Monday, March 02, 2009

Amazing Race, "I'm Not Wearing That Girls Leotoard!": Is it much further yet, Papa Smurf?

Spoilers for last night's "The Amazing Race" coming up just as soon as I find my fanny pack...

Well, you know the show's on a roll when they can put together an hour this entertaining and relatively tense even when it's clear from the 20-minute mark who's going home.

I tend to zone out during the airport scenes (which this episode had more of than the previous two), so I had to ask "Race" expert Linda Holmes to explain Brad and Victoria's mistake to me: rather than stick with the flight the majority of the teams were on, they took a flight that got in 25 minutes earlier, but with a tight connection. That's dumb, dumb racing. Too much risk for not remotely enough reward, and they got nailed for it, falling so far behind that there was no realistic way of catching up.

The last time I watched an episode like this was in the All-Stars season when Uchenna and Joyce got stuck 12 hours behind everyone else. Where that episode tried to make you forget that Uchenna and Joyce were even still in the competition, so there'd be some tension over who got to the mat, last night's show played fair and kept cutting back to Brad and Victoria as they methodically went through their hopeless quest to avoid elimination. And I think the producers did that because so many entertaining things were happening that the lack of suspense didn't much matter.

The highlight was obviously watching Tammy show the patience of a saint while dealing with Victor's monomaniacal insistence on taking them on the "Race" equivalent of the Bataan Death March, all while following markers that clearly had nothing to do with the show. I can see how the combination of Type-A personality, the older brother/younger sister relationship, and the reversal of plane fortune that saw them go from a big first place lead to middle of the pack all led to Victor's freak-out, but geez, guy -- at the very least, he could've apologized to her when they were on the mat with Phil.

The gymnastics Roadblock was fun, and the Detour was a rare instance of both tasks being physically arduous. (Though I guess the Gypsy one was a bit easier, since the locals were there to help.) And Team Schneebly came in first, thanks to Kris' goof with the fanny pack, so a good time was had by almost all.

What did everybody else think?

32 comments:

Myles said...

Brad and Victoria's decision not only went against traditional airport logic, but also traditional TAR logic. They were flying in at midnight: if they weren't going to run into an hour of operations issue at the roadblock, they certainly were not going to be able to move onto the other parts of the leg in the middle of the night.

I did feel bad for them, though, since I think they actually would have made their connecting flight if not for the fog - the show seemed to imply that their flight had left early in order to beat the fog, which ha grounded all other flights.

Otherwise, as you note, a very solid episode. In particular, a few teams that have botched the first two legs showed improvement, so the field is evening out a little. Still, though, Kris and Amanda remain (fanny pack aside) the team to beat - I don't know if Mel can keep up.

lungfish said...

Had that fanny pack actually been pilfered, it would've reinforced some negative gypsy stereotypes.

Linda said...

It's exactly true that trying to get a half-hour advantage at midnight is usually stupid, but if I'm remembering correctly (and I haven't watched it again), the gymnastics stuff actually WAS open in the middle of the night, so it actually would have been a legitimate 25-minute jump. But you don't risk a missed connection for a 25-minute jump. As you say, it's counter to basic Race logic. It pays off from time to time, but in the long run, it's not a good gamble.

Adam said...

Yep, basic Race logic -- fly directly whenever possible, and minimize the number of connections. The worst such example in Race history, as far as I could recall, was when the Groanies tried to fly from Brazil to South Africa via NYC and London, while the other teams all made their way direct from Brazil to Europe before the long flight south. It put the Groanies a full day behind the pack as a result.

If any country was going to have an all-night gymnastics facility, though, it'd be Romania.

Myles said...

It's exactly true that trying to get a half-hour advantage at midnight is usually stupid, but if I'm remembering correctly (and I haven't watched it again), the gymnastics stuff actually WAS open in the middle of the night, so it actually would have been a legitimate 25-minute jump.

Your memory is not mistaken, Linda - it was, in fact, a 24-hour gymnastics facility (man, those kids were up awfully late). But the chances of the Detour being open after the fact were slim, and considering that every team ended up on the same 6:30 train (which I know could never have been known for certain, but could have been surmised) it all adds up a very poor decision, risktaking for the sake of risktaking.

dez said...

I just wish the detour involved staking vampires because a few of those Racers were sucking the life out of me (*ahem*VICTOR*ahem*).

Mike & Mel was so sweet together. Also can't believe the Blondes were smarter than the Lawyers this ep. Eep!

Adam said...

The other thing which could have been true is that even if the gym closed at night, there could have been a sign-up sheet and mandatory spacing-out in the morning upon its reopening.

Myles said...

The other thing which could have been true is that even if the gym closed at night, there could have been a sign-up sheet and mandatory spacing-out in the morning upon its reopening.

If I'm Brad and Victoria, I'm pretty certain that I can beat most of the teams on that 9:30 flight in both a footrace and in any sort of tasks - the risk/reward just wasn't there.

polkadotoes said...

