One of the biggest complaints I’ve had about Emmy powerhouse The Amazing Race is that the results have increasingly been determined not by the performance of a team in that leg’s road block/detour but more logistical errors that render said challenges pretty irrelevant. It doesn’t make as much of a difference in the grander scheme of things, considering how frustratingly simple the detours and road blocks have gotten in recent years, but for a show with as strong a pedigree as The Amazing Race has to let cab drivers and plane tickets trump the supposedly amazing part of your race is pretty maddening.
“I Feel Like I’m in the Circus” is arguably the most prime example of this phenomenon thus far in the season, as the two road blocks had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the race. I understand that there are other factors that determine who wins The Amazing Race, i.e. a mixture of luck, decision-making, and social status, but having an episode resemble a collection of speed bumps is not a way to win back any of the good will that the show has lost. As I’ve reiterated throughout the season, this show doesn’t have to be dangerous or intentionally too difficult, as you want the challenges to, y’know, challenge and not cripple the teams, but watching teams hustle and bustle in airports and bus terminals isn’t the highest form of entertainment.
Granted, Sunday’s episode was very chaotic and had a lot of movement, but it wasn’t due to anything but logistical errors and plain ol’ stupidity. Couldn’t Laurence, who is increasingly showing himself as being a bit of an arrogant blowhard, and Zac have asked for clarification on the “first class” rule? I vaguely remember hearing that when you need a refresher on a rule, you can talk to a crew member, but even if they couldn’t get proper notes from one of the powers that be, they seemed to just take Laurence’s word as gold regarding the issue, setting themselves back several hours and almost getting eliminated. If they had asked around, they could have saved themselves a lot of time, considering the fact that they were on the right bus in the first place, but it’s another case of “extreme adventurer” Laurence bobbling the ball. Between the constant mess-ups (the extra buckets on the sheep challenge, haranguing of Zac for not taking notes) and the pompous attitude, Laurence has quickly found himself as one of several off-putting team members this season.
Also caught in the boneheaded decision-making/unlikable undertow are former frontrunners Andy and Tommy, who went from being goofy but seemingly well-intentioned to proselytizing on a reality show. I have no problem with anyone’s personal beliefs, as long as it doesn’t involve physical or mental abuse/harm of others, but for them to be talking about “we know the one true god” in front of a Buddhist temple and swooning about “God’s will” when it looked like they were about to hit the bottom spot was a little too much for me. Believe what you want, but if you want people to respect it, you have to dish out the respect first, y’know? It was appalling behavior to me and for Jennifer of all people to be the voice of tolerance and peace in a leg, you know things were a bit off with the Snowboarders. Their performance in the leg itself was very mediocre, which could be a sign that they won’t excel if the show backs away from the extreme sports angle or that their luck may be running out. Giving the clue to someone else and letting them just walk away with it was a signifier of something I’ve mentioned in previous reviews; they may be lunk-headed and charming at times, but their laidback nature and lack of passion will come to bite them in the butt.
Not even the sort-of puzzle with the spirit houses could save “I Feel Like I’m in the Circus”, which shows you how much of a mess it ultimately was. I’ve been waiting for more mental tasks to come forward this season, but it felt like another The Amazing Race: For Dummies roadblock since the teams could use notes and pictures to help them. Of course, not every team utilized this, but seriously? Notes and pictures from a camera phone? It’s that type of hand holding that has brought about the decline in quality for the show; teams don’t have to solve anything, they don’t have to know anything, and even during puzzle-y tasks, they can use each other for help, which emphasizes the wrong qualities you want in a winner. I want the best team to win The Amazing Race, a team that is intelligent, hardworking, and has kept it reasonably together through the most trying of (reality) times. Until the show starts making its challenges mean something and tone down the reliance on fluke-y happenstance, it looks like we’re in for another underwhelming “champion”.
Thoughts, Quotes, & Observations:
- “He’s going to phone a friend. It’s always good to have your lifelines.”
- “No munno, no funno.”
- Final Order: (1) Amani/Marcus (+5), (2) Bill/Cathy (+5), (3) Ernie/Cindy (+2), (4) Justin/Jennifer (-2), (5) Andy/Tommy (-4), (6) Laurence/Zac (-2), (7) Jeremy/Sandy (-4), (8) Liz/Marie (-)
- Historical fact of the episode: Bangkok is sinking at a rate of about 2 inches a year and may be underwater by 2030.
- From my notes: “GOD HAS MORE TO WORRY ABOUT THAN THE AMAZING RACE. (LIKE WHO WINS X FACTOR).”
- For those playing at home, the 4500 baht that the cabbies were charging the teams equals about 145 U.S. dollars, which would have left them with $43.
- This was the first leg that I enjoyed Liz and Marie. They didn’t shriek at each other in panic, they didn’t make any truly poor decisions, and they seemed to be having fun with one another for the first time on The Amazing Race.
- As always, the visuals were extraordinary this episode, especially with the elephants.
- The lady in the green who almost called the cops on Ernie and Cindy was doing the most. I was almost going to come in this review and make jokes about “never take a cab in Thailand har har”, but the rest of the cab drivers the teams encountered were quite nice. So, for the record, if I was in Thailand, I would totally catch a cab. I’d just avoid the bus station that the lady in green from tonight’s episode works at.
- Next week: The teams had to Africa where they’ll be rolling bags of tobacco and at least one person will be injured.