Amazing Race All-Stars: Back in the Saddle (2/23)

The 24th season of the Amazing Race will premiere on Sunday, February 23 at 8pm ET with the episode “Back in the Saddle.” As you could guess from the title, if you don’t know already, it’s All-Stars once again, meaning we’ve seen all these teams once, and sometimes twice, before. Three teams (Margie & Luke, the Globetrotters, and the cowboys) were on “Unfinished Business” (season 18), meaning they’re running the Race for the third time. Also interestingly, a full four teams come from a single season (22), meaning we have two groups of Racers that have been together before

I did see an earlier thread on this, but I decided to start my own just so the first post could be the preseason:

Taxi Assessment:

Stuck in the Desert and Officially Detained - or, Philiminated with extreme prejudice.
No one yet, but just wait!

Flat Tire - or, not likely to get anywhere soon.
No one yet.

Stopping for Gas - or, not broken-down, exactly, but not a good sign.
Bopper & Mark (5th place, Season 20) - During their original race, Bopper & Mark had the distinction of coming in last place a total of three times. I think that’s a record for a single season, although I haven’t exhaustively checked. They’re also the oldest team on average, although they’re individually younger than Mom Margie and Dad David. I rather like these guys, and (as Phil points out) they’re now unemployed and could use a million bucks more than most, but I think against the stiffer competition this season they’ll soon be gone.
Joey & Meghan (5th place, Season 22) - Joey & Meghan surprised me in their original season, making it all the way to 5th place despite, on paper, not having all that many strengths (seriously - YouTube vloggers? Is there any other single profession whose members would be less prepared to run the Race?). However, they were consistently in the same place for pretty much every leg, finishing 4th, 5th, or 6th in nine of the ten legs they ran (with one top-three finish). Contrast that with same-season John & Jessica (three top-threes before being Philiminated) and Dave & Connor (four top-threes) and Joey & Meghan start looking pretty weak. A good attitude gets you far, but probably not far enough.
Caroline & Jennifer (4th place, Season 22) - Caroline & Jennifer made it to fourth place, gradually improving over the course of the race. However, they did that with a little help from hockey brothers and eventual winners Bates & Anthony. Bates & Anthony aren’t here this time, and the competition is tougher.
Brendon & Rachel (3rd place, Season 20) - Brendon & Rachel are now married. Hurray! That will totally change the intra-team dynamics! Or, you know, not. The last time, Brendon had to carry this team; I expect this time to be no different. However, they honestly didn’t do so bad, getting a string of top-three finishes and eventually crossing the finish line. That makes it hard to pin this team down, but I think there are a string of other teams that look a lot stronger.

"Rapido! Por Favor?" - or, making meaningless ineffectual comments from the back seat, but in no immediate danger.
Margie & Luke (3rd place, Season 14 / 8th place, Season 18) - Margie & Luke are one of the three teams competing this season that also competed on the last “All-Stars” race, the one they called “Unfinished Business.” Amusingly, I looked back at my pre-season predictions for Unfinished Business, and I had predicted the Cowboys, the Globetrotters, and Margie & Luke (the three teams running again this season) as teams 1-2-3. That’s not the way it went down, obviously, because Margie & Luke wound up finishing all the way back in eighth place. Their finish in “Unfinished Business” was due in no small part to a breakdown by Luke, and I’m a little skeptical that he can really handle another race against quality competition. To be fair, he is now three years older, wich might make a difference, and Margie & Luke are now one of the most experienced teams, having run two previous races.
John & Jessica (9th place, Season 22) - This team, if you remember, is the only one to have been eliminated with an Express Pass in hand. Clearly Jessica didn’t strangle John to death directly after their Philimination, which speaks well of her self-control. However, they are now engaged to be married, which brings her judgment into question. I kid, but John’s self-absorption was the direct cause of their earlier elimination, and although I trust he’s learned what not to do on this next race, I’m not sure he’s learned who not to be, if you catch my drift. I would expect John & Jessica to do well at the beginning of the Race, but let’s see how they react the first time they get into trouble.
Leo & Jamal (4th place, Season 23) - I admit I’m one of the people who found Leo & Jamal annoying, because they seemed to jump at chances to be dicks for no other reason than that they could. Still, they don’t rank all that high on the Grand Historical TAR Scale of Douchebaggery, so seeing them again doesn’t bother me that much. I do think, however, that their approach needlessly alienates other teams, so it’s a net strategic minus.
Natalie & Nadiya (4th place, Season 21) - The twins are kind of loud, but they actually performed pretty well before stalling out (zing! - they couldn’t drive a stick) near the end of the Race. I’m not quite sure how their style stacks up against the rest of the teams this season, but we might see this first episode.

