I'm here, I'm here. I know Gord completed his post about TAR: Blind Date Version Friday night, just minutes after the episode ending and has already written a post about Big Brother Canada. Man, if I could get that kind of progress on our graphic novel, we'd be done. Sorry I haven't got my post up yet, I was in Calgary since Thursday (Go Flames!) and had no time to write. Or even watch the episode. Yeah, yeah, I said I wasn't going to watch, but once we got back to E-Town after that long and boring drive up the QE2,, my kid went to the park with her friend so I watched it. And now it's time for my recap. Have to get it done because I've got a deadline tomorrow for a travel article and then I got to do a final proof of a novel before I sent it off to a publisher. And then taxes, followed by my wife's birthday party. So if I don't get it done tonight then I won't get it done at all all. Off we go...wait a sec... Mad Men's on. Sorry, gotta go. You know what happened. See ya next week.
Man, I can't believe Gord beat me by a mile getting his Amazing Race post up. And he's writing Survivor and Big Brother Canada recaps as well. I got to pick things up cause I'm the pro writer. Teams leave Monaco for Namibia. Yeah, there's a bit of blind date in Monaco but don't care, so moving on. In Namibia, teams have to find a pilot for a flight into the bush. Which bush flight you get depends on how fast you get out of the plane from Monaco. So I hope teams got seat close to the front. Everyone gets out and the big news is the Hayley and Blair are last out the plane so they get the last bush flight. But Hayley doesn't care cause their bush pilot is good looking. Nothing like the bush pilots I met, scruffy, smelly dudes.
After the flights, teams have to find a village of indigenous folks but on the way they have to find a salt lick. Most teams find the salt lick and the village. It's a roadblock to build a grass hut. Bit like building a sweat lodge. The only team left behind are the Truckstoppers. Mike can't seem to start his truck, which is odd for a guy who works at a truckstop. What is he there, the maitre'd? This allows Doc and Nurse to pass. They have to go back. Back at the runway, Rochelle jumps in and starts the truck. They're behind but a couple have teams haven't pick up a salt lick.
Dig, dig dig but teams aren't building the hut on their own, they're helping. So it will only take time. The task gets down so they have to head to the ranger station. Give the salt lick, it's a Detour: Track or Pack. In Track, teams must use telemetics to find an elephant. In Pack, they have to cut a bunch of meat, take into the wild and feed some wild dogs. Sounds very much like a TAR Australia task from Season 3. But it was roadblock for Australia, much tougher. Three teams take pack so the rest of the teams have to take Track. We end to another commercial with Mike and Rochelle stuck in the back.
For some reason, Ashley who comes from a family of butchers starts to gag. More cutting, more tracking. Good feed the dogs. Truckstoppers are done. Dogs are fed, go to the next pitsop, Spitzkoppe, a rock landmark, very pretty. Teams are still searching for elephants. Lucky for Truckstoppers, they get to do Pack. Rochelle doesn't like the meat challange. Race to the pitstop.
Tracking teams find elephants. And they are off. Hayley and Blair are last. Matt and Ashley freak out when teams stop to check their maps. So instead of continuing and expanding their lead, they reverse back. Dumb, dumb. Another TAR Rule: play your own game. And big mistake, Steve doesn't listen to Aly about driving to close to the side of the road. He gets all defensive and hits something, boom. A flat tire. Fortunately for him, he apologizes, he knows he screws up and if they lose because of this, she'll never let him forget. Of course, I'd do the same to Gord if the did that. And I'd expect him to do the same to me. Although I truly hope he'd be the one to screw up.
And I can't believe how lost these teams get, especially Truckstop. Come on guys, read the map. Use a compass if you don't know which direction you're going. But Matt and Ashley find the rock, climb the rock and get their first. Even though they were last in doing tasks, Doc and Nurse are in third. And don't force people to hug if they don't want to Phil. Don't force the love if it ain't there. In last are the Olympians, but it's a non-elim. Of course it is, it's a two hour episode.
Next day, after a night in tents, teams must find a town (sorry didn't take notes, it was something German) and get a local paper. Find an ad with the clue. Heads up, U-Turn ahead. Looks like the Lawyers are up for it. But I wonder if teams who are going to U-Turn remember they have the Express Pass, no point U-turning someone who's got one of those. Waste of a good U-Turn.
