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The Six-Pack is Half-Empty on "The Amazing Race"

I never understand why teams feel the need to construct elaborate (and ultimately pointless) alliances on reality series that don't require (or reward) them. Amazing Race, after all, is not Survivor and teams should act accordingly. I had doubted Phil when he mentioned the prominence of alliances this season, but I should have never doubted the Big Kahuna. The six-pack (a.k.a. the back pack), consisting of the Cho Bros, Karlyn and Lyn, and David and Mary, have formed quite possibly the most frustratingly irritating alliance this side of Rob and Amber.

I get why at first it made sense for these three teams, used to lagging in the back of the group, to stick together and help one another out. Especially when faced with teams as annoying as Rob and Kimberly and the Beauty Queens (and, this week, the Models). But to keep it going for as long as they have shows either fortitude or outright stupidity. At this point in time, there is such an obvious divide between the only six teams left in the Race and three of those teams are engaged in an alliance that seems time and time again not to propel them to the front of the heat, but instead to land them square back at the end of the line.

In this week's episode set in Mauritius (look it up, kids, if you don't know where it is!), that didn't change a bit as the Great Alliance more or less remained in full force, with the Chos waiting for Lyn and Karlyn and David and Mary at every single opportunity. Nevermind the fact that Alabama took off from the airport like a bat out of hell and didn't even look back. But Mary insisted that they would wait for the girls and then have a foot race to the mat. I hate to be mean to good people, but seriously now it's not The Amazing Friendship, but the Amazing RACE. You don't wait for your competition in a race, you move forward until you win or you're eliminated. Or until Phil crooks his eyebrow and tells you that it's a non-elimination round and you're safe until another day.

Which is just what happened this week, when David and Mary miraculously arrived last again only to discover that they're still somehow in this race. Seeing as it's the second time in two weeks that this has transpired makes me raise my eyebrow a little, but I can't help but be impressed that Kentucky has managed to squeak by yet again. It's astounding, to say the least, and I'm really surprised that producers would schedule two non-elims so closely together, separated only by a Fast Forward which propelled that team to first place. But there's no other team I'd rather get spared Phil-imination at this point, so count yourselves lucky, David and Mary. You race for another day.

This week's episode brought us some genuinely funny and frustrating moments from an assortment of teams, besides the ubiquitous "wait around for other teams" moments that filled the episode. I'm thinking of the moment when a frustrated Rob and Kimberly got into a fight when their car wouldn't shift into gear, causing a HUGE backup of cars behind them and snarling traffic for miles, I'm sure. Instead of dealing with the situation, Rob shouts at Kimberly and then jumps out of the car and storms off. Lovely. I'm still chuckling over the sight of hotheaded Rob tripping over his own feet and falling to the ground, dropping the clue envelope, as his partner, the equally headstrong Kimberly doesn't bother to pause or look back, instead uttering, "What are you doing?" It was a priceless moment that echoed Kendra's infamous line from a few seasons back ("Why did you have to do that?") when her partner puked into the bowl of spicy soup he was meant to be eating. Ah, young love.

I also couldn't help it but roll on the floor laughing when the Beauty Queens smashed their car. Is it just me or are these two almost impossible to like? I'm thinking this week of their transformation into Ugly Americans at the airport in Kuwait when they loudly accused the airline staff of being not-too-bright by suggesting that they transfer in London for a flight to Mauritius and demanded the same information from multiple counter agents as though they were morons of the highest level. This after the Beauty Queens didn't seem to know what country London was in ("What country is that in? India?"). Yet somehow they still managed to check in first and were rewarded a pair of scooters for their efforts, only to turn around and ask a flustered Phil out on a date. Seeing how they managed to drive (and crash) in a car, I am afraid to even imagine them driving after on scooters. Terrifying.

I've said it time and time again, but I'll say it here once more. Beware the detour task that has you searching for a tiny object in a series of large piles. It never ends well and it's always frustrating. Yet year after year, week after week, teams insist on trying that very activity, thinking perhaps that this time it won't be so bad. It took quite some time for teams to give up on searching through huge mounts of salt for a salt shaker containing their next clue... especially since there were decoy shakers containing... pepper. (Nice one, producers.) Cho Brothers, you guys DON'T have to do the same detour as the other members of your alliance. I was rooting for you guys for a while, but now you're just annoying the hell out of me. Give it up already.

Loved the little "trap" set up in front of the sails on the other detour task, which made for some entertaining viewing. I was really convinced that the Models were going to go home this week after their disastrous performance, between getting lost several times and wandering around that island in search of the sails. Yet somehow they managed to pull themselves up to second place. I guess anything can happen in the race and it's still anybody's game, but at this point I think anybody equals only the first three teams.

Next week on The Amazing Race: it's another plot twist as teams encounter the very first Intersection on the Race. What it is it? The CBS promo department isn't revealing much, but it seems to involve working with another team to complete a task. And one team is going to get stuck working with the Beauty Queens. Please let it be Lyn and Karlyn. I'd pay to see that.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: How I Met Your Mother/The Class (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Everybody Hates Chris/All of Us (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); Prison Break (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); Heroes (NBC); Girlfriends/The Game (WB); The Bachelor: Rome (ABC); Justice (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Friday Night Lights (NBC); What About Brian (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8:00 pm: Everybody Hates Chris.

Now on its new night (Mondays) and at a new time (8 pm), it's the second season of former UPN comedy Everybody Hates Chris. On tonight's episode ("Everybody Hates a Malvo"), Chris gets the opportunity to prove himself when Doc has him watch over the cash register at the corner store, but things turn sour when he's robbed by a notorious repeat offender.

9:30 pm: Old Christine.

I can't tell you why I like watching this traditional sitcom, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is like a warm blanket of coziness after a long Monday. On tonight's repeat episode ("No Fault Divorce"), Christine's former marriage counselor shows up at the gym, causing some awkwardness for Christine. But then again, what doesn't cause awkwardness for Christine?

10 pm: Weeds on Showtime.

It's the season finale of Showtime's suburban-set pot dramedy. On tonight's episode ("Pittsburgh"), Silas disappears, Shane makes a rather inflammatory speech at graduation, and Nancy and Conrad's weed deal goes to pot. So, just another day in Agrestic, no?


Anonymous said…
As I said last night - David and Mary have the luck of the hippies (which always seemed slightly suspect last season).

We were all yelling at the teams - don't do the salt! Seriously, as you said and as we said - doesn't anyone watch the show?

Also, the same words were uttered re: next week - I hope it's lyn and carlyn.

Seriously chos - get it together! Lyn and Carlyn would ditch their grandmothers to win this thing, and David and Mary, great as they are, don't seem terribly motivated to finish first.
Anonymous said…
I think I rewound and watched that clip of Rob eating it about ten times on my Tivo. It may be my favorite moment of the season so far.

Also, Dustin and Kandice are setting the women's movement back by at least 40 years. "London? What country is that in?"

I also watched Rob's "trip up" over and over again. Thank you, God, for Tivo.

I really like the Cho Brothers and David and Mary but they need to start playing the game! This isn't Survivor! It's not Jeff Probst waiting for them on the mat! Come on and step it up, folks!
Anonymous said…
I hate to sound naive but aren't there laws governing games shows? If Phil says the non-elimination rounds are pre-determined, I tend to believe him. It's Phil, after all. The man is beyond suspicion. (His pants, however, are not.)

I might buy the DVDs if they included a disc of behind the scenes featurettes. By making the production more transparent, there might be fewer cynics crying 'foul' whenever an underdog team gets a non-elimination (which seems to be every time).

Oh, and by the way, I still hate the Weavers.

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