Monthly Archives: May 2011

TAR Australia: ‘Like four seasons in a day’

Because of some technical problems, I couldn’t watch the second episode of The Amazing Race: Australia until earlier this day. However, it was worth the wait. Not only it was a 60 minutes long, but it was just as exciting as the first one.

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Imagination vs. Rationality

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Teams had to fly from Lombok to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, where they had to search amongst hundreds of women, each holding a fan, for one having their names on it, which they

Ryot and Liberty search for a fan

would then exchange for their next clue. Even though this task wasn’t particularly exciting to watch, there was plenty of drama prior to it.

To begin with, Matt & Tom secured their status as the Australian versions of The Cowboys by asking at what I think were the airport for a bus to take them to Ho Chi Minh City. No, navigating isn’t their strongest point, they know this as well. But the challenges are their saving grace and it was the same with Jet and Cord.

They are a likable team. However, at the pole opposite are Chris and Anastasia, the plastic couple. They are, at least in my eyes, the team to root against. When one counter lady told them the first available flight was departing the next day, Anastasia suggested they check out other agencies. That was common sense, to try and search for a better option. Chris seemed to disagree, however, and started yelling things like ‘That’s why a person like you shouldn’t talk’ and ‘You need discipline, you never had any’. Of course, he also called her an idiot. In a post leg interview, they both agreed that they fight, but ‘it’s not that bad’. Yeah, keep dreaming.

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Green and Yellow Clue Boxes

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Although four flights were necessary for all the teams to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, after they had found their fan and got their next clue, teams found out they had to catch another flight, this time to the city of Hue. Because of bad weather, the first flight was delayed and this gave all teams a chance to catch up.

The next task required teams to change the tires and replace the oil of a Jeep, before receiving their next clue. I like that there are more miscellaneous tasks on this Race. While the Roadblock-Detour-Pit Stop format is working just fine, when there are more challenges in a leg, then the placement changes more often. And that is exciting.

All teams started working on their car at the same time. Apparently, the trick was to get rid of the oil already in the engine first, since that takes longer. The only team that did this was Jeff & Luke, so they finished first, followed by the Surfers and Dave and Kelly. Sam and Renae, unfortunately, managed to screw up here. Renae put the wheel nuts the wrong way, which resulted in them leaving the task in 10th place.

But you know who I was impressed with? Anne-Marie and Tracy. This wasn’t something they had an edge over, yet they finished in eight place. On top of that, they managed to have fun while doing it. They are too lovable!

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Carry on!

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I think I am a bit traumatized after the four or five consecutive episodes of TAR 18, in which one side of the Detour involved transporting stuff. I mean, surely you can think of

Working the buffalo!

something else, right? Just Google ‘traditions in [Name of Country]’ and base a challenge on something you come across.

I wasn’t a fan of the ‘Carry Fowl’ side of this week’s Detour, which had teams (gasp!) carrying chickens from one place to another. The other side of the Detour, ‘Carabao’, required teams to use an ox-drawn plow to till the soil, until the plow caught on a buried rope attached to a hidden clue.

Everyone who chose to carry the chickens finished quickly. Quite a few teams chose the latter option though. Jeff & Luke, ‘Muscle & Bambi’, Anne-Marie & Tracy, The Reunited Sisters and Ryot & Liberty all went for the ‘Carabao’. However, only the couple and Jeff & Luke managed to find the clue. Everyone else had to backtrack and perform the other side of the Detour. The Workmates were hilarious, of course, during the ox challenge. One of them noted afterwards that ‘it didn’t’ take long for her to drop’.

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Seven emperors

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The Roadblock, however, I did enjoy. One team member had to retrieve seven coins representing seven emperors at the tomb of Minh Mang, then bring them back to Khai Dinh Tomb and put them in the correct order of the reign of the emperors. But the catch was that teams only found out they had to arrange them that way after they had returned to the Khai Dinh Tomb.

As a result, almost everyone had to return to the Minh Mang Tomb. Anastasia, Mo and Anne-Marie were, I think, the only ones who actually got it right the first time. Again, the Workmates showed perseverance: Anne-Marie was exhausted from the Detour, yet she stayed focus and finished the task before younger, stronger teams.

