We open with the contestants inside an evil-looking helicopter. They have been taken hostage and Jack is in pursuit in…a
What? Oh. Sorry; wrong show.
We open with the contestants inside a military helicopter. The chopper lands at a National Guard base, where the teams will pick up their luggage and first clue. In voice-over Phil introduces the contestants as they disembark:
Flight attendants Christie and Jodi. They disembark wearing identical outfits, hair and make-up. Cut to a clip of them at work, wearing identical uniforms, hair, make-up, and pulling identical suitcases on wheels. Cut to the two of them addressing the camera in what is presumably one of their home’s. I have no way of telling which one is Christine and which is Jodi, but one is wearing a sleeveless electric blue top that ties behind the neck while the other wears a sleeveless dusty rose top that ties behind the neck. I can’t help but wonder if the different colors are the aftermath of a fight of some sort. The one in the blue tells the camera their edge in the race is that, as flight attendants, they know travel tips that are “inside stuff,” and as blondes they “can get away with murder in foreign countries.” Evidently the airline they work for doesn’t fly any Scandinavian routes. Cut to a clip of the two in jeans and tank-tops riding horses. One horse is black and the other is brown. I bet that was what the fight was about.
Tammy and her big brother Victor. As Harvard-educated lawyers, if they take home the million they will become the first winners in Amazing Race history to have taken a pay cut just to be on the show.
Mother Margie and her deaf son, Luke. He was valedictorian of his class at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. Since Luke can see just fine I wonder if he got in for half price. According to the CBS bio, his valedictorian address was one of the most moving moments of his mother’s life. Unlike Margie, Luke’s blind classmates found the address, delivered in American Sign Language, “Booooooring.” In their comments to the camera, Luke signs and Margie translates: “I am totally deaf and I don’t read lips.” I hear you, Luke. If I was deaf and about to start the Amazing Race, I wouldn’t admit I could read lips, either.
Steve and Linda, a married couple from Virginia. She’s 52, he’s 43 and they’ve been married for 17 years. Have you ever seen Everafter, a re-telling of the Cinderella story starring Drew Barrymore? Steve is a dead ringer for the bad guy. Yeah, I know – there’s no bad guy in the original story, just an evil step mom and her brats. But you know Hollywood: no story exists that can’t be improved with a re-write. In a thick drawl Steve tells us they expect to be viewed as, “the hicks from the sticks.” Only if you’re related, guys.
Sisters La Kisha and Jen, twenty-something sisters from the Bronx. Phil informs us they are former college athletes. They inform us this is the first time they will be on the same team and volunteer, “we will have to work together and work out our…,” pause, gulp, nervous laughs from both, “issues.” What’s that about?
Preston and Jennifer, dating for two years. They are dressed in bright orange and are from South Carolina. It’s either Go Auburn Tigers! or they have lousy taste. They tell us they are both control freaks and they are hoping that going on the Amazing Race will help them learn to work together. Haven’t they ever watched this show?
Brad and Victoria, married 9 years. They are on second marriages – he’s 52, she’s 47. Victoria’s bio says she was born with “hip dysplasia and spent much of her childhood in hospitals, body casts and crutches.” I had a German Shepherd with the same problem. Good thing Victoria’s parents could afford the vet bills: I couldn’t. It still hurts to remember the look in Rusty’s eyes on that last ride out to the country.
Mel and Mike. These guys are pulling double duty, serving as both the father and son team and the gay team. You’ll recognize Mike as Jack Black’s roommate from School of Rock, which Mike wrote. We learn this in his opening comments. What he doesn’t mention is that he also wrote Nacho Libre; would you? Mike tells us that “Being gay and having a gay father definitely has its advantages.” It’s a bit creepy, in the same way that it would be creepy if Mike was Michelle and she told us, “Being straight and having a straight father definitely has its advantages.”
Amanda and Chris, dating for 3 years. The bio says, “This young couple, who met more than three years ago, hopes to spend the rest of their lives together, but before taking their relationship to the next level they are looking forward to sharing this experience together.” Gotta say – if a girl told me I was staying on second base until we got on the Amazing Race, I would have probably reconsidered the relationship. Also, CBS needs a bio writer who is more Hemingway and less Henry James.
Mark and Michael, brothers. These 4’ 9” 50ish guys are professional stunt doubles for child actors. You can’t make this stuff up.
