I really wanted to love Treasure Hunters. I really did. But I didn’t. I don’t know what it was — maybe it was the overproduced presentation, the charmless host, the humorless narrative, the repetitive drama. Who knows? It just didn’t click for me. That’s not to say I’m giving up. No, I’ll stick with this bad boy and see if it improves. The second hour was already better than the first, which means that by episode six or seven, we could have a halfway compelling show. There’s certainly promise in Treasure Hunters, but it’s kind of hard rooting for something that The Amazing Race does so much better.I really did have high hopes for Treasure Hunters, but starting about .3 seconds into the premiere, I began to get that nervous, regretful feeling. You know what I’m talking about. Literally, as the show began, we saw enticing aerial images of glaciers, but then a gravelly narrator with a voice so deep it threatened to destroy all subwoofers declared “SOMEWHERE…” Uh oh. Was this going to be one of those shows? You know, the type that takes itself just a tad too seriously? The short answer: hell yes.
Anyway, the narrator then announced that SOMEWHERE was “a hidden treasure worth MILLIONS!” I could almost feel my feet vibrating with each passing syllable. So far, in this show’s brief, five second history, it seemed to be erring on the side of bombastic. I had no idea what sort of ridiculous pretension lay ahead of me. Luckily, all I had to do was wait about two more seconds for the next ridiculous boast.
This treasure we were all hunting around for? Well, “it’s secret is protected by history!!!” Yes, history. And/or the producers. Okay, okay, I get it. The show was creating some sort of myth or legend — the parameters of its world, if you will — similar to how Survivor always submerges us in silly lore about ancient peoples and customs (as if we’d turned on the show for an anthropology lesson, not to watch a bunch of pretty people starve themselves and get eaten by bugs).
Nevertheless, the ridiculous quotient went from massive to astounding just a few more seconds later. Not only was this treasure protected by history, but — and get this — “it’s location is guarded by an ancient secret society.” Okay, listen. I don’t care how grizzly Ron Howard looks these days; the executives at Imagine Entertainment and NBC are not an ancient secret society. And don’t try to have us believe that the grand prize of Treasure Hunters, a reality show, just happens to be a sacred item that some long lost civilization keeps under lock and key. Let’s just keep the hyperbole to a healthy level, mmkay?
Anyway, we then found five teams of treasure hunters hanging out in the Arctic Circle. But wait! I thought there were supposed to be ten teams. The narrator then announced that these five teams teams were not alone. Might there be another secret society on the loose? One that obsessively guards such hallowed prizes as a Saturn Ion? Or perhaps a Sony Viao computer? Or a year’s worth of tickets from Fandango?
Nope. No other secret societies, but there were more teams. Five more, to be exact. Yes, this second group was located in the “South Pacific,” or as the show probably should have called it, “Hawaii.”
We then dove right into the opening credits which, unlike The Amazing Race, did not feature any semblance of a catchy tune. Instead, we got one of those expository sequences; one where a narrator explains the premise of the show week after week. The bad news: it sort of sucked. The good news: it’s nice to see that the narrator from He-Man has finally found work again.
Anyway, the best part about these credits was that we could finally meet our teams. In order, they were Air Force, Grad Students, Brown Family (the sole black family, and yes, shadows of Amazing Race: Family Edition there), Southie Boys (already groaning, but I’ve been told they’re friends of my friend; so I can’t be too harsh. Yet…), Miss USA, Wild Hanlons (I didn’t know what that meant either. If I hadn’t seen their photos, I would have thought “Wild Hanlons” were a type of bird or boar), Young Professionals (read: actors), Ex-CIA, Geniuses, and the Fogal Family. Wonderful. Granted, there weren’t any “Dating 12 years / VIRGINS” in the pack, but I was happy so far.
We then learned that seven artifacts (or, ahem, “artifacts”) protected the secret of the key to find the treasure, and therefore, “THEY MUST FIND THE KEY!!!” Relax, narrator. We GET IT. Let’s just move on…
At long last, the show began in earnest. We found ourselves at Independence Mine, Alaska… and then we found ourselves in Hawaii on the S.S. Jefferson (or something like that). The Hawaiian group all stood around a TV and met their host, someone I later found out was named “Laird.” What a dumb name. Unless you’re a surfer who can ride gigantic, deadly waves, I can’t take anyone named Laird seriously.
Anyway, Laird told the groups that each team would come equipped with a bag that held three things. Cue the product placement… now!
Item #1: A Motorola Razor cellphone. “This is how I will communicate with you,” Laird said. Note that he still had not introduced himself. I wouldn’t want some stranger calling me up on my cell. Who the hell did he think he was? By the way, Laird was like a cross between David Hasselhoff and that guy who hosted Get This Party Started, and that’s not a good thing. Moving on…
Item #2: “A laptop computer with special access to Ask.com and its unique search technology.” Oh how wonderful. I can’t wait to sample that unique search technology. But what about it makes Ask.com unique? Does it play flute while it retrieves your results? I can only hope!
And item #3: A Treasure Hunters Visa Card with some new “security features” that might just open up some opportunities later, Laird cryptically said. By the way, if I’m ever at a restaurant, and someone whips out their very own Treasure Hunters Visa Card, I reserve the right to point and laugh in their face.
Sadly, this was the end of the items. I was kind of hoping there’s be a Treasure Hunters Coffee Mug with a unique liquid-holding technology, but alas, I clearly was setting myself up for a letdown. Anyway, Lairdy-poo told the teams that before they could leave the ship, they’d have to find the location of the next clue first. No, they didn’t have to find the clue. They had to find the location that the clue directed them to. Confusing, I know. Look, you gotta be pretty quick to keep up with Treasure Hunters.
