It's sort of stunning to think that The Amazing Race, the ultimate travel porn show, is now in its 13th season, considering how many times it's been on the chopping block, and how expensive it must be getting to fly these groups around the world. But despite the occasional misstep (*cough*Family Edition*coughcough*), it still remains one of the most compelling reality shows ever created.
The Amazing Race 13, Episode 1
Bees Are Much Calmer Than All This!
By Reagen Sulewski
October 1, 2008
This season's race starts in Los Angeles, with the teams introduced while racing into Memorial Coliseum like they're finishing the Olympic Marathon. The 11 teams for this season are:
Toni and Dallas, a mother and son team, whose hobbies apparently include playing basketball and making sandwiches. Dallas looks like a pretty competitive and physically fit dude, so we'll see if Toni can keep up with him. In the brief bit we see here, they seem rather level-headed and perhaps she is the analytical mind to his physical presence.
Nick and Starr, a brother and sister team. Starr is a former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, which becomes apparent when their intro video includes footage of them doing a dance routine together... wait, what? Okay, according to his bio, Nick is a Broadway performer (uh huh...), but still, that's a couple kinds of wrong. Ross and Monica Gellar think you two are too perky. Also, camo tank tops? Ye gods.
Ken and Tina, a separated couple. Ken is Ken Greene, a former safety for the Arizona Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers, which potentially gives him a physical advantage over a large portion of the field, or could mean he's completely broken down. Their story is that he cheated on his wife, who we are introduced to with (AAAGH!) a shot of her wearing a bathing suit that's too revealing by half. Let's just skip past this and forget we saw it, okay?
Aja and Ty are a long-distance dating couple. They seem completely normal and unremarkable and feel like an early favorite to go a long ways. Sorry guys, you get more of a write-up if you're a freakshow.
Marissa and Brooke, listed as "Southern Belles", run in with matching pink track suits, which is a huge warning flag for crazy, in my opinion. This seems like the best bet for a team that will rely on their looks for help in the race, and have a total meltdown catfight somewhere in the middle of Africa. This is also the team I will not be able to tell its members apart for the entire time they last.
Andrew and Dan are frat brothers, and look like two slightly off-model Seth Rogans. They could be the comedy relief of the show or get old quickly. Hey, just like Seth Rogan!
Anthony and Stephanie are our required "let's do the race to see if we should get married" couple. My standard answer for all these couples: if you have to ask, it's no.
Anita and Arthur are 50+ hippie beekeepers. Dead team walking!
Kelly and Christy are another Pretty Girl Team, but with the added twist of both having gone through recent nasty divorces. They don't say why, which leaves us free to speculate. I'll go with "wanted a sex change" and "was a spy for Russia" as the reasons.
Terence and Sarah are in wuuuuv, having just started dating. They seem normal, except for Terence's stupid faux-hawk. Seriously, who is still doing this?
Mark and Bill are upsetting the balance of the universe by being proud of their geekdom. Forty-something ubernerds, their intro video has them playing Guitar Hero and chess, which bodes ill for the physical portions of the race.
Phil gives the signal for the teams to head to their bags and their first clue (there's no word if Mark and Bill roll for initiative), which sends them to Salvador, Brazil. As usual, there's a set pair of flights the teams have to travel on, and it's the usual dash to the airport with the unofficial Roadblock of Not Getting Lost On the Freeway.
A few early narratives: Nick and Starr plan to mooch off other teams for the entire race – Aja proves to be a pretty canny navigator – cheating is always wrong, but I understand where Ken was coming from – and The Hippies think they are not slow, but are.
Getting to the airport and getting to the right counter are two different things, with some teams just getting in the first line they see instead of finding a marked counter. This doesn't end up costing Aja and Ty, who shed their lead but still get on the first flight. Hopefully for their sake they learn from this. They do seem to have a head on their shoulders as they actually bother to ask which of the two allowed flights arrive first, as opposed to leaving first (always the most important flight question on the race), but in this case, the first is first. Six teams get on the first plane, with five left three hours behind.
However, the speedier flight is delayed a little in Rio, closing the gap a little for the teams behind. In Salvador, the teams have to find a sandwich shop, where they'll receive their next instructions. The teams have to take a traditional vending cart to a local plaza for their next clue. The carts are like the SUVs of the vending world, as they're about six inches wide and four feet high and prone to tipping, making this just a little bit more miserable for the teams. Mark and Bill hit upon the idea of draping their coats over the boxes of candy (mostly made up of something called "Blong" – mm, tasty, tasty Blong) on the cart to stop it from falling off every seven seconds, and this helps them get out to a bit of a lead.
