The Accidental Columnist: The Amazing Race 6 - Episode 1
by Raul Burriel
Published: November 17, 2004
Eleven teams of 2 people, each with an existing relationship, will race around the world for a one million dollar prize. In their odyssey, will they spread American values around the world or will they bring to life the caricature of the "ugly American"? This is The Amazing Race. My name is Raul and I'll be your guide through this, the 2 hour premiere of the sixth season of a show we affectionately call TAR. Those who know me know how I feel about The Amazing Race. I have repeatedly called it "the best reality TV show... EVER!" (well, at least since Anderson Cooper stopped hosting The Mole.) But after five seasons, can it really remain fresh? And can it live up to the expectations heaped upon it by CBS, which has chosen to promote it from its regular filler spot in the summer line-up to smack-dab in the middle of November Sweeps? Let's find out...
Those of you looking for a primer on the teams this time around can check out Dan Weltin's preview to Season 6. I will give you my own cursory impressions of each team with snide remarks included.
Kris and Jon: Long distance daters. She's in California. He's in Arizona. Apparently they think that participating in a reality show is a really good way of knowing if you're meant for each other. Cut to some promo footage of Kris and Jon by a pool. Gee, Kris sure does fill out that bikini nicely. They both look like models.
Lena and Kristy: Mormon sisters (and models) from Utah. Kristy's the traditional conservative Mormon girl. Lena's the younger sister and a chief candidate for Girls Gone Wild should they ever choose to visit Utah. She describes herself as "loose", "party girl" and "get crazy kinda girl". Sweet!
Lori and Bolo: Married professional wrestlers from Florida. Never heard of either of them but Lori's boobs are bigger than her head. That's gotta count for something. Bolo's big and dumb and huggable. Bolo says that their "sauvé" on the streets is gonna be an advantage. What's sauvé?
Donald and Mary Jean: The obligatory grandparents. They're from California. They won't have the stamina to beat the true competitors in this race but it'll be fun to see them humiliate the younger teams who think this is all going to be fun and games.
Avi and Joe: Best friends from Brooklyn. They look like they just escaped from the set of the latest "Revenge of the Nerds" movie. Avi, especially, is nerd-like, with a balding head, a gap in his teeth, glasses, and a nazzle voice. They're talking big and acting tough. Clearly, a lifetime of getting pummeled by bullies hasn't broken their spirits.
Hayden and Aaron: Dating actors from Hollywood. Let's give it up for Hayden who's decided she doesn't need fake boobs but still chooses to wear lowcut tops. Maybe she's hoping for the prize money in order to get the boob job. You can't get a gig in Hollywood without 'em.
Gus and Hera: Father and daughter "trying to improve their relationship." He still treats her like a little girl. Let's hope this team sticks around at least long enough for her to go wild. Perhaps this season we'll have a swing through the south of France? Oh, wait. Gus says he works for the CIA. Maybe we shouldn't mess with this team.
Jonathan and Victoria: Married "entrepreneurs". Apparently, she used to be a Playboy Playmate. Really? We'll see about that. A quick trip to Google will tell all... Oh, indeed! Jonathan's an ass. I instantly hate him. He dyed the *back* of his hair blue (not all of it, just the back!) He's talking all serious. Calls himself a "dictator". Cut to Jon and Vic in their in-ground hot tub. Victoria, can we see you in a bikini? Ah, yes, thank you. Cut to Jon and Vic in their Ferarri, driving through the front driveway of their mansion, past their Hummer. Why is it these two are competing for a million dollars?
Freddy and Kendra: Engaged models. Gee, there sure are a lot of models this time around. Let's face it, almost everyone who tries out for one of these shows is a model trying to get publicity. It's just that usually they promote themselves as waiters or office temps. At least this time they're being honest. Freddy tells us he's ten years older than Kendra. Man, those facial scrubs really work! He wants to start a family. Kendra's not ready yet. Can we get a shot of Kendra in a bikini? Oh yes, thank you.
