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"Amazing Race: All Stars"... Now With Even More Rob and Amber!

Hopefully you all enjoyed, like yours truly, a spectacular three-day weekend that was filled more with Rome, Extras, and the season premiere of The Amazing Race: All Stars than with thoughts of Britney Spears shaving her head.

(Though to be honest, as sick as I am of Britney and her one-day-rehab-shaving-off-locks ways, I do think I am slightly more fed up with Rob Mariano, but that's just me.)

I've been really looking forward to this season, which brings back some familiar faces to the Race, but I have really been dreading the return of Romber, the aggressively competitive team of professional reality TV gluttons Rob and Amber, after two Survivor installments, Amazing Race, their free wedding, and their own Fox Reality channel series. While Rob and Amber might have their fans (and, lordy, I do know a few of them), I was really hoping that executive producers Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster would opt to leave them out of the mix.

C'est la vie.

As usual, 11 teams set out on a race around the world, but this time we already pretty much know the strengths and weaknesses of each team. Can David and Mary stop bickering and play rough? Will Charla continue to carry dead weight Mirna? Will Drew and Kevin push themselves physically? Will everyone hate the Beauty Queens this time around? And will everyone stop fixating on Rob and Amber long enough to actually play the game?

One things that drives me crazy about The Amazing Race is the way that all of the teams follow one another and it was no different this time as Danny and Oswald (formerly known as Team Cha Cha Cha) took the lead out of the parking lot and headed to the airport, with Rob and Amber and John Vito and Jill right behind them. But I was blown over with surprise by the fact that Rob and Amber actually held the shuttle for Danny and Oswald (hell, I think even Rob was surprised by his own actions). "It was the first kind gesture I have made, so I want it noted," he said. "It killed me to do it, too." Could this arrogant competitor have actually grown a little soft? Or this is an effort to lure their fellow Racers into a false sense of calm?

Note to all future Amazing Race teams: just because a flight leaves earlier, doesn't mean it gets to the destination earlier than a flight that departs later. It's a little known property of physics called the layover. Remember this, kids. I heart David and Mary like nobody's business but shouldn't they have asked the question BEFORE the ticket agent generated their tickets? I was definitely impressed with the way they tried to lie to Dustin and Kandice, especially since that delay cost the Beauty Queens the final seat on the American flight, snagged by Teri and Ian (of whom, truth be known, I am not a fan) after being tipped off about the Copa flight by Team Kentucky.

Flying off to Ecuador on Flight #1: Danny and Oswald, Rob and Amber, John Vito and Jill, Charla and Mirna, and Teri and Ian. On Flight #2: Dustin and Kandice, Joe and Bill (aka Team Guido), Uchenna and Joyce, Eric and Danielle (blech), Kevin and Drew, and David and Mary. Of course, the entire choosing-a-flight scenario didn't matter a jot as they ended up arriving in Quito to discover an equalizer. After locating a clue directing them to Pim's Restaurant, teams discovered that they would draw numbers for a set time of departure the following morning (7:00, 7:15 or 7:30 am) and spend the night outside the restaurant. Yawn. I know equalizers exist within the race to keep the drama going, but it just frustrated me quite this early on.

I don't think Kevin and Drew are destined to stay in the Race for very long; while I love this constantly bumbling and fighting pair, they just don't seem to be in this for the long haul and it feels like their hearts just aren't in it to win it. Drew tripped and fell in the Plaza San Francisco, scraping his knee and "dislocating" his shoulder. Come on, guys, it's the FIRST leg of the Race; let's not give up just yet.

The next morning, teams head out on a 65-mile drive to Hacienda Yanahurco, a gorgeous ecological preserve in Cotopaxi National Park; they were told explicitly to enter though the north entrance of the park. And straightaway, I knew that that wouldn't be happening for at least... two teams. Romber of course manage to get a taxi driver to lead them from Quito right to the north entrance of the park, where they encountered the very first Detour of the season. In Recover It, teams had to dress in historical military uniform and scour the hills for three items missing from the ensemble: a sword, an epaulet, and a button. (A button?) In Wrangle It, teams have the help of local cattle rustlers to lasso a wild horse which they then help groom: clipping its hooves and trimming its mane and tail.

Rob and Amber choose Recover It, a mistake as tasks constructed around finding things on the Race tend to take forever. But after attempting to find a missing button (duh), they quickly changed to Wrangle It and managed to finish before Danny and Oswald even reached the park. (Damn taxi driver.) Rob and Amber checked in at the pit stop first and received a luxury vacation package to Whistler, Canada, as their prize. (Grr.) But Danny and Oswald finished their chosen task (Wrangle It) and checked in shortly after.

(Aside: did anyone else notice that Rob and Amber smartly brought along some rather small bags instead of those cumbersome backpacks everyone else has got? Clever, not to mention a future time-saver.)

John Vito and Jill, meanwhile, made the mistake of following a local who had no idea where he was going and ended up miles away from the park. They finally managed to find it but accidentally entered through the South Entrance. (Remember just how important those instructions were?) Charla and Mirna did the same thing, while Kevin and Drew ended up with a flat. But rather than change the tire, they opted to drive on the flat and managed to squeeze by into 10th place.

Sadly, John Vito and Jill, who has started off so strongly, were the very last team to arrive and they were eliminated from the Race. I'm kinda sad that these two were booted in the very first week because I would have liked to have seen more of them this time around. Could they have won? I'm not so sure, but it would have been fun to see them try.