Terence and Tina get the early award for least helpful team members, as Tina falls into passive-aggressive nagging of Ken, while Terence gets so stressed out that he yells at Sarah for talking to locals in Portuguese. Yes, heaven forfend you talk to people in their own language.
After turning in their carts, they're sent off to a Brazilian military base, which will be their stop for the night (but not a pitstop) and they'll have to claim a time for their departure the next morning. Five of the teams are through this part, but Kelly and Christy have not even started their Detour yet, with the second flight just now arriving.
The second group ends up being not that eventful, other than Andrew and Dan proing their credentials as frat boys by not quite getting that the truck part of their cart goes in the front, to drive it. They do avoid being caught in the last departing group the next morning, though.
The teams spend the night at the military base in a little bit of a get to know you better situation, although this pisses off a couple of teammates, specifically the faux-hawked one, Terrence, as Sarah spends a lot of time talking to other teams, making friends and building alliances and strategy. How dare she! He just wants to be held! No, really. Man card, please. Starr is eyeing up Dallas as the only real available manflesh on the show, unless she wants to go the Angelina Jolie route. Oh, you know they've thought about it.
The next morning, the teams head off in search of Pelourinho, a plaza in the middle of Salvador. It's all about the race for taxis, but the other half of Terrence and Sarah proves to be just as pathetic and needy, as Sarah gets angry at Nick and Starr for not acknowledging their small talk, taking it as a snub. But, at least be sure they knew you were talking to them before declaring war, okay? Later, we get to add another thing to the list of things that Sarah is not allowed to do, as running faster than Terrence (the running instructor!) is on it along with talking to strangers and speaking foreign languages. This is such a healthy relationship.
Bitching apparently makes them faster, though, and they get to the plaza first, finding the Detour clue. It offers them a choice of climbing a set of stairs on their hands and knees, where they'll be asked a question at the top by a traditional drummer (Hmm...I wonder what that question might be...). The other option has them climb down a 240-foot cargo net.
Most teams choose the cargo net, which seems like the smarter choice, or at least the most fun (which seems to overlap a lot on this show). It's actually pretty simple once you find your way to the top with the right elevator, but Terrence and Sarah let their anger towards Nick and Starr guide them, and fall from first to fourth. Once the Wonder Twins hit the ground, they're directed to the first Pit Stop of the race, located on a fort on the water.
This ends up being quite close by, and Ken and Tina's Passive-Aggressive Adventure screw up a little by trying to take a taxi. Nick and Starr cruise to a victory in the first leg, winning a trip to Belize as a result. Ken and Tina are team number two.
Back to the net, we learn one more thing that Sarah's not allowed to do: talk while climbing.
After eight teams go for the cargo net, Andrew and Dan go for the stairs, worried about the potential logjam. The stairs prove to be pretty quick, but they seem to have not thought at all about the obvious question that would be waiting for them at the top. Seriously, if it took you more than five seconds to figure out that they should have been counting the stairs as they went up, give yourself a smack. They flub this, apparently thinking they were going to be asked their favorite color. They're sent back down for another try, thus shedding all their advantage.
Terrence and Sarah wind up in third, followed by Mark and Bill, who they pass on the net after the latter two stop to take a rest. All those video games don't seem like such a great idea now, do they?
Kelly and Christie come in for fifth, followed by Toni and Dallas in sixth. Now we're getting down to brass tacks. Do Anita and Arthur have a second gear? Will Marissa and Brooke find someone to take them to the Pit Stop? Can Andrew and Dan count? The answers appear to be "no", "no", and "yes", surprisingly. The frat boys manage to sneak ahead of Aja and Ty for seventh, with the latter team showing a distressing pokiness.
Anthony and Stephanie (it's not fair they get to start racing halfway through the leg... wait, you're telling me they were there all along?) come in for ninth, with the southern belles in for tenth. The producers don't even try and introduce any drama for the first elimination. That's how slow Anita and Arthur are. The sad thing is that according to Anita, this is what happens when they give it their all.
BOP is doing a link exchange with our good friends at Buddy TV this season. For more The Amazing Race info, visit their site.