Meredith and Maria: Best friends and roommates from Queens. They look - and sound - like they just escaped from Long Island. I'll be thankful if we don't get any shots of them in bikinis.
Adam and Rebecca: Ex-lovers trying to re-kindle their relationship. Because that always works. Particularly on a reality show. Adam works at a gym. He and Bolo can talk all about blasting their delts and enhancing their quads. He seems eccentric. His head is nearly shaved except for two tufts of hair near his browline that he's got tied up like bundles of wheat. This prompts the other teams to call him Hellboy. Rebecca seems muscular but not in the same league as Lori.
And They're Off!
This time around, the race begins in Chicago. Host Phil Keoghan gives us a rundown of the basic rules. At the end of each round, there is a Pit Stop. 8 of the Pit Stops are elimination points. The last team to arrive at each of these elimination points will be eliminated. It's important to note that Phil didn't say how many TOTAL Pit Stops there are, so we don't know how many non-elimination legs there are in the race.
The first clue instructs the teams to catch the blue line train to O'Hare where they'll catch one of three flights to Iceland. Rebecca informs Adam that it's cold in Greenland and warm in Iceland. Lena tells Kristy that her favorite band is from Iceland. Well, we gotta fill two hours somehow, right? There's panic in finding the train station. Lena and Kristy ask a cabby for directions so they can get to "O'Hara" (dude, if you can't get the name of the airport right, what chance do you have in Reykjavic?)
Once on the subway, alliances start forming. Gus is trying to convince Avi & Joe and Hayden & Aaron to "gun for" "the yellow shirt". He's referring to Jonathan, and I don't blame him. When Jonathan gets on the train, he starts shouting like he's just won the race. Dude, you found the subway. Congratulations.
Once at the airport, we learn that all three flights are scheduled to land in Iceland within 5 minutes of eachother. This doesn't prevent the teams from jockeying for flights, trying to get onto the one that leaves the earliest. Kris & Jon, Lori & Bolo, Jonathan & Victoria and Adam & Rebecca (let's call them group 1) get onto the first flight out of Chicago. Gus & Hera, Avi & Joe, and Hayden & Aaron (group 2) are scheduled to be on the second flight out, but it's been delayed. Instead, Meredith & Maria, Lena & Kristy, Freddy & Kendra, and Don & Mary Jean (group 3) are next to depart. Will group 3 still make their connection in Boston?
Welcome to Beautiful Iceland!
Surprise! Group 3 lands first! Once in Reykjavic, the teams have to grab a Toyota SUV and drive themselves to a Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. Do yourself a favor, guys. Take a minute to learn how to pronounce it. It'll help you later in the race. Freddy & Kendra are the first out of the parking lot, but with things so tight, it doesn't matter so much. It's 6 AM in Iceland and you're driving through misty highlands. Enjoy the scenery.
The next two flights arrive within 10 minutes of the first. All the teams are pretty much neck and neck. Now it's a matter of knowing where you're going and doing some good navigating. This is where good communication within your team and with the locals really pays off. Sadly, I think the producers weed out contestants with any kind of communication skills. Drivers shout at navigators. Navigators shout at drivers. Everyone shouts at the locals for directions. It's really ugly. It's a good think people in Iceland speak English, and are very polite.
It's always painful to watch couples arguing like they do on The Amazing Race, yet somehow strangely entertaining (in the same way that watching a family fall apart on Dr. Phil is entertaining). It's clear from the start that Jonathan & Victoria are not going to get along. They're the couple that are going to make you cringe until they're finally eliminated. Bolo keeps stopping to ask for directions (and Lori keeps shouting at him for not knowing where they are). Don & Mary Jean stop to ask people for directions but can pronounce the name of their destination. The locals seem very willing to help, but they don't understand what you're saying. Don just assumes the people are all "ripped" (at 6 AM?) Rebecca is telling off Adam for wearing sunglasses.
