Amazing Race [Oct. 17, 2010] ***Spoilers***

I actually quite enjoyed this episode, in part because the teams wound up splitting into two groups, one Racing for the win, and the other Racing to keep out of last. Two Races for the price of one!

Taxi Assessment:

Stuck in the Desert and Officially Detained - or, Philiminated with extreme prejudice.
Ron & Tony and Andie & Jenna - Already eliminated.
Connor & Jonathan (down from “Cruisin’”) - So the minute I finally decide this team is good enough to kick up to the top of the ratings, they run a terrible leg and get eliminated. If I didn’t know this race was run months ago, I’d’ve sworn I jinxed them. It’s pretty clear what their mistakes were: not smart enough to look for an earlier flight, not coordinated enough to manoever a sled, and not self-aware enough to switch tasks right away. Playing any one of those differently would have saved them, but they didn’t, so we’ll hear no more from them until they serenade the eventual winners in the last episode.

Flat Tire - or, not likely to get anywhere soon.
Michael & Kevin (holding steady) - Michael & Kevin were the only team to both look for a better flight and do it before they got to the airport. On the one hand, that makes them look pretty smart, but on the other–come on. Looking for a better flight is basic TAR strategy, and the rest of the teams had plenty of time to do exactly what Michael & Kevin did. But they didn’t, and the “Speed Bump” was suddenly moot. (And, seriously, I know these Speed Bumps are supposed to be short tasks, but can’t the producers come up with a better “task” than one that’s literally “sit here for ten minutes”? WTF? That’s a “task”? I was hoping for “stick your tongue on the chair” or something a little more exciting.) So good for Kevin, but he only looks good because the other teams don’t. Finally, Kevin’s approach to the Detour kind of epitomizes this team. He knows his dad can’t do the “fast” option, so they do the “slow” one instead. That’s why they finished behind the three other teams on their flight, why they’ll never actually win this race, and why I’m keeping them ranked here at the bottom. On the other hand, even if they hadn’t gotten the earlier flight, they still would have beaten the three teams who bailed on the sled option. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to know your limitations.
Nick & Vicki (holding steady) - Hum. Nick’s gotten over his outburst from last episode, and this team actually did fairly well this leg, considering they didn’t bother to look for an earlier flight. Still, I think it’s pretty well established that Nick & Vicki are the dumbest team left (need I give examples?), and the next time they need to do something vaguely cerebral, like “don’t look directly at the sun” or “remember to breathe,” they’re in trouble.

Stopping for Gas - or, not broken-down, exactly, but not a good sign.
Chad & Stephanie (holding steady) - I may have underestimated Chad. After Stepahie’s breakdown on the sled task, causing them to temporarily drop to last place, Chad’s reaction was remarkably restrained–one bellow, a handful of grumbles, and a quick decision. That’s not all bad. Stephanie, on the other hand, I may have overestimated. I know everything looks easier when you’re outside the TV in your living room (or hotel room as the case may be), as opposed to inside the TV and actually doing it, but…C’MON STEPH! This is a Race, and part of the race is going fast, and if you don’t like going fast, you’re probably going to have a bit of a tough time at some point.
Jill & Thomas (down from “Rapido!”) - Whoops, there went the Express Pass. It’s easy to Monday-morning quarterback and say they shouldn’t have used the pass (they would have slipped only one place had they stuck to the task), but I think they made the right decision with the information they had. Still, that means they don’t have that advantage up their sleeve anymore, and truth be told, Jill & Thomas haven’t really looked all that good since the first episode. They spent a significant proportion of this episode in last place, due to their own bungling, and it seems like fatigue is starting to set in.

"Rapido! Por Favor?" - or, making meaningless ineffectual comments from the back seat, but in no immediate danger.
Gary & Mallory (holding steady) - Gary & Mallory take a second place for the second leg in a row. That’s pretty good, especially considering their car/cab problems in the first two legs that certainly dropped them back a few spots. However, a big reason they finished as well as they did this episode was because of Kevin’s information-sharing. So I’m still ranking this team here in the middle for now, but a good run next episode will bump them up.
Katie & Rachel (down from “Passing”) - I still think Katie & Rachel might be tough competition, but they performed suprisingly poorly on this leg, and they haven’t really shone yet all season. I still think they have a good chance of making the final three, but they don’t seem quite as good as either Nat & Kat or Brook & Claire.

