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Amazing Race 14, Ep. 4 Commentary – No One Knew Chekhov From Star Trek?


We are in Siberia!! How friggin’ cool is that? It is one of my favorite parts of The Amazing Race – seeing parts of the world that I wish that I could visit. Think about it – when in your life would you ever possibly get to go to Siberia. Unless you were a Russian political dissident from the 1970s, of course. Did you find it as cool as I did that the new Amazing Race Google Map took about a year and a half to make its way from Eastern Europe to Siberia?

Anyway – the items that I want to talk about are pretty straightforward. First, let’s talk about the latest twist – the Blind U-Turn. Two words. Love. It. Anyone who has ever asked me – and many that really could care less – has learned that one of my pet peeves about the show was the whining that Yielded or U-Turned teams would unleash about the awful affront to their integrity and the evilness of the other teams. There is a looooong history of this – from Colin/Christie, to the Weavers, to Danielle in two different seasons, and on and on.

What this does is brilliant – it takes half of the whining out. Teams can complain about the U-Turn but not about a specific team. And you can get a fabulous moment like in this episode when Amanda and Kris speculated who did it and were not only wrong, but thought that Margie and Luke would feel badly for them, never suspecting that they were the culprits. Take it a step further; what if it was non-elimination and Amanda/Kris were going crazy trying to figure out who it was? It is a great twist on a game piece that needed a great twist.

Regarding the decision to U-Turn Amanda and Kris…I have no problem with it. The only risk was not having it in place later on if you need to use it – but you take a shot at eliminating a potentially strong team. Sounds like a no-brainer. Of course, the reason they gave – they did it to save Jamie and Cara – is total crap. You don’t waste a potential weapon like a U-Turn to save another team – you use it to help you win a million dollars.

The other thing…is Chekhov. Now, I am far from a literary snob. I have never even read any of Chekhov’s plays. But, is it THAT obscure of a writer that several teams seemed stymied by that clue? Plus, there were only seven letters – how hard is that to unscramble? It is hard to criticize Luke since as his mother points out, English is a second language to him, but his first guess was insane – Coehkvh. How many words in any language have hkvh in succession? Lastly, none of them watched Star Trek? Pavel Chekhov has been around since the 1960s – at least copy it from there! Last season, the geeks and the frat guys would have been able to come up with that one.

Although I did find it amusing that Jamie managed to actually random guess Chekhov. See, if the former Dolphins’ cheerleader can do it, anyone can!

Route Marker Info

Mike on his dad – “He’s one part Woody Allen, one part Billy Graham and a splash of Judy Garland” – I would love to see that movie.

Amanda and Kris said Vamanos in Romania. At this point, I hope teams are doing this on purpose.

Of course, Kisha and Jen got their knowledge of Siberia from Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom.

The blondes – I still am not a big fan of theirs, but it was smart to use the Internet Café. It was not smart to wonder if Lenin built that dam in Krasnoyarsk or to refer to him as a “bad leader, dictator guy.” By the way, that close-up shot of Jodi watching the computer screen…scary levels of makeup going on there.

Jamie and Cara should have actually taken Mark and Michael’s reservations. Now I know that is not very ethical, but remember, it’s a race and they just called a taxi driver for plane reservations. Of course, they would later wander the streets of Krasnoyarsk looking for a place to build shutters.

Speaking of that, those poor guys fell down twice and got attacked by a dog. Now, as stuntmen for child actors I am sure they have gotten scarier treatment before.

Can we talk a bit about the Russians playing along during the Detour? The music. The woman drinking some sort of vodka I would assume. The guy shoveling cole slaw in his mouth. The pickles and the sausages. My favorite – the scary dude straight out of a Chekhov play sitting around the workshop. I’d like to party in that town! Having them tell the blondes that they were the “cute girl, did best” is not that impressive given the competition (see woman drinking the vodka). That’s like saying Rock of Love is the best show starring a member of Poison.

Kisha/Jen – “It’s like Jenga.” And they were sort of right! I felt bad for the teams that had the wood piles fall, but I wonder why Mark and Michael did that task. The pile was taller than they are – wouldn’t it have been difficult to reach the top of the pile?

Was anyone else thinking stereotypically about Tammy and Victor methodically and successfully stacking the wood before Victor called it “Asian engineering?”

Don’t know who said it – but “How can four smart guys and the rest of us not figure this out?” That being said as the Caravan of Idiots (Thanks, Mike) a few feet from their destination, completely baffled on where to go.

If you watched the level of darkness when they cross cut between Amanda and Kris and Mark and Michael, you had to know that the stuntmen were going to be fine. However, it was completely worth it to see the Siberian cab driver flash his Rolex to the guys.
So, next week Luke becomes the Sinister Deaf Kid and lots of people get naked in the snow in a challenge that looks like pledge hazing to me.

Travel Summary
Destination – Krasnoyarsk, Siberia
Roadblock – Stacking Wood – all the teams chose this; or building shutters – Mark/Michael, Mel/Mike, Amanda/Kris all bailed and did this one
Detour – Riding a bobsled and unscrambling a puzzle – Kisha, Christie, Victor, Luke, Jamie, Mel, one of the stuntmen (still lost there), and Kris
Order of Finish – Christie/Jodi, Kisha/Jen, Tammy/Victor, Margie/Luke, Jamie/Cara, Mel/Mike, Mark/Michael, Amanda/Kris (Eliminated)


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