Looks like teams are going skydiving. No wait, the Travelocity Gnome is going skydiving, teams have to find him in the desert. Oh come on, the Gnome is skydiving. So far these episodes were doing so well and I thought this season that was it for the lameness but nope. You can even see the disappointment in the teams' faces. More team disappointment when the Lawyers get a flat.
Girls kick ass on the task and it's off to Snake Bend Pond. Jelani destroys the Roadblock, Mike sweats, the Olympians have to build toys out of cans as their Speed Bump. Let's see who U-Turn's who. No wait, it's Detour first: Work or Play. In Work, teams have to drag tires behind their truck for five miles. In Play, teams have to do a X-Country Sand course. Okay, skiing sounds like a lot of work, so Gord and I would take Work. Although Mike seems to have much difficulting walking. It's a long way but it's not that hard. It's walking. But at least he's got better direction than Steve, who runs well but is lost.
Over the Detour, if Jenny and Jelani were smart, they'd get to the U-Turn and use the Express Pass first and then use U-Turn someone. That's what I would do, I think Gord would be on my side. They do but it's a race to the U-Turn. That's probably the most exciting part of the season so far. Lawyers have to do at least the Work side. And Aly and Steve are U-Turned.
Off to the pitsop in an Oasis and you must bring an animal to Phil. Laura and Tyler are first. Okay, I'm fastforwarding to see Aly and Steve eliminated. I liked them but I'm not bothered they're gone. I actually don't care who wins, and to be honest, with the race going back to Europe, I'm making the decision to miss the rest of the season. I'm so bored with season, I'm not even going back to proofread this post. I'll watch the final leg but that's it. See you at the finish line.
Finally, I get to write my recap of the episode. And finally, we actually seem to have a worthwhile one to watch. I won't get into the reasons why save for too many dating couples and too many easy tasks. But this week, we actually have some tasks that actually challenge the teams. To be honest, there have been a few challenging tasks (dancing with World Order and water-skiing) but the other side of those Detours were too easy.
Teams leave Germany for Nice. Many flights to that really nice French city so many teams are leaving at different times. The Olympians arrive first at the airport first so they get the best flight arriving around 5. Another group of teams are about 45 minutes behind with two other teams on later flights. Mike and Rochelle are on the latest, arriving around 9 pm. Not good. Luckily, as they are walking through airport, they see the Olympians about to board a flight. So they ask to get on standby. Lo and behold, they get in. Which makes me ask a number of questions: 1. Why did not other teams ask to get on standby? 2. I thought there was a rule that stated that once you've booked a flight, you couldn't change, no matter if you found an earlier one with room. The Dentists mentioned this last season. 3. And does that rule not apply to standby status? 4. And if it doesn't apply to standby, why didn't other teams ask to get on standby for the first flight? This also brings up a nice race strategy: instead of just sitting around after you book your flight, walk around to look for other teams so you can possibly get on a standby flight.
Once teams get into Nice (went there as a high school kid and found the greatest ice cream place in the world. Wonder if it's still there?), they have to find the Westminster Hotel and get fitted into some nice clothes. Sounds like fun. I know this is a dating season but I actually clean up really good. I would like a nice new suit. Another question to come up is do teams get to keep their nice clothes for after the race?
Once teams get fitted (and I must say most of the women look fantastic; the men look pretty good too, although they made Mike look like some kind of university professor, which is a good look for him.) And based on their arrival at the hotel, teams will leave in order, via helicopter to Monaco. Also went there. Knew it was small but had no idea it was that small. I think my neighbourhood is about the size of Monaca, although, there are fewer millionaires living here. Once teams arrive in Monaco, it's a Roadblock. One team member must search for two things: a floral booth to get a bunch of roses and a choclatier to get 9 chocolates while the other teammate gets to relax on a yacht that the other team member must find.
