Monday, April 02, 2007

The Amazing Race: Never forget... until it's time for sausage!

"Amazing Race" spoilers coming up just as soon as I figure out if there's a gay insult that Eric hasn't used yet to describe the Gudios...

For a supposed All-Star season, we're seeing a lot of rookie mistakes -- and I don't mean from the contestants. This was the second badly-constructed episode (or episodes, I suppose) in a row, and while much of the blame falls on the African airports, production's usually better at working around that. Plus, what's the point of doing a non-elimination leg if it's going to be followed by one in which the tour bus separation, the Intersection and the presence of the Fast-Forward (which any smart racing teams at the front of the pack would use) make it virtually impossible to finish first, let alone 30 minutes ahead of the last-place team?

I was nervous about the Auschwitz stop, but fortunately all that was involved was lighting the Yahretzeit candle and having a moment of reflection, as I was fearing some kind of offensive Detour (Shave It or Tattoo It?). Interestingly, the beauty queens were the only ones not depicted having some kind of deep emotional reaction to the place (hell, even Eric was touched by it, and he's a complete putz), and while it could have been cut, I don't see why they would have, given the episode length and the fact that they sent them all there to get just such a reaction.

Still, I've grown oddly fond of those two, and if Oswald and Danny don't win it, I'm rooting for them. I didn't see their original season, where I gather they weren't as likable, but they've been enthusiastic and level-headed throughout this race. I loved Dustin -- or is it Kandice? I can never tell -- comparing meeting the fake Chopin to meeting Santa Claus. (I'm guessing classical piano was her Talent in competition.)

Adios, Guido. I'm sorry you guys couldn't outlast Eric & Danielle or Mirna & Charla (and is it wrong that I found Charla falling down in the armor to be hilarious?), but you really didn't have a chance to make up the time, given the way the leg worked.

What did everybody else think?


BF said...

I'm guessing the "poor planning" might have been a reaction to the previous leg's Airport fiascos. There's almost no other way to get rid of a 15 hour lead other than a massive charter bunch.

The only other 2 Amazing Poignant Moments I can remember off the top of my head were a visit to Nelson Mandela's cell in Season II (which the producers botched because teams were in "race" mode) and a stop in Season VI at a slave harbor in Africa (which was immediately followed by a charter, so teams were able to experience it outside a competitive environment.)

The worst bit of episode planning, for me, was having a team member still in armor during the check-in. So whichever team would eventually be eliminated would have their last moment on screen would be wearing that silly-looking armor. At least let a team go out with dignity, Amazing Producers!

Mirna once again tried to pull a "doctoro". Really, if you're suffering from a massive heart condition as she claimed, would spending 24+ hours on an airplane ride be all that helpful? I'm really starting to like Poland, since they're the first country that looks at Mirna's antics and says "Get away from me, Crazy woman".

I think the Intersections are specifically designed to screw with the BQ's. Just like last year, they were the 3rd team to arrive and had to wait for a partner.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I also loved that everyone in Poland seemed to despise Mirna and Charla as much I do.

K J Gillenwater said...

I was very annoyed with this double-episode. Once again, airplane fiascos forced the producers to 'cheat' by delaying a bus trip by almost 12 hours? And then they make the 2nd set of people wait FOUR hours for the next bus? It was another created bunching of contestants...but so obviously done to help out the teams over 12 hours behind, that I got annoyed.

Also, the producers made a HUGE mistake giving everyone those tickets in Africa. Shouldn't their ticketing solution be one that will guarantee everyone will get to the final destination within a certain amount of time? To put together a plane route that would only have an hour between connections was pretty stupid.

So, the poor schmucks who were given pre-planned tickets ended up stuck with nowhere to go? Badly done, "Amazing Race," badly done.

I think when in Africa the producers should learn to ONLY use chartered flights to get everyone to a more central Johannesburg.

That being said, I was laughing out loud at Charla with the knife during the eating challenge. And the falling-in-armor moments. Oh, dear.

Glad to see the Guidos gone. They were getting on my nerves. I'm liking Eric more than Danielle right now. However, if I could have gotten a teammate off my back by spending $2 on a cup of coffee, I would buy the damn coffee!

I'm rooting for Oswald and Danny to win.

Adam said...

Danny and Oswald were completely adorable during their original season -- they basically invented the "charm a local into leading you around her city" scheme, and made ample use of local concierges at five-star hotels. Click here for the TWoP recap of how they made their way from Hong Kong to Sydney; it was brilliant.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Adam, I meant I hadn't seen the Beauty Queens' original season -- though, come to think of it, I only saw a little of Danny and Oswald's season, just enough to remember them stopping to shop somewhere in South America (Brazil, maybe?), because that's just how they roll. I like those guys a lot.

Adam said...

Oh. My bad. The BQs were okay during their first season -- I don't remember having a strong reaction in any direction. It was a blah season they were in.

greebs said...

I loathe Eric...but his, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss California!" after Dustin urped up all her sausage was one of the funnier points of the season.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Greebs, I'll give Eric that. Even an unfunny clock is right twice in a lifetime, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I was a little worried about something weird waiting for them at Auschwitz, but the visit was respectful, and that's good.

