LAST EDITED ON 02-17-09 AT 09:08 AM (EST)
Previously on The Amazing Race:
Kate stormed off with Aaron after Ben confessed that he had sent the lawyers with the subpoena for the blood test. Sun reluctantly agreed to accompany Ben and Jack to meet the person Ben says can help them. Meanwhile, back on the island, Jin and young Rousseau confront Smokey before Jin hooks up with the other Losties.
Sorry, that was previously on Lost.
Previously on The Amazing Race:
Dallas left the cash and passports in Russia, forcing the TAR team to hire and place snipers (that thankfully, weren't needed) to shoot down Dandrew in the event there was a possibility they would win. Creepy brother and sister Nick and Starr handily beat creepy husband and wife Ken and Tina.
Oh, and Charlotte died.
Sorry, that Charlotte thing was Lost again.
Anyway, we're back for another season of The Amazing Race, the show that asks the question "How can a man arch his eyebrow that high without it snapping off his face?" And you know what that means (cue the Chicago Bulls starting line-up lights and music): New Racers!
Amanda and Kris, dating couple. According to the Web bio, Kris was once almost attacked by a bear in Alaska. In reality, he just sat too close to the front at an Imax showing of Grizzly Man. This maybe the last you will hear me mention them in this summary, except to tell you they come in fifth in this episode.
And now I don't even need to do that.
Brad and Victoria, married couple. Oh they look completely normal on the surface, but these two have five marriages between them. He's been sober for 25 years after long-term drug and alcohol addiction. Let's hope we don't get another Beer or Brats Detour.
Christie and Jodi, flight attendants. Let's hope being flight attendants gives them more of an advantage than Steve and Dave got from being air traffic controllers.
Jamie and Cara, former NFL cheerleaders. I would like to point out that Jamie is also a former police officer who currently works at a dog shelter. That's right - a red-headed dog-loving ex-cheerleader/ex-cop. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to spend a couple of hours thinking about how perfect that combination is.
Kisha and Jen, sisters. These two are former college athletes. At least neither of them is a former Olympic gold medal winner.
Margie and Luke, mother and son. Luke is deaf by the way, not that the show will make a big deal of it or be exploitative about his handicap. Surprisingly, Margie says Luke doesn't read lips. Will a lifetime of trying to communicate with people who can't understand you be some small advantage as you race around the world to foreign lands? At the very least, it's one less person who will try to make an Indian cab driver understand them by TALKING LOUDER.
Mark and Michael, stuntmen. Midgets, too. For those of you counting at home, that makes our TAR contestant demographic tally Midgets 3, Deaf People 1. Midgets still trail Dumb White Guys for the overall TAR contestant demographic lead.
Mel and Mike, father and son. Mel is a gay activist/former Billy Graham-Pat Robertson-Jerry Falwell ghostwriter, and that sound you just heard is a dozen or so heads Dracoing over on OT. Mike is the writer of and actor in an assortment of films, all of which are pretty good, that will either creep you out or make you laugh pretty hard. Sometimes both.
Preston and Jennifer, dating. Our obligatory "let's run a race around the world to help decide if whether or not we should stay together" couple. Because couples therapy is so expensive and hard to find.
Steve and Linda, married couple. You thought David and Mary were hicks? Let's just share this from the show bio: This husband and wife team met when Steven went with a date to Linda’s house for a party. Linda asked her brother to keep his date occupied while she asked Steven out. In their introductory clip, we see Steve letting their dogs drink out of his glass of beer. You stay classy, San Diego. I mean, Virginia. Steve and Linda appear to have been cast in the role of first team eliminated.
Tammy and Victor, siblings. These two lawyers put the A in Type A. At least Victor does. He will later change his name to Ronald, father (and neglect) a daughter named Christina, and then travel back in time with her to compete in TAR 12.
What's that? You were expecting cutesy/funny names for each team? Dweeze don't roll that way, baby. Dweeze don't roll that way.
We open at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California. It's fun to say - try it yourself. Los Alamitos. Our racers are dropped off by Air Force helicopters. These people need no introduction, primarily because I just introduced them. Phil lines them up, gives a speech we could all recite by heart, cocks an eyebrow, and sends them off.
