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'Amazing Race' premiere recap, Bora Bora bound

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It's "Amazing Race" time again!

It's been so long since we enjoyed Phil Keoghan and his eyebrow and his hats. The sight still takes my breath away, especially when he's staring at the water in Bora Bora. And I need some eye candy right now because instead of shirtless Chippendales, this season gives us a taxidermist with a mighty mullet. Are you ready for some teams?

Chuck and Wynona, married for 15 years. He likes to "kill the animal, eat the animal, mount the animal, and keep the memory on the wall forever." He has a mullet, and that's all anyone will ever notice.

Bates and Anthony, brothers and professional hockey players. One of them has removable teeth.

Mona and Beth, just your average soccer moms from Colorado who also play roller derby.

Max and Katie, they've been married three whole weeks. Okay, Katie looks like a stereotypical overprivileged, well-maintained blonde girl, and she could be slightly taller than Max, and he's wearing a pink plaid shirt because they're the pink team. I'm suggesting that she might be the boss of him.

Dave and Connor, father and son from Utah who are both cancer survivors and cyclists. You may know that Phil is a cyclist, too, and he loves his own father, so I suspect this is his favorite team even though he would never say so, even if you threatened to take away all of his hats and his beloved Maori fishhook necklace.

Jessica and John, dating for four years from Southern California. He has large white teeth and he smiles a lot, she might want to pressure him into getting married. Then again, she might just be saying that for TV.

Idries and Jamil, twin brothers from Chicago who are both OB/GYNs. They don't sound like they'd be a lot of fun at parties, but I think they are.

Pam and Winnie, best friends from L.A. Usually the best friend team is two blonde girls who look identical, but these two are Asian and one is taller, so hopefully I'll tell them apart soon. They say they have no fear and they're not looking for love, so stop looking at them that way. Geez, give the hot girls a break.

Joey and Meghan, YouTube hosts (the show calls them "sensations") with over 500,000 subscribers. They are young, cute, sweet, and peppy. I tried to watch them when I learned they were on the show, but I don't have time to watch cute peppy young people because I'm busy writing a novel. If I did have time, though, I bet I would like them.

Matt and Daniel, best friends and firemen from South Carolina. They just look real. They also do not look like they would pose shirtless for a Hunky Firemen of South Carolina calendar, but that's okay, sometimes firemen have to wear their shirts and put out fires. They can't be posing all the time.

Caroline and Jennifer, country singers from Nashville, they're in a band called Stealing Angels. They're kind of the blonde lookalikes right now. Unlike Pam and Winnie, these ladies are looking for love and they will flirt to win.

The starting line is the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles (hey! I've been there!), and the teams had to run up a path to get there, so they are already tired. Then Phil tells them that the first challenge will literally take their breath away.

Phil says that winner of the first leg will get two Express Passes, one to give to another team. Ooh, forcing the teams to be nice to each other in the beginning, that's a new strategy! Okay, there's the "travel safe," there's the eyebrow, and they're off.

Mullet down! We have a mullet down!

I love you, you love me

The second Express Pass has the teams acting friendly. They head to Bora Bora on two pre-selected flights. On the airport shuttle, the Twin Doctors tell the Fearless Friends that they're delivery men, but the girls see through it. "I'm a kindergarten teacher," one jokes then, referring to the time the FBI agents claimed to be kindergarten teachers. I'm glad they're fans of the Race!

In the airport, Father admits that he is afraid of heights, and a Twin says that he is afraid of water. The Fearless Friends hang on and smile, bonding with anyone they can. The first flight has Father/Son, Twins, Fearless Friends, LA Daters, and Mullet.

The Newlyweds set out to make fake friends at the airport, and they interview that Katie has a "low likeability factor" when it comes to strangers. Okay, I totally get that and agree, but it's awesome that they're aware of it. She puts on her best fake face and manages to impress Team YouTube.

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but we're on the same airplane so let's form an alliance, maybe?

The Twins convince the other four teams on their flight to agree that, if one of them comes in first, they will give the second Express Pass to the team that comes in second. Ooh, sly. They also say the agreement stays with the flight and they can't talk about it. A group fist bump seals the deal.

Fly

In Bora Bora, one team member has to skydive out of a helicopter. From 10,000 feet up you can actually see the curvature of the earth, it's awesome. Luckily no one with a fear of heights does this Roadblock.

Winnie, a Fearless Friend, takes the task. She says that she has to do all tasks related to heights and eating, and she got the crap end of the deal. She really did.

This Roadblock staggers the teams out a bit since only two can go up in a helicopter at the same time.

Motherhood prepared you for this

Right after the skydive, they head down to a beach covered in four hundred sandcastles. It's another Roadblock, finding a clue in a sandcastle. The catch is that they have to rebuild anything they destroy, and that sand is hot.

Whichever Twin takes this task is having a rough time. "Let the sandcastles talk to you," says his brother from the shade. "Shut up," he responds. "That's our code word for 'I love you.'" Right there, I'm on their side.

I need to stop calling them Twins, because my ears are still ringing from all the "Go Twinnie!" shouts from last season. Maybe I'll call them Team Doctor for a while.

Mullet Mom digs in, wishing her kids were there to build sandcastles for her. Meanwhile, Roller Derby Mom says she's built lots of them because she's a mom. I'll admit I'm with Mullet Mom on this one, make the kids do it.

An Alliance of Doom

After finding the clue in the sand, the teams have to attach a float to an outrigger canoe and paddle a mile across the lagoon to Phil at the Pit Stop. The Daters get there first, and immediately wonder whether they'll keep with the first flight alliance.

Team Hockey is in second place. Father/Son are third, but they are the second team from the alliance so they expect the second Express Pass. See, I thought it only applied if they were the second team to Phil, not the second team from the alliance. We'll see.

Fearless Friends are fourth, Roller Moms are fifth, YouTube is sixth, and Mullet is seventh. Team Doctor would have been sixth but their canoe tipped over and there was some water panic, but everything's fine now and they take eighth place.

The Newlyweds, Firemen, and Singers are left on the beach, the Firemen say they've been there for over three hours. They all decide to quit and take the penalty and have a foot/canoe race to Phil. Interesting! I've never seen such a big quitting alliance so close to the Pit Stop.

The Firemen say that they canoe all the time. Also, one of them has a baby at home. Also, they don't want to let down all the firemen in America. Do you see what I'm getting at? They capsize twice and get passed by the other two teams and they are eliminated. Too bad, they seemed like very sweet guys.

Next week: The faux friendliness from the second Express Pass gives way to conflict over how it will be given away! The teams are still in Bora Bora, and Father thinks he ruptured his Achilles. Well, that's not good.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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