And though Monaco is small, it is hilly. So it ain't going to be easy. Dudes Steve and Mike take on the task although Steve, being an Olympic athelete leaves Mike in his dust. Overall, while Mike looks good, he does get quite sweaty climbing those hills. Other teams arrive and Jenny, Laura and Hayley take on the task. Although I'm pretty sure the heels ain't going to help. Steve finds the roses, then the chocolates and then the yacht. Probably took him longer than it looked but they have to find the Monte Carlo Casino. Mike finds the roses, looks really tired, searches for the chocolates, gets them and then start looking for the yacht. He finds the wrong area but is given the right directions. Jenny and Laura are working together while their blind dates are enjoying the yacht. I'd be the same way; if Gord was looking for roses and chocolates for me, I'd be enjoying the yacht as well. Of course, Gord and I wouldn't be on a dating couple TAR so that takes care of that. Either way, if he was out on a task and I had to wait on the yacht, I'd enjoy myself. I know he'd do the same.
Anyway the roadblock is dones by all teams and at the Casino they have to play roulette. Whatever colour the ball lands on decides which Detour you can get. One is Win by the Nose, where teams have to find a certain church and create a perfume and cologne by measuring various essences. The other is Don't Slack Off and teams must find a place where they will ride a zipline across a canyon and then walk a slack line back. Looks like fun. I'd prefer to do that although the perfume task wouldn't be that difficult.
Let's see, I didn't take notes while watching so I'm reading Gord's recap to get the names right. Good thing he finished his before me. Those off to the Nose task are Mike and Rochelle, Laura and Tyler, Blair and Haley and Steve and Aly. And though Steve and Aly were the first to leave the casino, they don't read the clue and just head to a church instead of the one in the village of Eze. That means Mike and Rochelle get to the Detour first. Mixing happens.
The rest of the teams are at Slack and while it's not as detailed as Nose, it takes some bravery, especially with the wind. Zipline is quite easy but walking across a slack line takes balance and upper body strength, again, especially with the wind. It will take time.
At Nose, teams are mixing although there's a catch. The last four ingredients aren't shown on any of the essence bottles, only numbers. So you have to use your sense of smell to find out. I do a lot of baking and have a decent sense of smell, and would probably be good at this. Gord's another story cause of his allergies. Some of the other teams have difficulty, although Blair and Hayley seem to be getting along well cause they both minored in Chemistry. Hmm, a bit of connection between the two. There was something in both their eyes when they discussed their minors. And I know Blair was looking more closely at Hayley when she was getting fitted for her dress. As Gord says, small steps.
Unfortunately, Mike and Rochelle start to break down a bit. He keeps telling her not to focus on the other teams but I really think he was talking to himself because everytime another team made some kind of move, he was losing his focus. And so, they mess up and have to do the task again. So do Laura and Tyler. The other teams get done first try and are off. In fact, all the teams probably get done all the tasks within 15-30 minutes of each other. But it's how they deal with driving to the pitstop that decides the race.
Jenny and Jelani get completely lost as do Mike and Rochelle and others. But it's the calm chemistry between Blair and Hayley that gets them through the leg and onto the mat first. They win a trip to South Africa. Nice. Other teams arrive, even those who were lost, like Mike and Rochelle and Jenny and Jenali. Coming in last is the only blind date team that seems to have connected, Jeff and Jackie. She thinks he'll be in her life forever. And while I wish them the best, they did seem to move quite fast, sleeping in the same room, talking about passion in the first couple of legs. Might have burned things too early. But who knows.
And thankfully, teams are leaving Europe (I was worried about arriving so soon, especially since they were travelling this season from East to West) and will be in Africa, Namibia to be specific. See ya next week.
Now that March Madness of over, April has arrived and we're back to Amazing Race. I've felt a little bad because I've done no blog updates for the past three weeks while Gord is over on his side covering Survivor and Big Brother Canada. Well, I don't feel that bad cause that's his choice. But go over to see Gord's writings. He may not be a professional writer like me but he does a heck of a good job. He's got a unique voice and in writing that's more than half the battle.
I'm sorry if I don't remember any names of the racers save for a few. Not many have made an impression on me and with a three week holiday, I've totally forgotten most of them. Such is life. Bergen and Kurt are first to leave (I forgot they won the last leg) and head to Germany. Darn, Europe already. That means they'll probably spend the next several legs stuck in Europe, just like the previous season. Too much Europe, I tell you! Hopefully, they'll head south to Africa for a bit or maybe even South America. I love it when the race visit South America.