Still, I could not believe it that it was Anastasia who finished first. The thought of them winning a leg was almost unbearable; I really hoped either Nathan & Tyler or The Farmers, who had both finished right after them, would somehow surpass them. And, as the lovebirds wondered around, both teams did: Tyler & Nathan checked in first, followed by Matt & Tom. Only after that did Chris & Anastasia manage to find the mat and check in. Maybe you need a bit more discipline?

Mo and Mos actually came in fourth, but because of their 30 minute penalty they acquired at the end of the previous leg, they were dropped to seventh place, just ahead of the Workmates.

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‘Let’s do it together!’

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That left us with three teams: The sisters, Ryot and Liberty and Joey and Richard. I was really unsure who would get eliminated, but going into the episode I didn’t think any of them would be the first ones out. On the other hand, these are probably the three teams I don’t know what to make of, so I knew I wouldn’t be broken to see one of them go.

There’s a part of me that wants to like Alana & Mel. But they bicker so much and if they themselves don’t like each other, how can I? I admire how Richard and Joey motivate each other, but they tend to overdo it. Can’t you say your little mantras in your head? Also, Joey was beyond annoying during the Roadblock. Just because people don’t want to work with you, that doesn’t mean they’re being mean. So shut up and figure it out!

Sad siblings

Both were spared elimination in the end, as Ryot & Liberty were sent packing. They seemed like a likable team, but apart from Liberty puking last leg, I didn’t think they stood out very much. Even so, Liberty wanting them both to step on the mat at the same time was touching. What do you know: After all, I actually was sad to see them go.

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This has been another great episode and I enjoyed it very much.

The Amazing Race Australia: ‘Nothing’s smooth sailing with us’

The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business aired its last episode more than a week ago. Did you think we all had to wait four months for another season? Well, the Aussies are here to save the day – the first season of The Amazing Race: Australia started on the 16th of May.

I finally got to watch the premiere and I have to say I’m impressed. My biggest fear, going into the season, was that it would be a worthless imitation of the American version. However, after seeing this first episode, I am glad to say my fear was unfounded.

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Meet the teams

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The format, obviously, remains the same: eleven teams race around the world, this time for 250,000 Australian Dollars.

Now, the cast is pretty good. Since this is Australia and not The USA, we don’t have the ethnic diversity we’re used to. Nonetheless, we do have married entrepreneurs, friends of Egyptian descent, surfers and models. Alana and Mel are reunited sisters, with Mel being the one who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. Jeff and Luke are the only parent/child team of the season and they’ve also got a troubled past: Jeff left his kid when he was only fifteen.

We also have the Ken and Barbie couple – by their real names, Anastasia and Chris. Workmates Anne-Marie and Tracy are funny and lovable, while Farmers Matt and Tom are carbon copies of The Cowboys – they even have similar looking hats.

The cast of TAR: Australia

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And so it begins

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The Starting Line for this Race was the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where each team got their first clue from a different clue box – there were 11 clue boxes on the stadium and I loved seeing so many in one place.

One would expect the first clue to instruct the teams to fly to some country. But not on the Amazing Race: Australia. Here, the first clue was actually a Roadblock. One team member had to climb, then abseil one of the six light towers of the Cricket Ground. This task wasn’t particularly hard and pretty much everyone breezed through it. After getting their next clue, teams had to fly to Denpasar, Indonesia and then take one of three boats to the island of Lombok. They would then search a fishing village for their next clue.

Although the boats to Lombok left at half an hour intervals, the seven teams on the first two boats wandered around for so long that the bunch on the third one caught up. Eventually though, surfers Tyler and Nathan found the clue first. They then had to travel to the Pura Lingsa Temple and pass through a rice war ceremony (i.e., they were showered with rice powder by locals) before getting their next clue.

Soon after they left the village, other teams started finding clues as well. Alana and Mel were the last ones to find theirs, right behind siblings Ryot and Liberty (who remind me of chicken mascots).

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Dei-ture

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Can I just say I love a veritable Australian accent? That is exactly what everyone is delivering – the way these Aussies pronounce ‘Detour’ sends shivers down my spine. OK, I’m slightly exaggerating. Slightly.

The first Detour of this Race was a choice between ‘Cash’ and ‘Carry’. In ‘Cash’, teams had to prepare and sell fifteen bowls of a traditional local delicacy. In ‘Carry’, teams had to balance a basket with produce on their heads, as they transported it from one store to another.

