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'The Amazing Race': And they're off ...

Here's Bucky on last night's Amazing Race premiere ... (And my apologies for not posting this earlier!):

And, they’re off…

The teams gather in downtown Los Angeles to begin the 16th season of The Amazing Race and I immediately notice that some of the “team colors” I gave you in the preview post are conspicuously absent.  Sorry.  I tried.  I got all the names and relationships correct, however.

The teams have to take public transportation to LAX and catch one of two flights to Chile, the first having only three available seats and leaving an hour ahead of the second.

Joe & Heidi, who are from California, head for the train because, as Heidi tells us, Joe knows how to get around L.A. pretty well.  Brent & Caite, the Brothers and Steve & Allison follow them.  The rest are off to find the bus station.  The Cowboys tell us that they come from a county that has only one traffic light and it always flashes yellow.  They might be in trouble.

However, the buses beat the trains to the airport—way to go, Joe—and the three teams who get the first flight to Chile are Jeff & Ms. Jordan (to distinguish her from Mr. Jordan, one of the Brothers), Adrian & Dana and the Lawyer Moms from the University of Maryland, Monique & Shawne.  

Ms. Jordan gets to the ticket counter first and asks for tickets to China.  It must be a Carolina thing, is all I can figure.

While waiting for their (second) flight to depart to Chile, the Cowboys, Jet & Cord, inexplicably decide to exchange their American dollars for equivalent Brazilian realis.  In my head I hear Willie and Waylon singing, “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up…”

OH NO!  The preferred first flight is delayed by mechanical trouble (and a shot of an American Airlines aircraft is flashed, so we all know who not to fly to Chile on.)  The three lucky teams who made it to LAX first rebook on the later flight and the race is back on even footing.

After landing in Santiago, the teams travel to Valparaiso (“Valpo” to the locals), which Phil tells us is the “San Francisco of South America.”  Since Valparaiso was founded about two-and-a-half centuries before San Francisco, I think S.F. should be called the “Valparaiso of North America” and from now on, that’s what I’m going to call it.

(By the way, if you ever try to pay bus fare in Chile with Brazilian realis, it won’t work, as the Cowboys find out.)

The first Roadblock involves one team member having to walk across a cable strung about a thousand feet over Valpo, while holding on to an overhead cable for stability.  The producers insist the competitors wear safety harnesses, which takes a lot of the drama out of it, if you ask me.

The teams do surprisingly well with this challenge, with the exception of Brother Dan (who falls off and is saved by the safety harness) and Adrian (who after smack-talking that he is the “Big Dog,” falls off and has to be dragged back to the starting point by the Cable Guy for a do-over).  Caite and Ms. Jordan finish first and second, followed by Allie and Joe.

Adrian rests back at the starting point while the others finish up, with Grandma Shannon and the Cowboys “eatin’ dust,” as we used to say when driving cattle.

The teams get their next clue and have to ride an inclined-railway, called a “funicular” in Chile (a “cable car” in the Valparaiso of North America) down the hill.  All manage this task except for Brent and Caite, who don’t know what a “funicular” is, so they just walk down.  

At the Detour, teams have to pick out some paint supplies, and then go find a house that matches the paint they chose, carrying their paint, ladder and tools.  When they find the matching house, they have to paint a portion of the outside wall to the satisfaction of a local painter, who will then give them the clue to where the first Pit Stop is located.

Meanwhile, Adrian has rested and worked up the nerve to walk the cable on his second attempt.

Not much of the painting challenge is actually shown.  I guess the task is about as exciting as…you are way ahead of me here, I know…watching paint dry.  But comic relief is provided by 1) the Brothers, when Dan unknowingly drops his paint brush while trying to find the house (so they have to retrace their steps looking for it) and 2) by Steve & Allison who stumble upon a house being remodeled.  They go inside and in what had to be a one-in-a-gazillon coincidence, the room is in the process of being painted the same color as the one they chose for the challenge.  They finish painting the interior wall and ask for their clue.  Of course, the worker who has been letting them do his job doesn’t have a clue to give them and they have to find the real task location and start over.

Meanwhile, Adrian is making good progress across the cable…Ooops!  He falls off again.  Back to the starting point for Adrian.  All this time his wife Dana is extremely patient and encouraging, by the way.  That’s a good partner.

Jeff & Ms. Jordan finish the Detour and arrive at the Pit Stop first, and win a trip to Vancouver, B.C., but not for the Olympics, which are on another network.  Brent & Caite arrive next, but are assessed a 30-minute penalty for not riding the funicular down the hill as instructed.  So Monique & Shawne, the Lawyer Moms are awarded 2nd place.  Jet & Cord, the Cowboys, who started the Detour in last place, make some miraculous recovery and finish 3rd.  With the penalties accounted for, the remaining order of finish is:

4th: Coach Steve & Allison
5th: Joe & Heidi
6th:  Carol & Brandy
7th:  Brent & Caite (after serving their penalty)
8th:  Mr. Jordan & Dan (after serving their penalty)
9th:  Louie & Michael
10th:  Grandma Jody and Shannon.

Phil leaves the Pit Stop and (presumably) rides the funicular up the hill to tell Adrian & Dana they have been eliminated from the race.

What did you think of the first episode?  Did anyone surprise you?  Do you have a favorite team yet?

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