Cara and Jamie. They look as much like each other as flight attendants Christie and Jodi. The only way to tell them apart is cup size. The bio reads, “Cara and Jaime met four years ago while trying out for the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad. The two made an instant connection and have been friends ever since.” So is that how it goes with pretty but not beautiful women? They see somebody who looks just like them and think, “What a beautiful person?” Is that how it works? Besides being “former NFL cheerleaders,” Cara wants to be a law student and Jamie is a “former police officer.” It’s like they are professional formers.
Preliminaries out of the way, Phil sends them on a foot race across the tarmac to pick up their belongings and their first clue. The first leg of the race is Locarno, Switzerland. Contestants have a choice between flying Lufthansa or Air France. They race to a line of Mercedes and head for the airport. I’d be tempted to take car and call it a day. Depending which flight they take they will land in either Milan (Air France) or Zurich (Lufthansa) and take the train to Locarno.
The teams taking the Lufthansa flight, which departs first, are Jaime & Cara, Tammy & Victor, Christie & Jody, Mark & Michael, Brad & Victoria and Margie & Luke. The only person to have an opinion on whether Zurich or Milan is closer to Locarno is Mel and he says Milan is the better choice even though the Air France flight leaves later than the Lufthansa. Those who were riding on the shuttle bus from the airport parking lot to the terminal with Mel & Mike decide to follow the advice of the only person to offer any, so in addition to Mel & Mike, Mark & Michael, Amanda & Chris, Preston & Jennifer, La Kisha & Jen and Steve & Linda take the Air France flight.
The Lufthansa flight lands in Zurich. By the way, does it bug anybody else that the producers don’t give us a clue as to how long flights take? I’d like to know how much time has passed since the group was on the tarmac in California. In any case, the train line runs right into the airport, so everybody gets on the same train to Locarno.
In Milan the contestants scatter out of the airport, looking for the train station. Type A couple Preston & Jennifer get lost (Jennifer: “I’ve never been to a train station in my life). There aren’t any cab rides, so the train station in Milan is in walking distance of the airport.
Scenery-porn as the Zurich train makes its way through the Alps. Brad is moved to tears by the beauty.
Preston & Jennifer finally get on a train out of Milan. The two control freaks are not in a good mood. Preston tells Jennifer that she says things that don’t make any sense and it frustrates him. He suggests she consider keeping her mouth shut. Hey, dude: I understand exactly how you feel, but you need to suck it up and keep your mouth shut.
Maybe picking fights with your teammates is an Auburn Tigers tradition. That would explain why they suck.
Flight attendants Christie & Jodi find a woman on their train who is going to Locarno. She suggests they change trains with her, as she is transferring to an express at the next stop. Christie & Jodi slip off the train with their new traveling companion and sneak away.
Cut to Christie & Jodi arriving in Locarno ahead of the others. Contestants must race on foot to the Church of San Antonio, where the priest will give them their next clue.
The original train with the other Zurichites on board arrives in Locarno and the contestants race off to pester the locals for directions.
The Milan train arrives in Locarno. Night is falling. It was still light out when the Zurich train arrived. Looks like Mel was wrong.
The anal Aryans of Locarno keep their city impossibly clean. How come North American Aryans look like they’re one step removed from the gutter or prison?
Christie & Jodi arrive first at the Church of San Antonio. They sign in, guaranteeing themselves a 7:15 a.m. departure (to where?) the next morning and are given directions to the campsite where the contestants will be spending the night. The others finish as follows:
Tammy & Victor: 7:15 a.m. departure
Mark & Michael: 7:15 a.m. departure
Margie & Luke: 7:15 a.m. departure
Brad & Victoria: 7:30 a.m. departure
Jamie & Cara: 7:30 a.m. departure
Mel & Mike: 7:30 a.m. departure
Kisha & Jen: 7:45 departure
Amanda & Chris: 7:45 departure
Steve & Linda: 7:45 departure
Preston & Jennifer: 7:45 departure
At the campsite Steve rags on Linda about how slow she is as a runner. He makes her cry. Hey, Steve – you’ve been married to the woman for 17 years and how she runs is a surprise? If you haven’t seen her run in 17 years, that’s a clue, don’t you think?
