The Amazing Race: “I Didn’t Make Her Cry”
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The Amazing Race: “I Didn’t Make Her Cry”

Is there any way we can convince CBS to dispense with the fiction that The Amazing Race starts at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central? Because that rarely ever happens, and Sunday is such a busy TV night, the Tiffany network is making it even harder to successfully program a DVR to capture all the evening’s viewing necessities. (To say nothing of the indignity of 60 Minutes being bumped nearly an hour by a golfer named Bubba on the day Mike Wallace died.)

All right, rant over. On to a particularly feisty episode of The Amazing Race, one which I suspect turned off the sizable contingent of fans preferring action and competition over scheming and squabbling. Indeed, much of this week’s installment played more like an episode of Survivor than TAR, but for those of us who enjoy watching sparks fly between the teams, that’s not such a bad thing. The major source of the drama is Team Big Brother, the very existence of which seems to rub just about everybody the wrong way. (Well, everybody except Team Holler, who are too busy whooping it up and getting excited about free candy to get involved with any interpersonal issues.)

For their part, Art and J.J. are tired of Team BB following them around and listening in while they book their flights. The Border Patrol has also grown suspicious of the alleged teachers, correctly pegging them as law enforcement agents. At the airport in Tanzania, where all teams have flown on the same flight, all the tension boils over. Rachel and Brendon get into a shouting match with Ralph and Vanessa over who bumped into whom, who flipped off whom, and generally who is a bigger jerk than who. It’s hard to root for anyone in this scenario, but Vanessa probably takes the booby prize for advising Rachel to “get your nose done before you get your boobs done.” Right on cue, Rachel is crying again. Kentucky Mark quite correctly notes that this whole fracas plays like a bunch of kids fighting in a lunch line.

The Border Patrol decides to take advantage of the general unpleasantness and confront Nary and Jamie. This is just a festival of unnecessariness on multiple levels, which makes it all the more amusing (to me, anyway). There was never a very good reason for the federal agents to pretend to be kindergarten teachers in the first place, and there’s even less reason to continue the charade now. On the other hand, there’s no particular reason for Art and J.J. to accuse them of not being teachers, especially at this juncture, when a couple of other teams are already locking horns. If you’re the Border Patrol, why not stay above the fray, go about your business, and continue your winning ways? Apparently they just couldn’t resist trying to prove they’re the smartest guys in the room.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned any of the tasks yet. That’s because there weren’t any for at least the first 25 minutes of the episode, which must be a Race record. Instead, we got some travelogue footage of the teams oohing and ahhing at volcanoes and herds of what Bopper identified as tigers but almost certainly were not. I recently complained about the lack of downtime on this show, so it was nice to get a few minutes with the contestants outside of hardcore racing mode, actually pausing to take in the wonders around them.

The other reason I haven’t mentioned the tasks is that they aren’t all that interesting. The fascinating thing to me about the Detour is that the majority of teams actually chose the marksmanship challenge over the option that simply entailed jumping up and down in place for one minute. Even Bopper, who got so winded running around the castles a few weeks ago, had no problem with that. The tent-building challenge proves to be more grueling than it initially sounded, and it also turns out to be the ideal setting for the latest chapter of Rachel and Dave Snipe at Each Other. Despite their bickering, they still manage to finish first and take first place, while Nary and Jamie prove that they not only aren’t teachers, they aren’t tent-builders, either. And yet, this is another non-elimination round, so they live to deny their Fed-ness another day.

Stray observations:

  • Vanessa had a lot of trouble with her bicycle, and wiped out several times. This was enjoyable to watch.
  • However, I will give Vanessa credit for dubbing Brendon and Rachel “Team Big Baby.” In fact, I may even steal it.
  • Bopper: “White men can jump!” Please let these guys win.
  • Next week: The dreaded Double U-Turn.

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