So, there you have it, the first installment of what will hopefully be a high-stakes installment of The Amazing Race, complete with some all-star teams competing for the million dollar cash prize and bragging rights. Personally, I'm rooting for Danny and Oswald, the Beauty Queens, and David and Mary (LOVED their "Missing" t-shirts with pics of the Cho Brothers). I do love Uchenna and Joyce, but they've already won this game once already. Who will be eliminated next? Find out next Sunday.

Next week on The Amazing Race: the teams head to Chile while the Beauty Queens get a mouthful of words from one angry Charla.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: NCIS (CBS); Dateline (NBC); Gilmore Girls (CW); America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC); American Idol (FOX; 8-10 pm); Wicked Wicked Games (MyNet)

9 pm: The Unit (CBS); Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); Veronica Mars (CW); Primetime (ABC); Watch Over Me (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC); Boston Legal (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8-10 pm: American Idol.

Simon, Randy, and Crazy--I mean, Paula Abdul--continue their search for the next great American Idol. Tonight, the top 12 male contestants perform for their chance at pop credibility and probable future anonymity.

8 pm: Gilmore Girls.

Le sigh. I'm not sure why I am still watching this, as it's just so damn depressing to watch this once-great series continue to fall off the tracks. On tonight's episode ("I'm a Kayak, Hear Me Roar"), Lorelai is forced to tell her parents that her marriage to Christopher has fallen apart (surprise), while Emily imposes a teetotaler policy at Friday night dinners in order to help Richard recover from his heart attack. All in favor of ending this once great show, say aye.

9 pm: Veronica Mars.

YAY! Veronica *finally* returns (at least for a few weeks, before the dreaded Pussycat Dolls reality show knocks it off the schedule again) with new episodes. On tonight's installment ("Mars, Bars"), it's part two of a two-part episode in which Sheriff Lamb is forced to release Veronica from jail, an on-the-lam Josh tries to convince Veronica that he's being framed for his father's murder (and kidnaps Mason), and Logan joins Mac and Parker for a Valentine's Day scavenger hunt.


Anonymous said…
AYE! (I actually gave up after this season's premiere, and have been unhappily following the developments in Stars Hollow from afar. They should've pulled the plug after ASP left, if not before.)
Anonymous said…
My problem with TAR All-Stars, as I was realizing as I was watching, was that there really aren't a lot of teams I like, and one of them is already gone.

I didn't even remember JV and Jill (until the reminder of the dead brother), but as the ep went on, I found myself really liking them. As it stands now, there are few teams i like, and one (Kevin and Drew) seems like they will be gone soon.

I really can't stand Rob and Amber, and I think the single best thing that could happen is if the BQ win and Romber comes in 2nd. Again. Can you imagine the look on Rob's face if he loses to them?

I also like cha-cha-cha and David and MAry (of course), but never liked Guido or Teri and Ian. I was never a Charla & Mirna fan. I don't think past winners should have been asked back (I'm looking at you U&J) and I am indifferent to the rest of them. I just wish there was one team I loved (besides David and Mary, who have no chance) who was competing this season. Sad to say the BQ are my favorites. Cha-cha-cha is close behind.
I loathe Rob as a human being but I can't deny that he and Amber play the game brilliantly (even if mean-spiritedly). They work well together and do whatever it takes to get the job done...even if it means misleading other teams. I was surprised to see Rob do a good turn and hold the shuttle. Could this be a new and improved Rob? I won't hold my breath.

But at least I feel like they want to be in the race, unlike Kevin and Drew. I love these guys but it's obvious their hearts aren't in the game and I was sad to see tough competitors John Vito and Jill get ousted instead of the lagging New Yorkers.

I'd be very happy if Danny and Oswald or the Beauty Queens came in first place. Ally, I agree that it would be hysterical if Rob and Amber came in second to the Beauty Queens. One can only hope!
Anonymous said…
Re: Gilmore Girls - every week you say something to the effect of: "I don't know why I am still watching this show" Cut the cord already and stop watching it, I did and it's totally liberating! I ditched Studio 60 too, I've got two hours of my life back...
rockauteur said…
I still don't get why people hate Rob & Amber... they are amazing players - in all competitions, and savvy business people, able to further their "brand." I say we should applaud them, rather than ridicule them. And Jace, don't forget Amber also had a book for girls, and Rob also contributed to CBS's The Early Show for about a year and was the "every-man" on a Sci Fi Channel show about paranormal called "Sci Fi Investigates."

I was sad John Vito and Jill got voted off. They were my favorite team of their original season and they should never had gotten eliminated first this time. I would have been ok with them winning, but I suppose less competition now for Rob & Amber (my favorite to win). Kevin & Drew should have been the ones eliminated but they will see their day very soon.
Roadtrippers said…
yeah this season is not doing so hot, I did find cbs has an elimination station about the people kicked off, which is pretty good.
Anonymous said…
I understand the ratings for the TAR:AS premiere paled in comparison to the last few seasons, but that first episode is always a mish-mash of hurried 15-second segments that rotate through each of the 11 teams. Those are tough episodes to follow, and certainly don't allow much time for getting attached to any particular team. Of course, I think the "been there, done that" mentality is alive and well already since many viewers already know these teams...or, have at least heard of some of them.

So, when will the new 6-pack alliance emerge? Pity to the teams who get sucked into it, that's for sure.
Anonymous said…
Rob is a complete jerk. However, I think he's very entertaining. So, I'm glad he's back.

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