope for!) where there really only needs to be some super-human understanding. < Here endeth the sermon. > So, back to the race. Upon closer inspection, I really feel that the TBC got upset over nothing. But once the arguing had begun, no one was going to ‘lose face’ by backing down. At least not while the cameras were rolling. And that meant, as Yolanda said, "Don’t talk to me for the rest of the time." Oh boy. Their arguing also indirectly led to them getting lost towards the beginning of the leg, which in turn led to them running behind until they caught up at the roadblock. Again, if not for the BFG getting lost more often than the TBC, Ray and Yolanda would have been bringing up the rear once more. Favourite moment: Yolanda’s swipe (under her breath, of course) at Ray cheering her on at the digging roadblock task, by encouraging her to get a pattern going: "Your momma’s got a pattern goin’." If they can sort out their frustrations with each other (or at the very least call a truce) during this pit stop, they could be a on a fast track to success from here on. They’ve finally broken the curse of second-last place, but we'll have to see if they can overcome their pride and start talking to each other!

4. Buff Frat Guys (BFG) - oh, what an amusing time Wifey and I had watching these two this week! Even though I noted nothing amusing either of them said (for once!), Wifey and I were cheering them on as they got lost – both times! (Anti-cheering, that is. We were sadistically happy to see them lose their grip on the top spot, and instead battle for last or second-last place.) We just weren’t too pleased to see who it was they were ‘battling’ with for those places. But I digress. The Hippies had hoped that someday the BFG would have a taste of coming last, and while that wasn’t to happen in this episode, the Frats were certainly ‘under the pump’ when it came to traveling from place to place. They got lost on two separate occasions (one was a deliberate ‘shortcut’ which ended up being a bad decision and lost them a spot on the final placing), and the other put them behind all other teams but one while they were conducting the camel detour task. Interestingly, on both occasions they were actually using a map – whereas winners of this leg, the Franberries, have been using a map for the most part successfully since very early on in the race. It would appear that Eric and Jeremy, for all their inherit ‘fratness’, were never in the Boy Scouts. It would have benefited them if they had. It was most amusing, at the digging roadblock task, that the camels were being so vocal. And seemingly in all the right places. One camel in particular was apparently letting the teams know that the pointless bickering between Joseph and Monica, and the obscene ‘jerkiness’ of Eric and Jeremy was inappropriate and unnecessary. I agreed with the camel. When the boys finally reached Phil on the mat, it was pleasing to see not only their exhaustion, but also their humiliation at being second-last, which was mainly due to Eric’s ‘shortcut’. And thank you, Phil, for asking the question we all wanted to hear asked: "Is this humbling for you guys (to arrive in second-last place)?" They were never going to be acceptably ‘humbled’ enough, but it was good that they were asked anyway (although, it’ll only make them even more unbearable when they arrive in first place next time!).

5. Freaky Hippy Guys (FHG): SAFE! - you have no idea how relieved I was that it was finally a non-elimination round this week!! Okay, maybe you’ve got a pretty-good idea. But the point is, if the Hippies were going to be eliminated with so many episodes still to go, it was going to be a pretty boring race hereafter. They’re the only interesting team left (and not everyone – including Wifey – thinks they’re even all that interesting anyway). But without them, who’ve you got? We’ve already lost the token gay guys, the pig of a husband, the blonde bimbos … so without any of them, BJ and Tyler are the most entertaining ones left. I hope they at least make it to the final three (if not win the million). Classic moments with the FHG this week included: (a) The empty bus ride to the airport, which was filled with the ghosts of the eliminated teams. BJ’s brilliant impersonation of Lake ("We’re pardners! We’re pardners!") and ‘The Pinks’ ("Is Oman in China?") absolutely cracked me up. (b) After being ‘cold-shouldered’ by most of the other teams at the airport (only the DEC was elsewhere), the FHG showed that they were above that kind of behaviour by finding out the flight’s departure time regardless, and telling the other teams who were (badly) pretending not to know ("We found out when the flight leaves, guys, ‘cos apparently you didn’t know; it’s 10:50pm.") before running off to book another flight. (c) It turns out that Tyler is the one who came up with the title ‘The Philiminator’ for host Phil Keoghan!* That’s how Phil signed the photo of himself that legendary fellow blogger Thomasr sent me last month after the Celebrity Race at the Australian Grand Prix. (See here.) But the sun had to stop shining on the Hippies at some point. BJ really lost his groove during that final task, digging through the piles of sand. Considering the heat of the sun (and the sand itself), as well as the ever-elusive element of ‘luck’ in finding the right mound by chance, his spirits were definitely at their lowest point here that we’ve ever seen them. But he was still amusing on some level, ‘complaining’ about how he has to ‘dig’ all the time (although the gnome task he cited didn’t involve any actual digging), while Tyler gets to bungee jump and do other fun things like that (I’m not sure what he meant by ‘swinging’, but perhaps he didn’t know what he meant either). And when Tyler called out that the next stop was the pit stop (after ‘Team MoJo’ had opened their final clue), BJ muttered "Whatever" to himself. You’ve gotta laugh. After spending an hour and fifteen minutes (probably a lot more, by the time they opened the clue) doing that task in those conditions as every other team arrived after you and left before you, I’m sure none of us would have been too chipper either. But on the plus side – did you check out the stunningly impressive ‘sketch’ of the camel that he drew earlier in the day, presumably on the five-minute ferry ride? When else did he have the time to draw that? And a camel? Have you ever tried to draw a camel? I challenge you to give it a go and see if you honestly feel it comes anywhere near as close to the real thing as BJ’s drawing did. (Seriously, try it – it’s really hard to draw a good camel!) I’m so glad they’re still in the race, but I hope they can stay there after next week.

