Robot soccer players entertain as one team disappears on The Amazing Race 12

CBS scheduled Sunday’s episode of The Amazing Race to start at 8:30 p.m. ET, and while that was a solid step forward in getting the show to actually start on time, it ultimately did not start on time, of course. When the episode finally started, I realized that I am now officially over the following things: 1) Don talking about how old he is and how much stronger and younger his grandson is, 2) Ronald talking about wanting to change for the sake of his relationship with his daughter, 3) Nate and Jen talking about how they need to stop fighting, and 4) TK and Rachel talking about how perfect they are for each other, even in the most dire of situations.

Of course, this is the fault of the producers who ask them these questions and the editors who keep including them, but I think it’s one of the reasons I’m rapidly tiring of this season (and the series?). Nearly every episode seems like something we’ve seen before, although there are definite exceptions.

Speaking of the editors, Kynt and Vyxsin said in a post-race interview with Reality TV World that their dumb-ass decision to U-Turn the wrong team was a smart decision, at least from their perspective. They knew only of Nate and Jen’s position, and they “were ahead of us,” Kynt says. Vyxsin adds, “The visual contact we had with them was seeing them at the flower stand and seeing them leave ahead of us. So in our minds this is the only team we’ve seen, and the only team we’ve seen is ahead of us.” Of course, Nate and Jen actually fell behind and arrived at the U-Turn later, but while we knew that, they did not, assuming that other teams were behind them.

On to this week’s goth-less episode:

  • “I actually had a fantasy the other night,” Nate said, sounding somewhat like his whole mouth had just been injected with Novocaine, although I think he’s always sounded like that. “If we were running towards the finish line and anyone was in front of us, I was going to throw my bag at their legs and hope that they fall, and us just run past them.” Oh, Nate, your fantasies turn us on.
  • Ron had another 0 to 60 freak-out when a cab driver dropped them off in front of the wrong door at the airport. “I paid him that good money just to walk more?” he said. His daughter threatened him–“Dad, if you keep complaining…”–although he interrupted her before she could actually deliver the threat.
  • TK and Rachel got on a different flight to Japan, and TK said, “We could be way out front, we could be dead last. You just never know.” Well, since the editors included you saying that, we knew that you were dead last, and that was confirmed when they essentially disappeared from three-quarters of the episode.
  • “Anything’s possible on the race,” Don said, and his grandson looked at him and said, “That’s so cliche.” A few minutes later, Don said that Christina is “at some big ‘falutin’ college and everything like that.” Nicolas said, skeptically, “Falutin'” college?” Where has this attitude been all season? It’s long overdue, and makes him seem a lot less like a tool.
  • Jen spent time on the Roadblock admiring her reflection. “I want to know what I look like in this taxi hat,” she said, much to the composer’s dismay.
  • “Do you speak English?” Nick asked a man. “No,” the man said, in English.
  • “I don’t think Japanese helps that much. Driving skills help more,” Christina said, shortly after admitting she only takes public transportation. Sometime during that driving-around-Japan Roadblock, the score included a few notes from “Turning Japanese.”
  • While their partners did the Roadblock, the two old guys stood and waited, Ron sharing his snack with Don. It’s “The Amazing Race: Grumpy Old Men” edition. Old people are funny.
  • “By the way, nobody here speaks English. At all,” Jen said, clearly pissed off. You’d think by this late in the race should would have gotten a handle on this whole different languages in different countries thing.
  • During the Roadblock, Nicolas said, “It’s definitely easier to land a plane than it is to drive in Osaka.” I did a double-take and then checked his CBS bio: He “currently works as an airline pilot based out of San Juan.” This surprises and horrifies me.
  • Ronald and Christina’s taxi driver started wheezing and making weird noises as his mouth dangled open. “I just hope he doesn’t croak on us,” Ron said.
  • Our ever-witty host, Phil Keoghan, was in fine form, describing tasks with such lines as “and teams without a delicate sense of touch might wind up kicking themselves instead of goals” and “teams that can put their olfactories to good use might surprise themselves by quickly sniffing out a winner.” Oh Phil!
  • Jen said that she and Nate decided to sniff flowers, “’cause I have a freakin’ nose of a bloodhound.” And the face! That was mean and it’s untrue, but I couldn’t resist.
  • “Son of a bitch,” Don said, having trouble controlling a robot with a cell phone. I swear those robot soccer players were the funniest things I’ve ever seen. They gyrated, slid from side to side, breakdanced, and even clapped. Some would do funny little hops, and others would fall over dramatically–and that’s to say nothing of their pathetic attempts to kick a goal. I want a whole show with nothing but robot soccer players, and with the writers’ strike, that may just be possible.
  • Searching for a single real flower in a two-story fake flower shop, Jen said, “I was looking up and like, seeing all these colored flowers I thought I was hallucinating like in a Pink Floyd music video or something.” I vote for something.
  • Just as I was assuming that it’s inevitable that Nate and Jen are going to win, Nate said, “The best team is going to finish last, and that’s going to be Jen and I.” Jen freaked out, and he tried to explain, “I mean, finish the last leg first.” Uh huh. With brains like that, there may be hope for yet for them to lose.
  • TK and Rachel did everything in Japan in one minute and 30 seconds of TV time, and that even included cutaways to their interviews talking about how much they like each other. Phil did not eliminate them, because this was the second nonelimination leg. “You are nearly three hours behind the other teams,” Phil said, and reminded them about the Speedbump. In other words, unless there’s a huge equalizer next week, TK and Rachel are going home.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.