The Amazing Race returned to prime time last night, and we here at the TVgasm offices couldn’t be happier. After all, where else can you find that intoxicating blend of adrenaline pumping excitement, gorgeously eye-popping scenery, and modest Phil Koegan turtlenecks? If your answer was the Men’s Wearhouse, you’re close, but wrong.
As usual, viewers were welcomed to the sixth season of The Amazing Race with the traditional onslaught of reality stars – half of whom were unique and recognizable, the other half generic actor/model types. The “parent/child” population was noticeably downgraded to the single duo of Gus and Hera while the “dating/ formerly dating/ long distance dating/ maybe dating/ thinking about dating/ says ‘dating’ a lot” designation seemed apt for nearly half the teams. Unfortunately, none of the teams had as interesting a label as season four’s Chuck and Millie with their “Dating 12 years/Virgins” moniker, but at least there weren’t any blatantly understated titles like “cousins” for last season’s Charla & Mirna (I mean come on, CBS! What about midget/not midget?). I guess we’ve got to work with what we can get.As we waded through twenty two new characters, the most noteworthy fresh faces were Bolo and Lori, two married wrestlers. Bolo predicted that they’d dominate the race because of their “suavé”, which apparently means something to people who speak gibberish. Meanwhile, elderly Don and Mary Jean crowed that “we’re in our best physical condition that we’ve been in for years.” This was evidenced by them trimming leaves on bushes. You heard it here first: Don and Mary Jean will dominate the race, provided it’s a gentle stroll through a garden.
We also met possibly the most annoying couple of any season in Jon and VIctoria, a married couple trying so desperately to play the role that Colin and Christie masterfully portrayed this summer. With over the top yelling and “intensity”, it was all too obvious from the getgo that these two had rehearsed their relationship well before the cameras had begun rolling. Just about the only thing truly interesting about these two was trying to figure out exactly which ways they were connected to the porn industry. Of course, a simple Google search answered many questions as Victoria’s Playboy site (not safe for work – there’s audio) along with many other adult websites popped up instantaneously. A few more searches revealed that Jon, on the other hand, runs a hoity spa called Skin Spa in Encino, CA. Before you can ask any questions, I can already answer them: 1) Yes, Encino IS in the heart of the porn industry; 2) I agree, if Jon runs a spa, why is he so high strung?; 3) Yes, Victoria says she’s 32, but she clearly looks about 42; 4) and yes, I DID notice that Victoria looks like the Bride of Chucky.
One of the more perplexing couples of the new season though has to be Adam and Rebecca, formerly dating trainers now trying to “rekindle” their relationship. Rebecca commented that “what made Adam and I stop being boyfriend and girlfriend a year ago was a lack of communication.” Yeah, and the fact that he’s GAY. I predict that we see a finger snap by the end of the season. Actually, interestingly enough, the team’s bio on CBS’s official website reads “Adam & Rebecca are an ex-couple that met at a spinning class. Rebecca’s first impression of Adam was that he was gay, but after he pursued her for months, he proved otherwise.” Sadly for Rebecca, she soon discovered that he was only pursuing her to say that he really liked her makeup.
Anyway, teams started out in lovely Chicago where Phil explained the rules of the game with his usual mix of high energy and effusive emotion. Within moments, the twenty two contestants were scrambling to their clues which had them jumping on the city’s blue line and heading to O’Hare airport. Once there, it was a race to book a flight to Iceland. Engaged models Freddy and Kendra explained that since they were models and travelled a lot, they understood the nuances of airports. We then cut to them standing on the moveable walkway. Wow – they really do know their airports. And to think that most people walked on stationary ground! That’s some good nuance!
Meanwhile, at the ticketing desk, Bolo and Jonathan booked their flights, prompting the spa owner to comment on the more colorful ironies of their wardrobes: “Between your blue and my yellow, we’re super heroes!” Yes, a super hero whose speciality is… color coordination?
As usual, there was some enjoyable airport drama revolving around hurricane-induced delays and potential layover problems, but everyone managed to make it to Iceland at roughly the same time. Heading for some waterfalls, teams zipped off on highway 1 — the only highway, as J-Unit was adamant to point out. Rebecca, taking a break from her Rachel Dratch role as The Girl with No Gaydar, commented that the landscape was very Scottish. Yeah, except it’s, you know, Iceland. Meanwhile, Team Embarrassing Jewish Stereotype (Avi and Joe) celebrated hitting the roads of Iceland with an impromptu rendition of their original song, “New York Jews in Iceland.” Somewhere, Jen C. from The Apprentice was hissing at the TV.
Don and Mary Jean, dangerously out of their WASPy comfort zone, stopped some locals for directions to the waterfalls and quickly learned that Happy Hour in Iceland apparently starts at 7 AM. “They’re ripped!” exclaimed Don in an amusing throwback to 1950s slang. Watch out Don, they may start neckin’ soon.
On the highway, Queens roommates Meredith and Maria found themselves being trailed by rival borough looneys, Avi and Joe. In a bit of classic Amazing Race editing, we saw Avi call the girls “Biatches” and then immediately cut to Meredith whipping her head around as if she heard the taunt. Uh, they were in separate cars. We’re not idiots. Nevertheless, as the teams approached the falls, Meredith and Maria moved onwards, convinced that everyone else was at the wrong location. By the time they had turned around, several teams had already encountered the falls, including tricky Aaron and Hayden who waved to the gals as if they would lead them to the clue. Instead, the dating/actors (not models!) led them most of the way to the next checkpoint at the base of a giant (is there really any other kind?) glacier. Meredith and Maria finally caught onto the scam — an hour and a half later — and headed back to the falls while the rest of the pack moved onwards and upwards.
