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Where Are The Griswolds When You Need Them? – The Amazing Race 8, Episode 1


by LauraBelle

It’s basically the same, but a little different. This season of TAR, instead of having teams of two, it has families teams of four. They don’t seem to be traveling as great of a distance, having only gone from New York City to Lancaster, PA in the premiere episode, but so far most of it seems to be the same game, except no Road Blocks. Yet there’s a few big differences for me, the recapper. For one, it’s a total of forty people to remember their names, and that’s a tough one for me. For another, I don’t feel comfortable being my usual snarky self, as I find it difficult to say stuff like that about an eight-year-old, and coming off a Big Brother season that became way too personal for everyone involved, I think I am a little gun shy. I wouldn’t want anyone saying anything snarky about my kid, but then again I wouldn’t submit them to the reality tv process either for that very reason.

The first family is the Gagham family, consisting of mom and dad, Bill and Tammy, and kids Billy and Carissa. They believe the other racers will underestimate them as they are marathon racers and even Carrisa, at 9-years-old can run a 7-minute mile. She says she can trick any adult trying to trick her because she’s smarter. The precociousness here is a little grating, I must admit.

The Linz family consists of three brothers and one sister, Tommy, Nick, Alex and Megan. They say a strength is they don’t take each other seriously. Alex talks about the younger two not having the maturity he and Nick have, and Tommy tells him to shut up because he still lives at home. The Paolo family is headed up by Tony who moved here from Italy when he was 12-years-old. He works in the sanitation department, and feels he’s living the American dream. He is joined by his wife Marion and sons DJ and Brian.

The Black family is headed up by parents Kim and Reggie, and they are joined by their sons Kenneth and Austin who is the youngest racer at 8-years-old. Kim’s basic philosophy in life is that you don’t have to hurt anyone to get ahead in life, and she feels it transfers to the game as well, feeling you don’t have to hurt anyone to win this game. I have to say that’s somewhat refreshing.

The Bransen family consists of Wally and this three daugthers, Beth, Lauren and Lindsay. He says they will always be his little girls. They say they get along with sarcasm and the majority of it is directed at their dad, calling him things like “Wal-Der.” The Weaver family lost their father while he was working at the Daytona Racetrack. He walked out to get some debris off the track and was hit by a car and killed. Mom Linda feels they are too scattered now. She is joined by her children Rachel, Rebecca and Rolly.

An interesting family makeup is the Aiellos – a father and his three sons-in-law. Tony says fathers usually don’t get the time to learn about their sons-in-law, Kevin, David, and Matt, like this. The Schroeders from New Orleans are led by dad Mark and step-mom Char, who says her philosophy is “we’re right, and we think you’re wrong.” Great! They are joined by kids Stassi and Hunter.

The Godlewskis are four sisters – Michelle, Christine, Sharon, and Tricia. They think the other teams may assume they are prissy, but claim they are far from that. The Rogers family consists of parents Denny and Renee, and are joined by children Brittney and Brock. Denny feels as the dad he will take control, as he is the authority of the house. This should be interesting.

As the game starts, the ten families are riding in water taxis to Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. Once all are on land, Phil tells them their first clue is setting on top of their luggage. Retrieving the clue, they will then jump in the marked GMC Yukons and drive themselves to the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, and then to SoHo. There they will find the Eastern Mountain Sports store, buy supplies they will need, and retrieve their next clue.

As the Gaghan family is driving away, Billy, 12, says SoHo is a nice place, he thinks. In their car they can’t stop talking about how great it is to be in first place. I realize a major part of their lives is running races, but sometimes it’s nice to encourage your kids that the experience is why they’re there, not to win.

Mom Renee Rogers says she has skinned her knee, luckily for her she’s with Denny who will take control, but he’s too busy referring to himself as hardcore and aggressive. (Okay, so I can still be snarky. Good to know.) Sharon Godlewski gets stuck nearly driving down a one-way street. Too bad for her she’s not a Gaghan. Mom Tammy says they travel all the time in the US, and have also traveled extensively internationally. She thinks they’ll have the advantage as many of the teams will have never even been outside the US before. The Godlewskis stop and get a map to help them navigate the streets of Manhattan.

One of Tony Aiello’s sons-in-law is driving and runs a red light. Dad Reggie Black says a strength of their team will be that his boys are smart, and sometimes even smarter than he and Kimberly. The Gaghans are the first to the sports store, run in, and get a clue saying they need to find a “frank” at 91st and Lexington. Instead of the store, the Godlewski sisters first go into a lounge.

