I really hate reality shows. Most are
pretty very lame, with constant back biting, lying, and non-existant-but-dammit-we're-gonna-tell-you-anyhow storylines. Considering a show like Stupidvivor, they take over 100 hours of footage of multiple contestants, and edit down to a 46-minute story. That is NOT reality. That is a serial protrayed by underpaid, non-union actors.
But I digress.
When pre-My-Sugar-Na and I were dating (Side note, I guess that would have made her Nobody's-Sugar-Na), she insisted that I watch The Amazing Race 4. What I really liked about it was that nobody voted anybody off, and although the producers continue to edit-in various nasty comments about one racer to another, or focus on an event that has no bearing on the race, the bottom line is that the last team to the Pit Stop is eliminated. Many of the racers - both male and female - are reasonably good looking and intelligent (as opposed to the snarks on Stupidvivor), and though the cast tends to include middle-aged and woefully out of shape racers, they tend to get weeded out and the strongest players are generally around at the end.
With that said, I bring you the excitement of the James household on this particular Sunday evening as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Phil Koeghan...
6:00 PM - 60 Minutes is supposed to start, because 60 minutes later, The Amazing Race begins. Except when it succeeds football. (For entertainment purposes only,) I was interested in the Pittsburgh v. San Diego outcome. The Steelers were favored by 5 points, and at this point they were losing 10-8. Sensing that The Amazing Race wasn't going to start on time, My-Sugar-Na ordered me to eat Sunday dinner. The football game was paused on the DVR.
6:30 PM - The football game is now unpaused, and I watch Pittsburgh kick a field goal to take an 11-10 lead with second remaining. San Diego receives the kickoff, and on the final play they attempt a series of laterals to try for the winning score. During this play, a Pittsburgh defender scoops up an errant lateral and carries it into the end zone for an apparent 17-10 final score. The James family patriarch lets out a "Woo-hoo" that lasted until they began reviewing the play.
6:40 PM - With a knife to my wrist, I await the referee's decision. He stated that there was a flag for an illegal forward pass by San Diego, which would be declined by Pittsburgh and the touchdown would stand. "Woo-hoo?" Then CBS does the outcue, showing an 11-10 final on the screen, and Jim Nantz yammering about the play being dead. So what really happened? Read this and this and this. The bottom line is that my entertainment cost me because the referee later admitted that the touchdown should have stood. My entertainment director (which some people call a bookie) says he feels my pain, but hopes I was entertained.
6:45 PM through 7:30 PM - Instead of trying to take the knife away from my wrists, My-Sugar-Na watches 60 Minutes. Compassionate, eh?
7:30 PM - The Amazing Race starts.
7:36 PM - The first team to arrive at the Pit Stop in the last episode, brother/sister team Nick and Starr Spangler (who seem to enjoy each other a little too much) open their clue envelope and are told to fly to Almaty, Kazakhstan. Before the camera cuts away, they count the money they are told that they have (US$103). Apparently they are concerned CBS will screw them.
7:38 PM - Mother/son team Toni and Dallas Imbimbo leave ten minutes later. Both Nick/Starr and Toni/Dallas go to a local travel agent to arrange for their flight to Kazakhstan. We see a budding romance between Starr and Dallas, with that sickly sweet music playing in the background. There is no truth to the rumor that Nick and Toni hook-up out of jealousy. I do think that it would be weird if the youngins' get married... she would become Starr Imbimbo.
7:40 PM - The Airport Shuffle begins. Three teams (Nick/Starr, Toni/Dallas and former NFLer Ken Greene and his wife Tina) end up on the "first" flight, which arrives in Almaty at 11:50 PM. Dating couple Terence Gerchberg and Sarah Leshner get a flight that arrives at 1:20 AM, and Frat brothers Andrew Lappitt and Dan Honig tell us in a cutaway that their flight will arrive "significantly later". For those Amazing Race watching veterens know, a ten minute Airport Shuffle, combined with a team that gets a bad break equals.... A Bunching Point!!! I had that one called when the lovebirds were at the travel agency!
7:42 PM - Sure enough, the teams from the first two planes arrive at a chicken farm in the middle of the night, only to find the farm opening at 7:30 AM.
7:43 PM - Well, whaddya know. The Frat brothers (heretofore known as Dandrew) arrive minutes before the chicken farm opens. Because of bunching points, all teams are now even (thereby rendering the entire Airport Shuffle as meaningless).
7:45 PM - Once the chicken farm opens, the teams get their clue, which is a Roadblock ("A Roadblock is a task that only one team member may perform", reminds Phil.) One team member has to search the farm among 30,000 chickens to find one of seven golden eggs. Also in the clue is a Fast Forward (one of only two on the race) in which the team has to go to a restaurant, and each team member has to eat a bowl of a local delicacy, sheep's butt fat. The team that completes their meal first gets the Fast Forward, which means they can go right to the Pit Stop. Clearly, winning a Fast Forward is a major advantage. It is also a gamble, because if you go for the Fast Forward and DON'T win it, you have to go back to the Roadblock and complete the task.
7:48 PM - Both Nick/Starr and Terrance/Sarah go for the Fast Forward. Only one will win. The other three teams find their eggs and go onto the next clue, which requires taking a designated crane truck to the next location to meet a Mongol warrior. Why a crane truck instead of a cab, bicycle, tuk-tuk or llama? We are never told.