Well, as soon as Laird had delivered this message, the chirping sound of morse code filled the room. What the teams didn’t know was that morse code manuals were hidden all throughout the ship. Okay, not a bad puzzle to start out with. I’m cool with this. One of the guys from the Air Force team then expressed shame to us, saying, “We should probably know morse code.” Uh YEAH. Further undermining my confidence in the military was Air Force teammate Brooke, who asked, “Can we call the Navy?” What’s next? Are you going to tell us you don’t know how to fly a plane? I’ve lost all faith in our armed forced. But don’t worry, it’s instantly restored thanks to that surprisingly riveting episode of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List tonight. Did anyone see that? Seriously, that was great TV. Okay, random digression. I apologize.
Meanwhile, the trio of unfit Beauty and the Geek rejects collectively known as “Geniuses” immediately realized that there had to be books on the ship to help them decipher the code. They all went running off in search of these, and in the meantime, we got to know a little bit about them. “Between the three of us,” one guy said, “we have nine majors and one masters that we’re all working on.” Huh. So I guess taking on large workloads qualifies you for genius status now. Cool. Well, I work hard on this blog. I must be like Einstein now. Sweet!
Anyway, the Geniuses found their book, and hot on their tails were the Grad Students who seemed to be all working towards a masters in jug technology. Yes, they were rather jiggly, if you catch my drift, but I’m sure they were smart gals; so I won’t pass judgment. Nevertheless, the Geniuses correctly decoded the clue, which read, “Dive Hana Bay, 26.74 N, 56.872 W.” And with that, the guys stripped down to their bathing suits and revealed to all the world just how little time they’d been spending in the gym. I hereby rename this group Team Manboobs. The guys then jumped off the tanker and began swimming to a nearby power boat which was to take them to the dive site. Just behind them were the grad students, who also had figured out the clue. They too were now in just their bathing suits, and shockingly, they had just as much boob volume as the Geniuses. And no, I’m certainly not accusing them of being flat-chested.
Well, the girls jumped in the water, and then the screen faded to black. We then found ourselves in the significantly colder climates of Alaska where we got to relive the whole morse adventure all over again. I was particularly disconcerted by the Ex-CIA team which listened to the morse code with wide, vacant eyes. It could have been a squeaking hamster wheel for all they knew. Hey, aren’t our spies supposed to know things… like codes? Especially the simplest, most famous code of all time? Then again, these were three products of the CIA. I really shouldn’t be surprised by their ineptitude. (My phone is so getting tapped now.)
Surprisingly, the first team to begin writing down the code were the Miss USAs, which again had me nervous for the state of the CIA. Soon, everyone began scouring the environs for clues, and the Young Professionals managed to find a morse code manual first. In the midst of this, we learned a little bit about the Southie boys, and in case you don’t know where “Southie” is, it’s an area in the Boston region. Yes, the city that has given us Boston Rob, Michael Tarshi, Danny from Real World: Austin, and Brian Wirth from Average Joe, has now delivered us a new trio of reality stars. And to make things better, two of them were twins, which meant I’d never be able to tell who was who. One of them was named John (I think that’s the one that my friend is friends with), and another was named Matthew. He was a firefighter. I know — a firefighter from Boston. Crazy, right? The third guy was named Martin, and he happily applied a Boston accent to anything he could. “The Young Professionals,” he said, “I’mm sure they’re gonna be very booksmaaaaht.” Oh god. This was going to be a long season.
We then met the Wild Hanlons, which was a father, a son, and an uncle. And two very strong, powerful mullets. Yes, these guys were the definition of hillbillies, what with their camo outfits and raging mullets. I know they’re supposed to be the lovable, quirky simpletons that we all fall in love with, but I for one prefer to reserve my patronizing condescension for the token senior citizen team. But wait! THERE WAS NONE! Yes, the producers had neglected to cast one group of overactive grannies. For shame! Nevertheless, I didn’t hate the Wild Hanlons. I just didn’t love them. But they were colorful, and on a show like this, a little personality goes a long way.
“Big and Rich are geniuses.”
Anyway, the first team to decode the clue was the CIA dudes, and they learned they’d have to search a glacier at 61.44 N, 447.39 W. Cool. Having more difficulty were the beauty queens, but just because they were down didn’t mean they were out. One girl named Kristen said, “The three of us competed for Miss USA, and none of us won the title. But over our dead bodies will we lose this!” I guess they’ll be dying sometime soon. And by the way, is it really fair to call a team “Miss USA” when none of its members have ever been, you know, Miss USA?
Well, Kristen may have talked a big game, but she and her teammates were totally lost on this morse code. Everyone else got the answer and hopped into separate helicopters to take them to the glacier. But alas. Our trio of beauties was left at the mine. Worst pageant ever!
We then headed back to the Pacific where the dulcet tones of someone vomiting filled our ears. Yes, the Fogal daughter had come down with a violent case of seasickness and was presently barfing into a bag. C’mon, girl! Treasure hunters don’t throw up! They digest! Now git!
Just who were these Fogal people? Well, turns out dad (Brad) was a pastor, and his wife Margie happily bragged, “I’m not the typical pastor’s wife.” Yes, she was a raging SLUT. Okay, she didn’t say that, but I was kind of hoping she would have. Nevertheless, Margie continued: “I don’t play piano, you know, I do sit in the front pew.” And yes, I did detect a little Fargo-ness in her voice. Doncha think?
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about these Fogals, but when dad — the pastor — said, “If there’s a point where we have to stretch the truth a little bit and ask for forgiveness later, I don’t think we’re beyond that,” I happily placed this fam in the “Villain” category. Nothing like evil schemers who hide behind convenient bouts of spirituality. Reminds me of our old friends, The Weavers. Good times.
Next we met The Brown Family, three chubby fellas who did not look unlike Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor. I secretly hoped that they would never find the morse code manual, lest we have to see these guys doff their clothes and jump in the water. Luckily, my dreams seemed to be coming true as the brothers appeared totally unable to deal with the morse code. As a result, they fell behind while the Fogals and the Air Force successfully moved onto the next portion of the race, er, hunt.
