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Amazing Race 19 Commentary – Ep 2 – Don’t Dude Me, Dude.


Well, don’t let anyone ever tell you that The Amazing Race is fixed. Because if it were, there would be no chance that this week’s results would have been allowed. If Romber’s early departure from All-Stars didn’t prove the legitimacy of the Race, then the Episode 2 axing of the latest Survivor crossover should do the trick.

My only complaint this week was the randomness of the way it was done. As I said last week, I would have preferred for this week to be a traditional single elimination, with the surprise Week One non-elimination counting as a regular non-elim. Instead, the producers chose to make this week a double elimination, which I can now say after this episode of AR19, and the opener of AR10, doesn’t work. It really isn’t fair to eliminate a team who did not finish in last place. That’s the whole gimmick of the show – last to the Pit Stop, out of the Race. Ethan and Jenna become the first team in Race history to be eliminated despite having another team still on the course.

The other thing that was disappointing – not in concept, but in execution – was the twist that nailed eight of the 11 teams. I am not saying the twist eliminated the Survivors or Guido 2, in fact, based on the editing, without the twist both would have been the last two to arrive. I am saying that the twist definitely harmed the early teams, and perhaps if it was executed better, it could have saved the Survivors or Guido 2.

The twist was a mystery sign placed upon a table. As simple as that. The Detour led the Racers to basically solicit money – either as dancers or parking attendants – and after reaching a certain goal, head to an orphanage. They are told in the clue to give their money to the orphanage. However, there is a sign – with no Race colors or any way of them knowing it applied to them – telling them to give the orphanage all of their money.

I don’t think this is a bad idea – make them have to pay attention to detail not only on the clue but on the course. However, they need something to go on. At least make it Race colors to attract some attention. Instead it just appeared to be an innocuous sign which three teams randomly noticed. I think this was a missed chance for a good twist, and instead the Race wound up with chaos.

Ironically, the only ones to notice were the Dudes and Showgirls – a stoner team and the team that lost their passport in the first minutes of the Race – and Team Magellan. At least the explorers are not expected to get lost, because that never happens to explorers. In other news, happy early Columbus Day everyone!

Despite these faults, the crazy task led to one of the wilder episodes of the Amazing Race in memory. The one that comes to mind as a fair example was in AR3 when half of the teams failed to notice that they were supposed to use diesel fuel. Teams that thought they were behind wound up ahead and teams that thought they were screwed discovered that at least one other team screwed up worse than they did.

The early Roadblock was a perfect example of how the show tends to be awesome. In the challenge, one member had to descend into a cave, retrieve some crap and then scale a giant ladder. The images were breathtaking, and a piece of the world – a cave in Indonesia – that none of us will ever see in person, was right there in high def in our living rooms.

At that challenge, I officially began rooting for the Peytons. When Marcus started having a discussion with the tree in his way, he became a favorite of mine. I think I am also starting to warm to the Dudes and the Twins – for very, very different reasons. In addition, I cannot see how anyone watching could avoid being impressed by Geritol.

Granted, they were aided by an airport bunching – thus eliminating their 4 ½ hour deficit to the 10th place team from last week! They were also helped by a rather lame Speed Bump. It was more of a Speed Pebble. All they had to do was untangle a knotted rope, a la many a Survivor challenge. And the rope was right at the Roadblock. What impressed me about Geritol was how Bill put the younger contestants to shame on that giant ladder. The man has some serious upper body strength. Perhaps there’s more to them than meets the eye.

There will be a real challenge going forward for the show in making up for the loss of its high profile contestants – especially from casual fans of the show, many of who tuned in to see the Survivor winners compete. However, the Race survived the non-Rombering of All-Stars and the travesty of Danielle winning that season with her non-boyfriend. It can survive an early exit for Jenna and Ethan. Heck, they don’t even have a cool Romber sounding nickname. Jethan? Ethanna? Not so much.


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