A quick drink couldn’t have hurt them as the Paolos are far from the sports store. Tony says it’s the adventure of a lifetime and he can’t even get out of New York City. Marion says they need to find a phone book, and Tony says there are no phone books in New York City, but maybe there was in the 60s. Surely he can’t be serious. Not everyone lives by the internet.

As teams are running through Eastern Mountain Sports, one team is screaming and a display gets knocked over. I thought it was the Bransens, but they blame it on the Weavers. One of the Linz brothers keeps giving Megan crap and tells her to only speak when spoken to. He’s in the wrong family for that. That’s the Rogers!

Dad Mark Schroeder says it’s too bad they don’t have handicapped children to get a better parking space by the sports store. You know what, I’m a little superstitious, and believe remarks like that come back later on to haunt you.

The Linz family arrives first at the hog dog stand and get their clue, not a dog. They are to cross the George Washington Bridge, drive through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania, where they will find the Washington Crossing State Park. Gaghans are next to arrive as Carissa jumps out to claim her frank. As dad Tony Aiello runs up to get his frank, the guys at the hot dog stand say he’s going to have a heart attack. No one seems to notice except Brock Rogers, but the hot dog vendors are really Kevin and Drew from TAR season 1!

The Schroeders talk about the Godlewski sisters and are surprised they are not California girls, seeing as they look like smokers. What is that supposed to mean? Actually the Godlewskis are from Des Plaines, IL, not far away from where I sit typing this up right now.

Father Aiello and his sons-in-law all give Yankee Stadium a thumbs down, being they are Red Sox fans. They and everyone else stop and get maps to find their way to the bridge and across into Pennsylvania. Mom Weaver, though, looking for directions gets help from a local. She then asks him if he knows the Lord, and the man replies the Lord is his friend. She offers up that they’ll be spending eternity together. Assumably they won’t need directions then.

The Aiello and Bransen families are the first to arrive at George Washington State Park. They will cross the Delaware just like George himself did, and retrieve a 13 star flag. They will then observe a flag folding ceremony. With only four boats that need to be shared, it will be first come, first served, but there never does seem to be a line waiting, as everyone is so spread out.

As the Aiellos watch the flag folding they say they feel like such an American. I have to say for the kids on the trip, this is amazingly educational for them, putting them right where it happened. In some ways better than reading it in a textbook! The Aiellos open the next clue telling them to drive to Philadelphia, make their way to Fairmont Park, Belmont Plateau and pitch tents. The tent pitching is a race, as Eagle Scouts will be handing out arrival times of 10:30, 11:00 and 11:30 AM for the next morning, in order of when the tents are finished being pitched.

The Rogers dump their boat over on the Delaware and have to scramble back in. Once they are righted again, they decide Brock looks like George Washington leading everyone across the Delaware. Bringing the flag in, Renee Rogers tells her family not to let it touch the water as it must be “sacrilegious” or something.

The Black family arrives and has a terrible time crossing as the current has picked up. The boat guide, dressed as a revolutionary, tells them they can go a little further downstream if it will help, but cautions them not to go much further. With two young boys on the team, they don’t have a lot of paddling power.

They Aiellos arrive first to pitch their tent, following by the Weavers and Gaghans. All of the them receive a 10:30 AM departure. Despite the fact I still feel the Gaghan kids are a little precocious, I give them much credit for pitching in and helping all the later arriving families put up their tents. That’s awesome. You just don’t see that a lot in this day and age.

The Godlewskis, Linz and Paolos finally arrive to cross the Delaware. Watching the folding, Marion Paolo asks if they can’t speed up the folding of the flag a little. Once on the road, Marion has lost the clue, and the team argues about whether to go back for it or not, but finally decide they don’t need it. It turns out they don’t, apparently, as it’s never brought up again.

Back at the campout, Brittney Rogers, a former Miss Louisiana, says girls aren’t supposed to build tents. “Build” tents? The Bransons and Schroeders arrive as well, and all three teams get the 11:00 AM departure. The Blacks, Paolos, Linz’ and Godlewskis finally arrive and get their tents pitched, giving them all 11:30 departures.

When the first teams depart the next morning, it’s raining and a deer can be seen in the background. The Weavers, Gaghans and Aiellos are headed to Mount Joy, Pennsylvania and the Brubaker family farm. The Weavers pray again, saying how the Lord and faith pulled them through their father’s death.

