Well, it’s Tuesday night at 11:44 pm. I just got home from work, and I have a two hour premiere episode of Amazing Race waiting for me. Can you think of a better homecoming? Neither can I. But my excitement is tempered a bit. After all, this is that most egregious of seasons. You know what I’m talking about. Those two pesky words, “Family Edition,” are really scaring me. Will The Amazing Race jump the shark, or will producer Bertram Van Munster work his magic all over again?
In the interest of saving time, I’m just going to do a “liveblog” of the show this week (even though this is far from live at all). Time to jump in for another rollercoaster ride… (I hope).11:50 PM
Ah! New York City. And look! There’s Phil on the Statue of Liberty. Maybe someday, France will give New York a giant Phil statue too.
Wow. Ferry attack! Did they really need five water taxis for ten families? This is highly inefficient.
Time to meet the fams! First up, the Gaggin’ familiy? Oh, sorry, it’s Gaghin. Wow. I hate them. Mostly because they force their kids to run 5ks. And freakin’ Carissa can run a seven minute mile. I especially hate her for that. “What adult out there can run a seven minute mile?” asks Carissa’s mom. I don’t know. Maybe the ones who were forced to by their parents at an obscenely young age.
Okay, I’m still fixated on this Gaghin family. First of all, I thought faux Dakota Fanning was bad enough. But then there’s her devious brother Billy who tells us, “Me and my sister Carissa will work as a team spying on the other teams. We’ll pretend to fool around while we have our eyes and ears open.” Isn’t it wonderful the values these parents have instilled in their children?
Carissa says, “I might be small, but I am NOT shhtupid.” How about you’re shhh-annoying.
Wow, I’ve been making fun of a seven-year-old. New low for TVgasm.
Okay, the Linz family. They’re all in their twenties. Their motto: “We’re attractive.” We know they like to have fun because we see them tossing beanbags at each other. Oh those crazy Linz kids! Nothing like a good old fashion throw-the-beanbag fight. Nevertheless, during the interview, older brother Alex says, “Tommy and Megan are still in that educational phase of maturing and learning how to deal with an electric company and how to pay their electrics on time.” Alex, on the other hand, is part of that noneducational phase of maturing where he no longer knows how to use simple words like “electricity bills.”
Next up, the Paolo family from Carmel, NY. Dad’s a garbage man. And he’s living the American Dream. This guy is awesome, and so is his wife (I always like the older people). Unfortunately, their sons seem like budding douchebags. We’ll have to keep an eye on them.
Oh look! It’s the black family. I mean, the Black family. I mean, the black Black family. Basically, the only black team is the family Black. They seem pretty active. They do karate together. They wear tie-dye together. They even splash water together. Go Black power!
Austin, the youngest Black kid (why does it sound so wrong when I write that. It’s their name!), says that he’ll do well on the race because “It doesn’t hurt that I’m kind of cute.” Awww. He really is quite cute. I hope he beats up that Carissa moppet.
The Bransen family. A guy with his three daughters. And did I mention they are hilarious? Dad’s name is Walter, but one of the daughters notes that “We always call him Wal-der instead of Walter.” Oh, now that is RICH!
Next up is the Weaver family. Widow and children from Florida. Oh. Widow = party foul. I’ll just bite my tongue for now.
Did I mention how much of a downer the Weavers were? Dad worked at a race track and was sent out to pick up debris. A car came around the bend and struck and killed him. And Extreme Makeover: Home Edition missed these people how?
Because it’s never a reality show without Boston accents, we now have the Aiello family. And let me tell you something. Paterfamilias Tony wears a wicked beret.
Wow, can we start this race yet? Nope, more families.
We meet the Schroeders who seem okay, but the real fun is with the Godlewski family: four blonde sisters whose strength appears to be riding a mean merry-go-round.
The Rogers family is the last, and uh oh. I think we found a possible villain. Dad says, “I’m the one that’s gonna be taking control. I think it’s a man thing. I think it’s a biblical thing. I truly believe that the man is the authority of the house.” Other things he believes in: killing puppies. Just guessing.
Wow, could this be a gloomier Amazing Race premiere?
