(Here we go again! The world is waiting!)
Welcome back, TAR fans! It's season NINETEEN! How can this be? A decade flies by so fast... Anyway, I'm very spotty in picking winners and losers on this show, but it never really stops me from trying. Here's the run down of who we're dealing with this season and where I think they'll end up.
Andy & TommyThe Bond: Olympic stoners! - er, snowboarders! Olympic Snowboarders!
I dub thee: Team Tricky (for SSX Tricky of course! Pure Bliss! I AM this!)
Impressions/Predictions: Stoner teams are the hardest to predict. I think if they make a big navigational mistake while driving they might not have the hustle to get back into it. I say they finish bottom half of the pack.
Ethan & JennaThe Bond: Survivor Winners and long-term couple, And Ethan is also a post-Survivor cancer survivor.
I dub thee: Team Survivor! (obvious, I know, but it works on multiple levels.)
Impressions/Predictions: These two are proven fighters and winners, each with their own million from CBS to prove it. I think they'll go far in the field, but I thought that about Jeff and Jordan a couple seasons ago and that didn't work out well for me. Still I'll go with at least a Top 4 finish.
Laurence & ZacThe Bond: father and son, nautical enthusiast
I dub thee: Team Nemo
Impressions/Predictions: Fathers tend to break down physically on the race as the race draws to its conclusion. I like theit chances to get far, but maybe not to the end. I say they finish in the Top Half of the pack.
Ernie & Cindy
The Bond: couple; recently engaged.
I dub thee: Team Bert & Ernie
Impressions/Predictions: I usually hate dating couples on this show. It's always the weakest bond and leads to the worst kind of whining and bickering. Even worse than siblings (which we'll get to shortly). But technically they are engaged and I thought they were kinda cute in the first leg, so I'll say Top Half finish.
Justin & Jennifer
The Bond: Siblings who fight a lot!
I dub thee: The Sqwabblings
Impressions/Predictions: They are gonna fight with each other the whole time. That might just be how they function though. It might be annoying to listen to, but with siblings it's not necessarily their undoing. If they can pull it together before Kilelr Fatigue sets in they could make a good run. I say they finish Bottom Half of the pack.
Bill & Cathi
The Bond: Grandparents, Farmers
I dub thee: Team Out to Pasture
Impressions/Predictions: These two are just not long for this game, I don't think. They seem nice, but they got WAY too confused in Taiwan. I don't think they have the speed or the energy to really compete. Sorry, Bill and Cathi. You seem lovely. I would love for you to prove me wrong. I say Bottom half finish for these two.
Liz & MarieThe Bond: Twin Sisters
I dub thee: The Doublemints
Impressions/Predictions: I feel like they should be stronger on paper than they were in the first leg. So now I'm confused. A relatively simple task seems to almost completely undo them. But as twins, it's not gonna be a lack of relationship strength that will undo them. So we'll see. There are 11 teams, so this one I'll leave as my Wild Card.
Jeremy & SandyThe Bond: dating couple who've been divorced before, but not from each other.
I dub thee: That Other Dating Couple
Impressions/Predictions: I don't remember anything about them. So that must mean they didn't yell at each other. That's a plus for any dating couple on this show. But I'm not invested in them right now either. I don't get what their hook is supposed to be. So let's say Bottom Half finish and I won't be too disappointed when I forget they were ever here.
Ron & BillThe Bond: Domestic Partners, both flight attendants
I dub thee: The Domestic Flights (or The Gay Stews. I can't decide. I like both names.)
Impressions/Predictions: They should kick ass with all the traveling experience! ...it's the challenges I'm a little concerned about. They seem to be in good shape, but maybe they are secretly older than I think they are? Hmm... I'm still gonna say Top Half Finish for them.
Amani & MarcusThe Bond: Married to the NFL
I dub thee: Team Footballers Lives
Impressions/Predictions: Marcus sorta speaks for both of them in the interviews, which is a little weird, but Amani just seems like a lovely quiet person. I want to hear more from Amani. They seem like a strong, capable functional pair. If they don't get done in by a horrible taxi or something they should be strong competition. Top Half Finishers.
Kaylani & Lisa
The Bond: ex-Vegas Showgirls
I dub thee: Team Nomi (how could they NOT be??)
Impressions/Predictions: Well, they will make one million mistakes every leg of the race, but they also seem to be the kind of people who have divine intervention continually saving their asses. They almost lost at the very beginning when they lost a passport at a gas station en route to LAX. Luckily some nice dude and social networking got it back to them at the airport in time. I hope they stick around so I can keep calling them Team Nomi, but I don't think they'll be very good racers. Bottom Half Finish, I say.
After going through everybody, I'd still say the safest bet to win is Ethan and Jenna. But you never can tell when bad luck or Killer Fatigue will unexpectedly take out a team. I've decided I'm going to do ever-so-brief recaps of the show this season. So without further ado:
Episode One: Confucius? We hardly know us!
Starting City: Hsi Lai Temple in the foothills of Hacienda Heights,CA USA
Pit Stop City: Martyr's Shrine Taipie, Taiwan
1st Place: Team Bert and Ernie! Reward: Express Pass for later on in the race
Last Place: Team Out to Pasture (non-elimination leg)
Roadblock: 1-800-CONFUCIUS. One team member made their way to a phone that played the proverb,"In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure. Then, without written notes, he or she had to repeat the proverb verbatim to a temple monk. It would have been a lot easier if there was a comma after "In all things" instead it sounded like "in all things success," so people just tried to remember the words instead of understanding the meaning of the phrase and a lot of people got MESSED UP. There was a giant "WRONG!" graphic that filled the screen every time this happened and I laughed and laughed each time.
Also of note: At the Starting Line, teams had to search needle-in-a-haystack-style through several hundred umbrellas for ones that had the correct set of letters (TAI) printed on them. When those three letters combined twice with six other letters they were given (WANPEI) the name of their first destination would be revealed, namely: Taipei, Taiwan. Confused yet? The task was actually not that hard and seeing the WANPEI clue, I immediately thought Taiwan, but Phil's instructions were really uncharacteristically jumbled (even worse than my description, frankly) and adrenaline must have been off the charts for these guys while waiting to start so I forgive the racers their initial confusion. Once Phil got the correct umbrella, the teams could leave. The last team to complete the task was stuck with the Hazard, which seems to be the new name for the Speed Bump. The Hazard went to Team Nomi.
Later, at the Ximending Commercial District, teams were told to "look up" for their next clue, and had to figure out that their clue was on an electronic billboard written in Chinese that directed them to Taipei Confucius Temple. This was harder to figure out than usual, because there were MANY things with the amazing race colors in the district and I don't think the Race ever used red and yellow digital balloons as a route marker before. Plus if you don't read Chinese, the message just blends in with all the other non-English writing all over the place.
At the Dajia Riverside Park, teams rode with a dragon boat team, which looked like it was going to be a Detour but then it wasn't. I wonder if there was a detour they just cut for time so we could see Team Nomi freak out about losing a passport. Hmm. One team member had to drum to keep pace, while the other person joined the rowing crew. Nobody seemed to have to go twice and it didn't seem like anyone got the opportunity to pass anyone else, so... it was kind of just filling time.
Next Week: A shocking first-ever double-elimination! I hope it doesn't work out like SYTYCD this summer where two decent teams get booted before their time by an unlucky twist of fate. Now you have to not only worry about coming in last, you have to worry about being second to last! I'm sure everyone will freak out accordingly. Onward, Racers!