The teams find their way onto highway 1. Next stop, the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. You can see the waterfall from the highway. Freddy & Kendra arrive first, followed by Lena & Kristy. But without getting out of the car, Aaron decides this is the wrong waterfall. Back onto the highway they all go. A few minutes down the road, Freddy & Kendra turn around and head back to the first waterfall, with Lena & Kristy right behind them. Further back on highway 1, there's some strategy going on. Hayden & Aaron look to be the first to reach the waterfall, with Gus & Hera right behind them. Further down the road are Meredith & Maria, followed by Avi & Joe. Avi & Joe see the waterfall from the highway and slow down enough for Meredith & Maria to disappear into a fog bank. The girls have missed their destination. So far, it looks like Gus's alliance is holding steady as all three teams race to get the clue hidden behind the waterfall. But Bolo and Lori are close behind. The next destination is the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull, over 260 miles away. Four teams have now reached the waterfall and are back on highway 1 headed for Vatnajokull. It's right around this time that Meredith & Maria realize that maybe they missed the waterfall so they turn around. But no sooner have they turned around that they see four teams headed their way, led by Hayden & Aaron, and Aaron's waving at them to follow. "Honey, that's mean," Hayden says.
Kris & Jon and Adam & Rebecca are next to reach the waterfall. Freddy & Kendra finally make it back to the waterfall they dismissed earlier as the wrong waterfall and find their clue. Lena & Kristy and Jonathan & Victoria are next to arrive. Don & Mary Jean are the 10th team to arrive. Only Meredith & Maria are left, if they ever realize their mistake.
On highway 1, on the way to Vatnajokull, the teams start bunching up. Soon, everyone is passing Gus and Hera, and Hera, who's behind the wheel, is crying. I think daddy should drive from now on. An hour and a half down the road from the waterfall, Meredith & Maria catch up to Adam & Rebecca who have stopped for directions. Finally, they learn they've missed the waterfall altogether. 90 minutes down the road to get the clue, and 90 minutes back. They are 3 hours behind everyone else.
Once at Vatnajokull, the teams have to sign up for slots on a shuttle that will take them across the glacier. Only three teams may ride each shuttle and departures are staggered. Hayden & Aaron, Bolo & Lori, and Lena & Kristy are on the first shuttle. Adam & Rebecca, Avi & Joe, and Jon & Kris are on the second shuttle. Jonathan & Victoria, Gus & Hera, and Freddy & Kendra are on the third shuttle. There was a time when Gus & Hera were leading most of the teams driving down highway 1. Seriously, Hera should never drive again.
Once at the shuttle destination, we discover that the teams must choose a snowmobile and navigate their way to a camping area. Uh-oh. Camping area? Surely you're not suggesting that a team dumb enough to fall 3 hours behind everyone else is going to be permitted to catch up simply because everyone must camp for the night? Once at the camp, the teams must search the tents to select a departure time for the shuttle in the morning. The options are 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM and 11:30 AM. Indeed, it seems that Meredith & Maria could do the grand tour of Iceland. So long as they get to camp sometime that night, they'll be leaving the camp no later than 11:30 AM the next morning.
Once on the glacier, Avi remarks "40 years, our people spent wandering the desert, so we could wander around on a glacier." That's gotta be the line of the night.
The teams come straggling into the tent camp. Jonathan's being an ass because "we didn't get what we wanted" (he seems to repeat this line over and over again). He tells us that Victoria "needs to step up." Honestly, I think we could do with a whole lot less whining on his part. Gus & Hera come into camp on a slow moving snowmobile driven by Gus (I'm beginning to wonder if having Gus drive the SUV would have gotten them to their destination any faster). The snowmobile tips over just as they come to a halt. Bolo & Lori put on a little wrestling exhibition for the gang. And, hours after the rest, Meredith & Maria arrive at the tent camp, marking the end of the first hour of our two hour premiere. OK, let's call this a test run. From now on, no more screw-ups. Meredith & Maria were lucky.