The teams rush over to their bags. In the background we can see Phil, hands on hips, watching them like some great, furious God. The sisters get there first, but we leave it to the older couple to give us the destination. Locarno, Switzerland by either Zurich or Milan.
We pile into cars, heading down the road straight into the opening credits, talking about how awesome it is to be on TAR. Oh, I can't wait. We'll come back from the opening credits and deal with people trying to figure out what route to take, or how to park at the airport, or all that fun stuff.
Opening Credits: Teams, shots from around the world, most of things that won't be in this edition of the Race. Frankly, that shot of the Sydney Opera House never gets old.
And we're back to - what? We're already at the airport? But. Okay. We'll still have everyone struggling to
WHAT? After a brief discussion we end up on flights? But what about that hot airport booking action I love so much?
I'm sure this is an aberration. I'm sure it's a one-time thing that - what's that you say? Read Phil's EW blog?
We freshened up the graphics, the music, the maps, and we're letting the show breathe a little more when we have the opportunity to show off the spectacular places that we travel to each week. Maybe a little less airport process and a little more postcard moments.
Get a grip, Dweeze.
And there's a big plus - we are apparently using Google maps to show out flight tracks, which results in a pretty cool graphic.
Okay, we have one group fly Lufthansa to Zurich because that flight leaves earlier. This group is Tammy/Victor, Christie/Jodi, Jamie (sigh)/Cara, Mark/Michael, Brad/Victoria, Margie/Luke. Luke expresses fears that his mom may get separated from him where he can't see her, and she rolls her eyes and says "So I'm an old, slow person." I'm lusting a little for Margie, too.
That leaves Kisha/Jen, Mel/Mike, Amanda/Kris, Preston/Jennifer, and Steve/Linda aboard the Air France flight to Milan. It gets in later, but the train ride is shorter. Still, the fog is getting thicker, and Leon is getting larger.
The Zurich train station is actually in the airport, so all of the Lufthansa teams get right off the plane and onto the train. The Milan teams need to leave the airport and find the train station. All of these teams make it to the train station and aboard the train, except for Preston/Jennifer. Jennifer informs us that never in her life has she been in a train station. Yep. That's a quality reason for missing the train.
We now cut to shots of the trains going through the Alps, and this is what TAR does best (and to be fair, hasn't done enough of in the past). Pictures of the world most of us never get a chance to experience. The Alps are beautiful, and the footage was gorgeous. I'm ready to go right now. We're also shown another new TAR trick, and a shot of one train that morphs into a split-screen of both trains that then morphs into the other train.
Cut back to Preston/Jennifer finally getting a train from Milan. We see them fighting on board, and Preston tells us their Type-A personalities clash all the time. Happy happy fun couple!
Back aboard the Zurich train, Christie/Jodi are seen talking to a woman who tells them they can get to Locarno faster by leaving this train and taking another. The woman is going to Locarno, and she'll lead them there. The gambit gets them to Locarno slightly ahead of the other Zurich teams.
Once in Locarno, they are to find the Church of San Antonio, go to a Spurs game, sign up for one of three departure times, and get a message from a Priest. I got a message from a Priest once, but would rather no talk about it. The three departure times are 7:15, 7:30, and 7:45. I keep waiting for a team to get there first and sign up for the last departure time. You know it will happen someday.
The patron saints of the Church of San Antonio.
Christie/Jodi get there first and sign in for 7:15. The Priest gives them a map to the overnight campsite. We'll shelling out big bucks for accommodations this season. Also in for 7:15 are Tammy/Victor, Margie/Luke, and Mark/Michael. Brad/Victoria, Jamie (sigh)/Cara, and Mel/Mike are the three for 7:30. That leaves Kisha/Jen, Amanda/Kris, Steve/Linda, and Preston/Jennifer for 7:45. Steve crabs at Linda the whole way from the train to the church.
Cut to the campsite, where teams are making sleeping spaces in the straw. Steve continues to snipe at Linda, saying other teams are tired too, but she retorts that other teams don't have their husbands yelling at them. This would apparently limit it to Brad/Victoria. We go to commercial with her crying.
