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Amazing Race 22 – Ep 1 – The Sandcastles Full of Quitters

The 22nd running of the Amazing Race kicked off this past Sunday, and it did something I have always wondered why it has basically avoided over all of these years – it went to the South Pacific. There are tons of islands all over the Pacific and with the exception of Australia and New Zealand (and Hawaii too), the Amazing Race has spent very little time exploring Oceania at all. Just stay off of this flight.
Gorgeous beaches and waters, hot weather, it seems like locations perfect for the show – and this premiere proved that to be true. Maybe we will have some visits to Samoa, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and all of the other island nations in the future.

But before teams flew to the tiny island of Bora Bora, part of the French Polynesian islands, they had to depart from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles – iconic site best known for its part in the James Dean classic, “Rebel Without A Cause.” Our new teams are (nicknames subject to change over time):

1 – Chuck/Wynona – The Mullets. Granted, it’s just his, but boy, what a mullet. It’s like a bald man had extra shag carpet from 1975 lying around and used it on his head – with a little bit of extra for good measure. Oh, he’s also a taxidermist who has a super creepy wall of dead animals staring back at him waiting for the zombie apocalypse to exact their revenge.
2 – Bates/Anthony – Team Slap Shot – The Battallia boys are pro hockey players, well, for Bates, was a pro hockey player. They have dental issues.
3 – Mona/Beth – Team Derby Moms – They are typical Colorado moms. Typical if you think that playing roller derby is typical. Boy, those kids better not get on her bad side.
4 – Max/Katie – Team Honeymoon – They are newlyweds from Buffalo. They must be cold. Seriously, though, they were married three weeks before the Race. And might I add…Max married up.
5 – Dave/Connor – Team Ribbon – They are a Utah dad and son, who are best friends. Oh, and both have beaten cancer. Dad tends to tear up a lot – and I have nothing snarky for that. I have mad respect for these two. Connor is a pro cyclist to boot – let’s hope through the Race he brings an iota of respect back to that sport.
6 – Jessica/John – Team Dude – There are longtime dating surfer dude and dudette. They are going to be a real physical threat.
7 – Idiris/Jamil – Team Uterus – They are twin brothers who both became OBGYN doctors. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, more power to them, but there is also something…really weird about that. I will never be able to tell them apart – I’m terrible telling twins apart.
8 – Pam/Winnie – Team, um…I have nothing that isn’t offensive. They are best friends. They are Asian women. I have no nicknames that work without being racist, sexist or completely unfunny. They like trapeze it seems, and one of them wants to tape a million bucks to her body like she’s Geena Davis in “Quick Change.”
9 – Joey/Megan – Team YouTube – They are YouTube hosts and have about a half million subscribers. From what I see, their web shows are probably completely insufferable.
10 – Matt/Daniel – Team Dead Meat – They are South Carolina firefighters. Their intro package is pathetic as it appears they are doing a fake call in the firehouse.
11 – Carole/Jennifer – Team Underwood – They are blonde female country singers. They are very pretty, as are basically all female country singers. They are willing to flirt – of course they are, because they are a stereotype. At least so far.

We learn from Phil that the winner of this leg will get two Express Passes, which is a cool idea since they can only keep one of them. The other one must be given to another team before the end of Leg 4. This adds a bit of strategy to the Race – which often lacks all semblance of strategy. However, it has manifested itself in something that isn’t really that big of a deal. Now it is true, the Express Pass is nice to have – especially later in the Race. But it is NOT worth the kind of drama the Show wants it to have.

What we have happen this leg is that the Show, as is tradition, provides a couple of flights for the Racers, separated by an ample block of time. The five teams on the first flight – Dudes, Mullets, Uterus, Ribbon and Pam/Winnie – cut a deal. Whoever wins the leg will give it to the team from their group that comes in second. All agree. And judging by the previews for the next ep…that agreement means nothing.

There was another somewhat unexpected moment of strategy this week. At the second of two Roadblocks, teams had a hardcore “needle in the haystack” challenge to overcome. A clue was buried under 11 one-pail sandcastles among 400 sandcastles along a fairly abandoned beach. The twist – once you bust one and it does not have a clue, you have to rebuild it. Nice. It is crazy Bora Bora hot and some teams spend hours on the task. Others, like Slap Shot and YouTube find it right away.