Follow the Leader
Morning comes around. Jonathan & Victoria have made up. Everyone's cold. Gus comes out in the snow in his underwear and uses the snow to wash up. Gus is a big man. It's not a pretty sight. "I'm so cold, my implants are frozen!" exclaims Lori.
The first shuttle departs at 10:00 AM. On it are Bolo & Lori and Hayden & Aaron. The second shuttle, departing at 10:30 AM, carries Lena & Kristy, Jon & Kris and Avi & Joe. The 11:00 AM shuttle carries Freddy & Kendra, Jonathan & Victoria, and Adam & Rebecca. The final shuttle carries Gus & Hera, Don & Mary Jean, and Meredith & Maria. At the end of the shuttle ride, they've been reunited with their Toyota SUVs and instructions to drive to Glacier Ice Beach, 20 miles away. Lori & Bolo, knowing that they suck at navigating and their sauvé (whatever that is) isn't paying off, decide they'll wait for Hayden & Aaron to depart and then follow them. Hayden isn't happy about having these hangers-on following them everywhere.
The teams reach Glacier Ice Beach in pretty much the same order they left the Vatnajokull Glacier. Detour time! "Ice Climb" or "Ice Search". The teams can either drive over 35 miles and scale an ice wall or drive across the street, boat around a 7 sq. mile lagoon filled with mini icebergs, and try to find a buoy holding their next clue. Anyone familiar with TAR knows how this works. One task is easy but will take a long time. The alternative task is challenging but can be completed easily. It should be noted that the easy task is often frustrating and many teams who choose the easy task eventually give up and resort to doing the hard task instead. Just once, I'd like to see a quick and easy task vs. a slow and hard task. That'd confuse 'em.
Lori & Bolo, Hayden & Aaron, Lena & Kristy, Jon & Kris, Freddy & Kendra, Adam & Rebecca, Don & Mary Jean, and Meredith & Maria all choose Ice Climb. Avi & Joe, Jonathan & Victoria, and Gus & Hera all choose Ice Search ("Boats are a lot more fun," explains Gus). Honestly, I'm not sure either Avi & Joe or Gus & Hera could do Ice Climb. I'm surprised Don & Mary Jean think they can climb an ice wall, but we'll see.
Lori & Bolo are first up the ice wall, with Hayden & Aaron close behind. Tired of following, the wrestlers finally take the lead. Big mistake! The clue tells them to drive themselves to the Pit Stop, the Blue Lagoon. Meanwhile, Avi & Joe are having a leisurely tour of an ice-filled lagoon. "Can we get close enough to touch one of the glaciers?" Avi asks. "No," says the pilot. Jonathan's at the stern of his little zodiac, standing up, again screaming like he's just won the whole shebang. Victoria tells him to sit. "No, leave me alone!" he protests, like a two year-old. "He's gotta see, though," explains Victoria, in regards to the pilot. "Leave me alone!" he remarks again. "Move aside," says the pilot. And Jonathan sits his ass down. Maybe Victoria can trade places with the pilot.
Back at the Ice Climb, Bolo's already asking for directions. He's approached a tour bus operator for help. Meanwhile, Hayden & Aaron zoom right by. Maybe following the actors throughout the entire race wouldn't be such a bad idea. But Lori & Bolo have got their own plans. Hayden & Aaron take some time to tell us their thoughts on Lori & Bolo. "I like Bolo," Aaron tells us. Hayden agrees. "She's the obnoxious one," Aaron adds.
In the lagoon, Avi & Joe are still going around in circles. So far, they've only spotted a false alarm. What looked like the buoy turned out to be another team in the distance. Jonathan & Victoria have better luck. They're out of the water well in advance of Avi & Joe, who are starting to have second thoughts.
Freddy & Kendra are just ahead of Adam & Rebecca on their way to the Ice Climb. Adam & Rebecca give us their thoughts on the models. "They're nice," says Rebecca. "They're real nice," says Adam. Freddy & Kendra aren't so kind, making derogitory remarks regarding Adam & Rebecca's stature.