Tyler and Nathan went for ‘Carry’, as I would have done. After being there for no more than two minutes, Tyler wanted to switch, because he had failed in his first attempt to put the basket on his head. ‘I can’t do it’, he kept saying. Strong as they may be, maintaining that attitude won’t get them far in the race. Sam and Renae, the models, also chose ‘Carry’ and it didn’t take long for them to surpass the boys. Matt and Tom also had no trouble with this task and the reunited sisters finished quickly as well.

Among the teams that chose ‘Cash’ were Anne-Marie and Tracy. Since they work in a supermarket, they should have breezed through the challenge. Yet they managed to move so slowly, they ended up leaving the Detour in 10th place, in front of only Richard and Joey. The only reason the entrepreneurs fell behind was that they had to start over, having sold a bowl for less than it was allowed.

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Money, money, money

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Do you think it must be funny in the rich men’s world? At least some teams may disagree, because their next challenge required them to retrieve a briefcase from the bottom of the ocean floor, briefcase which was full of money. They then had to calculate the amount of money in there.

Pretty much everyone struggled here. Sam and Renae started the task first, followed by Tyler and Nathan and Jet and Cord. I’m sorry, I meant Matt and Tom – I can’t yet get over how

Sam and Renae are the first team to ever check in on TAR Australia!

much they resemble the beloved Cowboys.

If there was one team I did not know how they would get the briefcase, they were Anne-Marie and Tracy. Neither woman is what one would call ‘athletic’, so I was relieved it only took them a few tries.

Still, this was the second challenge that favored them. I was pretty sure they would finish quickly and won’t have to face elimination. In fact, they were the one of only two teams to get

it right the first time (the other one being Ryot and Liberty); everyone else messed up at least once. Despite being the last team to start, the workmates managed to make up some time. Sam and Renae finished first though, and landed in first place at the Pit Stop. Not only did they win the Express Pass, but also 10,000 Australian Dollars.

On the flipside, Mo and Mos were the last team to arrive. The editors didn’t try as hard to make the last few minutes suspenseful as maybe the American folks would have. I thought that either meant we’re in trouble or this is a non-elimination Leg. Luckily, it was the latter. However, the best friends are now marked for Elimination: they have to check in first during the next leg of the Race or else they’ll incur a 30-minute time penalty.

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Wrapping up

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All in all, it was a really good first episode. It was a little slow paced in the beginning, but once teams left Australia it became really chaotic, with the packing order changing constantly. I actually had a hard time trying to figure out who was leading and who was trailing. Some early thoughts on some of the teams:

Anne-Marie and Tracy – They are so lovable and funny it’s hard not to root for them. Still, their physical shape has me worried they’re going to be eliminated soon.

Matt and Tom – As I had already said, these two are carbon copies of the Cowboys: strong, likable, funny. I’m rooting for them as well.

Sam and Renae – Initially, I didn’t think much of them, but they proved me wrong. They could actually be a threat to win; on top of that, they have the Express Pass. I’m actually rooting for them.

Chris and Anastasia – judging from the promos for next week, we’ll get a lot more fighting between the two of them. I really don’t like Chris’ attitude towards his so ‘girlfriend’.

Kelly and Dave – they may have finished second this leg, but Dave lost his temper at the slightest sign of trouble (i.e., the money counting challenge); they remind me of Nick and Vicky from TAR 17.

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Will you be watching this season? Any thoughts on this first episode?

Survivor: Redemption Island Finale: ‘I am sick’

I know I used quotes from the castaways this entire season, but this one isn’t from Rob. I’m actually quoting myself, because that’s exactly how I felt while watching Survivor’s finale: sick to my stomach. Only I know how many times I resisted the urge to hit my head against the wall and pull out my hair. I refuse to write a recap, because I don’t want to relieve those emotions all over again.

The finale embodied everything that I hated about this season: (1) Matt obsessively making everything about ‘God’s will’, (2) Philip acting like a lunatic (and even getting one vote at the Final Tribal Council, what the hell?), (3) all my favorites going home as soon as possible (Mike lost the Duel and Andrea lasted one more day after that) and (4) nobody doing ANYTHING to get rid of Rob.

Ashley and Natalie had a great opportunity to finally do something in this game, yet inexplicably they decided to get rid of the smaller threat Andrea instead of Boston Rob. In the end, it all ended the way I had anticipated a few weeks ago: Rob took Natalie and Philip to the end and as a result he won.