* As far as I’m aware, that is. I certainly hadn’t heard it said before now, but bear in mind that we still haven’t seen the family version of the show yet, and I didn’t catch seasons 2 to 4.


Last week's tips:

First Team: BFG (Wrong – but I’m very happy about that!)
Last Team: DEC (Wrong)
Yield? No Correct!
Fast Forward? No Correct!
Elimination Week? No Correct! (At last!)
Biggest Argument: DWC (Wrong – it was definitely the TBC)
Smartest Team: FHG (Wrong – was there a smart team? The BFG, DWC and TBC got lost, the FHG came last ... I guess that leaves the DEC, but only because they came first, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as playing the smartest game. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that none of the teams was the ‘smartest’.)


Next week's tips:

First Team: FHG (c’mon, fellas ...)
Last Team: DEC (they had a good run, but I don’t see them getting much further, sorry)
Yield? No
Fast Forward? No
Elimination Week? Yes
Biggest Argument: TBC (I reckon they’ll still have some residual issues left over from this episode, which will affect their game-playing next week as well)
Smartest Team: FHG (they need to be the smartest if they’re going to beat the ‘no possessions’ curse)


There are still a few things I wanted to touch on from this episode:

1. The curse of the non-elimination leg. As many times as not, the team that is spared elimination (but loses all its possessions and money) is eliminated at the following leg. This is especially true if they don’t plan ahead and start begging for money straight away; during the pit stop! Sometimes other teams will help out by donating a couple of dollars, but it shouldn’t be expected (and I know I’d have a tough time being gracious to a competing team who survived the chop – because the next time it could be me being eliminated if I help them out!). Hopefully the boys will be endearing enough to get some money out of the locals in Oman (although it may not be too easy). Thankfully their beards won’t be too ‘crazy’-looking in that part of the world, as opposed to some other areas where people may have given them a wide berth. Their antics could still cause them some communication trouble, though … but I think they’ll be charming enough.

2. The so-called ‘airport equalisers’. Strangely, in this episode there were a record three. The first was the Visitor’s Centre across the bridge from the starting mat, which didn’t open until 9am and allowed all teams except the last-place Hippies to catch up (therefore destroying the three-hour lead the FHG had from their Fast Forward in the previous leg). This first one was necessary for that reason. The second one was the airport itself, where outgoing flights weren’t scheduled until that night, over 12 hours from the time they booked their tickets. And the third was the park containing the giant incense burner, which again meant that the Hippies (on a flight that arrived an hour later than the others) were able to catch up and everyone could spend a night sleeping in their cars. This could have been an opportunity for the TBC to patch up their disagreement, but instead they spent it making matters worse. I guess it was still too fresh. (But this is why I suggested earlier that maybe they won’t be completely over their issues next week.)