However, it would be too pathetic for these brothers to never advance off the ship, and sure enough, they too eventually figured out the clue, and before we knew it, we were seeing them in all their glory. Time for the guys to jump in the ocean. One problem though: the fattest of the three, Keith, had only begun swimming three weeks prior. You know, why even audition for these adventure reality shows if you can’t swim? Just doesn’t make sense. It’s like a mute trying out for American Idol. Well, the producers strapped a life vest onto Keith — as if that would prevent his massive body from plunging down to the ocean depths — and then the next thing we knew, all the brothers were in the ocean. Sure enough, about two seconds later, Keith was struggling to stay afloat. His brother commented, “I look over at Keith; for the first time, I saw a look from his face that I’ve never seen before: total terror.” Yes, kind of like how I’d imagine he’d look if he ever found out Hostess was discontinuing Twinkies.
We then cut to commercial wondering whether or not Keith would make it to the boat or simply drown and die right there in the middle of the Pacific. Hmmm… I wonder what will happen? Sure enough, when we returned, Keith flopped into the boat, and disaster was averted. And no, the little boat did not instantly Poseidon-ize once Keith had boarded. Gosh, I’m really making fun of the poor guy. Let it be known, I’m not usually this cruel to people with weight problems. It’s only when they’re on reality shows — especially crappy ones.
Back up in Alaska, teams were approaching the glacier in their helicopters. The Southie boys were totally in awe, with one of the guys saying, “This looks like the blizzahd of ’78! All the cahs are covered!” Actually, no. It didn’t look like a snowed-over parking lot. It looked like a GLACIER, which is what it was. Anyway, the teams landed, and suddenly Laird called up on the phones. The next clue, he advised, was frozen in the glacier. Teams had to follow rock piles to get to it. Pretty cool, I suppose.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, apparently the Miss USAs weren’t the only ones left behind. Those Wild Hanlons were also hanging around. We then paused and listened to Kristen’s musings on the Hanlons’ long, flowing mullets. “I like to touch it. I like to feel it. I think it’s awesome,” she said. To be fair, that’s what she also says about carpets, styrofoam, and glitter.
Back at the glacier, the Ex-CIA guys took a lead on the rock pile path, and soon, they encountered a “rappel site.” One of the men descended down the glacier and then walked along a path some more, encountering a cold pool of water in the process. After some initial reticence, he swam through the oversized puddle and then found the clue in a block of ice. Inside the block was a map of Alaska with hundreds of locations. Apparently, a message (“Stillwater Washington”) scrawled on the outside of the ice block was a clue to the correct destination on the map. Okay. Cool, I guess.
Meanwhile, we then found our old buddies, the Wild Hanlons, exhausted and resting on the side of the trail. I guess we’ll just assume that they had figured out the morse code and had taken a chopper over to the glacier. Back to the front of the pack, the CIAs deciphered the clue fairly easily. You see, “Stillwater Washington” equated to “Lake George.” Get it? I instantly felt dumb because I thought “Stillwater Washington” was a location on the map. This is why the only reality show I’m qualified for is something involving Tic Tac Toe and nothing harder.
Well, the CIA guys flew off to Lake George while the Southies and the Young Professionals, who had both found their maps, were now trying to figure out the next destination in Alaska. They all shouted out guesses to the helicopter pilots, with one Southie guy stating, “The state of Washington!” Yes, because of the state of Washington is a location in ALASKA.
Meanwhile, one of the Miss USA girls had reached an ice block, but she feared that it would be too heavy for her to take back up the glacier. Therefore, she decided to chisel away at it and retrieve the map instead. Unfortunately, the downside of this strategy was that she wound up chiseling away at the all essential clue, “Stillwater Washington.” Oops! That’s what you’ve gotta love about these adventure shows: the potential for ridiculous human error was off the charts.
Over at Lake George, the CIA fellas arrived and found… more rock piles! What to do? Luckily, Sir Lairdy McLairderson called up, and already, I had a new complaint. You see, nearly ever time Laird imparted information, the rousing score (composed by 24‘s Sean Callery) came to a halt in lieu of some twinkling, Tangerine Dream-ish music. It was jarring and annoying. It kind of sounded like that quiet, boring music you hear when you press pause in a video game. Anyway, Laird told the CIA guys that they must now find the final and most important clue in Alaska. But they’d have to dig for it under one of the rock piles. Too bad there were like hundreds of rock piles. I loved the equalizing potential of this challenge. Too bad I was so distracted by how derivative it was of The Amazing Race.
With the CIA guys facing this daunting challenge, we went to commercial, and when we returned from the break, we found the Miss USA girls trying to figure out their map. Unfortunately, they knew that their ice block had said “Stillwater Washington,” which meant they weren’t as screwed as I had previously hoped. So much for all that chisel drama. Of course, whether they had “Stillwater Washington” or not didn’t really matter since the girls seemed completely unable to figure out their next destination.
Back at Lake George, the Ex-CIAs finally found their clue, which was a reflective cylinder with symbols on it. How intriguing! Laird then called up and announced that this object was the key to a code at the next destination, which was… the state capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska (South entrance)! Whoohoo! We goin’ to Nebraska! We goin’ to Nebraska! Amazing Race has nothing on this show!
Moments later, the Southie boys found their clue in the dirt, and as they prepared for their trek to Nebraska, John noted, “Right now, the CIA is our biggest concern.” As it should be! Oh, he was talking about the team. Yeah, whatever.
