Vietnamese mud and ducks rescue Amazing Race 15 from its L.A., Japanese missteps

The Amazing Race 15 was back and in fine form, at least once it reached its second hour, which came well into the 9:00 hour because football’s typical overrun pushed 60 Minutes into TAR’s timeslot, delaying the start of the race yet again. Because CBS’ schedulers hate us, that meant we had to endure reconstituted corpse Andy Rooney complain about having a four-month vacation. As if that isn’t bad and clueless enough, the real tragedy here is that he was essentially bragging that he’s only around to annoy me whenever The Amazing Race is on the air.

Once the race began, its first hour was a misfire, from the opening challenge (Did it add anything to get rid of a team right away? And could a location have been any less picturesque?) to the way the editors wouldn’t stop playing the Harlem Globetrotters’ theme song every time Herb and Nate were on the screen. There seemed to be simultaneously too much and not enough going on as the teams were in Tokyo, and the most annoying thing was that a game of chance was so central to the hour.

Thankfully, that game of chance didn’t end up affecting the results, really, and then led into a fantastic second hour, when teams went to Vietnam and faced challenges involving ridiculously thick mud and ridiculously fun ducks, so all is forgiven. But if that first hour had been the only hour last night, that Emmy would have looked even more ridiculous.

With that, we begin our weekly look at the stupid, ridiculous, funny, and otherwise noteworthy things people said:

