October 6, 2006

The Amazing Race 10×03: Oh, Wow! It’s Like One Of Those Things You See On TV!

The Amazing Race slipped a little bit this week. Not as much fun to watch as last week. But I guess when you’re following on the footsteps of the wild hynik, it’s hard to measure up. It still feels more like the gool old Amazing Race, though, instead of the flaccid imitation the show’s become in recent years. So that’s good.

This week the teams have to “make their way” to Vietnam, and they’re given no money to do so. Usually the 0-dollar (or 1-dollar) legs come later in the race, but this time they’re throwing hardships at the teams right away. And, interestingly, they’re specifically told in the clue that begging for spare change is not allowed. This is an intriguing development, because the begging has always put me off in the past. I mean, here you have these rich Americans that are being sent on a multi-million-dollar jaunt around the world, but they’re so artificially strapped for cash that they’re reduced to taking money from the locals. Locals that probably don’t make a fraction of what the racers do back home. And yes, they’re usually only begging in places where there are a lot of tourists, so they’re mostly taking money from other Americans or Europeans. But still, even in that case it highlights the second thing I don’t like about the begging. It lowers the dignity of the competitors, and in turn lowers the dignity of the show. One of the most uncomfortable points in Amazing Race history was when Uchenna and Joyce were stripped of their cash in Season 7 and had to beg at the airport. So you had these two people, who had already been through bankruptcy in real life, forced to get on their knees and grovel for $5 bills to afford a cab. It was embarrassing, and not just for them but for the show itself. I’ve been hoping to see an end to the forced begging for a long time, and now this gives me a small bit of hope, that they’re being expressly forbidden from doing it.

Of course, it was probably only done in this case to create a little extra suspense, and because the producers knew they’d be getting money from the flower-selling later. I fully expect we’ll still see teams stripped of cash during non-elimination legs, just like they’ve done for the past five seasons, and forced to beg again. Oh well. This is the “New” Amazing Race, so I should just shut up and enjoy it.

Anyway, on to Vietnam. The cast is younger this time around, so we’re not getting a repeat of Ian’s “return to Vietnam” segment from Season 3. But we do get David trying to connect with what his father must have gone through, and Duke pointing out that his “number didn’t come up” during the draft, but he lost a lot of friends. The Race can’t go to Vietnam without highlighting the war, though, so they sent teams to the Hanoi Hilton to find John McCain’s flight suit. Now the existence of a shrine to John McCain in Vietnam is kind of puzzling to me, because first of all he made it home, so it’s not like it’s a memorial. And second, I can’t see why the Vietnamese would want to draw attention to any of the things they did to American prisoners during the war, especially not to the point of making an entire museum exhibit about it. “See, this guy didn’t die! And he became famous!” Anything for the tourists, I guess.

But they couldn’t even get to the prison without plenty of taxi hijinx, including an overturned truck that slowed everyone down. But poor Duke and Lauren had it the worst. Because they didn’t have enough money to take a taxi by themselves, they split a fare with a local woman they picked up at the airport. At first they were thrilled to have a local tour guide, but soon it turned into a nightmare when the woman wanted to be dropped off first, forcing them to make a half-hour detour. And then they realized that even with the split fare, they still didn’t have enough dough on them. Luckily they were saved by a friendly cab driver who let them slide on the fare. Or you could say they bamboozled this poor guy who doesn’t speak English by shoving a camera and bright lights in his face. Your choice. In any rate, the familiar Hours of Operation bunching came into play at the prison, so they managed to catch up with the crowd anyway.

“Take it and be happy.”

The teams finally get to John McCain’s flight suit (or, as the plaque calls him, JONH. MC. CAIN) and take a moment to pay respects to those lost in the Vietnam War. Well, actually only Tom and Terry and the *win brothers take a moment. And it wasn’t exactly a spontaneous gesture either; the clue specifically told them to do it.


But soon everyone’s back in the race and selling flowers on the street corner. Everyone is able to take a taxi, except for Duke and Lauren, who gave everything they had to the cab driver last night. So they have to walk to the flower shop, and already they’re behind everyone else. But not by much, because once again they manage to catch up. The flower-selling task itself was pretty uneventful. It was mostly an excuse for the sound effects people to have some fun sprinkling plenty of “Ka-Ching!” sounds around every time Peter sold a bunch of flowers. Getting on the right bus to Vac proved to be more of a challenge, as did actually reading the damn clue once they got there and walking instead of riding a motorcycle. I knew as soon as such a big deal was made out of the motorcycle rule, that someone was going to break it. Because the Race is full of insignifigant little rules like that, and the show never highlights them unless somebody’s stupid enough to break them. And sure enough, here come Tom and Terry, hopping right up there like a couple of fools.

“Do you think this is right?”
“Yeah, it is.”

Once in Vac, and after having to fend off a Chinese Dragon, teams have to make the choice of packing coal or weaving a birdcage from scratch. Everyone picks the coal, but Duke and Lauren get lost along the way and stumble across the birdcages by accident. So, what the hell, let’s make some birdcages. Apparently the birdcage was the “slow” Detour, because they end up seriously in last place, even behind the other teams that started the coal after they did.

At the pit stop, Tom and Terry manage to land on the mat in second place. But then comes the dreaded “However”. Phil has two “However”s. There’s the “However” he gives you when you’re in last place, and that’s a good “However” because he’s telling you that this is a non-elimination leg. Then there’s the “However” he gives you when you’re not in last place, and this is a bad “However” because he’s telling you that you fucked up.


So anyway, Tom and Terry got dinged half an hour for their little motorcycle stunt. So they had to stand off to the side and watch team after team check in in front of them. And although the editors tried to keep it suspenseful whether or not the Twin Ts would get eliminated, Duke and Lauren just took too long with that damn birdcage. Tom and Terry waited out their penalty and got to check in, and the father-daughter team was eliminated. Proving once and for all that gays are better than lesbians. Glad to settle that debate.

And will somebody tell me why Karlyn thought it would be a good idea to do the Detour, and the run to the pit stop, in her bra? Keep the shirt on, girl.

Miss Alli’s recaplet
TV Squad review
TV Guide review
Download the episode with BitTorrent

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