Next morning the contestants are handed a picture of a 900-foot tall dam in a narrow Alpine gorge. Spectacular. Scenery porn is why I watch this show. The contestants head out one by one to do a truly amazing bungee jump. Some are excited, some are scared. Mike & Mark, the professional stuntmen, are blasé. First place Jodi takes a long time getting her courage up and several teams pass her and Christie. By the time she gets it done she and Christie have fallen to 6th place.
While teams are still lined up to do the bungee jump, the early finishers have taken cabs to the train station and caught the train to their destination, the town of Interlaken. Making the early train are Tammy & Victor, Mark & Michael, Mel & Mike and Margie & Luke.
Jodi & Christie arrive at the train station behind Brad & Victoria, who have already bought their tickets. The flight attendants with the inside edge in the race due to their extensive travel experience buy tickets on the first train to Interlaken. It leaves well before the train Brad & Victoria have tickets for. The flight attendants only asked for the next train to Interlaken, not the train that will arrive in Interlaken next. They board the milk run. It will arrive in Interlaken long after Brad & Victoria’s express. Who would have ever suspected that people could work in the airline industry without a clue on how schedules work?
Cut to the first train arriving in Interlaken. The contestants head out to the edge of town where they must climb a grass hill covered in autumn leaves. At the top of the hill are 50 pound cheese wheels in what Phil calls the “aging shed.” I’ve got one of those in the backyard. My neighbors are trying get me to fix it or tear it down. The teams must bring 4 cheese wheels down the hill to get their next clue. They are given wooden racks they wear on their backs to carry the chesses.
The trek up the hill quickly shows us how difficult this will be. The grass and leaves are wet from a recent rain and contestants slip and fall almost immediately – and they are just trying to climb the hill to get the cheese. What will the trips down the hill be like?
Oh, good. The trips down are better than The 3 Stooges. The wooden racks are far flimsier than one would expect. People’s legs go out from under them, the back-racks shatter and cheese wheels roll down the hill, crashing into fences and houses, scaring the neighbors, frightening animals and small children. More than one contestant ends up holding the cheese on their lap as they scoot down the hill on their butts, looking like dogs with ringworm. As Comic Book Guy would say: Best…Task…Ever.
Teams arrive in groups according to which train they caught. First group is:
Mel & Mike
Margie & Luke
Mark & Michael
Tammy & Victor
Tammy snatches the task directions out of Michael’s hand as he takes it out of the clue box. Now I’m going to root for somebody to put her on her ass.
Margie & Luke, Tammy & Victor and Mark & Michael finish and are off to the pit stop before group two shows up. First in the second group are Kisha & Jen with Jamie & Cara and Brad & Victoria breathing down their necks. Amanda & Chris, Preston & Jennifer and Steve & Linda aren’t far behind. That leaves Jodi & Christie, who started the day in first, now in last place.
The brutal task takes its toll. Mel & Mike finally finish and head for the pit stop. On the hill, out of shape Linda holds back husband Steve. He goes back to pick his wife up off the ground and literally pushes her ass up the hill. Coming down he slips and smashes his travois. He smartly uses the largest piece as a sled and drags 3 wheels down the will at once.
Jodi & Christie finally arrive at the hillside and set to work.
Meanwhile, at the pit stop the Alpine equivalent of a barber shop quartet yodels away. The sound echoes off the mountains and make it surprisingly difficult for the contestants to hone in on. Margie & Luke are the first to arrive with Mark & Michael and Tammy & Victor close behind.
Back on the hill, Amanda & Chris have moved up from eighth to fifth and are the first members of group two to complete the cheese task and head for the pit stop. Next to complete are Steve & Linda. He has single handedly brought his team from last at the start of the day to 6th heading for the pit stop. Speaking of which, we cut to Mel & Mike finishing the first leg in 4th place.
A cheese wheel gets away from Preston and he goes after it – and it rolled a long ways, ending up at the bottom of a steep ravine. Did he have to get it? Could he have just said screw it and headed back for a new wheel? The point is crucial because it winds up costing his team the game.
Yeah, that’s right - Preston & Jennifer are the first ones eliminated from the 14th edition of the US version of The Amazing Race. Auburn finishes last once again.
We open with the contestants inside an evil-looking helicopter. They have been taken hostage and Jack is in pursuit in…a
Posted by LB at 1:06 PM