Phil’s looking quite dapper in his striped shirt. I wonder if it has an attachable turtleneck collar.
I love how Phil says “Good luck. Travel safe,” and then raises one eyebrow as if to say “And be RAVISHING!”
Hey Carissa, why aren’t you at the front of the pack? I thought you could outrun most adults.
Okay! First clue! And they’re going to… SoHo? To EMS? Hmmmm….
The Paolo family nearly has a conniption fit when Dad can’t figure out how to turn right. I love these people.
All I’m seeing are lots of women screaming and saying things like “Desperate Housewives!” Bear with me as I try to figure out who’s who.
One of the Godlewski gals says to a New Yorker, “Hi! We’re looking for the town of SoHo.” Families or no families, Amazing Race always delivers with these sorts of shenanigans. Even better: these Godlewski women have crazy midwest accents. “We are doing an ahhsam jaaab girls,” says one of them. My ears are bleeding.
Could this cast BE any blonder?
Oh WEAK! All the stuff they have to buy at Eastern Mountain Sports is already laid out for them. Whatever happened to in-store scavenger hunts??
Okay, now teams have to go uptown to a hot dog stand. I smell a very sketchy Roadblock…
The Godlewskis strike again: “SLEEPING BAYAGS!!!” (sleeping bags)
Man, momma Paolo is the best. Not only does she rock the neck kerchief, but she also does the stereotypical New York Italian thing by yelling, “ALL RIGHT! You said it a hundred times already! Give it a break!” She’s the bestest.
Okay, EMS has officially turned into a disaster zone. Girls are shrieking left and right, displays are getting knocked over. It’s just how I imagine every autograph signing that Phil goes to.
Must we see the Empire State Building every time we switch families?
Oh good! ANOTHER cutaway shot of the Empire State Building. Almost forgot what it looked like for a sec.
Why are these people taking the West Side highway to get to 90th street between Park and Lex? Oh that’s right. They’re IDIOTS! (Notice how I’m pulling my “I have a knowledge of Manhattan” card? Yeah, it makes me cool.)
Daddy Schroeder has this to say: “Too bad we don’t have any handicapped children we could push into traffic to block traffic to help us get ahead.” All it takes is a crowbar and some painkillers…
Awww. The Black family is so nice. Dad’s making sure his sons take in New York City. The only thing that could make this moment any better would be if Momma Paolo showed up on screen and ooh! There she is! And somehow she has endless patience with her ridiculous sons. “You know you’re cute when you get angry?” she says. You know what else they become when they’re angry? ANNOYING.
My other favorite team, the Linz family, arrives at the hot dog stand first. They have to now cross the George Washington Bridge and travel ninety-seven miles to Washington’s Crossing in PA. Wow. Rural Pennsylvania. This season is too exotic for words…
The hot dog guy hands a clue to Carissa. Later, he tells the camera, “She’s cute.” Yeah, and she’s also a robot.
Weaver mom reads, “Your clue is in the historic park in Pennsylvania? I don’t know if that means the state of Pennsylvania.” Yeah, that’s usually what people mean when they say “Pennsylvania.” Kind of like how when I refer to California, I usually say, “California.” I know. It’s crazy.
Poor Weaver mom. Totally overthinking this. “Pennsylvania may be a state.” IT’S A MYSTERY!
She may not know about Pennsylvania, but she sure knows about Jesus. “Stick to the Lord. Do you know about the Lord?” she asks a trucker. When he says the Lord is his friend, momma then adds, “We’ll be spending eternity together!” Yay! Wait, this is sort of creepy.
Hmmm… Don’t like the “Family Edition” route markers (they’re yellow and silver). Nevertheless, the Aiello family arrives first. They have to pick a boat and cross the Delaware River, grab a thirteen-star American flag, paddle back, and observe a flag-folding ceremony. Wow, the first hour isn’t over and already we’ve had rampant Jesus talk and patriotism. This is the most Red State-y Amazing Race yet.
Addendum to the last comment: David of the Aiello family is a former Marine.
I so want one of these George Washington enthusiasts to fall in the water.
