TAR Australia:’I see whingeing in your face’
It has been one year, but The Amazing Race: Australia finally returned on the 30th with its second season. How I’ve missed this version of the Race (and the accents)! Based on the first episode, I think there’s a very good chance of this season being even better than the first one.
There are two new twists this season and I’m excited about both of them. One of them is that teams are now required to vote each leg for who should be U-Turned. Technically this is not something completely new, as it’s been used before on the Israeli version of TAR. However, seeing how I’ve never watched that, I’m really excited to see how it plays out.
The second is called a Salvage Pass. It’s awarded to the team that arrives at the mat first and consists of a choice of an hour’s head start at the beginning of the next leg or saving whoever places last that leg. This gives the team that receives it a HUGE advantage; if used properly, you could know out a strong team AND give yourself a boost for the next leg. Or you could get rid of an annoying team… or keep a likable one… so many possibilities! What I wonder is if there will be more of these handed out during the Race. It could be a more pleasant alternative to the non-elimination legs!
Another thing I’m extremely pleased with is the cast. Once again, the casting team has done a fine job of putting together an interesting & diverse group; quite a few teams stood out already. There were Sue&Teresa, the hippie-hairdressers with a tendency to get angry, James&Sarah as the reincarnated Chris&Anastasia (they will bicker and they will fight and I’ll be loving every minute of it), sisters Lucy&Emilia, twins Michelle&Jo and flatmates Sticky&Sam.
The episode itself was brilliant, with the first challenge already being more exciting than the entire finale of TAR 20. The Race kicked off in Sydney, with the teams being required to navigate their car out of a huge puzzle car park, ‘Unblock me’ style. They could only drive in a straight line, which meant teams who got there early would have more work to do. Worth noting about this challenge was Sarah and her ridiculous outfit – more fitting for a promenade than the beginning of a race around the world.
Annoying, overconfident workmates Paul&Steve were the first to finish the challenge, followed by Sticky&Sam and -shockingly enough- the blond twins. I was sure they would be the bimbo type, since Sam&Renae did so well last Race, but in fact they ran an overall pretty good leg.
Manila, the Philippines
The first location teams flew to was Manila, the Philippines, where they were required to eat 8 balut eggs per team. Some teams chocked, but none more so than the twins, who went from first to last. I’m not sure if I like them yet, so I wasn’t too sad because of that. Who I did feel bad for? Sticky&Sam. They seem like genuine, nice human beings and already they encountered bad luck. They spent all their money on the cab ride to the challenge, so they had to ask James&Sarah for some cash… who refused, got in a cab and left them there. Therein lies the reason I can’t stand them. It’s only leg one! You don’t need to be a jerk at this point.
As all seemed lost for Sticky&Sam… I’ve no idea what happened, because the video had a missing part and skipped to the middle of the Detour. One thing that happened during that time, though is karma. Sticky&Sam arrived in fourth place at the Detour, while Sarah&James fell to last place!
The Detour was a choice between learning and performing a dance ritual -which in the end, I think only the hairdressers completed- and entering a muddy pen and catching four pigs. Despite certain people taking some rather amusing falls (Sarah, obviously was one of them), teams didn’t really struggle with this.
It was the last challenge where they did: teams had to build a raft and paddle it across a bay to the Check-in Mat. While some teams had little to no trouble, others’ rafts fell apart and they had to start over. Dane&Adam were one of them; they almost finished first, only to fall to 9th place. Paul&Steve also had trouble building the raft, which put them at the back of the pack with sisters Lucy&Emilia. In the end, it was father-and-daughter team Ross&Tarryn who placed first and scored $10,000 and the Salvage Pass.
Between the sisters and Paul&Steve, I was definitely rooting for the sisters. They’re charming, funny and likable, whereas the workmates annoy me – Paul especially. I know Lucy&Emilia don’t have much of a shot at winning this whole thing, but I’d like them to hang on for as long as possible. Once they asked a local to help them build the raft (which was very clever, since the clue didn’t specify it wasn’t allowed), I knew I’d be sad if they left. Despite leaving before Paul&Steve, they managed to check in last. Thankfully, Ross&Tarryn chose to save them using the Salvage Pass. I never like it when a likable team is eliminated first, so I’m glad they’re getting a second chance.
All things considered, I thought this was a great start to the season. My three favorite teams as of now are Sticky&Sam, Lucy&Emilia and… I’ll decide on the third one next week, after the first James-Sarah meltdown.