The Amazing Race: “Funky Monkey”
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The Amazing Race: “Funky Monkey”

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The Amazing Race

“Funky Monkey”

Season 21, Episode 4

It’s possible that time actually managed to flow backward during tonight’s first task. At the Roadblock, one member of each team had to fill in the dents on the side of a bus with putty, then sand it down until it was even. How long did this task go on? Days? Weeks? It’s impossible to say, but judging from the long, white beard I had to shave off before I could begin writing tonight, it took quite a while.

I know that Survivor has a “dream team” of challenge-testers to work out the kinks before the actual tribes compete. It’s not a perfect system—contestants have been known to find loopholes that never occurred to the challenge design team—but at least it weeds out the more obvious flaws. I have no idea if The Amazing Race even bothers with testing its challenges ahead of time, but it sure doesn’t seem like it. How could they not have know that this would be the most boring, endless task of all time? If not for the Sri Lankans shrieking “Twinnie! Twinnie! Twinnie!” over and over, I’m not sure I would have stayed awake.

This week featured a Fast Forward, which the first few teams passed up for some reason. It’s the conservative play, I guess; even if you’re at the front of the pack, you can’t always be 100 percent certain that no one has slipped past you. Yet the rockers, who arrived at the clue box in fifth place, decided to go for it anyway. Collecting rats in a sack may have been a little stomach-churning, but it wasn’t particularly challenging, so they were rewarded for their bold game play with a first place finish.

The presidential election concludes. All three Hobbit movies are released. The polar ice caps melt. The bus-scraping challenge is still going on.

At the Detour, teams must Pound the Metal or Pound the Cotton. They can all go pound sand as far I’m concerned, but I digress. Nothing particularly interesting happens here, but the trip to the Pit Stop provides whatever modicum of drama this episode has to offer. Teams have to take boats to a particular dock, from which they can proceed to meet Phil, but these instructions are apparently not as clear as they could be. Several teams mess up and have to go back to catch the right boat, but only Rob and Kelley make a big deal about it. Rob goes off on a “You cost me a million dollars!” tirade on his driver, who responds with an appropriate disinterested shrug. Seriously, what are these people thinking when they start berating some Bangladeshi boatman who makes nine cents an hour? Why should he possibly care that you won’t win a million bucks?

Despite all the boat-related confusion, the result of the leg is never really in doubt. It already seems like Will and Gary have been eliminated three times, so when they arrive last on the mat, the only question is whether or not this is an elimination leg. Mercifully, it is. The lesson, as has been proved over and over again, is that super-fans do not necessarily make for super-players.

Where will the race go from here? Wherever it is, it will have to go on without us, as this review represents the end of weekly Amazing Race coverage here at The A.V. Club. Over the past couple of seasons, the readership for this show has seen a significant decline, which may have something to do with the fact that TAR has become so stale and predictable. Or maybe you all just hate me! Whatever the case, this is a bittersweet occasion for me. I’ve enjoyed reading your takes on the show, especially when we’ve completely differed on our opinions. On the other hand, there’s only so many ways to say “this episode was almost exactly like every other episode in the past couple of years,” and I’ve probably exhausted most of them. Maybe we’ll drop in occasionally for finales and whatnot, but for now this is the end, my friends.

Stray observations:

  • Since we’re done here, I might as well make some long-term predictions. I think Abbie and Ryan have a pretty good chance of pulling off the $2 million win. Long Hair, Don’t Care will probably be their strongest competition. And despite their nails-on-a-chalkboard screeching, I’m pulling for the Twinnies. The Chippendales would be all right, too.
  • “Long, strong, and hard!”
  • My drag queen name is Aquadesiac.
  • Next time: It doesn’t matter.

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