But Germany it is. Sigh. Okay, land in Munich, take a train and find a clothing shop so they can celebrate Oktoberfest. Perfect, even though they probably shot this in November. But nothing like a few German beers to make the leg go better. I hope there's beer. Even if there wasn't, Gord and I would find some. Off to the airport. More and more relationship stuff. And while I like a bit of this, it's gets tiring. As Hal Johnson (Body Break Team Season 1 Amazing Race Canada), said on FB recently, this season is a lot like Big Brother, and he hates Big Brother. Me too. Grumble, grumble. Wait, one more thing about this Dating Game Season I really don't like. And my kid doesn't like either. There is no all female team, which a very much missed dynamic.
All teams on the same flight, on the same train, running through town looking for the shop. Teams must get dressed in traditional costumes. Nice mustache on the dude in the shop. And then find Find the Alter Peter tower and climb to the top and find the marked cars. Save for the climb, that ain't hard. Or maybe it is cause Laura and Tyler jump into one car, don't like it, them take another. But they leave their important fanny pack behind. Team JJ can't translate what they saw from the tower to what they see on the ground. Bergen and Kurt can't drive stick. Another classic Amazing Race rule: learn to drive stick before going onto the race. And Team JJ argue. He calls her an idioit, fucking annoying, tells her to shut up, yeah that's gonna help. Commercial break and they are still at it.
At the task, it's another version of Canada's Worst Driver. They have to drive backwards through a winter wonderland, using the rearview camera to figure out their next clue. Drive backwards in winter? Do that everyday but heck finding clues makes it a bit more interesting. But only a bit. The Olympians get it done quickly although Bergen and Kurt are going to have a tough time. That is, if they get there. Olympians have to drive the Shliersee where they have to row out into the lake and find their next clue. I sort of like the Olympians. They're relatively bland as teams go but they work together well. That said, if they got eliminated, I wouldn't be upset. I'm still indifferent about everyone.
Laura and Tyler arrive and realize that they've left their fanny pack. They decide to do the task and wait for the right car to show up. It won't be Bergen and Kurt's car cause they are going to take a taxi to the winter wonderland and suck up the penalty. Lame. How you gonna do the next tasks? Or get around? Guess we all know who's out already. Other teams are totally lost - no one can read a map or ask for direction these days? - while the Olympians are already at the lake. And finally, a Detour. And there's beer!
In Stein, teams have to carry 22 beers steins at once. That's 11 each, right? Gord and Wayne are on that. Our only problem will be trying not to drink the beer on the way. In Stack, teams have to build a tower of 15 beer crates. Stein it is. And though Haley's voice is annoying, she is again, right. Who cares what the other team is doing. Forget them and move on.
And nice job on the Steins Olympians. That can't be that easy, although I believe this is another detour where one side is much harder than the other. Building that crate tower would be a lot tougher. Bergen and Kurt now have a 2 hour penalty. At the next location, the Olympians have to woo each other, or one has to woo the other with a traditional German song. But they don't even have to memorize the song; Aly's using a card to sing it. Man, that's not right, makes the task way too easy. And she doesn't even get it right the first time. She does the second and off they go to the pitstop, winning the leg and a car each.
Teams struggle back and I'm actually getting bored again. The tasks are more interesting this time, but it's the teams. I'm so indifferent about them, so tired of the dating couple dynamic, that I'm just going to go to the end to see who gets eliminated. Okay, Stack is fun, watching the teams fall is a hoot. But based on how quickly the teams figured it out, it wasn't that lopsided. Still, Stein is the perfect Gord and Wayne task. We'd get that done and suck back one of the beers before we left.
Teams sing, teams come in, Blair doesn't like Hayley, Rochelle fights through her fear of heights and builds a tower. There's the moon climbing the tower and yes Bergen and Kurt are out. Phil hunts them down and eliminates them. Kurt was okay with it, he had given up, was ready to go home, but Bergen wasn't. And he was pissed about. And rightly so cause it sucks when your partner gives up. Which is part of what happens on blind date TAR. If someone doesn't find love, they'll give up.
The last third of the episode was better than the first two thirds so it was slightly saved. But not by much. Next week, Monaco. Yah, we're still in Europe. Grumble, grumble.
Wayne Arthurson is a huge Amazing Race fan, having watched all the US, Asian, Australian and Canadian versions of the show. He's also a dad, the author of the bestselling Leo Desroches crime series and other books available here, as well as a freelance and ghost writer. Plus, he's played drums in various bands.