The Amazing Race: So it begins (spoiler alert)
Hello readers, as you know, I do not watch The Amazing Race, but my correspondent Astrid Lange does and has provided me with the post below. Enjoy:
Confucius says, "Slow and steady does not win The Amazing Race."
During the opening introductions of the 19th season of TAR, my friend Robb predicted that the team of grandparents Bill and Cathi would be the first team eliminated. Why? Older teams traditionally do not fare well on the Race, due to tough physical demands. But I had (somewhat) high hopes for this team. They appeared to be fit and seemed to communicate with each other.
Besides, within the first 15 minutes of the episode, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Vegas showgirls Kaylani and Lisa would be the first to go home. Not only were they last in the very first challenge, thereby incurring a Hazard penalty of an additional challenge later in the leg, but while stopping at a gas station for directions to the Los Angeles airport, Kaylani somehow dropped her passport on the ground. They returned to the gas station only to discover it wasn't there, nor had anyone turned it in.
A lost passport usually equals elimination (remember Zev and Justin from Season 15?). But these ladies had luck on their side because it turns out two guys found the passport at the gas station, figured out TAR was on since they had helped snowboarders Andy and Tommy earlier with directions, tweeted about the passport, were told by a follower to take it to the airport, drove there and, lo and behold, found Kaylani before her flight left.
Really? How perfect was that? Too perfect perhaps? Internet rumours already abound about producers somehow rigging this situation in favour of the showgirls.
Now that all teams had the proper documentation to fly to their first stop, Taipei, Taiwan, the Race was underway.
But first, I cannot believe that Survivor winners Ethan and Jenna really thought that the other racers wouldn't recognize them. Their "secret" lasted about 10 seconds before the other teams, chatting at the airport, deduced that both were million dollar winners on Survivor. Did they really think they could pull the wool over reality show contestants' eyes?
Once in Taiwan, teams had to find a clue located somewhere up high in a crowded intersection. Most teams had some difficulty figuring out they had to be looking for the clue, written in Chinese, on a billboard. But none were more confused than Bill and Cathi, who wandered aimlessly through the streets at a molasses-like pace trying to figure out where to go next.
By the time the grandparents finally figured it out -- four hours later! -- all teams had moved on to the next challenge, which had one team member listening to a Confucius proverb on a payphone and then repeating it word for word to a monk. It took most teams a few tries to get the proverb correct and it was pretty amusing to watch the teams stumble over their words. And what was with the reggae music playing during the snowboarders' attempts to recite the phrase? Wait. Amazing Race, are you implying these snowboarders might be (gasp) high?
But it was one of the twins, Liz or Marie (who can tell? they're twins!) who consistently messed up one or two words of the saying. Even though the twins took forever to finish this task, they still finished ahead of Bill and Cathi. Funnily enough, it only took Cathi one try to repeat the proverb. What, now they realize it's a race?
The next challenge had teams participating in a dragon boat race, with one team member paddling and the other member banging a drum in the boat. Best line of the episode? While drumming in the dragon boat, Cindy Chiang (racing with her fiance Ernie) remarked, "I feel so Asian right now."
She may have felt stereotypically Asian, but it was Cindy, with Ernie, who arrived first at the Pit Stop and collected the Express Pass, which will allow them to skip a task at any time during the Race.
And despite having to perform an extra challenge of bungee jumping inside a mall (which looked incredibly unsafe!), the showgirls Kaylani and Lisa still finished ahead of twins Liz and Marie, and grandparents Bill and Cathi.
So my friend Robb was right, or was he? Sure, Bill and Cathi arrived last, but then Phil announced that this leg was a non-elimination leg. However, he added, there will be a double elimination on the next leg. The grandparents may have survived this round, and Cathi may have "positive ideas" about the next leg, but unless they pick up the pace they're likely to be gone next week.
By the way, congratulations to the Race for once again winning the Emmy for Best Reality Competition Series last Sunday. Obviously, Top Chef's win last year was just a blip in an otherwise perfect streak.