The Amazing Race is back! Season 10 started last week, and so far it seems to be avoiding the “even number” curse that I wrote about earlier. Of course, it’s hard to tell from these early episodes how the rest of the season is going to run. I still remember Season 6, where it started out with a lot of awesome teams and a few sucky ones, and we the audience were forced to sit back and take it as all the awesome teams got picked off one after another, leaving us with a progressively larger percentage of suckitude. So I’ve learned not to judge the season until it’s almost over, or at least not to get my hopes up too soon about how good it’s going to be. Because you never know when the wife-pushing is going to come into play, and that kind of ruins the party for everybody.
But this new season has a lot going for it, mainly because there are suprisingly few people who suck, so there’s less of a chance of us getting screwed over. At least I hope so. It could be that the sucky people just haven’t revealed themselves yet. And with the elimination of Vipul and Arti at the end of the first show, you can see that we’re already starting to lose some of the good ones (and cute…give me Arti over the “beauty” “queens” any day). So I’m optimistic, but I’m also ready to start saying, “Oh, see?” at any time.
So, having disclaimed the hell out of it, I’m ready to say that I’m having a lot of fun watching the show. Last night’s episode, the second one, was one of the most hilarious that I’ve seen in a long time. The Amazing Race has always had two comedy stalwarts, old geese that they can count on to lay golden eggs every time. Those two are brokedown cars and ornery animals, and for this second leg of the race they decided to combine the two into one action-packed show. And it did not disappoint.
First we had the Russian military jeeps, which go a long way in showing what the Russians thought of their soldiers. These jeeps had bad tires, jacks that didn’t work, they got stuck in the mud, they wouldn’t start, and needed weird little cranks to get going. I think every single team had some kind of car trouble, though none quite as bad as David and Mary, who got their jeep buried so deep it probably had to be airlifted out.
And then there were the animals. The parade of ornery beasts started with the horses, who you usually don’t think of as having a nasty streak. But Chinese horses must be a little more mischievous. One of them decided it would be fun to have a game of “drag the beauty queen”, and came seriously close to winning the gold medal in that category.
Then another one managed to clothesline Kimberly on a tree branch and knock her flat on her ass. It was a scene straight out of a cartoon, and it was so hilarious that we had to rewind it and watch it again. Tex Avery I think was reincarnated as a horse, because that there was some pure slapstick. How pissed do you think the cameraman was that there was a tree trunk blocking the shot?
But the horses weren’t even the end of it. They were just the warm-up act, the appetizer to the main course. The real stars of the show last night were the beasts known as the “hynik”. This is a word that I am certain Phil just made up on the spot, but it’s basically a fancy name for a Mongolian Yak. And these yaks must have been specially trained to give tourists a hard time, because they refused to cooperate almost as much as the camels from seasons past.
Not only were they just stubborn and insisted on zigging when everyone wanted them to zag, one of them also decided to break out in a 100-yard dash in the middle of the task. Twice. I had no idea yaks could run that fast, but I guess there must be something in that Mongolian water because that hynik knew how to book it. The first time it did it, it was funny. The second time was even more so, and if it had gone for three there would have been some serious comedy happening. Things are funnier in threes, after all. But it wasn’t to be. Peter and Sarah gave up on the hynik and pulled a rare double Detour switch, going back to the yurt-folding task they had already ditched once. I think the rule to be learned here: never trust an ox. Just ask Colin.
So in the end, it came down to a fire archery contest. But really it came down to something far more simple than that, driving and navigation. The cheerleaders, Kellie and Jamie, took a very wrong turn somewhere and didn’t even arrive at the final task until after everyone else was already checked in at the pit stop. They still gave it their best shot though, slinging arrows until well after dark. And even though all the other teams were able to get one lucky shot sooner or later, the girls never did. So, already knowing they were last, they just gave up and marched to the mat.
Overall it was a really promising episode, and the elimination didn’t leave me disappointed. The cheerleaders weren’t bad, exactly, but there were a lot of other teams I would have been sorry to lose. Kellie and Jamie were just kind of there, and if it wasn’t for their constant game of patty-cake in the back of taxis, I don’t think I’d remember them at all.