Commercials: Lincoln, You couldn't afford one then, you can't afford one now; Travelocity, because we've gotta pimp the gnome; Macy's, because big Thanksgiving day balloons aren't all we do; Madagascar 2, and I feel for you if, like me, you bought the two-disc special edition thinking the second disc would something more than a gratuitous plug for the upcoming Nickelodeon series; iPhone, because apparently having a phone that just allows you to talk to other people is uncool; E-Trade, and if babies playing the stock market isn't a perfect metaphor for the economic collapse, I don't know what is; The Mentalist, and can we really be certain CBS isn't just running leftover promos from his 100-prior failed CBS series; Rules of Engagement, as if you needed a bigger reason to switch from CBS after How I Met Your Mother ends; Harper's Island:A Mystery Event, the biggest mystery being why some programmer thought this thing would be ratings gold; and The Probster doing a promo for Black History Month, because apparently all of the CBS prime-time black actors and actresses have already done one.
And we're back. Sun comes up, it's Tuesday morning, and I? Am never getting tired of that joke. The teams departing at 7:15 line up for their clues, which instruct them to find a taxi and go to the Verzasca Dam. We see a distance shot of the dam, where we see something either fall or jump from the center of the dam.
Mark/Michael, Tammy/Victor, and Margie/Luke quickly line up taxis. Margie/Luke grab the last one, and Christie/Jodi are left wandering the streets of Locarno.
Now it's time for the 7:30 teams. Jamie (sigh)/Cara head off down the street, approaching a diner in a small cafe, who rebuffs their request to use his phone to call a taxi. Mel/Mike and Brad/Victoria go to the back of the church. Christie/Jodi finally get a cab, leaving Jamie (sign)/Cara still looking.
Cut to Valle Verzasca, where Mark/Michael are the first to arrive. Roadblock! The clue asks who has nerves of steel. The team member must perform a "death-defying leap off the second-highest bungee jump in the world" (Phil's words, not mine). For a change, though, it actually appears dangerous.
Tammy/Victor get there just after Mark/Michael, and outrace them to the start of the Roadblock. As such, Victor is first to jump, with Michael going second. In short order Margie/Luke, Mel/Mike, and Brad/Victoria arrive. Luke, Mike, and Victoria will all jump for their respective teams.
Cut back to Locarno. It's 7:45, and Jamie (sigh)/Cara are still waiting for a cab. Amanda/Kris and Preston/Jennifer come down together to find cabs. Preston/Jennifer struggle to get the trunk of their cab open, and there are hints of an alliance as Amanda/Kris wonder aloud if they should wait for the other two. They decide not to, instead taking off, going by Jamie (sigh)/Cara on their way. This is probably the last time I mention Amanda/Kris in this summary. Preston/Jennifer soon take off, as do Steve/Linda. Linda, apparently not understanding the whole race thing, tells the cab driver to go fast but not break the speed limit.
Meanwhile, back at the dam, Victor is about to jump. He does as the others watch, Tammy giving encouragement. She continually says "Oh my God" as he goes over. Indeed, the last time I heard a woman say "On my God" that much she followed it up by meowing.
Do we have a clip of the batting cage scene from When Harry Met Sally? I thought we had a clip? Oh well.
Anyway, Victor comes up and gets the clue. It tells them to take the train to Interlaken, where they are to find Kleine Rugen Wiese (small Rugen meadow) and receive their next clue. As Tammy/Victor leave, Christie/Jodi arrive. Jodi agrees to do the task and is dismayed to find out it's bungee jumping. That is apparently the one thing she did not want to do on the race. (Seriously, though, how could you approach the dam and not know it would be bungee-jumping?) Her face goes, well, she has so much botox in her that her expression remains the same, but she seems on the verge of tears. And folks, the only way you don't know that this segment will end and we'll go to commercial break with Jodi up on that jumping stand worried about jumping is if you have never watched this show before.
Christie/Jodi arrive just as Michael jumps. Stuntman is a pretty good profession for TAR, even if you are a stunt double for children. He and Mark head off to the cabs back to the train station.
Meanwhile, Amanda/Kris show up, with Kris deciding to jump. This could be the last time I mention them in this summary. Jamie (sigh)/Cara have somehow gotten ahead of Preston/Jennifer. Jamie (sigh) will jump, as will Preston.