In the Passing Lane - or, ahead of the pack, but not quite comfortably.
Dave & Connor (8th place, Season 22) - This might be an interesting team - Dave, if you remember, ruptured his Achilles on the second leg of season 22, and they had to withdraw… but not before racking up first place finishes in legs three and four, with Dave on crutches. That’s pretty impressive on its face, but Dave & Connor did have the advantage that they knew they couldn’t win the Race, and so could afford to run each leg like it was their last. And they did, I think, which helps put their string of top-three finishes into perspective. Still, we really know less about this team than any other, and they have less experience than any other team at running a full race. Contrariwise, they’re a pretty strong team on paper: Dave’s an outdoorsman and Connor’s a professional cyclist. It will be instructive to see how they do in the first few legs this season, when Dave is healthy and they still have a chance to win.
Jet & Cord (2nd place, Season 16 / 6th place, Season 18) - Jet & Cord kind of got hosed on “Unfinished Business,” with multiple other teams helping each other, resulting in the Globetrotters U-Turning the Cowboys and the Cowboys being eliminated. (“Getting hosed” being a relative thing, here: not that the other teams did anything unsportsmanlike in the slightest, just that were I Jet or Cord, I’d be frustrated about that.) Still, they wound up slightly underperforming my expectations. However, they’re a strong team, used to competition, and now with more Race experience than most. They will be hard to beat.
Flight Time & Big Easy (4th place, Season 15 / 2nd place, Season 18) - The Globetrotters have literally the most experience of any team on the Amazing Race, having completed a total of 23 legs (11 in Season 15 and 12 in Season 18). They had their big mental-block breakdown back in their first season, but that didn’t stop them from getting all the way to the finish line in “Unfinished Business.” I expect them to do the same here.

Cruisin’ with Earl - or, drivin’ on the shoulder, takin’ shortcuts, and generally kickin’ butt.
No one yet–this ranking needs to be earned.

Yay! I was hoping for a zut ranking!

I would hope that some of the teams took advantage of the off time to address some of their issues. Those whose issues were driving stick and reading the entire clue should have an advantage over people whose issues were more like being an ass.

I had bailed on the last few seasons, partly because I was getting bored with the show and partly because the Football over runs made it difficult to watch. Since the latter is not an issue and from your very helpful descriptions I believe I know most, if not all the teams, I think I will jump back in this season.

Oh, cool! I almost forgot tonight was the premiere!

I just hope the twinnies aren’t as annoying as they were the last time around.

I read somewhere that one team doesn’t even make it out of the starting gate…? Wish I could remember where I saw it.

Aaaaaaand somehow CBS figured out a way to delay the start even without Football.

::golf clap::

The loud girls are already annoying me

No!!! Not Bopper!!!

That has to be a TAR record for quickest jerking of tears.

End of show: YEAY!

WTF! Can they ever start the show on time? I’m going to miss the last 15 minutes of the show, and I couldn’t extend it because of the stupid Olympic closing ceremonies. :mad:

So what happened to “have to take a taxi to Wedding Dress Street”? Was that just on the voiceover and not the clue, or did they decide since one whole flight and the cowboys took the metro to overlook it?

And I’m kind of happy that there’s only one shrieking team left now. When Joey ran across the plaza in that outfit and said he was a dragon, I turned to my partner and said, “I’m just putting this out there, but there’s a monster in D&D called a fairy dragon.”

YESSS!! Thank God. The one team I wanted to see eliminated was actually eliminated!

The voiceover said “Take a taxi or Metro.”

Huh. I honestly did not hear the metro part.

Okay, no Bopper? Boo. But Mallory is an okay replacement, even though that has to be tough for a team to be thrown together at the last minute.

And great result, in my opinion. I do love the Cowboys, with their good manners and self-deprecating humor and can-do attitudes. And glad to see the Twinnies leave. Their bickering is just too much.

Some one what to spoil what happened the last 15 minutes? I lost it when the twinnies were arguing about getting in the wheel. I’m guessing they got the boot. Anything else happen in the mean time?

Not really. The twins argued about whether or not to get on another bubble or wait until Joey and Meghan’s came back around, since it looked to them like J&M had gotten one with the clue. Eventually, they did get into another bubble and got the clue, but not soon enough to beat J&M to the mat.

So how on Earth was Mallory so easily available that she could show up in LA for a race around the world on like twelve hours notice? I have trouble getting my shit together for a two-hour trip to the zoo on twelve hours notice.

Taxi Assessment:

Stuck in the Desert and Officially Detained - or, Philiminated with extreme prejudice.
Natalie & Nadiya (down from “Rapido!”) - Natalie & Nadiya were on the first flight, supposedly with an hour lead over the the trailing seven teams, and after that failed to do much of anything right. This being the first leg, there were a limited number of tasks, so to be fair a poor performance in the dress-shop-finding task was likely to be fatal. However, Natalie & Nadiya’s wrong choice at the Ferris wheel (admittedly simple bad luck) contributed, and their later inattention and indecision over which Ferris wheel car to choose sealed the deal.