3. The teams are finally arriving in Australia next week! This is much earlier than I expected; usually we’re the final or second-last episode in the series, so hopefully we’re not going to see a rapid rush to the last few episodes from here. Maybe the teams will spend more than one leg ‘Down Under’ (I don’t normally use that term). I really hope so; that’d be great and there’s so much to see and do here (yeah, I know, ‘unlike anywhere else in the world’; I admit that I’m biased – sue me). I’m excited to see where they’ll be traveling to, and how badly they’ll mangle the correct pronunciation of the places’ names! (You should have heard what they did to the name 'Cairns' last time the show visited Australia - hilarious!)

4. As for my tip (which I made right back in my write-up for the first episode of the season) as to where in Australia the teams will be visiting, I originally went with Perth (because I think the show’s visited the other cities already). But the ad they showed last night made it look like it could be Brisbane (and perhaps the Great Barrier Reef). If they’re here for more than one leg of the race, perhaps they visit both of those cities. Or maybe Perth has a great coral reef as well – I don’t know because I’ve never been over there (but I want to). We’ll just have to wait and see. Only six sleeps to go ...



At Friday, May 12, 2006 6:28:00 pm, Blogger Pomgirl said...

The Franberries! I love it, well done to Wifey for that. And yes, I was very very proud and even whooped out loud when they came in first.

I also think you made some really good points not just about the relationships between team mates but between men and women in general. And I had no idea what the TBC were arguing about either.

If the Buff Frat Guys or the Duff Twat Guys as I like to call them, could only get eliminated next week I would be so happy but I fear they will come back stronger. Grrr.

At Saturday, May 13, 2006 12:37:00 am, Blogger Charlii Fandango said...

All I can say is it was a non elimination round - Go the Hippies!!!

At Saturday, May 13, 2006 9:56:00 am, Anonymous Her Radicalness said...

I didn't even read this post. I just had to give you this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmzWXoJObAQ

Hooray! It made me so happy that I cried. Literally. Not 'literally' like sports presenters say, as in, 'he literally froze!' (because, no, MaratSafin did NOTliterally freeze, you fucking dimwit), but literally literally.

The end.


At Saturday, May 13, 2006 3:06:00 pm, Blogger audrey said...

I love the Freaky Hippy Guys. They are so darling. I didn't know they went to Oman though. That was the locale of my childhood. I think the FHG will do fine there.

I couldn't believe Lake last week though. What. A. Geekburger.

At Thursday, May 18, 2006 2:30:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

Pomgirl, thanks, I'll let Wifey know you like the nickname! As for the male/female observations, I'm glad you thought they were valid points. I can only ever speak as a man, obviously, so I was still unsure if any females would flat-out disagree with me. I was trying very hard to be completely fair to both sides, though. I like your alternate nickname for the BFG, too! But I share your fear of their impending success in this week's episode.

Charlie Fandango, welcome! You can say more than that, can't you? :) Still, if you're only going to say one thing, that's a great thing to say!

Her Radicalness, thanks for the link! It was much appreciated. Why'd it make you cry? (Literally or otherwise.) Just fond memories of your childhood? Or did you mean nostalgic amusement? Or did you stub your toe as you watched it?

Audrey, yes, they certainly are 'darling'. You grew up in Oman? How many jokes along the lines of "Oh, man!" have you heard in your life? (I won't be adding to that number, just so you know ...) Hopefully you're right about the FHG doing alright without clothes or money. They need to bounce back - and quickly!

Have you read my posts from the previous TAR 9 episodes? They're all listed in the column on the right, towards the bottom of the list, on the main page of my blog. (Ahem. If you're interested, that is.)


At Saturday, May 20, 2006 6:25:00 pm, Blogger Riss said...

I saw the promo for the next show and it looks more like the seagrass that grows off the coast of WA than a coral reef. You know, the stuff that Dugongs eat? They also have another stop in the North of Australia before they leave the shores of Oz so we'll get to see a bit of our wide brown land.

At Tuesday, May 23, 2006 3:26:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

Riss, could be. They'll start out in WA but probably be told to fly east straight away. Not necessarily, but that's usually the way they do it. I know they're going to be in the 'outback' ('cos that's what the ad told us, and Channel Seven never lies in their ads - coughcough), and that they'll also spend some time on the east coast (I agree it'll be Qld), so we'll have to wait and see.

So do you actually watch this show? Or do you read a book instead?



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