Eventually, all the teams wound up at Lake George, including the pageant girls, who maintained their streak of bad luck. “If we could just get our heads working,” said one of them. Yeah, that probably won’t be happening anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Young Professionals dug up their clue and screamed with the sort of joy that only Young Professionals can have. Not long after, the Wild Hanlons found their clue too, leaving just the Miss USAs to stare longingly with defeat in their eyes. Don’t worry, ladies. We still have like five more hours left in this premiere. You’ll be fine.
Hey, remember those teams in Hawaii? Well, they were approaching the dive site, but before we dealt with that, we checked in on our favorite fair-weather pastor, Brad Fogal. He proudly explained his odds for this game, saying, “I don’t think there’s anything that would keep us from winning.” Yes, nothing would stand in their way, except perhaps the wrath of a vengeful God, willing to teach one of his dubious men of the cloth a painful lesson in virtues of DEVOTION! Mwahahahaha!!! (Lightning! Thunder! Lightning! Swirling wind!)
Anyway, as the teams neared the dive site, they had a clear view of a looming island. “It looks like it’s all mountains,” said the grad students. Mountains? AND HOW!!! Rimshot! Because they have big breasts! Get it? Oh, I slay me.
Speaking of breasts, Team Manboob, a.k.a. the Geniuses, arrived at the dive site first and received a message. On the sea floor below them were five steel boxes, each containing a pilot’s log book with a map of the island and coordinates for the next location. Okay, cool. The Geniuses plunged into the water and easily found a box and ultimately their coordinates. They sped off to the next destination while the Grad Students struggled with their box. You see, the girl who was diving around in the water couldn’t figure out how to open the box. Here’s a hint: try bringing it up to the surface rather than tinkering around underwater. Unfortunately, this opened a new set of challenges: namely, how was she supposed to bring the box up to the surface? It was a serious quandary, but the luckily, one of the chivalrous Air Force guys was around to help. He could have easily stolen the box, but he felt badly for the grad student (i.e., he was entranced by her breasts), and so he retrieved the box for her. How kind. What a good neighbor. The grad student then reached into the box, and HOLY SHIT! Pastor Brad already had his hand in there! Yes, the PASTOR was stealing the Grad Student’s clue! Bastard! It was so awful, and yet so perfect for reality TV. The woman tried to grab the clue back, but it was of no use. Brad managed to take it for himself and bring it back to his family, which we were discovering was insanely competitive. How competitive? We then saw Margie yell psychotically, “WE’RE HUNTING!!! WE’RE HUNTING!!!!” Wow. It’s like she just found out there was a sale on afghans at K-Mart.
Another commercial break later, and we found the Geniuses reaching dry land on the island. Our mystery host then called up again and said that the next clue lay in the cabin of a downed plane called the Monticello. In order to get to the crash site, they’d have to follow a path through the jungle. For the record, I’d like to say that these guys had it much easier than the Alaskan teams. Nevertheless, Team Genius Manboobs began their trek across the island, but even though they had a significant lead, the Air Force trio was hot on their tails.
“They’re not college students,” Francis the Genius explained. “They’re not eating cold pizza in the morning and throwing down brewskies.” Yes, I’m sure Francis throws down many a brewskie. And by “throwing down many a brewskie,” I mean “rolling many a twenty-sided dice.” Nevertheless, what the Air Force robots lacked in morse code abilities, they made up for in hiking proficiency, and they soon passed the Geniuses on the path. Furthermore, at a critical juncture, the military group veered right and followed a trail of wreckage whereas the Geniuses headed to the left and followed, well, nothing. Again, I’m still questioning that whole “genius” moniker.
Sure enough, the Air Forcers arrived at the plane first and learned that they’d have to open a chest using two hidden pieces in one of the nearby Jeffersonian canes. Get it? The teams started off on the S.S. Jefferson, sought out a plane called the Monticello, and now were using Jeffersonian canes. How many more obvious JEFFERSON clues did the producers need to dangle in front of us? I half expected Sherman Hemsley and the ghost of Isabel Sanford to emerge from the bush and start singing, “Well, we’re moving on up! To the East Side! To a deluxe apartment in the sky!”
Anyway, the Air Forcers began toiling with their chest, trying to pry it open, but it was no use. They needed a key. “What about these umbrellas?” asked Brooke, clearly the only person to ever confuse a cane for an umbrella. Just a piece of advice: if an umbrella doesn’t have a big plastic thing that folds out and can shield you from rain, chances are it’s not an umbrella.
Elsewhere on the island, the Geniuses were now completely lost. And no, they did not find any mysterious hatches or Michelle Rodriguez. They simply wandered around aimlessly. I really loved how their name, Geniuses, becomes instantly sarcastic and obnoxious anytime they mess up.
Back at the Monticello, the Air Force peeps finally found the hidden key inside the Jeffersonian cane (or as Brooke calls it, “Worst umbrella EVER”). They opened up their chest and found a bizarre painting with a coded map on the back. Laird then called to say that this item would be needed at the next destination: the state capital building of Nebraska. Hey, that’s the exact same place the Alaskan teams are going! Crazy!! The only difference was that the Hawaiian crew was being sent to the North Entrance as opposed to the South one. Sounded like these two groups would be in for quite the surprise! I kind of imagined this unexpected meeting to play out like that bathroom scene in Big Business. You know, the one where Bette Midler and Lilly Tomlin meet their twins? Too obscure a reference?
Well, the Air Forcers headed off for Lincoln, and elsewhere on the island, the grad students, now in fourth place, were hiking along the path. At one point, they even passed the bewildered geniuses, effectively pushing them into third place, behind just the Fogals. But what about those Brown brothers? Whatever happened to them? Fear not. They were approaching the island. All they had to do was roll off the boat and walk to shore. Easier said than done when you’re 800 lbs. Yes, poor Keith just couldn’t make it to shore. He was too tired and exhausted. Luckily, the production crew gave him a nifty board to hold onto while they literally tugged him to shore. I really didn’t see how this guy was going to be able to keep up. Actually, screw keeping up. I just didn’t know how he’d survive without a heart attack.