Now I do give credit where credit is due: Rob deserved to win this time, especially after being pitted against the youngest servant and craziest lunatic in Survivor history. If he had lost to one of those two, I probably would have personally murdered everyone on that jury. Still, I’m not happy at all with how this season ended; I’ve really grown tired of Rob.

On my way to watch the Reunion show. May update this post after I’ve seen that.

Update: Oh my God, no, no, not two returning players again! Also, I pray and beg every God known to mankind… please never ever bring back Russell and Philip.

‘A dark individual’

I actually found last night’s episode of Survivor quite enjoyable. Or course, when you pretty much don’t care about anyone in the ‘real game’ even the best episode could bore you to death. But this one was a good one…

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Ridemshion Ailand

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I’m glad they didn’t drag the Redemption Island segment for more than it was necessary. Andrea arrived there and put Matt in his place. He had been frustrated Andrea voted him out and gave her ‘dirty looks’. And here was I, thinking that it was God’s will. Ralph turned out to be incredibly rude by not sharing the shelter he DID NOT build with Andrea. I don’t like the guy. If you’re frustrated at someone, take those emotions and put them into the Duel so you can kick that person out.

Believe it or not, the Duel this week was ten times better than the previous ones: the contenders had to move a handle through a table maze and then solve a puzzle – which admittedly didn’t look that hard, but still. Ralph took an early lead, as Andrea couldn’t stop rambling. In the end though, it was Mike who won, yet again. Matt and Andrea finished virtually at the same time, sending Ralph packing.

I would really want Mike to go back into the game. He remains the only one I actually still root for and I think he deserves it: he won every Duel but one since he was voted out. But I’d be OK with Andrea reentering the game as well.

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‘Where can you buy caramel sauce?’

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At camp – the usual Felipe drama. I am so tired of seeing that guy; I almost want him to win so that future players learn to vote out the annoying, crazy castaway first. But for now, everyone wants him in the Final Three, including Boston Rob.

From the beginning of the episode, he informed us it would Ashley going home. Hearing him talking about how Natalie’s a ‘sweetheart, pure and innocent’ and how Ashley’s ‘trying to corrupt that’ was both funny and touching. Also, was it just me or did he completely changed the topic of the conversation he was having with Natalie as soon as Ashley came around. One moment he was convincing Natalie to go against her friend and the next, he was asking about ice cream sauces.

The Reward/Immunity challenge was great this week. It was a new one, which is always good: castaways had to retrieve three bags of puzzle pieces, using hooks. Then they had to complete a fish skeleton puzzle. On top of that, each player had one arm tied behind their back.

I was really happy Ashley won, only because I thought that would provide a little more drama before Tribal Council, as opposed to just giving Felipe more screen time, like in the previous episodes. Also, she won a great Reward: a three course meal, which she chose to share with Natalie. It’s always funny to see Survivor contestants eating real food, there’s something so appealing about that.

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Blindside going once, twice…

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Back at camp, Rob decided it had to be either Grant or Natalie. Grant because he’s such a threat and it’s also who Ashley wanted out. Natalie because she and Ashley’s bond is very strong, almost like a couple.

Even though Rob has been saying he wants to take Natalie to the end since day 5, I was really unsure how the vote would go. Before we headed to TC to find out, we were treated with a scene in which Ashley smelled Natalie’s armpit, declaring ‘it’s not that bad’ afterwards. That was so weird…

Will Grant be able to reenter the game?

In the end, Grant was the one voted out, in a 4-1 vote. He definitely has a huge shot at getting back into the game since there will probably be only one more Duel next week. At least, that’s what I hope.  Did Rob make the right decision though? I guess so, but I also think it was a lose-lose situation, really. Grant may have said he’s ‘at peace’, but his heart might just break if he finds out it was his ‘bro’ who turned on him.

This penultimate episode may have been the best we’ve had since the merge. What do you think will happen on the last episode? Who do you think will end up actually winning? Who would you like to see win?

The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business Finale

‘I will pee my pants to make the Final Three’

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The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business’ two hour finale aired last night. With four teams left, all likable, it was necessary one of them got eliminated before we could head into the Final Leg. Watching the final episode, I went from the seventh Heaven to the Deepest Pit of Hell several times.

Teams left Switzerland and flew to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. The pressure was on the Sisters and the Globetrotters, who finished fourth on their respective season. Understandably, the Globes decided not to share (for once) information with the other teams.