As the Bransens, Schroeders and Rogers’ leave, the Schroeders and Rogers’ decide the Louisiana families should stick together. When the Linz, Godlewski, Black and Paolo families leaves, the youngest Linz son seems to have his mind on the Godlewski sisters as he notes the blondes, and says he loves pigtails!

The Weavers reach the Brubaker family farm first, and are met with a Detour. They need to choose from Build It or Buggy It. In Build It, they will be given the materials and tools to build a mini working watermill, but it could take a long time. In Buggy It, they will need to transport a buggy through a 1-1/2 mile course with two inside, one pushing and one pulling. The Weavers decide to Buggy It, as do the Aiellos and Gaghans who are right behind them.

The Weavers’ buggy somehow goes out of control, the son who had been pushing runs off, slamming his body into a building, and the buggy carrying the daughters takes off on its own down the hill, running over Mom Linda, who had been pulling. The girls scream with the realization they could lose their mother this way after losing their father. Linda turns out okay thankfully. They can’t get the buggy out from where it ran aground, and they run back and start building a watermill.

The Godlewskis and Bransens also decide to build it. The Linz’ seem to make a wise choice with three young men on the team, and decide to buggy it. Billy and Carissa Gaghan are singing She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain, but don’t seem to know any of the words other than the chorus. As the others point out, it’s easier for them, as they’re pulling two small children, not two adults, in the buggy.

The Blacks, Schroeders, Rogers’ and Linz’ arrive, decide to build the watermill, and once the Aiellos reach what they think is the end of the course, they find it’s really just the halfway point, as they need to turn around and go back to the beginning. The Linz’ are having much trouble with the buggy, and at one point, one of the sons gets out and pukes.

The Weavers are finished with their watermill first, and receive a clue sending them to the pit stop on Blue Rock Road in Lancaster, the Rohrer family farm that has identifying markers of two blue silos. The Weavers get lost and the Godlewskis fight. Linda Weaver prays for them to get there first.

It’s the Godlewskis that get there first, and Phil’s good news for them is that they have won $20,000. He asks if it’s normal for them to all talk at the same time. The Gaghans arrive in second place, and the Weavers in third.

Back at the Brubaker family farm, the Paolos argue erecting their watermill, and it makes me think this is what would happen if Jonathon and Victoria from two seasons ago reproduced. Once they are done and on the road, one of the sons says, “Mom, I wish you’d quit intentionally being annoying.” Interestingly enough, these teenage boys seem even more precocious than the 9-year-old girl. Mom says she’s embarrassed.

The Schroeders have the wheel stuck in the watermill the wrong way, but get it fixed and are on their way. The Rogers’ arrive at the pit stop in fourth, the Schroeders’ fifth and the Paolos somehow came from one of the last couples to sixth place. Dad Tony jumps up and hugs Phil. The Bransens arrive in seventh, and the Aiellos arrive in eighth, after being in the lead most of the race. That last challenge was awfully tough on them. Phil asks Tony if his sons-in-law are worthy of being in the family now, and Tony says, “So far, so good.”

The race is now between the Blacks and Linz’. The Blacks are working on the watermill and Reggie has much patience. He never yells or gets upset, no matter what. At one point, one of the boys falls in the water while getting water for the mill, and gets stuck. Reggie calmly goes over and lifts him out. The Linz family has struggled with the buggy, but they end up finishing at the same time the Blacks finish the watermill.

The Linz’ are just behind the Blacks on the road, and one of the brothers says they will lose if they don’t make a move. He decides they should go the opposite way. Megan disagrees and says they aren’t about supporting each other. Her brother bites back they’re not about listening to each other either.

The big move pays off, as the Linz’ arrive just head of the Blacks in a foot race to the finish. Phil asks them if they were over-confident, noting most of the young kids beat them. They agree they were cutting it close. As the Blacks are eliminated, Reggie says as long as they gave their best effort, he is proud of his family. He tells them there is no reason to be disappointed as the elder boy seems to be crying a little.

I have to admit I enjoyed it. Many of us were worried with kids if it wouldn’t be the same, and while it’s not the same, it’s still enjoyable. As rough as the race gets emotionally towards the end, that will be tough if any of the kids make it that far, as no one wants to see the kids hurt, and the Black kids were already obviously deeply disappointed after just one leg. I think we’re in for an interesting race!

How do you think this season with families compares to the usual show we know and love? Email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com


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