The Amazing Race Review: Twitter To The Rescue!

The Amazing Race is entering its 19th season, and the hardest working reality show on television has not lost a step after winning its 8th Emmy.  This time they’ve added a new Hazard challenge into the mix to make wining the million dollars even tougher. There are a lot of good reasons The Amazing Race keeps winning Emmys, but the best reason is how unpredictable it is, and this season’s premiere did not disappoint in the unpredictable department.

First thing is first, so let’s get to know the teams-and my nicknames for them. Nicknames are subject to change.

Survivor champs Ethan and Jenna (I will call them…Ethan and Jenna)

Former Olympic snowboarders Andy and Tommy  (The Shaun Whites)

Recently engaged Ernie and Cindy (Team I-don’t-know-why-I-find-them-annoying)

Dad Laurence and Son Zac. Zac, as you may know, is the first person under 18 to sail around the world solo. (Danger Dad and Sailor Boy )

Siblings Justin and Jennifer from Stone Mountain, Ga. (The Sibs)

Grandparents  Bill and Cathi from Albany (The Oldies)

Liz and Marie are twin sisters from Deer Field, Il. (The Wonder Twins)

Jeremy and Sandy are dating (The divorcees)

Ron and Bill are domestic partners and flight attendants (The Flight Attendants -that happen to be gay).

Ex-NFL player Marcus and his wife Amani (Team I’m-obviously-a-former-athlete)

Kaylani and Lisa, former Vegas showgirls (The Showgirls)

The race starts once again in Los Angeles and TV host with the most Phil Keoghan is there to greet them. Phil explains the relatively easy first challenge: They must find three letters printed on dozens of umbrellas to complete a word puzzle that will tell them where to go next. The contestants don’t even try to figure out the word puzzle and instead just show the umbrellas one by one to Phil who says yes or no. Once they get the correct umbrella with letters that spell out Taipei, Taiwan, they are handed the keys to a brand-spanking new Ford Explorer (branding) and race to LAX.

Before they take off, the talkative Phil also informs them the first team to check in at the Pit Stop will win an Express Pass that allows them to skip a challenge of their choice. Phil also mentions the new Hazard Challenge!  A Hazard means that at certain times during the race, a team that receives it will have to complete an extra challenge before the end of the leg. The team that comes in last in this first challenge gets the Hazard.  The showgirls, Kaylani and Lisa, end up getting it but that’s only the beginning of their problems.

The first eight teams get tickets to depart on the early flight, while the remaining teams will leave 30 minutes later. When the showgirls stopped at a gas station for directions to LAX, Kaylani’s passport fell out of the car…right in front of a camera man who nicely zoomed in on it. Back in the car Kaylani realized she didn’t have it (if I was in the race I would be constantly checking to see if I had mine on me) and they went back to look at the gas station, but it was gone!  So they go on to LAX anyway where they start to argue, which might be a record for TAR. I mean they haven’t even gotten on a plane yet and they are already fighting.  Best line from the argument comes from Lisa, who is rightfully pissed: “What is there to talk about? We can’t go anywhere because you don’t have a passport!”

But for all you perverts out there that just watch the show for the attractive women, fear not! Because some random guy who gave directions to another team found the passport and then tweeted about it (isn’t that what you would do?).  A fan of the show saw the tweet and urged him, with another tweet, to go to the airport and give it back to her. So he did, and the showgirls were on their way to Taiwan. This is the luckiest of lucky things to ever luck in Luckberg.

My favorite part of this episode occurred when Ethan and Jenna were talking to the camera at the airport about how they decided to not tell any of the other teams about how they were on Survivor so they don’t have a target on their back.  At the same time the other teams were all together talking about how Ethan and Jenna have both won a million dollars on Survivor.

Once in Taiwan, the racers ended up at a downtown shopping district where they were told to “look up” for the clue to their next location, which seems like a very vague instruction. The clue was an electronic billboard filled with red and yellow umbrellas (which was supposed to be another clue, because the last challenge had umbrellas in it, but everybody called them “bubbles”) that told them to go to the Taipei Confucius Temple. Everybody eventually figure it out except for the Oldies, Bill and Cathi, who wandered around for 4+ hours before eventually finding it. I usually root for the geriatric teams, but they didn’t even seem to be trying at this point.

At the temple, for the first Roadblock of the race, the teams had to memorize a Confucius proverb told to them from a payphone and recite it verbatim to the nicest and most patient monk in the world. All the teams struggled with this roadblock, which didn’t matter much because Bill and Cathi weren’t even there because they were wandering around a high-rise building instead of finding that stupid billboard.

After the Roadblock the leading team, Ernie and Cindy (engaged and kinda annoying), arrived at Dajia Riverside Park to search for the next clue. The next task had them join a professional Dragon Boat Race team. I want to do this so badly now, it looked beyond fun. One person had to paddle and the other needed to beat a drum to keep time. While in the boat drumming a beat Cindy had the best line of the show: “I feel so Asian right now.” All the teams seemed to enjoy this challenge, especially Ex-NFL player Marcus, who is at least 6 times bigger than everybody else on his boat.

After the Confucius telephone task, Kaylani and Lisa had to complete the Hazard challenge, which required one of them to bungee jump in a mall. Kaylani took the jump right after explaining how scary the last time she bungee jumped was because the rope started to unravel. The Hazard didn’t seem to take up too much time because they eventually caught up to other teams for the Dragon Boat Race

Phil was waiting at the Pitstop and Cindy and Ernie were team #1, winning the only Express Pass of the game. Big surprise the last team to arrive at the pit stop was Bill and Cathi. But in classic Phil fashion he told them this was a non-elimination round. Not only are the Oldies still in the race, but they will have to complete an additional challenge next week AND all the teams will be facing a double elimination. The Amazing Race is not fooling around this season.

For another take on this episode, read “I Feel So Asian Right Now!” by Keshaunta Moten.

Season 19, Episode 1 “The Kindness of Strangers” (original airdate September 25, 2011)

The Amazing Race airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on CBS

Images courtesy of Robert Voets and CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

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