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Interview: Tim & Danny talk 'The Amazing Race'
Team Oklahoma discusses its difficulties singing and dancing
Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone?
That's the way I felt this week upon realizing that somehow, without my noticing previously, four straight pairings of male-friends had been consecutively eliminated from "The Amazing Race."
Since father/daughter Hoskote & Naina went out first, Phil Keoghan has bid adieu to Rowan & Shane and then to Chester & Ephraim and then to Brandon & Adam, leading to this week's departure for Oklahoma-based besties Tim & Danny.
With Team Oklahoma going home after a Roadblock that saw Tim struggle to accompany the Vienna Boy's Choir on several verses of Schubert's "Die Forelle," "The Amazing Race" is now entirely devoid of male buddies (The Afghanimals are cousins).
In their "Amazing Race" journey, the first trip outside of the country for Danny and the first time overseas for Tim, Team Oklahoma won fans for their enthusiastic attitude, their willingness to help other teams and their earnest discussion of how the Race could help their families. In this week's exit interview, Tim & Danny discuss Tim's singing, Danny's dress-wearing and U-Turning the Afghanimals.
Click through for the whole interview.
HitFix: You're the fourth straight group of male friends to be eliminated and you were the last group of male friends in the Race. When you're out there, is that the sort of thing you can notice?
Tim Wiyninger: We didn't notice that until we went to the sequester house and we saw all the male-male teams, but that's not something that we were thinking about on the Race. And there's still one more male-male team, the Afghanimals, that's still racing.
HitFix: Yeah, but they're cousins. I'm talking male-male friends.
Tim: Oh yeah. OK. I've got you. We didn't even think about that. I guess you're right.
HitFix: So does that get to be an achievement that you can take a certain amount of pride in?
Tim: Yeah, I guess so. Way to boost our confidence!
HitFix: That's what I'm here for! So going back to Sunday's Leg. It's always hard to tell from the editing on the show, but how close were you guys to Ally and Ashley after the Roadblock and how far behind them were you approaching the Pit Stop?
Danny Merkey: After the Roadblock, they caught a cab fairly quick, a lot quicker than we did, so we were probably only, oh I dunno, about two minutes behind them as far as leaving the Roadblock, but we actually ran like a mile or so. We ran like 11 blocks trying to find a taxi. It's very difficult to find a taxi in Austria, by the way.
Tim: When we got to the Pit Stop, I think we checked in probably, I would say, 10 minutes after Ally and Ashley. We actually saw them whenever we were going to the maze and we were trying to be quiet because we thought they forgot to do the maze and were going straight to the Pit Stop, so we actually had some hope thinking that they just completely forgot to do the maze and had to go back, so we were hoping that was the case.
HitFix: But you guys didn't get close enough to contemplate being able to run them down on that big hill?
Tim: No, we had to do that maze still, so no, not really. I didn't think about it, but I should have told the girls that they had to bring their music from the choir to check in whenever we saw them, to make them turn back, but we didn't do that.
HitFix: You guys had struggled with the dancing Detour in the previous Leg. How disappointed were you to see that just one Leg after "dancing," that "singing" came up as quickly as it did?
Danny: Those are just the two things that were furthest from our mind whenever it came to preparing for the Race, because neither of us sing and neither of us dance, but that's not something that you typically see a lot on the Race and, I guess if you do see it, it seems small. But to me, the singing was probably, overall as far as the whole cast, was probably one of the most difficult challenges that we had.
Tim: When we were dancing, I was thinking in the back of my mind, "It's Mark & Bopper all over again," whenever they did their dancing challenge and how much difficulty they had. It was pretty hard. We weren't expecting that at all.
HitFix: How have friends and loved ones responded to watching your dancing?
Tim: Everybody thought it was hilarious. They're all making fun of us, but they're laughing more with us than at us, I would say.
HitFix: But were they laughing at you, Danny?
Danny: Oh, yeah. I kinda prepared everybody that I kinda lost my cool, that it was coming. So yeah, there may be some fun made, but it's OK. I'm a pretty humble guy.
Tim: I think Danny looked pretty good in that dress, though.
Danny: Yeah, that more than anything...
Tim: I think Danny was more worried about what people said about him wearing a dress, rather than the dancing, but I know that Danny wore a dress in high school during one of those Spirit Weeks.
Danny: [Chagrinned.] Yeah. That is true.
HitFix: Is there any additional context that you want to provide for that, Danny?
Danny: Nope! Nope, we'll just leave it at that.
HitFix: Let's talk a bit about the singing. Tim, what were the biggest difficulties of that Roadblock for you and what did the choirmaster seem to want you to be better at?
Tim: Well, the singing in general I can't do in the first place. I can't sing in English and then you have to say it in German? I can't speak German, so singing in German was not even imaginable at the time, going into it. If I'd had an Express Pass, I would have used it within two seconds of seeing the script. Going in there, it was pretty bad. The teacher, I think the main thing they were looking for was the pronunciation of the words, but I wasn't too sure about that at the time, plus my melody and my rhythm and everything, it was just not good all together.
HitFix: Did you at least feel like you were improving?
Tim: Yeah, whenever I was down there, I actually thought I was doing pretty well, because whenever I went up to actually sing in front of everybody, at first I thought I was going to nail it, to be honest. But then that first time happens and you actually get the piano and the choir in the background, it throws off your rhythm completely.
HitFix: Were you, in fact, following the teacher's advice and pretending you were Justin Timberlake?
