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


The big news in the episode is the introduction of another show aspect – the Express Pass. Remember Season One? Fast Forwards, Roadblocks and Detours. That was it. Now this joins the Intersection, Speed Bump, Yield, and other traffic signs to join the show. I am waiting for the Car Pool as teams need to pile into one car like clowns.
This is a decent rule – the team to finish first on the first leg wins the pass which serves as a Race Get Out of Jail Free Card. At a challenge of their choosing (Before the 8th leg), they can play the card and bypass the challenge. A very good prize – imagine having it before the Meatblock or the haystack challenge! I wonder if they can sell it – the way Cha Cha Cha sold their Yield.

TASK 1 – Fly from Boston to Stonehenge. They have to pile into tiny Smart Cars to get to Logan which is fun – and I was panicked to watch them cram in the two racers, the camera man and the sound guy into the little Matchbox cars. That was before I realized there was an easy answer – a mounted camera on the dashboard. Mallory thinks the cars are her size – I think she’s a tad bigger. The first three teams get an early flight and a half-hour lead – which they will all proceed to blow. Ron/Tony, Jill/Thomas, and Chad/Steph nab the three spots, with Tink and Pan coming awfully close to blowing it by getting in the regular ticket line. Foreshadowing to later screw-ups.

In England, almost every team forgets to get in on the right side of the car to drive. Chad/Steph circles the airport and Chad’s temper emerges. Jill/Thomas wind up 10 miles out of the way and the first team to get to Stonehenge is from the second plan – the Hot Doctors. They get the clue.

TASK 2 – Find the castle that’s the opposite of “nor’easter.” The answer is Eastnor, “very near Tewksbury.” This to a baseball fan like me means this. Most teams figure it out by asking some locals, or using the internet like Jill/Thomas. Hot Doctors and QVC join forces in a typical temporary Race alliance. Despite being lost for a while, Jill/Thomas is the first to arrive at the castle, followed closely by QVC, despite Claire needing to pee. All pee jokes on the Race must now come with a reference to Kisha/Jen.

TASK 3 – Storm the Castle – Teams climb a ladder and are doused with muddy water by Monty Python extras. They then search the battlement for a flag, cross the moat on a boat which resembles a giant, mutant turtle shell , and give the flag to a knight. The first part is just Racers getting wet and dirty. The second is where the fun comes in. The boats sink. You have to hold onto the ropes stretching from shore to shore and essentially transfer your weight to the rope in order to get across without taking on water – a task especially important for the teams with the big men.

I think these boats are not too authentic – as I don’t recall many giant turtles in medieval times, or too many ropes crossing moats. Chad sinks. A lot. Twelve times. It’s loads of fun to watch. So does Team YouTube, with Michael trying “sta…stable, stable.” They learn from watching Gary nail it on the first try. Ron/Tony also struggle with sinking – eventually sinking their team to elimination – although we are not sure if they were ever even at the castle at the same time as Nevada Ink.

TASK 4 – Once the knight has the flag, the Roadblock is to ride along with the knight on a fake joust, and then you must fire a watermelon at a suit of armor using a ballista – essentially a giant slingshot – and when you knock it down, you get to take off for the Pit Stop on the castle grounds. Of course, this is where Claire takes a watermelon to the noggin in a shot that looks like the Zapruder film, but with more fruit and a lot less tragedy. Brook’s insistence of constantly talking got annoying, and in context, her reminding Claire that she had to finish the task wasn’t so bad. In their interview, they really found the humor in the situation. Brook – “You can’t blame her; the girl got whacked in the face with a watermelon. (Giggles).” I give them lots of credit – it WAS funny. Very human reaction. I am willing to work with you, QVC, please stay on the charming side and not cross over to the annoying side.