This may be the most entertaining season yet of The Amazing Race.
Instead of arriving as teams to compete, like every other prior season, every competitor arrives alone to face The Amazing Race.
Twenty-two complete strangers will be paired up for a nine country, 17-city, 36,000-mile race around the world for $1 million.
That’s a LOT of trust to put in some random’s hands.
“Ideally, I’d like someone with a little more charm than me, because I can be a pain in the ass,” Butcher Michael Rado, from Pittsburgh, says.
He says most people misjudge him because of his beard and tattoos, but he actually has a genius IQ.
Host Phil Keoghan explains they’ll compete for an advantage in choosing their partners, and sends them on a hunt for a piece of luggage with a Panamanian flag.
The order in which they return, with the right flag, determines the order in which they get to choose their partner.
This is when we learn who knows the difference between north and south. Pretty hilarious, actually.
“You went the wrong way from the beginning so I’m not going to listen to you now,” Police K9 Officer Jessie snarks at Army Drill Sergeant Francesca, within the first few minutes.
And then Karma pops in and partners Jessie with Francesca for The Amazing Race. LOL
There are a number of interesting characters this season.
Usually, we think of the pairs as team units from Day One, like #TheDoctors or the dating goths.
With this format, we’re given an opportunity to consider the competitors on a whole different, individual level.
There’s Floyd, the college drum major, who memorized all the flags of the world for the show.
Jenn, the Asian model, who plans to use her looks to advance her game.
Not everyone is impressed with Jenn’s strategy.
“Oh my God, I really don’t want to be partners with the Asian Barbie,” Jessie says.
Scott is a Type A personality who isn’t sure he can play with somebody who has the same qualities.
“I am a gay redhead,” Scott says he’s difficult to work with. Fabulous.
There’s Kevin, the surfer boy from San Diego, with the freaky girl voice, and zero sense of urgency.
He and model Jenn bond during the flag suitcase hunt by following “the white people” together.
Seth, a Seattle cop, is first back to Phil with the correct flag of Panama.
Seth picks Olive, the firefighter from Rhode Island and the first woman to arrive at the finish, as his partner.
In second place is Matt, a pro snowboarder with an Olympic gold medal. Matt chooses Redmond, the former Navy Corpsman with a prosthetic leg, as his partner.
Matt says Redmond seems like the kind of guy who won’t give up when the going gets tough. Good guess.
They are the only two-man team.
I sorta love Becca, the dorky rock climbing instructor who is wearing a “fun meter.” She reminds me of some of my favorite women.
She does not GAF what anybody thinks of her. And she always has fun with everything she does. You can just tell.
Becca picks “Urkel” to be her partner – that’s Floyd the college kid who knows his flags cold.
And they are seriously the perfect team.
I can tell Karma likes them, too. Because they got the Express Pass to use later in the game when they need to skip a Detour to pass some of their competitors.
Army Officer Tara makes a pity move and picks Joey, the police sergeant from Massachusetts.
He was the only one who grabbed luggage with the wrong flag, and had to go back to the luggage shop for the right one.
When Jessie and Francesca get paired up, because they are the last two left, it’s obvious they don’t like each other very much.
“We had a few words earlier,” Jessie tells Phil.
But despite the unlikely pairing, they start out with any advantage.
Phil tells them he’s driving them to the airport to make up for not getting to pick their teammates.
“We’re the only girl team. We’re going to rock this out girlfriend,” Jessie says.
“You’ve already had your first fight,” Phil says, from the taxi’s driver’s seat.
Everybody’s headed to LAX, to catch flights to Panama City, Panama.
“I thought Panama City, Florida, was cool,” Logan, a medical sale rep, jokes.
He’s paired with artist London. They are #TeamLoLo.
It’s one of the most disorganized starts to The Amazing Race that I’ve ever seen.
Seth and Olive start out going the wrong way.
And pretty much, so does everybody else.
“Everybody you ask in Panama, does not know where the Panama canal is,” Scott rants.
Seth and Olive find the canal first, and find the first clue. They have to find a camping tower.
“Shoot or scoot,” Seth reads the Detour at the top of the spiral staircase in the tower.
Scoot involves boating down a river against a professional boating team, until they win.
Shoot requires the team to shoot fish off logs into the water, with arrows.
“We are in a perfect position for Operation Kill Fishy,” Becca says.
But the shooting game is so difficult, and the competitors are doing so badly, that local birds are just staying there watching them.
I think Becca and Floyd were the ONLY team to complete the Shoot detour. The other teams who tried it quit, and switched to Scoot.
“I tried the bow and arrow once in gym class,” math-geek Vanck volunteers.
The girls’ team is struggling not to swear. LOL
A cop and an Army drill sergeant. Good luck with that. I bet the editors had fun with them.
Seth and Olive are the first to reach the finish.
“I think I made the right choice,” Seth says.
“My biggest fear is that I would have as a partner someone I wouldn’t work well with,” he said at the start of the race. That’s not a concern anymore.
Matt and Redmond are the only team that won the boat race in one shot.
Joey capsizes his boat, and Vanck capsizes his boat. Lotta people in the water.
The Asian duo of #LongHairDontCare is a hot mess – but they really don’t seem to care that they’re constantly lost and behind.
“How did two Asians get so lost? I don’t understand,” Jenn complains. (Sooo many politically-incorrect driving jokes could go here, but I don’t want to offend anyone.)
#TeamLizandMike are doing almost as badly as Jenn and Kevin, but they’re certainly more likeable.
They start out doing the Shoot Detour, but end up switching to Scoot. Which isn’t much easier for them.
“There’s lakes in Missouri. I know it, I’ve seen them,” Mike gives Liz a hard time for never having paddled a boat before. But he’s not mean.
And Jenn and Kevin haven’t even found the camping tower yet when Liz and Mike decide to switch Detours.
When they do find it, Kevin strolls up the tower’s spiral staircase like he’s not in any hurry.
They might have had a guaranteed last place, but Mike and Liz capsize their boat on the second leg, and then get lost trying to find the finish line.
The Scoot detour gets shut down due to lack of daylight before #LongHairDontCare can’t actually finish it, and they arrive at the finish line first.
But, because they didn’t finish the Detour, they got a two-hour penalty on their check in at the finish.
Mike and Liz arrive just under the wire, and Jenn and Kevin are eliminated.
Which is not surprising because they were the only team that didn’t seem to be trying very hard. #NoLoss
“I gained a new little sister – we have the same hair,” Jenn says after they’re eliminated. Well, that’s certainly something to take home with you.
That was too close. #LongHairDontCare really didn’t care. And they didn’t deserve to be on The Amazing Race.
Obviously, there are several other teams in The Amazing Race, but they didn’t do anything interesting enough to catch my attention.
Maybe that will change next week.
Things we’re left wondering
Will these teams be nicer to each other than the pairs have been in the past? Are competitors more, or less, abusive to their partners when they have a pre-existing relationship?
What’s up with this season’s sense of direction, for God’s sake? That was one of the biggest scrambles I’ve ever seen when they got off the plane.
The Amazing Race airs on CBS at 10/9c on Thursdays.