Back at the stand, Luke and Mike take their turns jumping. Their teams then take their turns running to cabs and driving for the train. All of this is intercut with shots of Jodi worrying about her upcoming leap.
Steve/Linda and Kisha/Jen arrive. Steve says he will jump, as does Jen. The two teams run off to the stand, Steve trash talking the sisters until Linda falls so far behind that he has to stop to wait for her. At the stand, Victoria takes her turn, bringing Jodi up to the plate. We go to commercial with her on the stand looking like Jordan in the Scrubs episode My Big Move when she overdid the Botox.
Commercials: Race To Witch Mountains because why not combine two bad things (remakes of lame Disney films and
The Rock Dwayne Johnson); L'Oreal Double-Extend Beauty Tubes, and I don't think it's possible for me to comment on that without getting banned; Nature Made Vitamins, because performance-enhancing drugs are only bad when athletes do them, BlackBerry Bold, begging you to forget about the iPhone and come back, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and I for one is glad she didn't use that thing on her kid, just on the mirror; Lincoln again, because who needs a car that just gets you from one place to another; Dave because he's our TV pal; Without A Trace, because Anthony LaPaglia needs the money; Survivor wet and wild, just the way you like it; Qwest and if Dad isn't having an affair with Julie, the Qwest Customer Service Representative, I'll eat my hat; Central Iowa Power Cooperatives, and did you know Iowa now generates more wind power per capita than any state other than Texas; My Local CBS-Affiliate News which is ten times carpier than any other local news ever since Sinclair Broadcasting took over.
And we're back.
Hmm. I'm three thousand words into this and I'm only halfway through the episode. And Estee wants me to do the two-hour Survivor finale?
Back at the dam, we see Jodi still standing. Any doubt (and really, there shouldn't have been any doubt) as to whether or not she would jump is immediately erased as she, well, jumps.
Cut to the train station, where Tammy/Victor have arrived first. A local tells them exactly what train to get on. As the other three teams in this bunch arrive (Mark/Michael, Margie/Luke, Mel/Mike, and now all the Ms are in one place), Tammy suggests not telling them what train they are getting on.
As they stand before a track.
Where everyone can see what train they get on.
Victor says no, no need to make enemies this early on when it will give them no advantage, and then immediately tells Tammy to lie and say they don't know what train is the right train, that someone said it might be the train they are about to board, but they don't know for sure.
In other words, he tells her to lie and possibly make enemies when it will give them no advantage.
Insert your own Bush Administration joke here.
The other teams arrive, and Tammy/Victor give out their lie. "We aren't sure what train to get on, so we're going to get on this one that is just arriving." The other teams look at them as suspiciously as they should, and follow them right onto the train, where Mel tells them "It's not that we don't trust you, it's just that we don't trust you." And with that we go back to the split-screen shot, which then takes us back to the dam where we get another new trick. Instead of showing each team preparing to jump, we just get mid-flight shots of all the jumpers and the time they jumped. Kris (and I'm certain this will be the last time I mention them in this summary) at 8:41, Jamie (sigh) at 8:49, Preston at 8:58, Jen at 9:07, and Steve at 9:14. Steve/Linda head off to the taxis as we split screen back to Brad/Victoria.
Brad/Victoria are discussing which train to take. They get to the station, where Christie/Jodi ask when trains are leaving. They are told the next train leaves in one minute, at 9:39, and instead of asking when each train arrives, they just ask for tickets on the 9:39. At least they aren't flight attendants or anything, used to the idea that the first mode of transportation to leave isn't necessarily the first to arrive. Oh, wait.
Brad meanwhile holds up a sign to the ticket agent requesting the 10:30 train. Victoria asks him "We're getting on the one that leaves later?" to which Brad replies "We're getting on the one that arrives earlier." Victoria suggests acting like they miss the 9:39 train. Cut to a smug Christie/Jodi inside the train, stating that they have a plan.
Another split-screen swap, this time to the train about to arrive in Interlaken. The signage in Interlaken is apparently outstanding, because no one gets lost on the way from the train to the Detour. It's got to be a Detour, right? I mean, we've done the Roadblock, we ran through locals banging on drums, it's Detour time. As such, let me prepare the Detour Song.
Mi mi mi mi mi mo.
What? It's not a Detour? Seriously? But?
Frack it. I'm singing the song anyway.