Tim: Oh yeah, man. I've gotta bust out some Justin. I'm the German Justin Timberlake. I hope he likes that. Yeah, it was just fun. I liked trying to do all those silly things, being like Justin and an opera singer. It was good fun. The only thing was that I didn't know if that was actually helping me or if I was just wasting time trying to mess around, but it's all good.
HitFix: And Danny, how hard was it for you to be sitting there and unable to help out in any way?
Danny: It was rough, but as bad as it sounds, I'm glad it was Tim, because really and truly believe that I couldn't have done any better, especially seeing everybody else come up and watching people pass us by, it was kinda like deja vu with the dancing, because we were the first ones there dancing and then, of course, two or three teams passed us by. Then I think we were the fourth-or-so team to the sing and watching everybody get it, it was deflating, I guess. You're just hoping that we're not the last ones there, but I knew he was doing his best.
HitFix: I know that you lose track of time when you're doing "Amazing Race" tasks. How long did it *feel* like you guys were there for? Did it feel endless?
Danny: It did for me. I watched everybody sing and I think two people actually got done before Tim actually came up the first time. His instructor had him down there practicing forever and then to see him come up after all that time and to hear him when he opened his mouth, I kinda thought we were screwed.
HitFix: And Tim, could you sense how long it was taking you to do those rehearsals down there?
Tim: I don't even know. It seemed like an eternity, but I would say it was probably close to 45 or an hour before I even came up for the first time, so it was a pretty long challenge, because you're not only trying to learn the German, how to pronounce everything, but you have to sing it and do it with the chorus and do it with everybody and be in the melody and all that other stuff. It just seemed like it was a downward spiral.
HitFix: In the previous Leg, you guys U-Turned the Afghanimals. You'd had some tensions with them over the flights between Chile and Portugal. Was there some satisfaction in getting to U-Turn those guys in specific or was that just part of showing how competitive you guys were and nothing personal?
Tim: I think it's a little bit of both. It was a little bit of personal and a little bit of just a game move, because we were at that dance Detour for so long. We were the first ones there and we were there 30 minutes before any other teams showed up and then two teams passed us and we're still there and nobody else was coming over there, so we just assumed that everybody else did the other challenge and when we were leaving the polka dance, we actually saw the Afghanimals, so we knew for sure that they were behind. We were just trying to buy a little bit more time by U-Turning them and it just happened to be the team that we would like to U-Turn.
Danny: They actually asked us to U-Turn somebody for them when we were leaving the dancehall.
HitFix: Was it tension with them? Or was it just that they were underestimating you guys and you didn't like that?
Danny: Well, some of it was that we were able to see how strong of a team they really were and I think that if you use a U-Turn on a weaker team, then it's wasted, kinda. We felt like them and Jay & Amy and Travis & Nicole, those were the stronger teams and it was a little bit of a combination.
Tim: I think Danny didn't like the Afghanimals because they were trying to play him. I think their plan was that London is a pretty big airport and we're not very well traveled going through all these airports. We don't fly that often, so I think the Aghanimals were hoping that we would fly with them and they would try to ditch us in the airport and try to make the connection flight, because I don't think the connection was that long to get to the next flight. So they were hoping that they could just lose us in London and we would miss our connection flight, so Danny didn't like that, even though technically that was a better flight than some of the others, but we still happened to find an earlier flight than the Afghanimals did after talking to them.
HitFix: I know that Danny had been to Mexico, but that Tim had never left the country. What surprised each of you most about the international travel aspect of the show.
Tim: I'd never been overseas, so it was crazy how everything is. Thank God for Amy in that first Leg to get our feet wet. We were going Chile and we couldn't speak a lick of Spanish and we had to fly down to Santiago before we went to Iquique and she basically did all of the translating and all that stuff for them and I was right behind them and I said "Equalmente" or whatever's like "Likewise" or "Same for us" and she would talk to them for us and help us out, so she got our feet wet. Going to these other countries a little bit, the language barrier got a little bit better for us. I think we did alright, I think we were one of the slower teams making it to the airport and being able to get through everything. During the challenges, I think we did pretty well. It was just getting to the challenges that were the problems for us.
Danny: Actually, Tim is the one who went to Mexico briefly and I'd never been out of the country, but Tim pretty much nailed it. We had trouble getting to where we needed to go as far as communicating with the cab drivers. In Poland, when we were in first place, we just had the best cab driver ever, because he knew exactly where everything was. It's simple things like that that can make or break you on the Race.
Tim: When we were at the airport in Santiago going to Portugal, we had to check in and get our tickets on the kiosk and I'd never done that and you had to scan your passports and we probably spent 30 minutes trying to figure out how to scan our dang passports to get our tickets. That's how little travel knowledge we have.
HitFix: And as a last question: Could each of you give me a favorite moment from this experience that we didn't get to see on TV?
Tim: Just bonding with all the other teams, like whenever you're on that cruise ride for 30-something hours, you get to not actually have to think about the race, you get to chill and actually talk to the other teams and see how they are in real life and get to actually know everybody on the train-rides and bus-rides and ferries. The stuff you don't get to see is when we're actually bonding about our personal lives, which is pretty special. You get to build some really good relationships on those points of the Race.
Danny: Yeah, just the people and everything we got to see, all the experiences we got to experience that we never would have got without the Race. It's hard to explain, but just the whole thing, really. There's not not one moment. Tim got to do all the fun stuff. He got to jump off the bridge and go paragliding. I wanted to do some of that stuff, but just being there and all the people, it's hard to pinpoint one time in the Race that was the most special, because the whole thing is just amazing.