The highlight was obviously watching Tammy show the patience of a saint while dealing with Victor's monomaniacal insistence on taking them on the "Race" equivalent of the Bataan Death March, all while following markers that clearly had nothing to do with the show.

Agreed! Having a little brother only 2 yrs my junior, I see a lot of similarities in our relationship. But I also know that neither of us would have kept our cool as long as Tammy did, and we both would have realized about 1/4 into the hike he took her on that it was not the right way.

I think her patience comes from Victor being so much older than her. How could he not apologize to her? She was kind to him even when he realized that she was right. Hopefully this whips him into shape, because if he starts communicating with her, they could become the team to beat!

Go Team Schneebly!

Melanie said...

I was surprised by the gymnastics roadblock - I think it's quite likely that gymnastics/cartwheeling/etc. is a skill that could be lacking in both members of an otherwise good team. Seems like it would have been more fair as a detour choice -- but, hey, everybody apparently got through it okay.

And how about all the women who looked so awesome in their leotards! Something else I would have failed at :(

K J Gillenwater said...

Are we so certain they had a tight connection to make? All I remember hearing is that the flight through The Netherlands would get them to Romania 25 minutes early. It seemed to me that their plans were dashed due to fog more than bad planning. Maybe I missed something?

I'm hoping the late-night gymnastics session means they are done with these 'you have to wait until morning' challenges that makes most of the airplane mistakes moot. If they arrive at their destination at 1 am, they should be able to start on the challenge immediately. The only time this shouldn't come into play is with trains or other scheduled transportation or safety issues, like trying to hangglide in the middle of the night.

Otherwise, I hate the contrived 'catch up' by making teams wait until some fake 'opening' time.

dez said...

I felt bad for Tammy trying to turn that cartwheel because those things are hard to do (and Victor's shouting didn't help her!).

Linda said...

K J: I'm pretty sure they mentioned that the connection was close, but they thought they could do it. I couldn't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure.

Linda said...

Aha! According to this:

http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=2766846&view=findpost&p=11430148

they had about an hour scheduled for their connection. Not insanely close, but for international where you have no idea where in the terminal it is, that's not a lot of time to connect, if you're indeed only gaining maybe 20 minutes at the beginning of the leg.

Gotta love that thread; they do their research.

Adam said...

By the way, have they just scrapped the "you have $X for this leg of the race"? Do we just assume that money isn't a factor at any point?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Adam, as with the minimum of airport time in the previous two episodes, maybe it's something they'll only devote screentime to if it's going to factor into the drama.

skipska said...

Adam, at least one of the teams mentioned how much money they received - I think it was $230 (unless I'm remembering that from the last episode?).

BF said...

What a poorly designed leg time-wise. They conspicuously left off the "[Team #1], who arrived at 2pm will depart at 2am" bit, which tells me they fitzed with departure times. And they STILL ended up with an "Hours of Operation"-like bunch point at the 6:30am train that would have tied everybody if not for Brad & Victoria's adventures in poor flight management.

I like that Amanda & Kris handled the lost fannypack issue about as drama-free as possible. That's a pretty big stumble that would kill a lot of teams and all it did was knock them from 1st to 2nd. This team has some serious potential.

Hyde said...

As an older brother myself, I was trying hard not to cringe at Victor's behavior.

Too bad for Brad and Victoria, but they really should have known that it was too early in the leg for a minuscule time edge to be worth the big risk. I did like the mature way they dealt with the bad break, though. We've seen race teams before where at least one member would have whined incessantly/threatened to quit after such a race-ending calamity, and both would have sniped at each other over whose fault it was. Once you get to that age, you realize it's only a game.

tabernacle said...

That was absurdly satisfying given that the elimination, as Alan points out, was clear right away.

Jesus, Victor. Poor girl. And that Tammy talking head at the end, when she says she just hopes they come out of this at least as close as before--broke my heart a little bit. And in terms of an explanation for Victor's recalcitrance: that was reluctance to post negative results, right? Turning around would mean establishing absolutely (with zero wiggle room) that he had been wrong all along.

Superficial note: Victoria is hot.

Hurray! M&M in first place. Lovely comment Mel made about liking his son as a person, not just because he happens to be his son.

I was glad to see less airport stuff in the previous eps, but here it was relevant, so I'm liking the show's decision-making in terms of how to edit. (Same as the point about the money: mentioned when relevant.)

Yeah, it got a little hairy with the fanny belt, offense-wise. There was a point where the guy seemed about to say, "Of course it got stolen. We're surrounded by gypsies."

renton said...

I guess Brad and Victoria weren't SO far behind because they were allowed to do all the challenges instead of getting Philiminated on the course.

There are a lot of teams to root for on this one.

Nicole said...

With Victor and Tammy both being lawyers, I would have thought that one of them would have clued in to the logic that they had not seen any other team in this area, and they had taken a cab with a group of teams at roughly the same time.