That would have worked if Big Easy had known how to lie decently. Gary asked him if he had gotten a better deal with the plane tickets. Because of the awkward silence that followed, I knew they all teams were going to end up on the same flight.

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Worst Taxi Driver – Take One

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After landing in Rio, teams had to board a tram and find the apparently world famous steps, called Escadaria Selaron. The trams would leave in thirty minute intervals, so it was crucial all teams got on the same one. When Flight Time and Big Easy got the slowest cab driver in Brazil, they missed the first tram and I thought that would seal their fate. With three strong teams having a half an hour lead, time’s not easy to make up.

Zev and Justin were the first ones to find one of the tiles containing their next clue, with Gary and Mallory and Kisha and Jen right on their tails. Soon everyone was on their way to Largo de Sao Francisco da Prainha.

The first Roadblock of the episode was great: the team member performing it had to learn how to dance the samba and then lead a samba troupe on a parade through the streets. There was so much color, so much movement, so much hilarity in the way Zev looked in his costume.

Mallory, though, looked amazing. As soon as she opted to do the task, I knew she would finish it quickly. The girl won Miss Kentucky – I’m sure at some point contestants have to show off their mad dance skills, right? She made quick work of her dance routine and surpassed Zev, who really struggled. Kisha also passed him and even Flight Time and Big Easy caught up. It was close, but eventually Zev mastered the dance just before Big Easy.

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Hairless

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The next thing teams faced was a 15 minute waxing session. That hardly was painful for some teams, but as Mallory noted, ‘I’ve never seen a hairier person than Zev and Justin’. On top of the fact that they got lost and arrived at this task last, I guess those were some of the worst 15 minutes of their lives. Their screams would have been painful to listen to, had it not been for the bored looks on those women’s faces.

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Shaken, not stirred

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What would turn out to be the Final Detour of the entire Race was a choice between making 100 Caipirinhas (“On the rocks”) and selling enough bikini tops to earn about 60 dollars. The catch was that whoever bought a bikini had to put it on in a portable changing room teams carried with them.

Gary and Mallory, Kisha and Jen and Flight Time and Big Easy all went for the Caipirinhas (side note: I love the sound of this word :D), while Zev and Justin chose to sell bikinis.

This was a bad call and not at all what I would have done. I don’t understand why they thought they would be able to sell bikinis to people who were already wearing bikinis. Then they chose a bad marketing strategy: they pretty much begged everyone, with desperate looks on their faces. They needed to be calm and charming; instead they scared away the possible customers. By the time Gary and Mallory finished making the drinks, they decided to swap Detours and I knew that would be their kiss of death.

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‘Welcome to Braziiiiillll!’

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Zev and Justin finished in fourth place

In the end, Gary and Mallory arrived first at the Pit Stop, claiming their third first place finish. Soon after came Kisha and Jen and The Globes. After sharing two glasses of Caipirinha, Zev and Justin walked down the beach (‘it could be romantic, if we were a couple’) so that Phil could eliminate them.

I am sad they got eliminated, though I was glad it was them and not Gary and Mallory, who I’ve wanted to be in the Top Three from day one. Or Kisha and Jen, who have been amazing throughout the Race. Or The Globes, who I’ve now forgiven for not being able to spell the name FRANZ.

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~~~

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‘If you’re drowning, you should panic’

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Now that we have our Final Three teams and we’re ready to start the last leg of this Race. There’s just one more thing I would like to do before that – pay an homage to the eight teams that didn’t make it this far. It’s basically the same thing as Survivor’s Rites of Passage; I’m often upset nobody has found a clever way to incorporate a similar thing on the Race. So, let’s remember the eliminated teams:

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Amanda and Kris: I actually didn’t care for them in the beginning, but when they got eliminated again, because of another U-Turn, I felt sorry for them.

Mel and Mike: Well, at least they got to Race for a second time; not many teams had that privilege. I think they should be proud of themselves.

Jaime and Cara: I’ve always loved this team and I’ve always rooted for them. I really wish they’d gotten farther – they were my pick for The Final Three from the beginning.

Margie and Luke: Though I still like them, they’ve sort of let me down this season. They should have learned from past mistakes, especially Luke.

Ron and Christina: Although they’ve lasted seven legs, I just could not like Ron. He was annoying, constantly hungry and acted like a child.

