As if a ninety minute season opener of Big Brother weren’t great enough, last night we were treated to another oversized premiere, this time for Amazing Race 5, the Emmy-award winning reality show that sends mismatched people all around the globe. Phil Koegan was back with a new and improved Americanized accent, and so were the many blunders, accidents, spats, and hijinx of eleven teams racing from the Santa Monica Pier to the depths of Uruguay. Once again, the casting directors dazzled us with a motley crew of racers including a little person, some bowling moms, and of course Big Brother 4 runner-up Allison with her bafflingly faithful boyfriend Donny. This will be the trip from hell for many of these people, and I couldn’t be happier.It didn’t take long for this show to prove why we love it so much. Only moments after starting, one guy took a spill and gashed his knee open, bleeding all over LAX. He and his spoiled daughter hopped a shuttle bus to the emergency clinic and narrowly avoided missing their flight to Uruguay. It’s this sort of uncontrolled chaos that keeps the show going. Who knows when a team will carry a slab of beef too far in a challenge? And what’s to stop some frantic duos from completely missing sections of the race? It’s all part of the beauty of the game.
Returning from her reality adventures in the Big Brother house last year, Allison proves that she’s still the shallow biatch we’ve always remembered. We still don’t know why Donny puts up with her, and we’re even more confused as to how she does so damn well in these competitions. But I’m confident that her team will implode one of these days, and she’ll be back in the reality graveyard. Then again, that’s what I said about her last year. Meanwhile, twins Kami and Karli ran around like chickens with their heads cut off – if those chickens looked like Mary Stuart Masterson. They provided plenty of uninentional humor by frequently marching right by clues and even skipping their Detour by accident. Somehow they managed to cross that finish line without accidentally sailing off to Antarctica.
Of course the flaxen twins weren’t the only ones confused by the clear directions. Married couple Chip and Kim missed their Detour also, but still managed to finish ahead of a few teams. I personally enjoyed Bob and Joyce as our token old couple. Joyce powered across a zipline while Bob chanted “Go Joyce Go! Go Joyce Go!” If there’s anything better than watching the nice old people beat the youngin’s, it’s seeing what sort of crazy cheerleading styles they adopt.
Bowling moms Linda and Karen had a jolly old time running from country to country, and they certainly had the most amusing splashes into the hotel pool during the Detour. Brothers Marshall and Lance were the resident tough guys, but they seemed to be trying too hard to be the take-no-shit New Yawkahs (even though they’re from Texas). Also thrown into the mix were a pair of Bible-toting models whose strong faith didn’t get in the way of petty squabbles. Imagine that. In the middle of the pack were Colin and Christie, a pair of lovebirds from San Antonio. Christie’s defining features were her large breasts and her uncanny resemblance to Nicole from the Bible group. Colin’s defining features were a menacing scowl and an overall ax-murderer persona that probably will lead to many a passive-aggressive argument in the back of a cab.
Alas, every episode has its losers, and this time it was Dennis and Erika. After a mishap at the airport had everyone calling them scumbags, Dennis was eager to be loved, so he let another team take his cab, ultimately resulting in a last place ranking. Breaking news for Dennis: This isn’t a popularity contest. His shrill partner Erika was not happy, and in the end, she was quick to blame him, but realizing she sounded like a bitch, she noted that if she were to lose, she’d like it to happen because Dennis was nice. Awww. Now go away.
Of course, anyone who saw last night’s episode knows that I’m omitting one very very great piece of casting. That’s right. Mirna and Charla. CBS nicely pegs them as “cousins”, but we all know they’re the team with the midget. Charla, the little person, has spunk, strength, and a badass whistle. Literally. Whenever things got dull – which was next to never on this show – the producers cut to Charla hailing down cabs with a mighty toot on her lifeguard whistle. The most amusing image, as Entertainment Weekly pointed out, was watching this sturdy woman haul a 55 pound piece of meat on her back in Uruguay. If that’s not compelling telelvision, I don’t know what is.
Meanwhile, Charla’s sidekick, Mirna, is the perfect complement to her cousin’s fiesty determination. Mirna was fond of stating the obvious in a sort of Mr. Bill “Oh No!” way. Her simple earnestness was loveable, especially when she swooned about how gorgeous host Phil Koegan was. When the two were presented with the choice of engaging in high wire shennanigans vs. a game of roulette, Mirna excitedly commented on how they’re in the casino every week. It’s a sign! No, that’s not my snarkiness. She actually said it was a sign. At the roulette table, Mirna salivated over the chips, and when they finally received their next clue, she naively asked if they could play just one hand of blackjack. Paging Gamblers Anonymous. We have a stray loose in Uruguay.
Next week promises more arguments from the Allison/Donny camp, and hopefully we’ll see a Roadblock mission too. Until then, I’ll just have to spend the next seven days talking up this great show.