I can understand Victor being the stubborn older sibling, but Tammy is allegedly an adult, so at some point she needed to stand up for herself. I really hope she doesn't do litigation, because while you don't need to be aggressive all the time, you do need to push when the other side is ridiculous. And I also can't understand why she didn't know how to do a cartwheel and somersault. Doesn't every kid learn this at the age of five?

This was a fun episode, even with the eliminated couple known from early on.

Nicole said...

With Victor and Tammy both being lawyers, I would have thought that one of them would have clued in to the logic that they had not seen any other team in this area, and they had taken a cab with a group of teams at roughly the same time.

I can understand Victor being the stubborn older sibling, but Tammy is allegedly an adult, so at some point she needed to stand up for herself. I really hope she doesn't do litigation, because while you don't need to be aggressive all the time, you do need to push when the other side is ridiculous. And I also can't understand why she didn't know how to do a cartwheel and somersault. Doesn't every kid learn this at the age of five?

This was a fun episode, even with the eliminated couple known from early on.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I guess Brad and Victoria weren't SO far behind because they were allowed to do all the challenges instead of getting Philiminated on the course.

Teams can get pretty far behind without the mercy Philimination. I believe Uchenna and Joyce, in the All-Stars episode I referenced in the post, landed in the country after all the other teams had already checked in, and yet they still did both the Detour and the Roadblock -- in the middle of the night!

Stef said...

I really liked Tammy's talking head at the end, where she said she has to learn how to hurt Victor's feelings a bit in order to stand up for herself. That says a lot about their family dynamic right there, and dare I say it, may show some real potential for them to improve their sibling relationship over the course of the race. Good for them if she follows through, and he learns a little humility.

I really like Kris and Amanda so far, which is such a surprise cuz I almost always hate the "dating couple" teams. They're reminding me of Kris and Jon (different gender Kris) from several seasons ago, as a couple that actually enjoys spending time together.

Mel & Mike rock! And I can't do a cartwheel or somersault - not everyone can. It freaks me out to do anything "head first" like that, no matter how many times people have tried to teach me.

Stef said...

Oh, and I couldn't believe they had a challenge based on Vlad the Impaler!!! Really, hearkening back to heads on spikes?!?

Myles said...

I guess Brad and Victoria weren't SO far behind because they were allowed to do all the challenges instead of getting Philiminated on the course.

Usually they only take someone off the course when it actually is merciful: in the instance last season of poor, poor Toni and Dallas, for example, they had no money, so for them to complete the leg would have been a hellish journey - plus, since it was the last leg before the final one, they knew it was elimination. However, they had plenty of money, and it could have been a non-elimination leg, so they had to finish it out.

Plus, it looked like they had fun with it, so that's at least an upside.

Yeah, it got a little hairy with the fanny belt, offense-wise. There was a point where the guy seemed about to say, "Of course it got stolen. We're surrounded by gypsies."

I've been waiting for a chink in Kris and Amanda's armour for a while, and I guess this might be as much as we get: holds stereotypical view of gypsies. And even then, these people had laughed at them when completing the task, and if I left something like that behind in ANY group of people I think I'd be at a point where grasping at straws would seem more logical than it actually is. And, let's be realistic: he kept it in check in the end.

tabernacle said...

@Stef: Yeah, I found that interesting, too, that "I need to hurt him more in the future" (Tammy, re: Victor). I'm rather curious as to what sort of parents and family dynamics these two had when they when they were children. She seems smarter, too, than your average reality-show contestant.

I don't know her name, but the red-haired woman (part of a two-woman team) who was trying not to lose it when the cabbie kept having to stop to ask directions? I felt for her. She was so clearly reining herself in. (Like the saying goes: If they cry onscreen, we don't cry at home--but if we see them struggling NOT to...)

Mr. Kevin said...

How did he misplace the fanny pack in the first place? Did he just take it off and set it down to be more mobile with lifting the junk? You'd think with all your money and passports you would contantly be checking that thing to make sure it's on you.

dez said...

Was this the first time Phil ever teased what was coming up in an episode? I don't recall him doing that before and it was a little disconcerting (I figure they were trying to throw off the audience by making it look like Victor & Tammy might come in last despite Brad & Victoria's big error). I don't mind new graphics and such, but this was a little weird.

Matthew L said...

Was this the first time Phil ever teased what was coming up in an episode? I don't recall him doing that before and it was a little disconcerting (I figure they were trying to throw off the audience by making it look like Victor & Tammy might come in last despite Brad & Victoria's big error). I don't mind new graphics and such, but this was a little weird.

I do hope that's something they did to include more suspense for this week's result, rather than something they plan to have every week. It's one thing to have a "Next week" preview, where you might think "that looks interesting" but forget exactly what it was when you come to the actual episode, but if they tell you what is coming up in the actual episode, you're just waiting for that moment rather than being caught in the drama.

David D said...

I always find it interesting that, with the exception of his first shot in the first episode, Phil is never identified.

Unlike every local news anchor in America, who gets a lower third EVERY SINGLE TIME you see them.