Jet and Cord: The cowboys…:( what happened with them this season? They started the Race on the wrong foot and didn’t seem much focused at times. Even so, they’re the cowboys – I’ll always be a fan. Top Three from the beginning.

Kent and Vyxsin: What should have happened with these two was that they got eliminated in the first leg in China. After that, the only things they’ve done were becoming annoying and U-Turning one of my favorite teams.

Zev and Justin: It took me a few episodes to like these guys, but in the end I ended up rooting for them. I still don’t get most of their jokes though.

Alright. And now, the Final Leg.

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Worst Taxi Driver – Take Two

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After travelling 40,000 miles and visiting 9 countries, the three remaining teams flew from Brazil to Miami, Florida. Two funny things happened before the flight: Mallory got carried in a cart and The Globetrotters left their bags at the airport.

When they arrived in Miami, teams had to take a taxi to Rickenbacker Marina. The Globes were the first ones out of the airport, with Kisha and Jen right behind. My favorite team, though, Gary and Mallory struggled to find a taxi. Even when they did find one, it was the worst driver in Florida. Not only did he not know where he was going, but he wouldn’t even call to get directions. As they wandered for what seemed like eternity’s little sister, the other two teams arrived at the location and encountered a Roadblock.

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Lots of boats

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The teammate performing it had to transport a boat using a forklift truck. As Jen noted, Kisha ‘looked like a pea in a salad’. Meanwhile, Big Easy got in the heat of things and started shouting things like ‘Drop the boat, Kisha!’ in between encouragements for Flight Time. That was as funny as Jen shyly replying ‘I’m coming after you, yeah’.

The Globes actually finished the task about a minute before the sisters and drove to the next location: Jules’ Undersea lodge. There, yet another Roadblock awaited. The person who had not done the previous one obviously had to step in and search the ‘underworld’ for their next clue.

As I’ve already said, teams travelled to 9 countries this season and I’ve seen quite some unusual stuff during this Race. There was a car vending machine in Japan and there were ‘pregnant statues’ needed to be painted in India. Still, this last Roadblock topped them all. I’ve never in my life seen anything weirder than a siren band playing underwater, while other sirens swan around them.

As Jen and Big Easy went underwater, Gary and Mallory finally arrived at the Rickenbacker Marina and nailed the challenge. By this time, I knew they were out of it – a part of me died, most likely. 😦

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‘I ain’t doing too good, love’

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Big Easy was the first to finish the task, but when he and Flight Time later stopped to get directions, that gave the sisters time to catch up and even pass them. They took the lead and arrived first at the next clue, which instructed them to walk across the ocean to Horseshoe Island and locate their next clue under the tallest tree.

Then teams took a boat ride across the ocean, eventually ending up at the Galway Bay Mobile Home Park. The final task of the Race required teams to recreate a ‘trailerhood’. I have to say it: I was disappointed by the challenge. While it looked hard – with the blowing wind not making it any easier -, I was expecting the usual ‘remember where you’ve eaten in leg one’ type of challenge. Remember last season’s Pit Stop Greeter challenge? I want to see something hard, challenging – it is the last task, after all.

While Gary and Mallory made up that much time they caught up with the other teams here, it came down to Kisha and Jen and The Globetrotters. After a few ‘it doesn’t look quite like the picture in the brochure’ responses from Miss Rose (the judge), Jen and Kisha eventually figured out what they did wrong and got their last clue.

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Winners & Losers

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Behold the winners of the 18th season of The Amazing Race!

The sisters only needed to ride a bike across the Seven Mile Bridge, cross the finish line and win. But The Globes were right behind them and Kisha struggled a bit. I really thought the Globes will pass the girls. Eventually, though the Globes realized they were too far behind to catch them.

So Kisha and Jen won The Amazing Race, marking the second consecutive season in which an all-female team wins. According to Wikipedia, this is the first time an all-female team has won in back to back seasons, across all international versions of the Race. Though I wanted Gary and Mallory to win, the sisters were my second pick, so I’m really happy for them.

Flight Time and Big Easy came in second, with Gary and Mallory checking in third and high fiving pretty much all the other racers. It’s sad that Gary and Mallory lost the Race because of a cab driver – though it’s certainly not the first time this happens.

