Sunday night's kangaroo-tastic 'The Amazing Race'
Sunday (February 27) night was Oscar night, but since "The Amazing Race
" only began its "Unfinished Business" season last week, it wasn't like CBS was going to be able to air a clip show or even pre-empt new episodes for a week.
That meant that as "The Amazing Race" was beginning on the East Coast, I was putting together Oscars red carpet photo galleries. And as "The Amazing Race" was beginning on the West Coast, I was making more galleries and writing and assembling my Best & Worst
look at the show.
So by the time I settled in to actually watch the episode, it was already past 1 a.m. That's never optimal time for recapping of any sort, but at least by recording the show in Pacific Time, I got my first glimpse at "The Amazing Race" in HD. The show now finally looks, as its title would seem to demand, "amazing."
Some thoughts on Sunday's episode after the break... Possibly fewer thoughts than normal... I'm sleepy. Very sleepy...
Like I said, you can just take Sunday's "Amazing Race" installment as a pass, as An Episode That Didn't Really Happen. In fact, you can almost just view next Sunday as the real "Amazing Race: Unfinished Business" premiere.
Amanda & Kris were basically in this season as eye-candy. There's nothing wrong with that. She's a petite blonde. He took off his shirt in this episode to make sure some viewers got their money's worth out of his presence. But in terms of Unfinished Business? They didn't really have any. They were an OK team in their season, but they were eliminated so early that making it into the middle of the pack this time would almost have counted as resolving the any dangling threads. They didn't. But the season hasn't really lost anything in losing Amanda & Kris, so if you skipped the first two episodes, you never had to go through the ruse of pretending to know who they were and you can just start a 10-team All-Star season of teams that all unquestionably belong now. Yay!
And even if you did watch last week's episode and you can't block out the re-existence of Amanda & Kris, you already knew that they were facing a U-Turn stemming from the season's very first challenge. So if you watched last week and skipped this week and you knew that Amanda & Kris are gone, you can pretty much assume that they were eliminated because of that darned U-Turn (the same thing that did them in the first time) and while you wouldn't be exactly correct, you'd be close enough to right that there wouldn't be any point in watching.
That's not exactly true. There were some amusing things in Sunday's episode.
Let's first resolve the "cliffhanger" from last week's episode, which saw Cowboys Jet & Cord unable to complete a Roadblock and seemingly facing elimination until a Keep On Racing Pit Stop. Well, they completed the Roadblock and were pleased to eventually discover that there was an equalizer as only two charter flights were going to the Outback, separated by only 30 minutes.
"We're just glad to still be in the race," Jet observed.
But they were more than just "in the race." They were in perfectly solid position thanks to a Roadblock which was, to put it gently. not particularly difficult.
The choice: Spirit World or Natural World. In Spirit World, teams had to recreate an aboriginal mosaic and then perform an ancestral dance on the mosaic. In Natural World, teams had to mix a paint, using water and a pigment, and then they had to spit the paint over several objects to create a tribal marking of some sort. It was a weirdly lame choice in which both Detour options were vaguely artistic in nature and both were basically right there. Neither required even an iota of strength or speed or endurance or much of anything.
Why did all 11 teams decide to do Spirit World? I don't know. Nothing in the clue for Natural World indicated it had very many components or any baffling twists. Quite the opposite. The instructions implied that Natural World was a one-part task, while Spirit World seemed to have both an artistic component and then a dancing component.
The dancing component of Spirit World turned out not to be a challenge. I assume the teams parsed this from the clue. If a clue says something like "learn and repeat a native dance to the satisfaction of a village elder," you know you might be asked to do a certain thing in a certain way and that you'll be judged, perhaps with subjective vagaries. No. In this case? Do a dance. You could basically do the Funky Chicken, if you chose. The only catch was one of prepositions. The clue said to do the dance *on* the mosaic. Kent and Vyxsin, first to finish the mosaic, somehow decided they were supposed to do the dance *around* the mosaic and, even more oddly, decided they were supposed to do it with a group of nearby children. Amanda and Kris made the same "around" vs. "on" error, all the more galling since they had more than half of the teams finish ahead of them, so they should have had a few models to follow.
Amanda and Kris finished that part of the Detour and then went to do Natural World and they were shocked to realize how fast and easy it was. Amanda had initial issues with spitting -- no comment -- but Kris caught on and they left reflecting on how much faster it was.
Why did all 11 teams make the wrong Detour call? I have no idea. Remember that it was 1 a.m. when I was watching. Did I miss wording that might have distorted one task or the other? Weird... Not as weird as James Franco's Golden Globes performance, but still...
From there, the teams were off to an odd jumbled task. They had to go to a soccer stadium, don kangaroo costumes (including springy shoes) and then hop around a town with only a periodic table, hopefully realizing that many of the town's streets were named after elements, leading them to the corner of Mercury and Bismuth. Also odd, right? Because what do football, kangaroos and the Periodic Table have in common? Dunno. But this wasn't a logic task. It was a "people look funny in kangaroo suits" task. In that respect, the mission was accomplished on "Amazing Race: Furries Edition."
Of all of the teams, only one was able to look at their chart, recognize what Hg and Bi are and recognize the streets. That would be Kent & Vyxsin, who moved off my "Dislike" list as a result of Kent's success with Chemistry. YAY! Everybody else just asked directions or moved in big packs of kangaroos until they got lucky. I'm not sure that Gary & Mallory every figured out what they were doing and Ron & Christina also were more lucky than good. Both teams were barely faster than Kris & Amanda, who were absolutely still in the leg despite their U-Turn and could have staved off elimination with even a modicum more speed or brains. So yeah, the U-Turn contributed to Amanda and Kris being eliminated, but it wasn't really why they went home. They were just dumb, slow kangaroos.
For whatever it's worth, Justin and Zev won the leg. Since I continue to like Justin & Zev, that was nice to see and it was even nicer to see them arrive at the Pit Stop with their passports.
Some other random thoughts on Sunday's episode before I pass out:
*** How do we feel about the treatment of Mel's physical difficulties? It seemed like he was passing out on a ferry. Mike seemed terrified and was crying. It was tense and unpleasant to watch. But Mel's difficulties had no impact on anything in the leg and by the time things were done, he was practically sprinting around in his kangaroo suit. Is there something exploitative about hyping up a breakdown that didn't even appear to involve the show medics? Could we have done without the drama being an on-camera drama? Just musing...
*** Meanwhile, with Mel depicted as being on the brink of death, but soldiering on with good-humored determination, was there any way not to be embarrassed by Ron's constant complaints? Several people mentioned on last week's recap that they disliked Ron and Christina. I now remember why.
*** Mallory's utterly out-of-control. Every second of this episode was her running around like a crazy-eyed chicken with its head cut off. In their first season, her goofiness was appealing. The look in her eyes at the Pit Stop wasn't at all appealing. It was scary.
*** Justin and Zev had pretty much all of the lines-of-the-leg. I particularly endorse Zev's "Not a lot of steakhouses" as he looked around the Outback, Justin's "I'm just glad I don't have to carry Zev in my pouch yet" and, of course, the "He's very artistic" "And autistic" exchange. Go Team Aspie!
*** Alternative favorite line: Jaime getting dressed in her kangaroo costume and quipping "This is not the kind of animal I usually dress up as." What can I say? I like Jaime. Has Cara said a word in two episodes?
OK. I sleep now. Did anybody have any particular passion for this episode? Did anybody watch? And sorry for any typos... It's 3 a.m...
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