  • An oddly sedate Phil Keoghan told us that “for the first time ever, one team won’t even get past the start line”— and too bad it was just one, because jackass Lance wouldn’t have been missed, especially after Lance showed a license plate to Phil and said, “That’s right, come on baby, you know it’s it!” Baby? Don’t disrespect Phil or his eyebrow will destroy you.
  • Having found the right license plate on a wall of 1,000 license plates, pro poker player Tiffany referred to her partner, Maria, and said, “I got my Asian lucky charm right here.” And Maria has her dumbass lucky charm.
  • Eric and Lisa, the yoga idiots, were the first team eliminated. “Lisa and I, we’re like yoga in the hood, and we will be able to use that,” Eric said in their intro. More ridiculously, after being eliminated, he insisted that “now the shame, the pain [of being eliminated] is gone for everybody else,” while Lisa said, “we set them free.” Well, on behalf of everyone in the TV-watching universe, thank you for being eliminated and sparing us more of your utter nonsense.
  • In Tokyo, the teams arrived to discover they had encountered their very first equalizer, meaning the teams might as well have just started there, and also on a Japanese game show, and I was sad it wasn’t Majide (cue theme song). Actually, the Roadblock was a half-assed—or quarter-assed—version of Majide, the fake game show from ABC’s I Survived a Japanese Game Show, although the sushi bombs were great. The Roadblock was annoying, but it did give us a great visual: Phil making a face and wagging his index finger just like the game show’s host.
  • After eating the sushi bomb, teams had to take a section of the audience and navigate to the pit stop (already?!). Marcy had her crowd of tourists chanting, and told us, “I get a little intense, maybe. … But really, I’m in my body and having a lot of good times.”
  • In case you missed the 126 references last night, Zev has Asperger’s, which so far only means that he says really funny things. He discovered one of the people he was leading through the city had a broken shoe. “Nice if this lady’s shoe worked, though,” he said. “That’d be helpful.”
  • Two teams, Maria and Tiffany and Sam and Dan, decided to spread lies about themselves, because the best way to get to the finish line first is to trick other teams. The poker players lied about their jobs, saying they worked with the homeless, while the gay brothers lied and said they worked with vaginas.
  • Meghan and Cheyne, which I keep pronouncing as “Cheyenne” instead of “Shane” in my head, checked in first in Tokyo, and won some Travelocity product placement. They told us that being on the race is something “we’ve both been dreaming about since we were in high school.” That’s such a coincidence, because ever since high school, I’ve been dreaming about an alternative way to spell “Shane.”
  • Besides the equalizer, the game show game, Sushi Roulette, was based mostly on chance: teams had to stand and wait to for the wheel to stop on a sushi bomb, or else they had to stand around for that two minutes. Dan was one of the unlucky people who just didn’t get an opportunity to try, and said, “It was out of our hands.” Sort of like breasts.
  • After he ate his wasabi bomb, Ericka told Brian, “you can throw up later.”
  • Brian ended up literally carrying one of his tourists, and told her, “the next time I’m gonna charge you for that ride.” I’ll bet that’s what Sam and Dan told the other teams they say to all the girls—the girls that they have sex with because they’re straight.
  • Tiffany and Maria lost two people, and Tiffany said, “Can we not lose any more people? I’m not saying it’s your fault”—except for the way I’m completely blaming you for it being entirely your fault since it was your job and you screwed up.
  • They checked in and got a two-hour penalty for not completing the challenge, but they weren’t eliminated because the first pit stop was also the first non-elimination leg. Everyone’s full of tricks this season! Maria said, “we had the experience of being really humbled,” which they obviously learned from their extensive experience working with the homeless.
  • I can’t remember the context, but Lance said, “I just found myself.” In a Summer’s Eve bottle, perhaps?
  • Sam reminded us, “We plan on flirting with the girls” even though, as Dan said, secretly, they’re thinking, “Nope, we don’t like yous.” So for the record, Dan isn’t attracted to women or good grammar.
  • Canaan told us that he’s “sexually pure,” and Mika said she likes that because she knows he’s with her for the right reasons. “It’s not because he wants to have sex,” she said. “He’s kind of like a diamond in the rough.” But not a diamond in your rough.
  • Tiffany said she and Maria are always “picking up information” and “observing people,” Tiffany and Maria used their razor-sharp powers of detection to hit on “insanely lovable” gay brothers Sam and Dan, and Tiffany said, “we’re falling a little bit in love with Sam and Dan.” The bluff was almost revealed, however, by Sam and Dan’s orange, matching passport holders, which caught the poker players’ attention because they’d apparently been bedazzled with “The Gay Store.”
  • In other deception news, Zev saw right through Tiffany and Maria’s insistence that they work with homeless people, saying, “they don’t give off a loving, let-me-help-you vibe.” Also, some guy recognized them in the airport.
  • In rainy Vietnam, Zev gave his jacket away, and Ericka said, “that’s the kindest thing you could do, and I am so proud of him.” Kind, maybe, but perhaps also not the best thing to do at the start of a month-long race? I hope he has a second jacket.
  • “I’ve never been a mud type of girl,” Ericka said while transporting mud, and then had the presence to acknowledge that “these people are amazing. They actually do this.”
  • Zev and Justin quickly became one of my favorite teams, but I’m worried about them, first with the jacket and then when they left the challenge. Zev said, “When [Justin] fell in, he might have lost the clue in the river.” At least they realized their mistake, though.
  • Introducing the Roadblock, another great challenge in which the team member had to herd ducks through a course, Phil said they’d have to “get and keep all their ducks in a row—literally.” Oh Phil!
  • Ericka does the best job of providing commentary about her own actions. “Hi, babies,” she said to the ducks. “Stop, in the name of love.” When she couldn’t successfully herd them, her commentary reflected her difficulties. “Please, I’m begging with you,” she said, before finally ending up with “we’re eating duck for dinner.”
  • After failing to herd her ducks, Jessica said, “I don’t like herding around animals.” This is just a guess, but besides expressing concern for the animals, maybe she was actually referring to Garrett.
  • Zev—did you know he has Asperger’s? And that Natalie is 18?—had an easy time with the ducks, and Justin said, “It turns out he’s the duck whisperer. Who knew?” Zev deadpanned, “I didn’t know.”
  • Because he’s super-religious, Canaan had a conversation with his higher power to ask for permission to execute his girlfriend. “God, I wanna rip her head off right now,” he said. That’s horrifying and inexcusable, but I can’t help but think that maybe if he just had sex, he wouldn’t be so damn uptight.
  • Garret said, “That’s the biggest problem with us. I can never calm her down.” Then, in his calm, zen-like way, knocked over a man on a bike on his way to being Philimenated, where he freaked out and had the most bizarre freak out, yelling and doing a pull-up. Phil said, “Does he get angry like this?”
  • In perhaps the most ironic goodbye statement ever in the history of the race, Garrett said that “Jess kept a really cool head most of the time” and “somebody that’s able to keep a cool head and be calm through life’s crises” makes a good partner. So, basically, someone who’s not you.

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