THE AMAZING RACE 17.1: They Don’t Call It the Amazing Race for Nothin’

And THE AMAZING RACE has not won all those Emmys for nuthin’, either! This is my favorite of the so-called “reality series,” an unscripted race around the world that plays like an edge-of-your-seat horse race crossed with an extended slo-mo trainwreck.

Now that I have officially given up on SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA because the cast is just too boring, I will be concentrating my unscripted attention on this show and UNDERCOVER BOSS.

The newest race kicked off from Gloucester, Mass., America’s oldest seaport, with 11 teams:
Andie & Jenna: mother and the daughter she gave up for adoption. Apparently, they only heard each other’s voices for the third time on the AR application video. They are nicknamed “Gilmore Girls.”
Michael & Kevin: This father/son team is allegedly Internet phenoms because Kevin posts videos of his dad dancing. Or trying to. Or something boring like that. I can’t be bothered to look them up.
Gary & Mallory: She’s Miss Kentucky 2009, and he’s her dad. (Nice work, sir!)
Connor & Jonathan: Ivy League a cappella singers (and suspected Harry Potter cosplayers). They anticipate “thanking” taxi drivers by singing for them. A capella. As thanks. I’d rather have my tips in cash, thanks.
Jill & Thomas: Fairly non-descript dating couple who flew under the radar – right up to the finish line!
Ron & Tony: best friends from the theater
Brook & Claire: hostesses from some home shopping channel. Claire became an instant legend with me by somehow managing to shoot herself in the face with a melon launched via ballista.
Nick & Vicki: Dating tattoo enthusiasts
Chad & Stephanie: This pair is the “Don’t yell at me” couple. There’s always one team like this, the guy with the hair-trigger temper and the easily flustered gal. Talk about opposites attracting.
Nat & Kat: These doctors consider themselves “a team of nerds.”
Katie & Rachel: Surprisingly, this pair of pro beach volleyball players is just as judgmental as any high school jocks; they disparaged Chad and Stephanie as “Tinkerbell and Pan,” and branded Connor and Jonathan “the nerds.”

I love the breakneck opening every series, in which every team literally runs for the first clue, everyone is excited and everything seems possible. The big twist for this 17th edition of AR came quickly: The winner of the very first leg won an “Express Pass,” which enables the team to skip one challenge at any point up until the eighth leg of the race. Jill & Thomas finished first, so now they hold the trump card.

But it was the classic mistakes that continue to make AR such magnetic viewing. We love to watch the teams make mistakes “live” – while the race is going on. For example, when Katie & Rachel missed the flagged check-in counter at the very first airport, and the camera lingered on the clearly marked lane, prompting home audiences to shout at their TVs, “How could they miss that?” And when the Gilmore Girls burned out the clutch of their car? You have to know that you have to drive a stick when you sign up, right? Have you seen the show? And Vicki capped off the show by insisting they were in “the country of London.”

Ron and Tony were last the team to arrive at the pit stop where host Phil Keoghan was waiting, and thus the first squad to be “Philiminated.” But it did not appear to faze Ron, who chirped, “Life is good.”

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Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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