The "Amazing Race" crew on their marks.

"The Amazing Race Crew" on their marks. (CBS / September 25, 2011)

What’s new this season? Some older folks, some minor celebrities (if you rank them midway on a scale from “cave-dwelling hermit” to “the cast of 'Jersey Shore'), and a dating couple who are here to test-drive their relationship. Oh, wait, that’s every season.

The race begins in California, and after a quick scavenger hunt to find the first clue, the teams head to the airport to fly to Taiwan. Which brings us to:

THE MOST AMAZING THING TO EVER HAPPEN ON "THE AMAZING RACE": Kaylani and Lisa are former Vegas Showgirls who promise us that they are not dumb. While stopping at a gas station to ask for directions to the airport, Kaylani leaves her passport on the ground in front of a gas pump. I’ll say that again: she leaves her passport. On the ground. In front of a gas pump.

She realizes it while on the road, at least, and they drive back to the gas station. Too late, it’s gone. They press on to the airport in idealistic hope that the passport will magically appear. Right, like that will happen.

Phil tweeted during the episode that, at this point, the producers were trying to figure out how to do an elimination at the airport when everyone else was in Taiwan, because they figured that what happens in Vegas stays in, um, America.

Meanwhile, Random Helpful Guy was at the gas station, saw another team pass through, found the passport on the ground, connected the dots and assumed it must belong to a contestant. He tweeted about it and someone told him to take it to the airport. Before you can say “Her name was Lola,” Kaylani is reunited with her passport and off to Taiwan. What?! That is big-time luck. Now, was this a one-time newbie error, or will the elimination that they so narrowly avoided this week spring up next week, all, “Okay, Vegas, time to pay up”? I hope they stick around so I can work on my Vegas references.

WONDER TWINS POWER: DE-ACTIVATE!: Twins Liz and Marie spent their introductory package talking about their incredible non-verbal communication skills. Those skills were noticeably absent when Twin A couldn’t memorize a Confucius saying during the Roadblock, and Twin B pointed out that she must be missing a word somewhere. After a montage of failure, they squeaked out of the Roadblock and finished in second-to-last place.

SNOWBOARDER SLANG: AMUSING OR OVERKILL?: Andy and Tommy are snowboarder friends who have been in the Olympics. My buddy Phil likens them to the Cowboys, a favorite team from the past. Therefore, I choose to believe that when they say “ragin’” and “freakin’ psyched” in the same sentence, it’s just natural excitement and not at all cheesy. After the roadblock, one of them tells a monk, “Thanks, dude, you’re awesome!” I’m sure if the monk spoke English, he would have said, “Party on, dude.”

YOUR ETHNICITY DIDN'T EXACTLY HELP YOU OUT THERE: Ernie and Cindy are recently engaged. She had 7 years of Chinese school, and when she drums for a dragon boat team, she says, “I feel so Asian right now!” I know her school is proud. She and Ernie won this leg of the race and an Express Pass for the future, so we’ll see more of her education in the weeks to come.

COLOR ME STUPID: So, the first clue in Taiwan instructed the teams to go to an area of town and “look up” for the next clue. The clue was an electronic billboard with red and yellow balloons that would part and reveal the next location. Several teams had difficulty finding the billboard because, well, it was balloons, not the typical stripes.

But after wandering around for a bit, they figured it out. Except for married grandparents Bill and Cathi. After the initial wandering, they decided to go to the tallest building, because it was “up.” They spent 4 hours looking for that first clue. After that, Cathi nailed the memorization on her first try, but they still ended up in last place at the Pit Stop. This naturally led to…

PSYCH!: For the first time ever, this leg is non-elimination. Yay! For several seasons, my favorite team has been eliminated on the first leg, so I like this better. Not that Bill and Cathi are my favorite this season, but it’s nice to have a buffer week. Unfortunately this means that next week, for the first time ever, it’s double-elimination. Dun dun duuuun!