Once all three brothers were on shore, they rested a bit and rallied each other up with some generic pep talk. One of the guys passionately noted, “It’s all about not making mistakes.” Yes, that and not being morbidly obese. But mostly it’s the mistakes.
Luckily, one of the brothers had a fantastic plan for how they could regain the lead: “We could overtook our… we could… urgh…” Okay, maybe it needed some work, but I liked where it was going. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the awkward sports analogies entered the picture. The brothers said they had to cut down on mistakes and think instead about the second half, but one problem: when exactly does that second half begin? “We playing a game, and the scoreboard clock is covered up,” one of the brothers said. Yes, that’s true, which is why they should have had all the more reason to stop with all these forced metaphors and comments and get hikin’! PLEASE.
At the front of the group, those alleged Good Christians, the Fogals, reached the crash site, and as the daughter searched through a crate to find a chest, Pastor Brad flung off a wooden cover to clear some room. Unfortunately, he didn’t do a very good job with the flinging because the heavy piece of wood came crashing back down again, right on Baby Fogal’s fragile hand.
“I think I just broke my thumb!” she yelled (and no, this did not cause a second bout of plentiful vomiting). Instead, the daughter merely doubled over in massive pain, but dad merely shrugged it off. Whatevs, bitch! Yes, that’s right. His child was suffering from a potential injury, and yet the pastor ignored her so that he could continue his greedy quest for personal riches… which I’m sure he’ll donate to the congregation, right? Hmmm… maybe this injury was God’s little way of saying, “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself!”
Nevertheless, the Fogals managed to open their chest, and as they scurried away with their new clue and dreams of Nebraska in their eyes, Brad yelled out, “Guys, we just came in second!” This was followed by Margie screaming at the top of her lungs. All together now: SHUT UP.
Meanwhile, the Geniuses and Grad Students arrived at the crash site (we’ll just assume those Geniuses figured out they had gone the wrong way since we never actually saw them get back on track), and once again, we watched as teams struggled with the Jeffersonian canes. Well, at least the Geniuses struggled with the canes. You see, the Grad Students had some weird notion that there was only one Jeffersonian cane available, and they thought the Fogals had taken it with them. So they just stood there, lost and bewildered, never once thinking that maybe, just maybe, they should look at the ground where dozens of those canes (or umbrellas, if you will) were scattered about.
This was our cliffhanger leading into the next commercial, and when we returned, the Grad Students had found their own Jeffersonian cane (don’t you just love it when a crisis is averted in the commercial break?). Just because the Grad Students had found their own cane didn’t mean they had any luck opening their box. They toiled and toiled, and for the second time in a row, they fell victim to a totally dick move. Yes, the Geniuses decided to use their key on the Grad Students’ box, and sure enough, Team Flabby Chest stole the girls’ clue! Ha, everyone takes stuff from them! Normally, I’d feel badly, but these were the same women who earlier announced that their strategy was to simply mooch off the Geniuses. Oh well. Guess that didn’t work out so well. Nevertheless, the girls were flummoxed, with one asking, “How’d they open our box?” Truth be told, you’d think those women would be much better at keeping their boxes away from nerdy fingers.
Around this time, I started to wonder: exactly how or why or when will people be eliminated? I mean, everyone was just racing along, but we had no idea towards what. At least with The Amazing Race, we know all teams are bolting towards a checkpoint with the last one arriving possibly eliminated. But for this? We had no idea. Another reason why Treasure Hunters felt shockingly slow and boring, despite all the interesting puzzles.
Anyhoo, enough random commentary. Let’s move on. With their box opened and violated, the Grad Students found another chest to finagle with. You’d think they’d follow the Geniuses’ lead and use a key, but instead, the girls just tried to force the box open. Okay, quick refresher course. Here’s the thing about locks: THEY DON’T OPEN BY HAND!
The Grad Students took such a long time that even the roly-poly Brothers Brown were able to catch up. Now that’s embarrassing. Soon, this event became an intense Jeffersonian Cane standoff — the best kind of standoff, really. Once again, the girls were mired with frustration, with one insisting, “This is broken!” No, it’s not broken. You’re just an IDIOT. Luckily, they finally opened the chest and retrieved their clue, which meant the Browns were now stuck in last place. A few moments later, the brothers unlocked their clue too and then received a Very Special Call from Laird.
“You are the last team to get the clue, but you will not be eliminated,” Laird said. Huh. I didn’t even realize they were up for elimination. Memo to Treasure Hunters: the stakes are always higher when you tell us about them. Nevertheless, Laird revealed that the brohans were only halfway through the first stage of the hunt and that they were now heading to Nebraska. For whatever reason, this caused one of the brothers to yell, “Now we on MY territory!” So let’s make this clear: his territory was the state building in Lincoln, Nebraska? And he’s proud of that? Or was he just stating a random phrase that really made no sense? Yeah, that was probably it…
Meanwhile, back in Alaska, we relived the moment when the Wild Hanlons found their clue (remember? They were all digging in the dirt?). Well, this left the Miss USAs in last place — much like their pageant rankings — but because they looked so dejected and lost, the Wild Hanlons helped them find their clue. Luckily for both teams, the ladies found their cylinder in the very next pile of rocks they looked under. That’s some Wild Hanlon luck right there! Or as I call it, Mullet Magic!
Around this time, I remembered that I still had a whole hour left of this show. This moment of realization was then followed by sobs and general despair. Why, NBC? Why???