Aiello still in the lead. They get the next clue. Teams must now go to Philadelphia and find a park where they’ll camp overnight. So basically teams will have driven from New York to Philly. Gotta love Family Edition…
Uh oh. The Gaghan family’s struggling on the river. Where’s Carissa’s seven-minute-mile now??
Wait a second. How did the Linz and Godlewskis fall so far behind? I knew there’d be trouble when they were acting so cocky before. As long as the Paolo’s don’t get eliminated, I’ll be happy. Of course, none of this really matters since the overnight in the park will be a giant equalizer. I’ll just enjoy the ride.
Uh oh. The Black family is going downstream. For the record, it’s been 90 minutes, and I’m less than halfway through the show. Fantastic.
The Black family hands over their flag. So do the Godlewskis. Where the heck are the Paolos?
Paolo update: okay, they’ve finally arrived at the Delaware. Best part of this? They not only have a fat doofus playing their “George Washington”, but he’s also sort of a jerk. Shut up, JERK WASHINGTON!
What Sopranos extras do in between seasons.
Paolo update: OH NO! Ma dropped the clue!!! This is like an Olive Garden commercial gone wrong!!!
The Black family does a little cheer: “1-2-3-Black family!” I love puns.
The Paolos don’t go back to get their clue, but they still make it to the park. Mrs. Paolo tells the Eagle Scouts, “Just so you know, both my boys were boy scouts when they were young.” And look at how nicely they turned out!
Next morning, it’s raining, and wow, with her hair wet and matted, Carissa looks like the second coming of that little girl from The Ring. If I die in seven days, you’ll know why. By the way, I reeeeally hope Carissa’s not reading this.
Okay, time for the next clue. Go a whoppin’ 92 miles into Pennsylvania and find a farm. Nothing says adventure like a modest trip on the interstate!
Great. The Weavers are going all Jesus on us again. But I guess it helps. They arrive at the next clue first. Turns out it’s the Detour. Build or Buggy. Either build a miniature water mill or haul a buggy for a mile and a half. Ouch. That’s no fun at all. I’m already winded, and I’m just sitting here.
Um, Jesus? I think you just screwed over your friend Mrs. Weaver. Yeah, the buggy got a little out of the control, and I’m pretty she just got run over. Yes, RUN OVER by a runaway buggy. Okay, now this show’s gettin’ good. By the way, don’t mean to be insensitive, but these Weaver parents really don’t seem to be doing so well with the not-getting-hit by vehicles thing.
Okay, I’m a jerk. These poor girls look positively shaken up. I feel bad. Let’s go back to making fun of the defenseless seven-year-old! Yeah!
Oh that sucks. After all that work, the Weavers’ buggy gets jammed, and they have to make the water mill. You know, Jesus was a carpenter, right?
Paolo update: Momma’s got an ant on her arm! But don’t worry. She’s okay! She’s okay!
Okay, the building isn’t actually as hard as it seemed like. What’s more difficult is probably sitting in a buggy with the Linz family as they fart up a storm. Next to Mrs. Paolo, these are my favorites.
For the first time all night, my heart warms to the Gaghins. Watching the parents haul their kids in the buggy, well, even crusty old jerks like me think it’s sweet. And speaking of the Gaghins, they just reached the end of the course, and they have to TURN AROUND and go back?? Wow, that really sucks.
A blessing in disguise? The Weavers are in first place! Thanks Jesus!
Okay, time for the Pitstop: the Rohrer Family Farm. It’s go time!
You know, I love the Paolos, but I’m starting to think they’re all idiots.
Uh oh. Walter — I mean, Walder — says he and his fam are heading in the wrong direction. This is followed by the always foreboding Amazing Race slow-mo reaction. Bad news for Wal-der?
It’s been about five days since the last Survivor episode. I could use a little vomit on my TV. Conveniently, the Linz boy is ready to oblige. We only hear the puke though. And you call this reality TV? Pussies.
Jesus brings them up, only to take them back down again: The Weavers are lost!