A Detour is a choice between two tasks
Between two tasks
Between two tasks
A Detour is a choice between two tasks
Each with its own pros and cons
In this Detour (yes, I know it's not a Detour) our choices are get the cheese down from the top of the hill or, uhm, uhm, don't do the task, thus incurring the four-hour penalty. So most teams will probably choose the cheese part of the Detour (let it go!). This Detour (SHUT UP!) task involves each team member taking a traditional cheese-carrier to the top of a hill, loading a 50 pound wheel of cheese onto it, then carrying it down the hill. The goal is to transport a total of 200 pounds of cheese down the hill. Got it? Gouda.
Oh, it will be tricky for these American contestants to march up this Swiss hill and bring back down the cheese. They cheddar bring their A-games to this task, or they may walk away from the race with jack to show for it. I'm sure no team will show any biparmesanship and help out another team. They're all provolone on this one.
If only Colby were here - he'd be grate at this.
Okay, that's out of my system. Just be thankful the challenge didn't involve fish. You all would have gotten a haddock from the jokes.
But before we get into this, let's take a moment to think about the logistics. Why is the aging shed at the top of the hill in the first place? There's no production reason to put an aging shed at the top of a hill - it would make more sense for it to be at the bottom of the hill, by the road. Indeed, the aging shed itself doesn't look much like a permanent structure - just an open air shelter, which makes even less sense. Why would you store cheese in an open air structure at the top of the hill away from the road? And if you did, why would you use flimsy wooden carriers to transport the cheese down from the top of the hill?
You wouldn't, ladies and gentlemen of the reading audience, you wouldn't. I put it to you that these are tasks invented just for TAR. Oh sure, I wouldn't be surprised if people use those flimsy carriers to move cheese from the inside of this building at the bottom of the hill (which I suspect is actually the cheese manufacturing facility) to cheese transport vehicles on the road. But they do not traverse the cheese up and down the hill just for the sake of traversing cheese up and down a hill. They just wouldn't do it. If the glove don't fit, you must acquit. If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit.
The defense rests.
Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah, I think this is a staged challenge. I don't care, though, because what we are about to see is something that should be made a part of every TAR opening leg in the future. It would improve the Hollywood round of Idol, as well.
Margie/Luke get there first, grab some carriers, and begin up the hill with Mel/Mike right behind. Mark/Michael get to the clue box just before Tammy/Victor, though she shoves Mark out of the way in an attempt to get the clue first, prompting a "Oh come on" from him. Good work, Tammy/Victor. Alienating other teams in the first episode always works well.
All four teams are now off doing the challenge, and folks? I can't do this justice. I really can't. Fortunately, I don't have to, because due to the magic of the Internets, you can go to CBS and watch it yourself. Two great clips, here and here. The only thing missing from the clips is Yakity Sax. Yakity Sax makes everything better.
Teams stumble, slide, trip, and butt-scoot down the hill. (The butt-scoot becomes very popular.) The cheese carriers prove to be extremely fragile, falling apart with hardly any effort. Cheese is rolling, tumbling, falling. Kinda like this:
(H/T to Ice Cat.)
Luke takes a particularly hard fall, and Mel utters the immortal phrase "Don't let a cheese hit me." He will also be the first to claim he will never eat cheese again. Meanwhile, drunk locals are laughing at the bottom of the hill. Neutral my azz.
Split-screen over to Christie/Jodi. They say they searched all over the train and can't find Brad/Victoria. One of them claims Brad/Victoria lied to their faces. Uhm, no. Unless something happened we didn't see, they just refused to offer information, they didn't give false information.
Back to Cheese Hill. Margie/Luke finish first, get their clue, and head off to the pitstop, Luke still wearing the cheese carrier. Well, what remains of the cheese carrier. Teams must go to Stechelberg, listen for yodelers, and follow the yodelers to the Pit Stop. Tammy/Victor and Mark/Michael finish up in short order, with Tammy/Victor once again outrunning Mark/Michael to the clue holder.
