It's yet another "race around the world" as the popular travel reality show Amazing Race lifted off from Los Angeles last week.
As always, this show takes a few weeks to get in its grove. At the outset, there are too many contestants to keep track of -- I find the attractive young couples to be the most interchangeable. This season it's the Carolina girls and the divorcees that are tripping me up.
Another drag on the early shows is that too much time is wasted by teams checking in to various tour spots, reading instructions, having the same expericnes on challenges. For instance, despite looking scary, that rope-ladder thingie in episode one created no compelling drama, but we watched team after team climb down it.
Plus, it takes a few episodes for the personalities to emerge, for viewers to find teams they want to root for and against.
At first, I was all for the kooky aging-hippie pair to persevere -- if only to see if they had brought any other clothing that wasn't tie-dyed -- but alas, they fell first. (On this show, the older players either go in the first episode or end up doing very well, perhaps benefiting from maturity.)
Now I'm leaning toward the nerdy, geek comic-book guys. All that game-playing may pay off in some of the more puzzling challenges, and I always like to see brains rewarded over brawn.
Early favorites for the meltdown team look to be Terence and Sarah, a classic co-dependent mess of demanding and accommodating. What about Terence's red-flag hyper-controlling demand of Sarah that she not speak to any other team!? There's already been tears.
Another couple I didn't care for -- Anthony and Stephanie, who were playing to win money to start a family – got eliminated. But not before learning one of those embarrassing, no-duh lessons that Race delivers for some clueless players. In this case, the whiners realized that a lot of people in the world really have a LOT less money than they do. But Anthony pointed out at the elimination stop, "I still have my looks." Doooode.
More than any other reality show I think about being on this one. I absolutely adore the idea of going on a month-long trip to I-don't-know-where. And I'm vicariously game for all the kooky challenges. But the sad truth is -- I'm the sort of person who likes to be at the airport two hours early, so right there, I wouldn't last one episode on this show. Just watching the contestants rush around airports trying to book a flight, or make a connection, gives me hives.
That's why my amazing race never leaves the confines of the couch. But good luck to all the brave teams: your humiliations, trials and emotional outbursts remind plenty of us why silly TV behavior should simply be watched, not done.