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Amazing Race 17 Premiere Commentary – Face. Watermelon. Classic.

YAY!! I love Amazing Race premiere days, even when they conflict with Dolphins games. And I don’t want to talk about it, by the way. Friggin Jets. But hey, if the football didn’t work out, the Race certainly did. After a couple of lackluster seasons, which helped lead to the Race’s first loss in Emmy competition, the 17th edition of the Race kicked off with a bang. And a watermelon to the face. First, we have a quick rundown on each team (for more on them – check out the brilliance of the preview from last week), before getting into the fun stuff from this week.

Brook/Claire – the Home Shopping Network hosts who claim to be great communicators. That’s only if you include incessant talking and face-smacking as communication. As my wife sagely pointed out, they make their living filling time, so of course they don’t stop talking. In the shopping shows there is no script, no guests, nothing but chatter to fill time so people can call in to spend their money. Brook, well, is really good at her job. And by the end of the episode instead of recoiling from her like nails on a chalkboard, I actually started to laugh.

Chad/Stephanie – the newly dating couple is THAT couple this season. In their opening package we see him, a former college football player from that bastion of college sports, Rhode Island, bench pressing his girlfriend. The other teams call them Tinkerbell and Pan – and I have no idea why, other than her marginal resemblance to the famous fairy. His temper is going to be a problem – although it allows for awesome sequences of him sinking in boats.

Katie/Rachel – the beach volleyball players whose opening segment provided ample gratuitous cleavage and bum footage. These are some attractive women, who while tall (my favorite), seem somewhat puny to be good beach volleyball players. They have to be considered an early favorite to break through the long-standing Amazing Race gender barrier and be the first team to not have a man to win. Besides the shopping ladies, there is one other team who I think presents a real dose of competition for that job.

Nat/Kat- The doctors, and perhaps the hottest doctors not to be on a network TV show. Oh wait, they are. You know what I mean. Gotta love their fake staged scrubbing in the opening. They are doctors, so they are used to being sleep deprived – which is an excellent point. Nat, or is it Kat, is also a diabetic. She is shown doing the ole finger prick in the car. Which always reminds me of George Carlin and his segment on language on TV – You can prick your finger, but don’t finger your…

Connor/Jonathan – The Ivy League singer. I am unsure if they will be highly annoying or incredibly amusing. Either way, it will be a fine line. They are inevitably going to be compared with Dandrew – but I think they are much smarter and probably a lot more entertaining naturally, rather than in their incompetence. However, failing to be able to navigate to Logan Airport in Boston does not bode well. I did find it curious that they happened to be on the scene for not one, but two other teams’ traffic woes. Does the fact that Jonathan looks like Harry Potter mean more than we realize? Is there a spell called Stopus Automotivus?

Michael/Kevin – The internet sensation team – they can do a mean robot dance. Michael’s accent could be difficult to navigate, but if this team – kind of non-existent for this first episode – can give us more moments such as when Kevin coaxes his dad through the boat challenge with verbal affection, then this will be an instant fan favorite team.

Nick/Vicki For a moment I thought it was Jesse James and Kat Von D. But it is instead a Nevada couple who is very tattooed and drives motorcycles and very badly wants us to know they are not dumb. Driving aimlessly around London for three hours, not understanding what a battlement is, failing to properly identify a boat, and believing that London is a country…not really helping the cause. Also bad…I can’t nickname her “Kat” because there is actually another racer named Kat!!

Ron/Tony – Best friends who met during a production of “The Wiz,” and no, this is not some sort of gay “Glee” fan fiction. These guys are the first team to get to Logan thanks to a compass, and nab one of the three slots on the early flight. And then they lose everything. Despite being rather smart and asking for ample directions and using a map, they cannot find anything in England. They can’t find Stonehenge! That’s like failing to find the arch in St. Louis or the Statue of Friggin Liberty – it’s one of the most iconic places in all of Great Britain!

Jill/Thomas – Dating couple who also have the potential to be THAT couple, as evidenced in their sprint to the mat and the use of the term “babe,” often used in Amazing Race lingo to mean “loved one” and “a**hole” at the same time. Thomas is a smart guy, Jill is a non-educated hairdresser. I will refuse to say she is not smart – not yet at least – because as we all know, earning degrees or failing to do so, does not indicate intelligence level outside of the classroom and testing area. The two have a telling moment in an interview where she indicates her goal is to make him realize you don’t need to be a college grad to finish the Amazing Race. One imagines that he holds his education over her like a weapon. And to make her point about intelligence not translating into Race success – um, Caite? Danielle? Frat Boy Jeremy? Mama Weaver? Need I continue?

Gary/Mallory – Miss Kentucky and her dad – Like Brook, Mallory is filled to the rim with perkiness and enthusiasm, and darn my jaded heart, she is contagious like bird flu. In their opening package I instantly fear for that little dog’s life as it runs beside them on the tractor. Dad taught her to hunt and fish because he wanted a boy – however, I would imagine lots of young women in Kentucky have that exact same story. Mallory has the potential for Kellie Pickler-like charm or Kellie Pickler-like annoyance. Only time will tell.

Andie/Jenna – Team Biology – Andie gave birth to Jenna, gave her up for adoption, and then the two went on the Amazing Race. I instantly despised this team – as an adopted child, and a wannabe adoptive parent – I am put off by this team. Jenna has parents. Andie has a family. To me, this just complicates things, and it just makes me sad to think about. Kudos to Andie for doing adoption – a hard choice to make – but boo on this shameless attempt to get on TV. This is only the third time they have ever been together. One would think it would be a rare element on the show – how would total strangers react with each during constant attention. However, this team seems completely bereft of any personality or chemistry that they drain the excitement out of every scene they are in. They also seem to have no sense of urgency as they stroll from task to task. I look forward to their early demise (please, please).


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