Of course this duplicity towards Meredith and Maria wasn’t the only shady thing going on. Things on the highways became heated as teams constantly passed each other illegally. “Eccentric” Adam took particular offense to one team advancing past him, causing him to threaten, “I’m going to bump them. Just a little bump.” You know, from the rear. And he’ll bump them rhythmically. I mean, what’s the fun of bumping them from behind if you don’t have rhythm? “Stay on their ass!” encouraged Rebecca, not realizing the double-entendre she had just let loose.
Meanwhile, Mormon sisters Lena and Kristi tore it up on the highway, passing a new car every two seconds. I suppose they were passing in the name of Jesus, although to their credit, we have yet to have any flagrant Lord name dropping yet (as opposed to last season when Chip, Kim, Brandon, and Nicole managed to work in a shout out to God every few minutes).
Eventually teams showed up at the glacier where one person exclaimed “That’s ice!” Uh yeah. Last time I checked, glaciers weren’t made out of Cool Whip and chocolate chips. Teams then took shuttles to snow mobiles and in turn took the snow mobiles to a small tent city on the glacier where they were to spend the night. During this process, Rebecca chimed in yet again to say that Adam has a hard time leaving his comfort zone. So doing things like racing across a glacier or having sex with a woman are really really challenging for him.
Meanwhile, seemingly hours after everyone had arrived at the makeshift shanty town, Meredith and Maria finally re-joined the group. The teams all gathered in front of the tents, applauding the two Queens natives for finally showing up. “There’s the flag,” one of them said. Oh good. I’m glad they saw the flag. I suppose the large group of racers in the middle of the desolate glacier didn’t tip them off that they were at the right place.
The next morning, teams woke up to life on the frozen glacier. Gus repulsed half of America by scrubbing himself down with a handful of ice while Lori complained that her implants were frozen, thus bringing SNE to a whole new level. Soon teams learned of their first Detour: they could drive thirty miles away and scale a steep wall of ice, or they could take a nearby boat and search for a buoy amongst a bevy of icebergs in a seven square mile radius. Most teams opted to scale the wall, but Avi and Joe tested their luck with the icebergs. You know how that goes – Icebergs, Goldbergs. We Jews really do enjoy the ‘Bergs.
Unfortunately for Avi and Joe, the task turned out to be more difficult than getting someone into synagogue outside of the High Holidays (a little humor for my fellow members of the Tribe). Joe was fond of pointing out things floating in the water, only to find out it was just ice. Here’s a little Buoy 101, Joe: If the buoy is tall, white, frozen, and made of ice, chances are it’s an iceberg. Whoa, I almost became the Eskimo Jeff Foxworthy there.
While the guys hunted around the waters, the ice climbers finished their detour swiftly. Aaron and Hayden zoomed off for the Pit Stop, located at The Blue Lagoon resort (and no, Brooke Shields did not greet teams at the finish line). Bolo and Lori, who left the Detour in second place, quickly got lost on one of Iceland’s three roads, resulting in an always welcome shouting match in the car – you know, the authentic kind, not like the fakery of Jonathan and Victoria. Eventually the wrestlers found a random woman meandering through a field and asked her for directions. Iceland WOULD have old ladies wandering in meadows.
Meanwhile, Don and Mary Jean faced their biggest challenge yet: their car seat. In true elderly fashion, the two seemed befuddled in the face of technology – which in this case was a small lever on the side of the seat. With their lack of proficiency at raising the car seat, I feared their abilities to scale the ice wall, but amazingly enough, they did just fine, with Don commenting afterwards, “I’d rather put that ice in a martini.” He then added, “By the way, we’re WASPs.” Side note: was anyone else totally amused when in the middle of this race, Don insisted on locking the car door at the Detour? Shut up, DAD!
The awkward embrace of Phil Koegan
Around this time, dating/actors Aaron and Hayden were the first to cross the finish line, a moment so joyous that as Phil detailed the vacation prize they had won, Hayden jumped up an embraced the stoic host. In classic Phil fashion, he let out a mere “Whoa” and his eyes soon had a look of “Get off. Get off. GET OFF!!!” as Aaron joined in on the hug action. Long distance daters Kris and John – aka Team Smiley McSmilesALot – popped up in the number two position. With their pretty faces and generic dating/model look, these two might just be the cheery successor to last season’s upbeat Bowling Moms.
Meanwhile, on the roads of Iceland, Adam and Rebecca stopped off to get some gas. Much to my delight, they made the amateur Amazing Race mistake of filling their Diesel tank with unleaded, but luckily they caught their mistake before heading off. Adam erupted into a Talk-To-The-Hand rage that resulted in much swivel in the hips. It seemed like just about the only thing that would have made him happy at that point would have been if a bus full of drag queens had pulled up and recruited him for their cross country tour.
Back in the ice jungle, Avi and Joe finally found their buoy and hit the road. As they drove along, Avi commented “It’s never the destination. It’s always the journey.” Except, you know, in a race. As teams filed into the Pit Stop, the show whittled down to Avi and Joe versus Gus and Hera. Both teams met in the Blue Lagoon parking lot, but unfortunately they were at the opposite side from the Pit Stop. As Avi and Joe poked around to make absolutely sure they were in the right place, Gus and Hera secured the tenth spot, ensuring an elimination for our dorky Brooklyn team. In the end, I think it was all for the best. Joe had an uncanny resemblance to Judge Reinhold that really would have been too annoying to deal with over a prolonged amount of time. But then again, the guys would have been the prototypical underdogs. Oh well. I guess I’ll do what I always do each year: rally behind the old people.