All in all, this has been an amazing season and I’ve enjoyed it greatly. Yeah, not all the teams I liked the most ended up in the Top Three – but one did. And the winning team is one I love as well. What more could I ask for?

What did you think of the finale? What about this season as a whole?

‘I feel safe tonight’

For a few weeks now, I’ve been complaining about the post-merge episodes of Survivor: Redemption Island being very hard for me to watch. While the latest one had some really good moments, it still was nowhere near as great as the pre-merge ones.

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Party Island

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There are now so many wrong things with the Redemption Island twist. I was not a fan of the three way duels in the first place, but now they have four way duels, which are even worse. It really has taken away all the drama, as you can usually know who will go home.

Second issue: the duels itself. Those used to be survivor-like, hard challenges. But ever since the merge, we have shuffleboards, throwing balls and breaking tiles. That is such a huge bummer, especially taking into consideration how close we are to the end. The person reentering the game should really have worked hard for it and I can’t really call the last few duels ‘demanding’.

Third issue: The Inhabitants of Redemption Island playing for a Reward. This annoyed me very much. Why are you allowing people who are not even in the real game to play for Rewards? The premise of Redemption Island was that the inhabitants lived there alone with very little food and even fewer items than everyone else. And now, on top of having three people there at once, you’re also giving them a chance to win love from home. What?

That’s what they played for this episode: an afternoon with their loved ones. Mike easily won the challenge (Yay!), but gave it up to the six Ometepe members still in the game. That was the best move for him; should he reenter the game and make it to the Final Three, it will definitely earn him a few votes.

Ralph however, disagreed. He called the move ‘stupid’. Not trying to be rude here, but coming from someone who didn’t know what ‘cohesive’ means, it’s quite a rich comment. Had he won the challenge, he would have opted to keep the Reward all for himself. Right, because his family would flee to an unknown destination while he’s away and he’ll never ever be able to see them away.

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Staircase to Immunity

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The Immunity Challenge this week was the other highlight of the episode. The players had to collect puzzle steps and use them to complete the tallest staircase on Survivor, ever. Plus, you could only bring one puzzle step at a time. Philip, Natalie and Ashley never had a chance to begin with, but the challenge provided enough suspense. The lead changed about seventy thousand times and it looked like Grant, Rob or Andrea would win. In the end though, with a final climb which reminded me of the final scene in ‘The Descent’, Rob won Immunity, for the third or fourth time this season. And then nearly died. The guy couldn’t stand up and looked severely dehydrated. At one point I even thought he was going to be removed from the game. That would have been such a shame, having to go home after such a great effort, but luckily he soon got on his feet and claimed his prize from Jeff.

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Another one bites the dust

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After the challenge though, things got a bit dull. Rob had previously declared he wants Andrea to go and since she didn’t win Immunity, I pretty much knew she would get the boot. The producers admirably tried to make it seem like the players might just change their mind and vote ‘Felipe’ out.

Apparently, Rob’s afraid there’s a chance Felipe’s playing him. In a confessional, Felipe (I’m never calling the guy Phillip again) said he has some great, secret argument which woll make everyone want to vote for him and not Rob. I am having a hard time trying to think of something that would convince Steve, Ralph, Julie, Ashley or Natalie to vote for him instead of anyone else.

The first one of the Ometepe Six to be voted out: Andrea.Even so, I knew he wouldn’t go home: if everyone has so willingly kept him around when he brought up the whole race issue, there was no way they would get rid of him just for being himself. Everyone’s got used to that.

After a short, uneventful Tribal Council, Andrea was blindsided and sent to join the party going on at Redemption Island. It is my guess next week we’ll have another four way Duel. I am so looking forward to it.

What did you think of the episode? Who do you think will win it all in the end? I still say Rob, but if Mike can reenter the game, I think he also has a shot.

‘Shake the gnome, not your body’

… 😀

I’m so happy right now. With only two episodes left of what so far has been a great season of The Amazing Race, I wanted the second to last episode to deliver. And man, did it deliver?

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Glitter and Snow

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After receiving 1 (one) dollar for this leg of the Race, teams had to make their way to the Heliport in Zermatt, where they would sign up for a helicopter that would take them ‘into the unknown’. This should under no circumstances pose any problems for the five best remaining teams, right?