7:50 PM - Terrance is a vegetarian. The entertainment value of that discounted TD in the Pittsburgh game is paid back by watching Terrance try to eat this stew of sheep fat.
7:53 PM - Starr especially is enjoying her meal. Seeing her figure, I don't think Nick lets her eat much. Nick isn't eating as quickly, but he is putting it down. Sarah is also getting it down without much problem, but Terrance the Drama Queen can't even swollow the food. They stay at the restaurant way, way, WAY too long, then decide to cut bait and head back to the chicken farm.
7:57 PM - Toni/Dallas arrive at the Mongol Warrior and await for an eagle to bring their clue. It is a Detour ("In this detour, teams have to choose between two local customs..." says Phil. Phil says this every week, and I highly doubt that the rank and file of each small town do some of the stuff these teams have to do.) In this Detour, teams can learn a musical instrument that is not worth describing because no team chose to do it, or they can walk to a children's theater, put on a two-person cow costume, walk through the town to a milk stand, drink a glass of milk (with their next clue on the bottom of the glass) which has them go to a local butcher while still in costume to get their next clue. Ken/Tina follow behind Toni/Dallas. Dandrew are lost in their crane truck and are asking for directions. In each Amazing Race series, at least one team acts like Ugly Americans when they can't accept that natives of a particular city or country don't understand English. Dandrew is not happy that nobody will help them, and they mutter comments under their breath. Of course, Dan is wearing a Star of David around his neck... maybe that has something to do with the citizens of this predominatly Muslim country to not want to help.
8:00 PM - Nick/Starr complete their meal and head to the Pit Stop.
8:01 PM - Terrance/Sarah get to the chicken farm. Drama boy can't man-up and eat sheep fat, and apparently he can't put on a Tyvek suit and walk through chicken crap, either. Sarah, who did eat about half the meal, gets "selected" to do this Roadblock. So Terrance is a whiner and a sissy. What does Sarah see in him?
8:06 PM - Nick/Starr get to the Pit Stop and win their fifth leg of the seven episodes. There is nothing to dislike about the team. They are good looking, athletic, don't trash other racers, they do their tasks efficiently and correctly, and they are genuinely having a great time on the race. No way they'll win the million bucks. None possible. Bet the under (for entertainment purposes, only). Meanwhile, Toni/Dallas get the cow costume on and go to get the milk. At one point, Toni calls Dallas "Baby". Scary, in a reverse-Oedipus sort of way.
8:08 PM - Ken and Tina are separated in real life, and are on the race to see if they can reconcile. Ken, leave her in Kazakhstan and go after Toni. Seriously. Tina is a bossy lady who doesn't care whose toes she steps on. It is not necessarily a good trait, and it doesn't make her very likable. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. Meanwhile, the whipped Ken just puts up with it. Now, Tina (who had a botched facelift and whose face is tighter than the cow costume she put on) is telling Ken what to do, how to put the costume on, hurry up, etc. She has a voice and mannerism that could cut diamonds.
8:09 PM - Tina, the head of the cow costume, walks past the milk stand. They realize their error and go back and drink the milk. Tina complains about the taste, and asks for the clue. The milk stand operator gives her a blank stare. She tells Ken they should look around for another milk stand. Soon, Tina decides that maybe the clue was on the glass (like, you know, the previous clue said it would be). They decide to walk back to the costume shop and return the cow.
8:11 PM - Ken says "Are you sure we are supposed to return the costume?" Tina says "I think so". Cue the dramatic music. Sigh. Never "think" on the race. When in doubt re-read the clue.
8:12 PM - Toni/Dallas get the clue from the butcher and head to the Pit Stop. They pass Ken/Tina and tell them they need the costume. Of course, Tina dismisses it and they walk sans-costume to the butcher shop. He refuses to give the clue, so they have to go back and put the costume on. Somehow, Ken will pay for this. He will pay for it with his soul. Meanwhile, Dandrew get their costume, and Terrance/Sarah are edited to look close behind... but they find a local to lead them to the milk stand.
8:15 PM - Toni/Dallas get to the Pit Stop in second place. Ken/Tina get the clue from the butcher and Tina says "we should get a cab". Ken, growing the manhood that he once had in the NFL (and that Terrance needs), finally speaks up and tells Tina that they need to go on foot, as the clue stated. They get to the Pit Stop in third place.
8:17 PM - Completing the cow task, Dandrew take a cab to the Pit Stop (where, oh-where is their Ken?) They get to the Pit Stop, but Phil looks sternly into the camera and tell them to go back to the end of the Detour and complete it properly.
8:21 PM - Now the final
editing challenge, er, I mean race to the finish ensues... edited to look like both teams get to the end of the Detour about the same time... Terrance/Sarah, Dandrew.... both stressing, both worried, could be a two hour difference, could be 30 seconds, we don't know, can you feel the excitement?, hand held cameras running overtime and landing on the mat is........... Dandrew, now officially in fourth place.
8:25 PM - Terrance/Sarah get to the Pit Stop and are Philiminated. Their last cutaway has them making googley-eyes at each other, saying how much they love each other. Privately, is Sarah wishing she had a boyfriend that could sack-up and eat some meat for a million shmoleans?
8:28 PM - Next week on The Amazing Race, Nick/Starr are in trouble (Side note; I TOLD YOU!)