Official Summary TAR 15 Premiere:
Part 1: The Cruelest Twist Ever
Here it is! It’s the beginning! Phil (fully clothed, alas) tells us that we are in Los Angeles, at the river made famous by the movies Grease and Terminator. And that’s it for a preamble. So let’s meet the Racers, shall we? Here they come, woo!ing as they run out onto the beautiful backdrop of nature covered in concrete. First up are:
Brian and Ericka: Brian is excited to show America and the world about love through interraciality. (Yes, that is a word. Uh-huh. Is so.) Ericka is prepared for this because she was Miss America in 2004.
Lance and Kerri: Lance is an aggressive lawyer. “We bring too much to this game not to win,” he says. Kerri says Lance is a good person to run the Race with, then dutifully shuts up while Lance talks some more. So this is the team I hope doesn’t make it past the start line.
Oh, didn’t I mention? The promos say that there is to be a twist in this running of The Amazing Race. A surprising twist! A devious twist! A twist like no other in the history of The Amazing Race! One team will be eliminated before the start of the Race. Somebody isn’t even going to make it to LAX. Nope, it’s straight to Sequesterville, the resort where eliminated contestants wait out the rest of the game until they are called upon to clap like seals and fake enthusiasm at the finish line.
OK, so back to the Racers.
Maria and Tiffany are professional pokers players. They tell us that poker is a game and The Amazing Race is a game, they’re competitive, so they’ll win. Easy peasy.
Zev and Justin are friends. Zev has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. He says that he likes a routine, but acknowledges the Race will not allow that.
Mika and Canaan: Canaan is a songwriter with a song on the country charts. He is a “follower of Christ”. Mika thinks that being a Christian will help them in the Race because they can pray to win. Um. OK.
Flight Time and Big Easy are from the Harlem Globetrotters. Their real names are way less fun. They make a bit of sense (wow!), claiming that being on the road with their basketball team has prepared them to get up early and travel. Thing is – and I’m not sure if they know this – Globetrotters games are all – and I know this will come as a shock – fixed. Which TAR is not. So…
Sam and Dan are gay brothers who are Christians and who can also “be bad”.
Cue “Cat’s in the Cradle”. Gary and Matt are a father-son team looking to make up for time lost while Matt was growing up.
Eric and Lisa, yoga instructors, don’t want to be underestimated. They practice “yoga in the hood”. Eric would like to finish “numero frickin’ uno”. If they last, they will be a source of fun quotes, I think.
Garret and Jessica: Another team for the “hope they don’t make it past the starting line” pile. They are using the Race to test their relationship. Yippee.
Marcy and Ron are the old couple, but with a modern twist! (So many twists…) They have been dating for a year and met online.
Meghan and Cheyne met playing tetherball. She knows they’ll get married one day and so does he. Right? Right? They’re very young.
Back to Phil, who gives them the standard pep talk about the trip on which they are about to embark. They all look so happy and excited. They don’t know. Aw. Then Phil adds the bit about the Cruelest Twist Ever in the History of the Amazing Race. Gasps! Horror! And who can blame them? They all figured they’d at least get out of the country. I mean, think about all the shots they got, all the passport crap they had to go through and then to find out it might all have been for nothing? That’s nasty. Just so wrong.
OK, so in order to make it to the starting point, teams must go to the newly-revealed wall of license plates and find one of the 11 plates from the Shinagawa District of Tokyo, which is coincidentally their first destination. The symbol for Shinagawa is at the top of the clue.