However, the final three teams on the beach have had enough. Underwood, Dead Meat and Honeymoon are all still there and facing more time under the hot sun seeking the clue. Katie comes up with the plan – they all quit simultaneously and take the four-hour penalty together. The next task was to construct an outrigger and paddle a mile to the Mat. Essentially, survival in the Race depends on completing this task.

Dead Meat agrees right away, and does so with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. How could two strapping firefighter men lose a canoe race to a married couple from Buffalo and a couple of female country singers? Impossible. What I suspect happened is they rushed through the assembly and did it badly, because, they flip over in the water. They helplessly watch the other two pass them and put them out of the Race. They will forever question the decision to give up on that Roadblock. That sandcastle next to Daniel’s last attempt could have been the one with the clue. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but one of them, is not sandcastles.

The other task was a ton of fun – if you are not petrified of heights like I am. Tandem skydive out of a helicopter. Wow. One thing…boy, that’s some beautiful camera work on those jumps. Emmy-worthy. Another thing – how can Mona be so thick and sign on the wrong line of the signup sheet?!? It was numbered and ranked. If not for the luck of the sandcastles, that could have really hurt their chances of surviving this leg.

It was a typical Amazing Race premiere episode – there are a lot of teams to follow, so it is hard to get a real feel for them. What we learned is that Team Dudes can be pretty sneaky, sis. Team Honeymoon imagines themselves to be a budding Romber wannabe team. Team Uterus is either going to be insufferable or hysterical, I can’t tell yet. The Mullets are going to be this season’s pandering to the rural fanbase. Past teams like David/Mary, Bopper, and the Cowboys have filled that role – and have been rather popular. They have also been walking stereotypes – and to varying degrees been the butt of jokes. I sense the Mullets to be next.

Early on, I kind of like Ribbon and the Asian ladies. I took an instant dislike to YouTube – but I am willing to accept that it was just some early Race enthusiasm that annoyed, but they will eventually calm down. I think Slap Shot is the early favorite to win – the athletic guys usually do a very good job on the Race. If they don’t win it, I think they will at least go very far.

Route Markers
• Within seconds, we have cheap Mullet humor as Chuck took a facesplat at the Starting Line.
• Of course Slap Shot and Underwood are getting together. The real Underwood got together with a hockey player.
• In the airport, we learn Papa Ribbon is afraid of heights and a Uterus Twin is afraid of water. I am sure that will not come into play later on…
• They may be working the villain angle, but I found it pretty funny to see Honeymooner Katie put on her “fake face and fake girl voice.” It is just so painful to actually talk to people, right?
• I think Surfer John may have compared their agreement to Fight Club. I am wondering if he’s really Tyler Durden.
• I enjoyed Connor’s jump, “I LOVE YOU MOM!” Well, she isn’t here, so she needs at least one shout-out.
• As I said earlier, the hoedown music for the Mullets just shows how much the Show respects their rural, Southern teams.
• The positive attitude Team Uterus had in the first half of the leg slowly devolved as Idires struggled with the sandcastles. If they hadn’t found the clue, he would have gone feral before it was over.
• Of course Wynona drinks vodka and 7-up. And of course her name is Wynona.
• Thank you cameraman for the gratuitous Carolina cleavage shot during the sandcastles. Thank you.
• What’s with the random dogs wandering during the challenge? I was hoping one would be Champion, the Three-Legged Dog.

Roadblock 1 – The skydive. Connor, Winnie, John, Chuck, Jamil, Caroline, Anthony, Matt, Max, Mona, Meghan.

Roadblock 2 – The sandcastles. Jessica, Idires, Wynona, Bates, Beth, Katie, Dave, Pam. Joey, Daniel, Jennifer

Order of Finish – Dudes (Two Express Passes), Slap Shot, Ribbon, Pam/Winnie, Derby Moms, YouTube, Mullet, Uterus, Honeymooners, Underwood and Dead Meat (ELIMINATED).

Next Week – The Fight Club Alliance is falling apart. And Dave thinks he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Uh oh.

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