I don't know if there was a way to unscrew the massive airport screwings once that happened -- if they'd all bunched up again, there would have been complaining that they were all bunched up again. But putting an Intersection after a nonelim with no major travel time anywhere in the rest of the leg seemed especially mean.

I was amused that the detour options could've been called Jew or Gentile, though. Ahem.

Taleena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taleena said...

I know alot of folks are complaining about the production of these last two legs but I think that the Guidos wouldn't have been able to make up the time differential unless they had three legs to do it in.

Airport karma is not the producers fault and the Guidos were smacked with bad airport karma two legs in a row. I think it was a waste of a Non elimination round on them.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Taleena, the charter bus bunching wiped out most of the Guidos' deficit from their airport problems. If there hadn't been an Intersection, or if the leg hadn't been designed in such a way that the first teams to see the Fast Forward clue would have such a huge lead that they would have no reason not to try it, or if the Roadblock had the possibility for a massive difference in finishing time, they might have still beaten the penalty.

Admittedly, they were also done in by their inability to find the bakery, as I imagine the bagel task could have done at least 30 minutes faster than the bulk eating, but the leg design gave them no realistic shot at erasing the penalty the way, say, Uchenna and Joyce did back in Africa.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping a great deal of bunching would occur to give the Guidos a reasonable shot at catching up, but alas, 'twas not to be.

I can't believe E/D & C/M are still in it. Why can't they get bunched together and stranded in an airport in the middle of nowhere while everyone else continues racing? Bleah.

Anonymous said...

I actually think it's kind of exciting to see some separation among the teams, and these forced bunchings really mess with the integrity of the show. A few ideas for how they could allow for a little more separation, while still giving the slow ones the chance to catch up:

1. Give teams one opportunity during the race to not take a 12-hour rest period after completing a leg. This power could be used strategically to jump ahead, but I assume most teams would hold on to it as long as they could.

2. More significant detours -- like "go to Poland or go to Turkey". This could swing time in a huge way.

3. Stop being so exact about transportation methods. Allow racers to get places however they can -- walk, run, fly, taxi, train, boat, car rental.

Anonymous said...

I know I am the only one, but as annoying as they are, Charla and Mirna are WAY too much fun to watch. Personally, I know a little person (much nicer than old Charlamagne, but just as gritty and will unashamedly use her short stature to advantage whenever she can). The fact that she can do what she does (that fall was classic and laugh out loud funny) never ceases to amaze me.

Danny and Oswald have style, comedy, and generousity. Nice that they gave up the trip. They know what it is like to be the underdog in the world but still retain their humanity.

Eric is a total ass who likely can't even see how bad he comes off.

Felt sorry for the Guidos.

Think I might beg off a trip to Poland though anytime soon...

BF said...

Who else thinks the Sausage eating should have been the Fast Forward instead of the ridiculously easy step counting?

Counting tasks are less likely to screw up when you've got 4 people checking each other (and none of them are math-deficient wrestlers.)

Brent McKee said...

Since they introduced it last season I haven't been a fan of the Intersection and certainly not this late in the game. In both seasons it has been in place when a team has been marked for elimination, both times there has been a Fast Forward associated with it but one that was used by front running teams and therefore not available for the "marked" team, and in both cases - David & Mary last season and Bill & Joe this time - it has resulted in the marked team being eliminated. If you are going to have an Intersection - and I don't like it because the Race is really an individual event not something like "Survivor" where staying in the game is dependent on alliances - then put it in the first leg when teams can get to know each other.

rukrusher said...

A little late to comment, Mets opening day required a Tivo of the episoide.

1) Bunching. This is not new, they have always designed the race with bunching points. It did seem that the 1:00 p.m. shuttle was forced, but the Candle Lighting did require they arrive at night, so I am not sure, but clearly the 5:00 p.m. shuttle was changed for the Guidos.

2) Uchenna and Joyce traking the trip, just unclassy. You win a Million dollars on this race and you are not generous enough to give the trip to the Cha-Chas? Just wrong. I am now rooting against them. Plus Uchenna just does not seem happy this season, I think the problems they are having together are not being helped.

3) Charla falling down. I watched it 8 times last week on the previews and 10 more times this week, it was just the moment where the point hits the ground, she might recover and then the full face plant that makes it a perfect fall. I would have laughed at anyone doing that fall but it was her size that made it a full face and body slam.

4) The fact that Mirna was disliked in Poland and the Travel agency was perfect. She tells them not to cooperate and then they miss the better flight. I was surprised Oswald and Danny let them take the lead.

5) I liked the old fast forward system, one per show, once per season, and I hate the intersection. Just dumb.

Anonymous said...

Having the Intersection come immediately after a chartered trip that deliberately put the racers into odd-numbered groups is downright malicious race design. Having it come as, effectively, the first race activity after a non-elimination leg was even worse, and combining it with the Fast Forward was simply mind-boggling.

The ONLY way an FF is anything other than a "jump to the end free" card for the first team(s) to find it is if there's actual competition on the FF task. The combination of the split charter and the Intersection made that effectively impossible, and made the whole last 40 minutes of the show relatively pointless.