“Travel safe,” says Phil. And they’re off! All the teams scramble to the wall o’ plates and quickly grab any random Asian-looking thing and bring it to Phil, who says “no” and then “no” and then “no”. After some time, a couple of them start to figure it out. Maria and Tiffany find one of the right plates first. The next 5 teams to get the license plate and their ticket to Tokyo are:
Marcy and Ron
Meghan and Cheyne
Flight Time and Big Easy
Gary and Matt
Zev and Justin
These 6 teams will be on the first flight (American Airlines). The second flight is United and leaves a half-hour later. Who will be on it? The teams that are left are getting frazzled. Search tasks are like that, of course. Sam and Dan, Mika and Canaan and Garret and Jessica are next to get their clues. Only, Brian and Ericka and Lance and Keri and Eric and Lisa are left. Ericka is getting panicky. Oh, the tension! The Drama! Brian and Ericka get their clue and they’re off to the airport. Lance and Keri and Eric and Lisa search and search. It’s a bit difficult to know who to root for. Lance is an arrogant jerk, but the yoga instructors seem kind of annoying. Six of one…
Phil looks on with a serious expression. It’s Lance and Keri who find the plate! They’re off and the yogis are out. They are sad, wah, but I’m not going to waste any more time on them. Let’s go to the airport, where the teams are getting to know one another.
Oh, but first, it’s important to note that in the car, Lance is blaming Keri for not reading the clue and making them almost lose. Nice guy.
OK, so at LAX, Maria and Tiffany are busy
lying bluffing about being counselors at a non-profit that helps homeless youth. They think that other Racers will be more sympathetic to them if/when they need help if they think that they are nice and selfless as opposed to conniving and greedy. Ya think?
Flights leave; we see the map. The United flight has got in early, so all teams are now in Tokyo. Now they have to find Tokyo Tower Studios. Maria and Tiffany squabble and refer to Sam and Dan as “The Hot Guys”. Cut to Sam and Dan, who have considered that girl teams might try to flirt with them. They will use this to their advantage.
First to arrive at the studio are Mika and Canaan, who discover that they are going to have to Survive a Japanese Game Show. Phil explains to us how the Japanese have really weird game shows. We see the audience, who are all wearing visors of different colours and cheering wildly. Phil says that this is a Roadblock and that the teams are playing Sushi Roulette. All the Racers will stand around a huge roulette wheel. One teammate will be chosen to eat whatever lands in front of them. In order to complete the task, a “Wasabi Bomb” must land in front of the Racer, who must eat the whole thing within 2 minutes. Have you ever had wasabi? It’s extremely hot, as the fire-breathing dragon graphic in the top left of the screen occasionally demonstrates. Phil and the Japanese host guy mug for the camera. Phil is way hotter, no offense Japanese host guy.
OK, so the first two people to get both lucky and unlucky are Cheyne and Ron, who eat their wasabi bombs and get their next clue. The clue tells them to get a flag and then collect the section of the audience wearing visors the same colour as the flag. They must then herd their visored crew across the busiest intersection in the world, and to the Shinto Shrine, which is the Pit Stop for this first leg of the Race.
Both Cheyne and Ron eat their wasabi bombs and away they go.
Round 2! The lucky (?) Racers are: Garrett and Justin, who choke down the bomb and get moving. We are now shown Marcy leading her Blue Visors along the streets. They seem to be taking their sweet time, with Marcy enthusiastically leading a chorus of “Ow! Ow! Ow!” with her little megaphone. And yes, it is painful. Wait…what? “Ow” is Japanese for “blue”? Gotcha.
So back to the studio: Round 3 and it’s Maria who gets the chance to eat a huge amount of wasabi. She fails. So the poker skills aren’t really all that useful, are they? Luckily (or very, very unluckily), Maria is the only person to get a WB in Round 4. This time, she succeeds. Hooray.
Round 5: Big Easy and Lance get their WB and then a clue.
Round 6: Canaan gets his clue.
Round 7: Gary and Brian get their WB, but only Gary gets a clue. Brian looks like he’s going to barf, but Ericka (who had insisted that any wasabi would be eaten by Brian) looks like she’s going to be the one breathing fire. Cue dragon graphic…
Round 8: Dan gets the WB and finishes it in the best time of them all, just under a minute.
Ericka knows she should have done this challenge. That’s because she and Brian are the only ones left, and the wheel keeps spinning and no WB. You know that eventually Brian gets the chance again to ingest the awful spice paste stuff and manages to choke it down. “You can throw up later,” Ericka tells him.
