CBS promos spoil the sad end of a repetitive Amazing Race episode

Any episode that starts with an image of a masturbating monkey1 should be great, but that other masturbating monkey, Andy Rooney, jinxed it. The old curmudgeon followed a pretty spectacular 60 Minutes segment on people who use special suits to fly after base jumping, and because he’s old and an idiot and sexist, he talked about sleep by insisting that “we all get more sleep than we need” and “anyone who sleeps nine hours a day is sleeping his life away.”

Well, I certainly get more sleep than I need thanks to the coma I slip into every time he comes on screen, although it turns out that Andy and I have more than just a first name in common, because he told us, “I often fall asleep right here at this desk,” and I often fall asleep while he’s sitting at his desk.

The real insult with The Amazing Race 15‘s episode wasn’t its 42-minute delayed start, but the fact that a preview that aired just before the show started–one that people who actually watch commercials have apparently been seeing for a few days–spoiled which team lost their passports, and essentially spoiled the entire episode. Genius, CBS, genius.

That took the suspense out and kept this season from clicking for me. Last night’s was one of those episodes where we see every team do exactly the same thing in nearly exactly the same way over and over and over, which isn’t all that interesting. On top of that, everything seems kind of sloppy, like the way there’s footage of the camera crew all over the place this season, whereas before, they were all but invisible. Let’s hope it picks up soon.

(1 I rewound and watched the monkey again and realized it was only scratching its leg, although the short duration of the shot and the monkey’s arm motion made it seem otherwise, so I sacrificed a bit of accuracy to make an Andy Rooney joke. Like that’s as bad as forcing us to watch him every week.)

  • Gary said “Matt is bigger than life” and pointed out that his multi-colored hair “kind of drives me nuts.” Gary, shave your Spencer Pratt beard before criticizing anyone else’s hair choices, okay?
  • Teams often mangle the name of their destination, but Zev mocked his own inability to pronounce their destination’s name: “We’re going to Sean Penn, Cambodia.”
  • Lance told us, “one of the things I have to learn is to open up and listen.” One down, 51,156 to go.
  • After way too much airport intrigue–did the producers just throw away all the changes from last season that improved the show so much?–Zev and Justin got their four seats on a plane. The airline agent told Justin, “You are very nice,” and hugged him.
  • Lance and Keri also got seats, meaning everyone was on the same flight, which he said “puts us on an even playing field. That’s all we need.” You could also use a swift kick in the ass.
  • Zev told a Cambodian cab driver, “Don’t leave us, or I’m going to call your mother.”
  • Teams were given a clue with a picture of Jackie Kennedy, but only a couple recognized her, which was not as horrifying as the fact that even after Canaan and Mika went to the hotel suite named after her, Canaan said in an interview, “The picture was a picture of Queen Elizabeth,” and Mika added, “It was definitely somebody of the Cambodian descent. They looked like the people of Cambodia.” And you two look like morons.
  • Also, how did they not challenge each other after insiting the picture showed a Cambodian Queen Elizabeth? Do they even listen to each other, or are they ear virgins, too?
  • Wacky brothers Sam and Dan tried to trick Flight Time or Big Easy by pretending they hadn’t found a clue. What strategy! What cunning! “They know where it’s at,” Flight Time or Big Easy said after the brothers lied to them. “They’re trying to act like they didn’t see it.” Acting and strategy FAIL.
  • Introducing the Roadblock, Phil explained that “one person must learn to be a monkey and quite literally go bananas.” Somewhere, Rachel Zoe died. Die.
  • Zev had trouble on his final monkey task, saying that he “kind of had a mini-panic attack there,” while Canaan said, “Ah, this is so frustrating.” Zev obviously doesn’t have experience walking on a balance beam while acting like a monkey, but I don’t understand why Canaan’s experience of being constantly frustrated didn’t help him out.
  • The visual image of the night came in the cab to the pit stop, when Zev said, “I make a good monkey face” and pulled out his ears. It was a fantastic monkey face.
  • During the Roadblock, Lance yelled at Keri, “Just get down and follow what he tells you to do.” Why do I think that’s not the first time he’s yelled that?
  • Just guess which person checked in by kicking the air, prompting Phil to say, “Oh, man, you’re scaring me now”?
  • Maria actually did something this week, but since she and Tiffany came in last place, told Phil, “I wish I could have been a better monkey for my teammate.” For the next leg, maybe just try being a teammate.
  • “Zev and Justin, you are team number one,” Phil said, and they celebrated having started at the bottom and ending up in first. Then came the moment the previews spoiled: “The ups and the downs: we go from last to first, and then we lose our passport,” Justin said, because Zev’s passport was missing. When Phil asked where it was, Zev said, “your guess is as good as mine.” Phil told them, “unless you find those documents, you’ll be out of the race.” They did not find it, even after calling their cab driver and retracing their steps, so they were eliminated. Zev called it “just a freak thing,” and the two talked about their obvious and close friendship, which was the single best thing about this season of The Amazing Race.

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.