Mel/Mike are still finishing up when other teams start to arrive. A bunch of teams must have gotten there in time to take the same train as Brad/Victoria, because Kisha/Jen, Jamie (sigh)/Cara, Brad/Victoria, Amanda/Kris, Preston/Jennifer, and Steve/Linda all arrive at about the same time. These teams begin the slow climb up the hill, with Mel telling them to be sure to not drag the cheese carriers. Steve/Linda are moving more slowly than the others, and the segment ends with Linda falling into the mud.
Commercials: Travelocity again, right down to being a repeat of the previous commercial; Cymbalta because commercials that spend half their air-time talking about the bad things a drug might cause are fun; Pizza Hut, once again pulling a candid camera riff on people eating their product, Lincoln one more time; Dove soap, not the oh-so-delicious ice cream bars; NCIS because Mark Harmon needs the paycheck; Survivor where we're going to twist again like we did last summer.
And we're back.
Most of the teams have already started bringing cheese down the hill, though Steve/Linda are still moving up. Cut to Christie/Jodi arriving by train to Interlaken. The teams notice Christie/Jodi arriving at the challenge, and Christie/Jodi notice that a lot of teams are still there.
Over to the Pit Stop, where Margie/Luke and Tammy/Victor are parking their cars, listening to the yodelers, and trying to decide which way to go. Margie/Luke get to the Pit Stop first, where Phil signs that they are the first to arrive. (Classy guy, that Phil.) Tammy/Victor show up while he is signing and Phil invites them onto the mat while he tells Margie/Luke that they've won a trip for two to Puerto Vallarta. Mark/Michael show up then too, and there are three teams on the mat. This is followed by a touching moment where Luke signs that he wants to show that deaf people can do things people who hear can do. All involved tear up a little.
Back at Cheese Hill, Steve says they didn't get there by being idiots and proceeds to do the smartest thing anyone has done, form a sled with the carrier and hauling three wheels down at once. Amanda/Kris finish first, followed by Steve/Linda. Both teams head off, and I am positive that is the last time I will mention Amanda/Kris in this summary.
Over at the Pit Stop, Mel/Mike are checked in at fourth place. Over at Cheese Hill, Brad/Victoria, Jamie (sigh)/Cara, and Kisha/Jen complete the task and head to the Pit Stop. It's a series of cuts now between cheese and Pits, with the fifth place team finishing, then Steve/Linda getting lost enabling Brad/Victoria, Jamie (sigh)/Cara, and Kisha/Jen to finish ahead of them in sixth, seventh, and eighth respectively. To prove that they never fell down, Brad/Victoria show Phil their butts. Jamie (sigh)/Cara sadly, do not.
Steve/Linda eventually straggle in as the ninth place finishers.
Meanwhile, Preston/Jennifer and Christie/Jodi have finished with their cheese, Preston/Jennifer doing so quite a bit ahead of the flight attendants. But we're shown both teams arriving back at Interlaken at roughly the same time. Typical TAR trying to keep the suspense up edit, right?
They are both arriving at roughly the same time. Preston/Jennifer take off in one direction, Christie/Jodi right behind. Preston/Jennifer turn around, however, which causes Christie/Jodi to turn around. The maneuver puts them ahead of Preston/Jennifer, and try as they might, the 26-year old and the 28-year old just can't close the gap on the 37-year old and the 40-year old.
I'll let that sink in.
But maybe they could have, if Preston didn't have to carry Jennifer part of the way while running to the Pit Stop.
Now I'll let that sink in.
The teams check in Christie/Jodi in tenth, Preston/Jennifer in last. Jodi manages the same facial expression she had when she was terrified of doing the bungee jump. Preston/Jennifer say how they love each other, they'll be together, they're stronger now, blah blah blah. Fade to end credits and more commercials.
Commercials? Commercials: Lincoln in the worst use of a David Bowie song ever; ATT and the BlackBerry, because ATT isn't getting enough play with the iPhone; Netflix taking over the world one DVD player at a time; L'Oreal Pore Minimizer Serum, and I'm not touching that one either; Alka-Seltzer proving even lesser-known Olympic athletes can shill product; Cold Case where the lead actress still needs a new haircut; The Unit where I am again tempted to get myself banned.
Next time on The Amazing Race: In a strange reverse Deliverance, a hillbilly gets lost in the woods of Europe. Will this be the end of Steve and Linda?
Follow the fun at Elimination Station, the most fun-named spot since Conjunction Junction.