We are treated (?) to a variety of scenes in which teams are herding their audience members through the streets. Much hilarity ensues. Shades of last season: Jessica and Garrett have to find a bathroom for one of their audience members. Sam and Dan think Maria and Tiffany, the youth counselors are well-rounded and nice. Maria and Tiffany have lost 2 people. The squabble about whose fault that is, not nicely at all.
Anyway, on to Phil and the Pit Stop.
The first team to arrive with all their people is Meghan and Cheyne! They win a trip for 2 to a ski resort or something involving wintery/snowy/cold activities. They kiss, but it’s awkward, like they have no practice ever kissing each other. Ew.
Here come the other teams, in a particular order:
2. Zev and Justin
3. Lance and Keri (Damn. I was hoping they’d suck more.)
4. Marcy and Ron
5. Flight Time and Big Easy
6. Brian and Ericka
7. Gary and Matt
8. Garrett and Jessica
9. Sam and Dan “That’s horrible, but we’ll take it!”
10. Mika and Canaan, who are missing a person. They go back to look and return, with Canaan carrying their lost sheep. How Biblical. Or something.
11.Tiffany and Maria: They have searched and searched, but can’t find their 2 visored people. The cameras show us the people, forlornly fanning themselves with their visors as the wait to be found. Tiffany and Maria are assessed a 2-hour penalty.
Yeah, that’s right. It’s the first episode, but they didn’t get eliminated. Well, they’ll have to do the Speed Bump of course. They’re going to get the chance to continue to lie about what they do for a living and squabble with each other.
Part 2: It's Really Not the Second Hour of a Premiere So Much as It's a Regular 1-hour Episode
Phil’s super-short intro is immediately followed by the teams opening their next clue to reveal that they are going to Vietnam. They will arrive in Ho Chi Min City and then take a 2-hour bus ride to a certain dock. They leave in the following order, which makes no difference at all because they all end up on the same flight anyway.
12:19 am - Meghan and Cheyne
12:36 am - Zev and Justin
12:40 am - Lance and Kerri, who by their pronunciation, have never heard of Ho Chi Min City.
12:41 am - Marcy and Ron
12:42 am - Flight Time and Big Easy
12:44 am - Brian and Ericka
12:45 am - Matt and Gary
12:51 am - Garrett and Jessica
12:54 am - Sam and Dan
1:03 am - Mika and Cheyne
3:22 am - Maria and Tiffany
Canaan tells us that when it comes to Mika, he’s “sexually pure”. Mika confirms that Canaan likes her for “the right reasons”. Make your own joke in your head if you can think of one. I find these virginal types a bit tedious.
Brian and Ericka can’t figure out why no-one had already hailed the cab they’re in. It’s because everyone else went to the Internet café to book tickets. This would have been a good idea, especially since it turns out the flight is booked. But everyone on the same plane due to a lot of begging for them to be able to pay the economy fare for business class. The ticket agent wears a surgical mask. She is the only one to do so.
Maria and Tiffany tell us again how they’re big fat liars. Then we see them at the airport, being recognized by a Japanese fan. Now other teams know – Sam and Dan and the Globetrotters. Neither team is impressed by this.
According to my notes, at this point in watching my tape, the cat was lying flat on her back on the couch with her feet up in the air, making really weird and annoying noises with her mouth. It was distracting. I know you don’t care, Gentle Reader.
Anyway, so the Racers are now en route to the bus terminal by way of the extremely flooded streets of Ho Chi Min City.
The teams who get on the first bus, which leaves at 3:30 are:
Maria and Tiffany, Sam and Dan, the Globetrotters, Mika and Canaan, Marcy and Ron.
The rest of the teams make it to the second bus and realize they’re on the second bus. They pool their resources and bribe the driver to leave early, thus wasting 100 monetary units each for no reason, because the next thing they find is...a Bunch Point!
