Season 20 of the Amazing Race is off and running! Incredible for a show that was once not expected to last longer than four seasons. And even more incredible is that the premiere episode of Season 20 provided us with one of the weirdest Pit Stop moments ever, which was also arguably the dumbest move in the history of the show. This wasn’t a wrong turn, or a challenge mistake, or a poor flight choice – those are understandable – this was, well, jaw-droppingly ridiculous.
But we’ll get to that in a moment so there aren’t too many huge spoilers up at the top of this column. We also got a cool Roadblock twist, some delicious piñatas and we got to know the latest group of Racers – and boy, they are an eclectic group.
Dave/Cherie – Married Clowns – They sure seem nice, if a little slow. Of course, we have already had Clowns (S4’s Jon/Al) and they were awesome. New Clowns have a large legacy to live up to.
Bopper/Mark – Best Friends – Following in the tradition of Big Tom from Survivor , we have some hillbillies whose English requires subtitles. Using Race lore, we have our latest version of David/Mary. They come from poverty, so more than most any other past Race team, the dudes really need the prize money. And one’s name is Bopper – I wonder if he knows the Day the Music Died?
Misa/Maiya – Sisters – And golfers. They are shown doing golf tricks where they tap the ball in the air and swat it with their clubs as if it was a baseball. They are small and rather cute. They also claim there will be no crying from them – SPOILER ALERT – they are lying.
Brendon/Rachel – PhD Student and Event Hostess – Oh, and apparently a past Big Brother power couple. He says that they won BB12, and she corrects him that it was she who actually won the show. Full disclosure folks, I don’t care for Big Brother and I don’t watch it. Which is good in a way – when a polarizing couple such as this one shows up, I come in fresh. So far, I have seen little to dislike – except perhaps for the green sparkly blouse.
Joey “Fitness”/Danny – Trainer and Club Promoter – Oh my. I know the Amazing Race panders somewhat with the casting – see the previous team – but really? We had to go with Jersey Shore wannabes? As a former New Yorker with an Italian family, I have met these guys before. Well, not literally these guys, but tons of guys just like them. They are in amazing gym shape – which does not always translate into real life strength – and you have to give them credit for that. But they are also as dumb as dumbbells.
Nary/Jamie – Federal Agents – Here’s a team for the fetish groups – girls with guns. Seriously, we get to watch them carrying and firing gigantic automatic weapons, along with an amazing camera angle of the spent shells flying off the weapons. To be perfectly honest, we didn’t get much from this pair this week – a very quiet edit – and in fact, I had to look up online which one of them actually participated in the Roadblock. We’ll see.
Rachel/Dave – Army Wife and Combat Pilot – He’s an Army major who served in Iraq, and she is his wife. They have spent little time together and it shows. Their Mat exchange at the end of the episode is rather awkward for a married couple. They are using this to reconnect – and that is often a dangerous thing to behold.
Elliot/Andrew – Twins – Not identical, thankfully, but still, they are two young good looking dudes. So I will have some issues telling them apart this season. Eliot is a musician, and Andrew is a professional soccer player. We already have one pro soccer player in our CBS reality shows – and he’s got a lot to live up to next to Ethan Zohn. And totally not gay, or so says Elliot.
Kerri/Stacy – Cousins – They claim to be typical Daisy Duke country girls. I remember Catherine Bach – and well, not exactly Daisy clones, but the shorts do match. They run around with chickens to further sell the stereotype.
Vanessa/Ralph – Dating Divorcees – Oh, I think we know our season’s villain. Vanessa seems to be quite a piece of work. She says that she stalked him – but he was married. Nice. He got divorced but she was married. Then she got divorced, and now they are together. And I am sure there is nothing more to that story. It is hard to get on board with a team whose first moments involve stalking and broken marriages.
Art/JJ – Border Patrol Agents – Their names are so short; I may not need a nickname for them! They are part of a 40 man team that patrols the coast line. And if you don’t see what is really wrong with our immigration system with that sentence, then I don’t really know what to say. These guys seem like fun – although there may some border crossers who disagree with me.
Challenge #1 – The Starting Line challenges continue with 100 balloons tethered to the ground with 11 of them holding clues. They have to pull them down one by one to check. So, here we go, in Minute One we have a needle in the haystack challenge. The show has been using Needle challenges way too much in recent years – time to wean them off the Needle. The Twins find it first, followed in order by – Stalkers, Dumbbells, Cousins, Big Brother, Army Wives, Feds, New Clowns, JJArt, Boppers and the Sisters way behind. In fact, it takes the golfers an hour and 45 minutes to find a clue.
Travel from Santa Barbara to Santa Barbara – Nice one, Show. California to Argentina. Stacy can already taste the burritos. Because, you can’t find burritos in California. And, not exactly one of the Argentinean signature dishes. Despite the Sisters’ troubles, all of the teams get on the usual two flights – separated by two and a half hours. Sitting in the slower plane – Boppers, Sisters, Dumbbells, New Clowns and the Cousins. I would not cry over any of them leaving – although the Sisters are easy on the eyes.