Wrong, because one team did manage to lose time here. Kent and Vyxsin left in third place, they brought two happy stars with them and put on extra glitter, all to bring good luck. Yet two electric taxis passed by them and they weren’t able to stop neither. How did this team survive nine legs? Gary and Mallory, who left nearly 20 minutes later, managed to surpass them.

It turned out the unknown destination was the Matterhorn, where Yeti lives…err, where the Detour would take place. For the first time in 5 legs, neither side of the Detour required teams to transport anything, so I was pretty excited about it. Although one side was called ‘Search’, that required teams to locate and dig up a dummy buried somewhere in the snow. For ‘Rescue’, teams had to save a man from a narrow crevasse, using special equipment.

To me, ‘Search’ sounded like the easier task, although it turned out to be the other way around. Kisha and Jen, Kent and Vyxsin and The Globes all chose ‘Rescue’ and were the first three teams to leave the Detour. A little whining was provided though, courtesy of Kent. After they finished the task, Vyxsin told him to wipe his nose, to which he replied ‘I can’t’. What the…?

Gary and Mallory and Zev and Justin struggled with the other task. As Zev and Justin kept on digging, Gary and Mallory managed to dig up their dummy, mainly due to Gary’s Superman powers. They finished just in time to catch the same train to Le Petit Cervat as all the other teams. This put Zev and Justin 25 minutes behind.

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Chocolate Feud

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This episode’s Roadblock made up for all the lame tasks this season – which, granted, weren’t that many. The team member performing it had to make a Travelocity gnome out of chocolate, using special Swiss methods. It was delightful to watch: I love chocolate and the Gnome is a very big part of the Race. A few things happened during the challenge:

1) Kent called the freezer an oven over and over again, annoying everybody. It was both hilarious and painful to watch.

2) Apparently, Vyxsin accidentally took one of Flight Time’s molds out of the oven freezer. This caused Big Easy to lose his temper and yell at her and in all honesty I can hardly blame him. Flight Time on the other hand took it very well: he kept working with the one he had, without complaining or unnecessary accusations. Vyxsin later cried in front of the camera, which may have been touching had it not been for Kent.

3) After he annoyed all the other teams, Kent proceeded to annoy the viewers by making ridiculous faces behind Big Easy and informing us he’ll kick their ass again. Since, you know, they once checked in before them.

4) The funny moments of the Roadblock were provided by the awesome sisters and The Globes. Kisha laughed (her laughter is pretty funny and contagious). Jen told Big Easy she loved him more when he was quiet. And of course, let’s not forget Big Easy imitating Kent: ‘It’s pretty, Flight Time’ and ‘You’re almost there’. 😀

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And then there were four

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Unbelievably, Vyxsin was the first to finish the Roadblock, followed closely by The Globes, The Sisters and Gary and Mallory. The next clue informed the teams to find the next Pit Stop, so for a while it looked like Zev and Justin may be eliminated: they arrived nearly half an hour later and Zev was still waiting in the snow for his gnome to cool.

But this is when Kent and Vyxsin made a huge mistake. The Pit Stop clue must have had only four or five lines, yet they managed to miss the part that said they had to travel ON FOOT. They quickly hopped in a taxi, just as Zev finished the task.

Even though The Goths took a taxi, it was Flight Time and Big Easy who arrived at the Pit Stop first. Just to make things sweeter, Kisha and Jen also arrived before them, checking in second. When they finally arrived, they unsurprisingly received a 30 minute penalty. This allowed Gary and Mallory to steal the third place.

I daresay you two will not be missed in the final episode!

So it came down to Zev and Justin and the Goths. Most likely everyone short of the Goths’ families wanted Zev and Justin to pull through. It looked really close but ultimately they did it. Zev and Justin checked in fourth, thus eliminating the crybaby and his (girl)friend.

Of course, Kent once again acted like the most immature child on Earth while they were waiting. After phrases like ‘I always stay positive no matter what’, he happily put the blame on Vyxsin for the penalty. Was it Vyxsin who needed help to put her hood on at the beginning of the episode? And was it Vyxsin who moaned and did close to nothing during the Detour, only to later sit and eat chocolate? Was it her who constantly moaned and complained over the course of the last three or four legs? Goodbye and good riddance.

Four likable teams will battle it out in the last episode, which I personally cannot wait for. I like all the remaining teams, so there’s no way I’ll be disappointed by the finale. Of course, I know who I want to win, but I won’t write it and risk jinxing it. So, who would you like to see win it all?

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