Yes, there’s a bunch point at the dock. They must wait until 7:00 the next morning to get in. In a fun editing moment, we see the Poker Chicks blathering about how they make a living out of reading people’s faces, knowing what their cards were by the way they held their eyes. Then we see Zev saying that he didn’t think Maria and Tiffany really worked for a non-profit because they don’t give off a helping people kind of vibe.
Lance doesn’t like Vietnam. I expect Vietnam doesn’t like Lance either, so it’s all good.
Maria and Tiffany think Lance is a meathead and couldn’t possibly be a lawyer. Good job. They are also still trying to flirt with Sam and Dan.
OK, so it’s 7:00 am. Teams must now take boats (and drivers) and race across the Mekong to the Mud Pits, where they will collect mud and use it to fertilize a tree by covering its root system. When the mud is as high as a red mark, they’ll get their next clue from the farmer.
Maria and Tiffany, having come in last place in a non-elimination leg, must do the Speed Bump, which involves serving a soup called ##### to the dockmaster. Seriously? “#####?” That just can’t be right. Oh, here’s Maria in a confessional to tell me that it’s “pho”. Ah. She’s the queen of pho. Whatever.
Back to the other teams. Mika is afraid of water. She’s just learning how to swim. Good grief. At the mud pits, Cheyne jumps right into the mud for some reason. He doesn’t consider how deep or sticky the mud might be and oddly enough gets stuck. He’s up to his thighs in this stuff. It’s pretty funny. He and Meghan start getting mud into the carrying bowls willy-nilly. Garrett and Jessica use this thing called “teamwork” and get off to a somewhat better start.
The Poker Chicks are done and head off to the mud flats. Tiffany slips while getting in the boat. We are shown a selection of scenes of the Racers slipping in the mud or getting stuck in the mud while locals look on and laugh.
Once the teams are done the task, the clue tells them to go back to the dock and then head to Cai Be Field. Once again, Tiffany can’t get in the boat. The editors give her a goofy musical accompaniment.
At Cai Be Field, there’s a fair. And a Roadblock!
“Who’s Feeling Just Ducky?” asks the clue. In this Roadblock, one team member must herd 150 ducks through a course and back to their pen within 10 minutes using only two flags on long poles. The locals are in for a treat.
Meghan and Jessica fail at their first attempt. Ericka fares no better. All three do a lot of griping. Their teammates shout instructions and encouragement, but none of that really helps. Matt does a great job, as does Zev. The other Racers doing the Roadblock are: Flight Time, Sam, Kerri, Marcy, Mika and Tiffany. Highlights include Ericka showing why she never won Miss Congeniality, laughing locals and ducks who don’t want to be herded.
Oh yeah, the clue they get after completing the Roadblock tells them to go to the Pit Stop, which is on a riverboat called the Gassac III.
Several teams get lost looking for the riverboat. This, coupled with the dramatic music is intended to add tension for the viewer. *yawn*
Back at the Roadblock, only Ericka and Jessica are left herding the ducks. They are unpleasant to their respective partners. It’s very tense and dramatic. *yawn* Ericka is done first, then Jessica. They run. Run!
Thanks to Matt’s mad duck-herding skillz, he and Gary are Team Number One! They win kayaks. Gary thinks that they will go fishing, which I would like to see him try in a kayak. The other teams arrive:
2. Flight Time and Big Easy
3. Sam and Dan
4. Lance and Kerri
5. Zev and Justin
6. Meghan and Cheyne
7. Maria and Tiffany
8. Mika and Canaan
9. Marcy and Ron
10. Brian and Ericka
Last to arrive are Garrett and Jessica. Phil doesn’t draw it out this time and immediately tells that that “This is the end of your Amazing Race.” Garrett is mad and grunts loudly. In confessional, he says that he thinks Jessica kept a cool head, which is good in a life partner, but he doesn’t know if they’re any closer to marriage. Uh-huh.
This is where my tape cuts off, so I haven’t seen any previews. In any case, dajaki will tell us all about it in her inimitable and highly humourous way. Looking forward to it!
Sorry about how long this is. I have to go ice my fingers now.