Anyhoo, twenty-four hours later, we found our teams in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was happy for the change of scenery, but the complete lack of travel intrigue seemed like a glaring oversight. I mean, one moment these teams are in Alaska and Hawaii, and at another, they’re in the Midwest. What gives? Nevertheless, the Alaska teams arrived at the building’s South entrance, and the Hawaiian teams at the North. Laird then called up and said, “Meet me at lover’s lane. I’ll be waiting.” Okay, he didn’t say that, but he did tell everyone to meet him out front by the Abe Lincoln statue. Well, who could ever resist the Siren song of Laird? Both sets of teams immediately went running towards the host, but before they could get to him, they encountered… each other! Yes, all ten teams were now standing face to face! And I couldn’t have cared less!
With this not-so-shocking development bowling over America (not really), we went to commercial, and when we returned, all ten teams were now standing under the watchful eye of an Abe Lincoln statue. Surely he’d imbue his wisdom to these teams! Or not. We then learned that one team from Alaska and one team from Hawaii would be working together to find the next destination. The teams of teams (or Meta-Teams, as I’m wont to call them) would be determined by order of arrival. That meant that the Air Forcers (1st in Hawaii) would be working with the Ex-CIAs (first in Alaska). The Southies were paired with the Fogals, the Young Professionals with the Geniuses, the Hanlons with the Graduates, and the Miss USAs with the Browns (thus forming Team Über Dumb).
Teams then learned that their laptops would also have super duper access to Orbitz.com for any travel arrangements, and with that, each meta-group boarded their own bus which, by the way, would be heading in the wrong direction until teams gave their driver a proper destination. Again, nice touch. Oh, and by the way, at the end of this stage, someone would be eliminated. FINALLY. Ah, but one more twist! The teams’ maps, clues, and prior destinations (ie. Lake George, S.S. Jefferson, Lincoln) would all be hints for the next location, but what the groups didn’t know was that the clue could lead them to two different destinations. One interpretation would lead the teams to the famed artifacts. Another interpretation could lead them way off course. Very tricky! If only the show were as exciting as it was clever.
Well, the Miss USAs and Browns may have been worthless during the first hour, but somehow, their joint forces yielded a smarter, more effective thinking unit. They quickly decoded the map using the cylinder and found the words “Mt. Theodore Roosevelt.” Hmmm… what could that be? What in the midwest could possibly have anything to do with mountains and Roosevelt? I just hope they don’t RUSH and overlook MORE clues.
Meanwhile, over in another bus, Wild Hanlon paterfamilias Pat announced, “I’m guessing Colorado. That’s my first guess immediately.” That’s a great strategy. Make random guesses based on nothing whatsoever. I can just imagine him reading a clue that says, “Travel to the ocean.” “I’m guessing we need to take a train to Moscow. Just gettin’ a feeling. My mullet’s tinglin’!”
The Hanlons may have been employing some Mullet Magic, but the other teams were using strange tools like “logic” and “deduction.” Well, almost everyone else was. The CIA and Air Force group focused intently on the bizarre painting from Hawaii, not realizing that there was a code on the other side. Yes, nothing instills faith in our secret intelligence like when an ex-CIA member can’t find a clue written on the back of a painting. I know the concept of “turning things over” may be a little advanced for our spies, but I think maybe, just maybe, they’re capable of going to that next level.
Back in the Brown/USA bus, the brothers suggested Mt. Rushmore, but the beauty queens were reluctant to embrace the idea. “It can’t be that,” one of them said. Yeah, no way. Definitely not Mt. Rushmore. I mean, just because all the clues point to it doesn’t mean that it’s correct. Amateurs.
Nevertheless, the Brown/USAs asked their driver if he could go to Mt. Rushmore, and when he said yes, the teams erupted in cheers, dancing, squeals, and any other sort of annoying sound and movement you could expect. OMG! MT. RUSHMORE!!! I MUST SCREAM!!!!
Eventually, all the other teams figured out that their next destination was Rushmore. All the other teams except the Geniuses and Young Professionals. Turns out the Geniuses (said sarcastically again) thought that they might have to travel to Mt. Theodore Roosevelt, but one of the Young Professionals — the girl who looked like Anne-Marie Johnson from What’s Happening Now! — insisted that there was no such place. In fact, she claimed that it had to be Rushmore. Oh, but that’s too easy, the Geniuses said. Actually, no. The easy thing would be to take the clue at face value and go to Mt. Theodore Roosevelt. The trickier thing would be to deduce Mt. Rushmore from all the accumulated clues. Way to go, GENIUSES.
Nevertheless, Francis the GENIUS then told us, “It’s almost as if you have to dumb yourself down, and it’s hard to when you’re smart.” Yes, Francis is quite the smart guy. But was he smart enough to realize that LAMBCHOPS ARE NOT IN STYLE?? Methinks not! Anyway, the Young Professionals caved and agreed to Mt. Theodore Roosevelt, which got me excited. I always love when teams make silly mistakes. They will all rue the day when they shunned the fake What’s Happening Now! lady! And to add insult to injury, as the team drove off to their erroneous destination, they passed a sign that read, “Rush to where the treasure stands.” Get it? Rush and treasure? It would have been really cool had we not later in the show realized that the sign had been erected by one of the show’s sponsors. Lame.
Lookin’ sexy, Francis!
We then saw about sixty seconds of exciting television, but sadly, it came in the form of a commercial for Heroes, a new NBC show this fall. It looked pretty cool. Then again, so did Treasure Hunters. Nevertheless, after the commercial break, we found the Young Professionals and Geniuses fourteen hours later as they headed to Mt. Theodore Roosevelt. One guy named Drew, who looked sort of like a jacked version of Justin Guarini, told us that he thought something was wrong. He didn’t know what it was, but it was wrong. Spider-Man has Spidey Sense. Drew has Rushmore-y Sense.
