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.
Meet the teams
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.
And so it begins
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).
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.
Money, money, money
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
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.
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.
Will you be watching this season? Any thoughts on this first episode?