For anyone wondering why The Amazing Race wins the Emmy every single season, this is why. What an incredible kick off to the 15th season, and an episode certain to be the Emmy submission next year. For a show that usually gets a big start – recall the , giant slabs of meat, New York Jews in Iceland, the surprise China elimination, and flying cheese wheels – this one outdid itself.
But first – the teams, a quick sum-up, for more, see a supergenius.
The Elimination. At first, I hated it. Then, I loved it. Probably because a potentially irritating team got eliminated. The producers took the happiest part of the race for the racers and turned it into something terrifying. At the start, you have an elimination task. One team goes before they even get to the airport. Cruel. And awesome. The task was even better because the answer was in the clue and nobody even noticed. Panic will do that to you. Having it come down to the Yogas and crazy lawyer meant we would ditch some drama this year. Fine by me. I will say, kudos to crazy Lance and Keri for recovering and having a good first and second leg of the race as a result.
The Game Show. EAT THE WASABI!!! Teams arrive in Japan and file in (didn’t love the forced bunching, but so be it) to their very own wacky Japanese game show. A game show within a game show! The wheel spins and you either eat the sushi in front of you, or the wasabi bomb, 9 of the 11 slots have only sushi. You must eat a bomb before getting your clue. And, it seems they reload the 11 each time so spins for the straggling teams may not have a bomb for anyone to eat, but always sushi. You can potentially have a whole lot of raw fish before having to finish the bomb in the two minutes allotted.
I loved this challenge. LOVED. IT. What made it even better was the authentic Japanese graphics and the audio, “EAT THE WASABI!” whenever someone landed on a bomb. I was laughing about as much as I laughed during the cheese wheel challenge last season. The tongue being firmly implanted in cheek throughout the whole thing was great, and is something that sets the Race apart from other reality shows. They really do have more fun. Case in point – Phil and the Japanese host doing the intro. Can you see Probst doing that? Or Padma? Maybe Seacrest would.
The other challenges. Leading the 20 tourists across the city? Genius. The mud pit? Anything with mud is fun. The ducks? Wow. The producers said they have tried to do this challenge before but couldn’t get it to air. If I recall, in AR3 or AR5 there was a Detour challenge where herding ducks was an option. Perhaps it was a Fast Forward choice at one point as well. Here, a Roadblock, and what a Roadblock. It looked hard and almost broke a few of the ladies, and in fact, did break Jessica. Meanwhile, just like other impossible challenges, others manage to rock it – see Zev the Duck Whisperer and Matt from Montana. That’ll do, Zev. That’ll do.
The teams. These are good teams, and kudos to the casting department. Just like the Beauty Queens, the Poker Chicks look like they will follow in the Romber footsteps as a team that is either going to be loved or hated. So far, I like them. Of course, I loved Romber and the Queens too. I like their competitive nature, and don’t care about the lie they told about their jobs. Very Hogeboom-like. They are right; teams probably would not have wanted already-successful card players to win. However, the Globetrotters are embracing their celebrity, the way Romber did as well, and are going to exploit it. It was a strategy by the Poker Chicks, that’s all.
I think we have a couple of potential fan faves and villains emerging. The Chicks may walk the line, but Lance has leapt full force into Jonathan-like villainy. Zev and the Globetrotters are going to be liked. I dig Brian a lot, he did some brilliant game moves, while his Miss America wife went a little nuts. (More on that later).
The Non-Elimination. I have always thought that would be a good twist on the first leg, non-elimination, perhaps on an All-Star race or something. But this was also a good spot for it after the opening elimination twist. Even if the Speed Bump was rather lame – make lunch for someone.
All in all, I am really looking forward to the rest of this season.