Elsewhere in America, the Browns and Miss USAs arrived first at Mt. Rushmore where they received their next call from our favorite Tub of Laird. The teams learned that they needed to find an artifact hidden in Mt. Rushmore. Laird then revealed a little known fact: there was a secret chamber in the mountain somewhere with a time capsule of America’s most treasured documents. You know, the Pamela and Tommy Lee sex tape, Paris Hilton’s hacked T-Mobile address book, Rob and Amber’s wedding vows. The important stuff. Well, the teams would now have to find similar time capsules hidden on the mountain. In order to find them, they’d have to take the Presidential Trail and hike to the view where you can just see “two.” Ah, sounding cryptic, but don’t let me interrupt. Go on, Laird with your boring self:
“Pay attention to the natural order of things, but remember: history has a way of changing that natural order,” Laird advised elusively. He then noted that there were only nine artifacts for ten teams; so whoever wound up without their own personal time capsule was going home. Oh, and teams were now working on their own again. Smell ya later, brief partnerships!
Well, the Miss USAs aggressively attacked the Presidential Trail and its myriad of steps. “No sweat!” they said happily. Well, it may not have been any sweat for the ladies, but I guarantee that there’d be plenty of perspiration for the Brown gentlemen. Three steps up the trail, and you just knew they’d have pit stains the size of a human head. Elsewhere, as their bus pulled up to Mt. Rushmore, the Fogals led the Southies in a brief prayer for good luck. See? They’re good Christians. Sometimes…
Meanwhile, the beauty queens reached the view of just two presidents — Washington and Lincoln (the first and sixteenth presidents, FYI. Remember? Pay attention to the natural order of things? Well, I AM, LAIRD!). Unfortunately, without the mental help of the Browns, the Miss USAs were now completely useless again and wound up wandering around confusedly.
Hey, remember those Geniuses? Well, they and the Young Professionals had finally arrived at Mt. Roosevelt, which was only 37 miles away from Mt. Rushmore. You know, the way Laird made it seem, I thought they’d be in New Mexico or something by then. Nevertheless, the teams ran to what they thought was their destination, but all they found was a metal cylinder (sound familiar?) standing in the middle of a strange “anamorphous” picture (also sound familiar?). Turns out that the anamorphous painting was designed in such a way that when it reflected in the metal cylinder, it created a clear image of Theodore Roosevelt. Well, Taryn (the What’s Happening Now! girl) was momentarily relieved when she saw the Roosevelt image. “Good job,” she said. “We know we’re in the right place.” Haha, SUCKER! Tricked by Treasure Hunters! Even the Miss USAs didn’t fall for this. Anyway, Laird then revealed to us that had the team placed their metal cylinder on their bizarre painting, just like this Roosevelt one, the team would see a clear image of… Mt. Rushmore! Gosh, this show is so damn clever. I’ve never said “Huh!” so many times, and yet been so bored.
At the next commercial break, I was displeased to find one Taylor Hicks gyrating on screen and hawking Fords, which are no less cool than ever, thanks to the Soul Patrol leader. When this dreadful ad finally ended, we came back to the big treasure hunt where the Wild Hanlons were now searching for the next clue. Keep in mind that Laird clearly told them to take the Presidential trail and search for a view. So what did Pat Hanlon do? He poked around in a garbage can and studied rocks. In fact, he picked up anything that might be loose and sniffed around. How he was going to find a view inside a garbage can or under a rock was beyond me. Nevertheless, this behavior was not doing much to improve the stereotypes people have of mullet-heads.
“Is Mt. Rushmore in this here garbage basket?”
“This ain’t Mt. Rushmore, is it?”
As for the Browns, they were pretty much dying, as expected. Plus, they were sort of lost — again proving that when the brothers and the beauty queens are separated, both teams become totally worthless. Kind of like a TV remote with one battery. Gotta have two!
Well, soon lots of teams were scurrying around Mt. Rushmore, and blah blah blah, a whole gaggle of them descended on the artifact area, which were located over a ridge just next to that view that the beauty queens had discovered not so long ago. However, before we could see everyone pounce on these artifacts, we then headed back to Mt. Theodore Roosevelt once again where the Young Professionals and the Geniuses were still laboring over what to do. Meanwhile, the camera man zoomed into the Roosevelt image about twelve times in the span of thirteen seconds. Listen, people. If you ever see your camera man spending more time on a random object than you, chances are you should check out that random object. Nevertheless, everyone was acting completely daft, especially the Geniuses (insert air quotes here) who insisted that SOMETHING was there. Had to be! Luckily, since the teams were all equipped with handy-dandy Motorola Razrs, the Young Professionals decided to call the other teams to find out where they were. No one was dumb enough to answer except the Hanlons, who quickly said they were at Mt. Rushmore looking around. Drew immediately lied and said that yeah, they were there too. Looking for, uh, the document. And with that, both teams went scurrying. The Hanlons went searching for a “document” while the Mt. Theodore Roosevelt losers hopped back on their bus and headed to Rushmore. I’m proud to announce that at long last, Treasure Hunters was showing signs of life.
After the next break, we went back to all those teams who had discovered the artifacts. When I say “artifacts,” I use that term loosely. Turns out that the “artifacts” were actually a bunch of oversized cookie tins with a password-protected combo lock attached. Now all the teams had to do was figure out the password and retrieve the artifact inside. Or, in the case of Team Southie, shake the tins and hope the combo would come loose.
Anyway, the teams all set about trying to figure out how to crack the code. Basically, it was the corresponding numbers of the presidents on Rushmore’s facade in that order. For example, Washington would be one, Jefferson would be three, Roosevelt would be twenty-six, and Lincoln would be sixteen. Oops! Cracked the code by accident! (132616)
Well, the teams all sensed that the President’s number had something to do with the password. Immediately, the idiot Fogal daughter asked her dad, “Who’s the first president?” (Smacking my forehead. What is it with the hypocritically religious that their daughters have to be total morons? Again, note the Weaver family). Anyway, this girl, whose name was Kayte (yes, spelled like that), then nervously asked her father, “George Washington is what number? Dad? One?” Just to keep count, Treasure Hunters has so far destroyed my faith in the CIA, the Air Force, and now the students of America. Great!