On the way to Ice Climb, Don's having trouble with his car seat. He's bent over like a pretzel, his head perched right over the steering wheel, because he can't seem to adjust the seat properly. Mary Jean is trying to help, but to no avail. "You're going to have to sit like that until we get there."
At the ice lagoon, Avi & Joe finally find the buoy. There's no way of knowing how much time they lost, but it doesn't look good. Gus & Hera have also found the clue and are close behind.
At the Ice Climb, Don & Mary Jean are racing Meredith & Maria up the wall, and beating them. Seems that Don has suffered no adverse affects from his inability to operate his car seat properly. Go grandpa! All teams are now on their way to the Blue Lagoon, the first Pit Stop in this race.
Somewhere on the way to the Blue Lagoon, Bolo & Lori have realized they made a mistake in navigation. Bolo cannot apologize enough, but Lori will hear none of it. Meanwhile, Hayden & Aaron who, not too long ago, were tied with Bolo & Lori, are arriving at the Blue Lagoon. They're met at the Pit Stop by Phil and a blonde Nordic goddess. God, I love Iceland. "Welcome to Iceland," says the Goddess. "Hayden & Aaron," says Phil, "you're team number 1. You guys have won a trip Hawaii..."
Next to arrive at Kris & Jon, neck and neck with Lena & Kristy. Both hop out of their SUVs and start running to who knows where. "How do you know this is the way to go?" Kris shouts. "I don't," Jon replies, and both stop running. "Let's go this way." Kris & Jon are #2. Lena & Kristy are #3. But the road to the finish line is still a long, and many things can still go wrong.
Adam & Rebecca stop for gas. Or is it deisel? Anyone who's watched TAR before knows that you should CHECK before you start pumping! "Do we need deisel?" asks Rebecca. Why don't you just check? The fuel door says diesel. The fuel cap says diesel. So, of course, she starts pumping gas. Meanwhile, Adam goes inside the station to ask the kid behind the counter if he thinks they need gas or diesel. "How would one know?" Well, you could look on the fuel door, dumbass! "Is that bad?" Rebecca asks. "It's pretty bad," says the kid. Fortunately, the error is caught before they drive off. Now, I'm no mechanic, but I've seen The Amazing Race and I know that what you have to do is empty the tank and drain the fuel line. "How long will that take?" asks Rebecca. "Some time," says the kid. He's the master of understatement. A couple of friendly Icelanders are going to help Adam & Rebecca empty the tank. But how long will it take?
Freddy & Kendra are the 4th team to reach the Pit Stop. Jonathan & Victoria are 5th (he's still shouting like a maniac). Lori & Bolo are next. She's still complaining about getting lost and thinks that they're last. Even when they learn that they're 6th, she's upset that they got beat by Jonathan (whom she refers to as "blue hair").
Gus & Hera and Avi & Joe arrive at the Blue Lagoon. But rather than coming to where the Pit Stop is located, they've entered the parking lot and have entered the actual resort. At the distant far end of the resort, both teams can see the Pit Stop, but there's a lagoon between them and the finish line. They have to get back to their cars and circle around.
Adam & Rebecca and Meredith & Maria reach the Pit Stop simultaneously, but Adam & Rebecca beat the roommates to the finish line. Meredith & Maria wait anxiously as Phil tells Adam & Rebecca that they're team #7. The girls are relieved. They thought they were last and had just been beat out two feet before the finish line. Don & Mary Jean are team #9. All that's left are Avi & Joe and Gus & Hera. Who will reach the Pit Stop first? No surprises here. Gus & Hera were first to the resort, first to realize their mistake, and first to leave the parking lot. They're team #10. "Avi & Joe, you're the last team to arrive. I'm sorry to tell you, you've both been eliminated from the race."
Next week, more bickering! And your regular columnist, Dan Weltin, returns!
More resources on the Web: CBS Official Site and Sirlinksalot.net