The Grodlewski sisters are all freakin’ out in the car. Must… hit… mute…
A Grodlewski sampling: “Okay guys. Blue silos are a papular calor.” (“popular color”, in non-Grodlewski-ese)
The Gaghins dream of coming in first place on the leg. Carissa says, “I bet that dream will come true.” Apparently not, CARISSA! The Grodlewski gals arrive first. You just know Phil’s gonna give them some prize. They’re gonna blow out my speakers, even with the sound off.
Yup, they won $20,000. Best be buying me some new speakers with that cash.
Phil is cracking UP! “I’m just getting to know you, but is this normal? You guys talk over each other all the time?” Wow, did Phil just serve them up some quiet passive aggression? He PA’d them in PA!
The Weavers enter a fierce battle with the Gaghins. Who will Jesus pick??
There are many wonderful things about the Gaghin/Weaver footrace. First, it’s totally unnecessary. Second, I think it’s awesome that the Gaghan parents keep yelling, “Carissa! WHEELS!!!!” Seriously, that little girl is a robot.
Whoa! Those wheels worked! The Weavers lose their lead to little kids. Thanks a lot, Jesus.
The smile that we live for.
The Paolo family confirms my suspicions. Their watermill is a disaster, but not as bad as the Schroeder’s whose wheel is stuck or wedged or whatever. And remember the Linz family? They’re still hauling the buggy. That sucks. But not for us. I love this shit.
Great. My favorite scenario. After spending the past two hours saying how much I love the Linz, Black, and Paolo families, they’re all in the final three. Dammit!
Check that out. The Paolo’s watermill worked! Uh oh. But more drama’s on the horizon. Ma’s crying! “Really Tony, it’s been a lifetime of this, and I’m getting fed up with it. I’m really, you guys are really embarrassing now. And I’m fed up with it!” Don’t worry, we like you. And it’s not your fault your douchebag sons treat you so badly. Well, actually, I guess it is.
Things looking bad for the Black family. And what the hell is up with the Linz’s? Did they stop at Burger King or something? They’re still in their freakin’ buggy.
Rogers family arrives in fourth place, followed by the Schroeders. Uh oh. Walder has been passed by two teams and — THIS JUST IN! Mama Paolo is having a breakdown! “JJ JUST SHUT UP ONE MINUTE PLEASE? JUST COOL IT!” This woman is the best. She goes from quiet wallflower to jokey mom to frantic mess to irate woman on the verge all in the span of two hours. Now that’s good television. Incidentally, the Paolo’s arrive #6. And incidentally again, Mr. Paolo just totally tackled Phil. Awesome.
Okay, things are getting close. Austin, the Black’s child, falls over near some water. But dad is there to save the day and tell him “These things happen.” He then picks his son up with one hand and pretty much flings him across Amish country. Awww.
Dammit. The Bransens and Aiellos arrive seventh and eighth, respectively. So it’s sealed. Either the Black or Linz family is going home. Oh cruel gods of Amazing Race, why must it be so?
The Linz family decides to go the opposite way of the Black family. I don’t know who’ll arrive first, but had the Linz’s stayed on the Black’s butts, they would have been able to out-run them to the finish line. Oh, but it doesn’t matter. The Linz family arrives first. Does this mean we have to see those two kids cry?
The answer to that last question: YES. See, now this is all wrong. These poor kids are going to be heartbroken. Yeah, I know the parents will be too, but they’re adults. They know what it’s like to have their dreams crushed.
Seriously, this is crazy sad. Dad just said, “You know, sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t, but as long as you give your best effort, you know, you can feel like I’m feeling right now. I’m very proud of my family. Nobody quit. I’m sad, but I’m not disappointed, and I can never be disappointed in my family.” Must… grab… tissues…
So all in all a decent episode. Not great. The family angle does have some benefits, but overall, the show lacks that seat-of-your-pants, global adventure element that’s made other seasons so great. Who knows where these teams will wind up, but I’ve got a feeling the bulk of the summer’s gonna take place here in the U.S. of A.. Nevertheless, while this season might not be as dynamic as others, the one thing this premiere showed us is that we’ll still be able to enjoy certain tried and true elements of the show. It’ll be a sufficient place-filler until season nine comes around.
What did you think about the family style?