Flat Tire - or, not likely to get anywhere soon.
No one yet.

Stopping for Gas - or, not broken-down, exactly, but not a good sign.
[del]Bopper[/del] Mallory & Mark (holding steady) - Well, Mark & Mallory didn’t actually do that badly this episode, finishing in the middle of the pack despite arriving on the second flight. However, their “pre-existing relationship” is tenuous (although apparently not quite nonexistant), and just taking the extra time to feel out each others strengths and weaknesses puts them at a competitive disadvantage. I think that will finally sink them, although Mallory & Mark are now different enough from each other that they may make for a stronger team in the end.
Joey & Meghan (holding steady) - The good news for Joey & Meghan is that they didn’t finish last, but that bad news is that they’ll start in last place in the next episode. Yeah, some of their placement is just due to bad luck, slowly slipping to the second flight, the last train, and leaving the Ferris wheel ahead of only Natalie & Nadiya. But other teams were on the second flight, or last train, or had to ride the Ferris wheel twice, too. Joey & Meghan really need to step it up, or they’ll be gone next.
Caroline & Jennifer (holding steady) - Caroline & Jennifer finished the dress-shop-finding task only with the help of Natalie & Nadiya, which is kind of a bad sign. They did beat Joey & Meghan to the finish line, but they still look like one of the weakest teams in the Race.

"Rapido! Por Favor?" - or, making meaningless ineffectual comments from the back seat, but in no immediate danger.
Margie & Luke (holding steady) - A fourth place for Margie & Luke, which is not bad considering their placement on the second flight. There weren’t a lot of tasks on this leg, and nothing for Luke alone, which is where we might see this team having problems.
John & Jessica (holding steady) - John & Jessica finished essentially in the middle of the pack, after a pretty quiet leg. I don’t see anything new about them, but I would like to see a leg where they have to make some more complicated decisions.
Leo & Jamal (holding steady) - Leo & Jamal were on the first flight, but slipped to fifth at the end of the leg. That’s still not too bad, but they could have done better.
Brendon & Rachel (up from “Stopping”) - I think I may have underestimated this team yet again. They slipped to the second flight, but out-performed all the other teams on that flight, and passed three of the four first-flight teams to finish within spitting distance of Jet & Cord. That’s really impressive.

In the Passing Lane - or, ahead of the pack, but not quite comfortably.
Dave & Connor (holding steady) - Dave & Connor made the first flight, which is good, but wound up arriving at the Ferris wheel neck-and-neck with second-flight teams Brendon & Rachel and Margie & Luke, and opting for the wrong Ferris wheel car. That would normally be a little ugly, but they still managed to slip into third place.
Flight Time & Big Easy (holding steady) - The Globetrotters were nearly invisible this episode, melting in with the first batch of second-flight teams (Margie & Luke, Brendon & Rachel, and Mallory & Mark), but finishing after all of them. I still expect to see this team in the final three, but they do need to step it up.

Cruisin’ with Earl - or, drivin’ on the shoulder, takin’ shortcuts, and generally kickin’ butt.
Jet & Cord (up from “Passing”) - I was at first skeptical that the Cowboys’ decision to take the Metro was a good choice: taxis are almost always faster than public transportation. However, their decision proved correct as they slid to the garment district ahead of the rest of the teams. Then, they wound up finding the next clue all on their own (versus collaborating like most of the other teams), and with enough time to weather a wrong first guess when boarding the Ferris wheel. They made the leg look easy, and now have an Express Pass in their pocket. A commanding first-leg performance, and the Cowboys are established as the team to beat.

Why all the hate for the twinnies? I don’t want them to win, but I could watch them bicker at each other all day. Am I the only one who thinks people on TV are puppets performing for my amusement?

Either it was all staged, and they knew for weeks that Bopper wouldn’t be/might not be running, or the producers always have one or two backup teams ready to Race, and instead of just replacing teams, they separated Mallory from her dad and had her run with Mark.

I’m leaning towards the second, because it only makes sense to have a backup team in the wings before every season. Maybe they set it up so that if you’re a backup who doesn’t get used in one season, you get a guaranteed spot on the next season. But I don’t believe it was really a last minute call to Mallory - setting up all the travel visas and the like can’t be an easy thing to do.

OK, I know I said in the other TAR thread that I’d probably skip this one because of the preponderance of annoying teams, but I guess when it comes right down to it I’m a TAR junkie and I need my fix.

I agree that Mallory subbing for Boomer at the last minute could not possibly have been as spontaneous as they made it seem. No way someone can just up and leave for a 3-4 week race around the world on 12 hours notice.

Yay Twinnies! Way to melt down. Couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the first leg than to have the cowboys win and either the Twinnies or the YouTubers going home.