Update: Okay, I just assumed Kayte was like 17. Turns out she’s 25… and a TEACHER!!! So now I’m doubly concerned for the schools of America. This woman is teaching our youth??
Elsewhere on the mountain, the Browns were slowly approaching the artifacts, but that whole “massive obesity” thing was keeping them back. The Hanlons, on the other hand, were totally lost. They wound up wandering into a cave — yes, a cave — and in a nifty twist of fate, there just happened to be a random crack through which the guys could see just two heads on Mt. Rushmore. This, of course, sent the Hanlons off in the completely wrong direction. I mean, if they can get sidetracked by a random pebble, just imagine what a misleading fake-out view could do?
Back at the artifacts area, nearly every team was struggling with the code. The problem, it turned out, was that no one could remember what number president Theodore was. Finally, someone whispered, “We gotta use Ask.com!!” Gosh, I’m surprised it took them so long to figure that out, considering that everyone seemed to be wearing ASK.COM T-SHIRTS. I’m used to shameless product placement, but this was getting ridiculous. Finally, the Air Force team got their box open but ooops! There was nothing in it! Next to open their artifact tin were the Southie Boys, and they actually had an artifact inside. Ah — so all that shaking before wasn’t as silly as I thought. Well done, Southies! Now please be silent so I don’t have to hear your awful Boston accents.
Anyway, this first of seven artifacts was actually just a map which contained the location of the treasure. Unfortunately, the map happened to be blank. Oh well. My real question, however, was how this cryptic map could pass as a time capsule similar to the one hidden in Mt. Rushmore. I mean, this was the worst time capsule ever. A blank map? I couldn’t even imagine what was in the real time capsule. A paper napkin? A table mat? Some straws?
Nevertheless, now that they had secured first place, the Southie boys all congratulated themselves. “Glad we shook the box and made sure something was in there. That was awesome!” they said. Yeah, wicked good thinking! You guys must be spending a lot of time in Hahvahd Yahd!
For those of you wondering, the Brown brothers were still hiking up the trail, and as for the Fogals, well, I didn’t know how they’d open their box with that dumb daughter of theirs hanging around. Even though at that point they knew all the numbers for each of the presidents, Kayte was still totally inept. “163611!” she suggested. I don’t even know where she got that second “1″, let alone how she arrived at that order. I tend to think she was just tossing random numbers out there.
I guess God was feeling merciful, however, and rather than smiting this family, he allowed them to gain entry to the box. Eventually, all the teams there — with the exception of those busty grad students (stuck on Roosevelt’s number) — retrieved their artifacts and moved on. Meanwhile, at the base of the mountain, the Young Professionals and the Geniuses showed up. Ah yes. The crunch was on. Further intensifying the situation were the Wild Hanlons who had finally moved out of the cave and were back hot on the trail of those artifacts. Might the Young Professionals or Geniuses be able to pass the rednecks?
Up with the artifacts, the Browns and the Grad Students were now furiously attacking their boxes. Eventually, the girls managed to open theirs first, leaving the brothers to simply stare on longingly. Aaaand commercial. When we returned, we had a little update: only three maps remained for four teams. And by the way, I haven’t mentioned this because quite honestly, it was so annoying I was hoping to never think of it again, but Treasure Hunters could not resist repeating expository information over and over and over again. Seriously, if Laird told me to “Pay attention to the natural order of things” one more time, I thought I might just unplug the TV and specifically not pay attention to any sort of order ever again.
Anyway, after the commercial, the Brown brothers managed to open up their box, which meant that we were down to only three teams, including the Wild Hanlons who had just arrived at the artifacts. They had a significant lead on the Geniuses and Young Professionals, but one problem: they were kind of, um, dumb. Pat Hanlon once again used no logic whatsoever to determine the box code. “Write these numbers down, please,” he said. “9, 3, 1, and 2.” Okay, seriously, Pat has to stop listening to his mullet for advice. It just doesn’t work.
As the Hanlons entered random numbers over and over again, the Geniuses began to close in on the area. The Young Professionals, however, seemed to be lost on the trail. This was bad news for me because I sort of liked the YPs. Any team that has a fake Justin Guarini, a fake Ann-Marie Johnson, and a mute sidekick is fine by me. Unfortunately for them, the Geniuses found the artifacts, and even worse, they then allied with the Hanlons on account of them all being from Texas. Now the YPs had no chance.
Sure enough, the Geniuses gave their be-mulleted allies the code, and within seconds, the Hanlons had their hands on their map. But in an odd twist of fate, the Geniuses could not open their own box. Uh oh! And here come the Young Professionals! It was gonna be a password race! Yay!!!
We then went to commercial YET AGAIN, and when we returned, both teams were furiously working on their combos. There was no way that the Young Professionals would be able to make up for all that lost time, but who knew? Turned out that teams had to press the rectangular reset button before entering any codes, and because the Geniuses (air quotes again) weren’t doing that, they couldn’t open their box. Sadly, whatever advantage this gave the Young Professionals was squandered when they stopped trying to figure out the code and simply tried to pry open the box with their fingers. Seriously, what is the deal with people trying to rip locks off boxes? It’s not gonna happen!
Sure enough, the Geniuses switched to a different box, and because it was a “fresh” combo pad (no need to press the reset button), they were able to open it up and get their artifact. Sucks for the Young Professionals, especially since they were the ones who wanted to go to Rushmore in the first place and not Mt. Theodore Roosevelt. Besides, they’re a hell of a lot prettier to look at than Team Manboobs. Oh well. If The Amazing Race has taught us anything, it’s that sometime we must say goodbye to our favorite teams. Bye guys. And good luck Young Professional-ing.
What did you think of this show? Fun? Exciting? Boring? Derivative? All of the above?