In the Passing Lane - or, ahead of the pack, but not quite comfortably.
Nat & Kat (up from “Rapido!”) - With only a routine cab ride to the airport, Nat & Kat finally catch a break this episode, and show what I’ve been expecting of them from the beginning. They were one of the few teams smart enough to snag the earlier flight, and they cruised through the tasks with nary a hitch, and wind up in first place. Plus, I think I like their alliance of convenience with Brook & Claire. The “alliance” is no more than sharing information (as it should be, on this show), but Brook & Claire and Nat & Kat are all fairly smart, and the information sharing looks like a win/win.
Brook & Claire (holding steady) - Although Brook & Claire got the flight info from Nat & Kat, remember where they were when they got it–in the Internet Cafe, meaning Brook & Claire would probably have found the flight on their own. This team also has the best average finish over the first four legs, and I’ve been slowly revising my opinion of them in the upward direction.

Cruisin’ with Earl - or, drivin’ on the shoulder, takin’ shortcuts, and generally kickin’ butt.
No one.

[sub]Props to Mullinator and his Raj Rating[/sub]

Ha! I brought that up while we were watching last night as well.

I thought the look that Chad was giving Stephanie when she was deciding to quit the task was bordering on psychopathic. It would not have surprised me if he started trying to strangle her.

I was surprised that the doctors came in first. At no point thus far have I gotten the impression that they’re really all that motivated to win.

Also, while it seemed logical to use the Express Pass when they did, I would want to be able to use it for a Disgusting Food Challenge.

Has anyone ever fallen from Cruisin’ to Philiminated in one leg before?

I got the impression that most of the teams were pushing too hard. On one of the team’s first runs, it looked like they fell a couple times, got back on and still only missed the target time by about 10 seconds. It was when they went too fast, missed a turn and wound up in the netting that they had no chance. Just be competent and don’t fall, and the sledding task didn’t look that hard.

Is driving a dog sled really so easy that you can just plop anyone on there and it works? Steering animals has been a TAR staple for years. I get the feeling that either those dogs know the route blindfolded[sup]*[/sup], or there was someone just out of camera range helping to keep them going in the right direction.

In the previews, it looks like the tasks get harder next week.

  • And how cute would that be?

I’d have done the sledding five times, only because it looked like so much fun. “I know we have to get to the pit stop but please, let’s do it one more time first!”:smiley:

Oh my Gleeks. :frowning:

At least Nat and Kat are doing well!

It takes driving skills to guide them over races that last dozens, even hundreds of miles. Or get the absolute best split second time.

Running around a circular track they likely do every day as a routine exercise? Probably with a tourist aboard as sled weight?

Damn straight they know that route blindfolded.

  1. The forced "giving back was more offensive than helpful. “La! We’ll paint the school to show how much we caaaaaare. It’s better than actually doing something of value that would take time or cost us money.” How lame and condescending.

  2. I’m not that upset by Chad. He blew up once and grumbled, but her descent into wimpiness was much, MUCH worse.

  3. It would have been a hell of a lot more interesting if they’d actually been on something pulled by the dogs than on fur-covered, motorized ATVs (which I’d bet money the TAR people decorated). The task wasn’t “Guide the dogs while being pulled on a sled or cart” (which would have been at least nominally challenging), it’s “Let’s take the well-trained doggies for a walk while we ride behind them on an ATV poorly disguised as a Flintstones vehicle” Frankly the task would have been harder without the motorized Flintstones vehicle–those dogs would have dragged most of the contestants behind them like they were made of paper.

  4. I’m surprised at how much I like the two home-shopping network women. I went in prepared to hate them, but…they’ve got such a great attitude that they’re winning me over. Attitude counts for a lot with me: not whining and enjoying it really can make a team rise in my estimation.

These are pretty wimpy tasks and fairly lame competitors. I keep saying this, but if casting was picking for “Brains, Brawn and Determination”, rather than picking tons of people with a uterus to try to make sure you get an all-woman win, this wouldn’t have happened. The contestants figured out the “Call ahead to the airport and ALWAYS see if you can get earlier tickets” concept on the second season. It’s not that hard. And only one team asked to borrow the cab-driver’s phone for early booking? These folks aren’t rocket scientists, are they? Anyone–seriously–any single team from the first few seasons would eat any of these wimps for breakfast.

Finally, what the hell is going on with A) the rules, B) the toughness and c) Phil?

A) This season, they’re not even going for pretending that the rest stops are 12 hours. Why is it that with a smaller budget, low production values and a much smaller crew, the TAR teams were able to enforce 12 hour pit-stops? This giving the racers 36, 72 hours to rest really defeats the spirit of the race.

B) Ditto the pit-stops. Why are they sleeping in castles? Where are the days when they’d sleep in the rain on the streets of Paris, or camp out for first place in line somewhere or stay in an oasis in the Sahara? Or hell, the days when they’d do their own laundry (or not) and had to carry all their clothes around. Where are the backpacks? Who’s washing and ironing all their clothes so they stay squeaky clean. This isn’t an amazing RACE any more, it’s more The Amazing Vacation (with occasional task)

C) And what’s up with the lack of Phil’s classic spiels? “A detour is a choice between two tasks, each with it’s pros and cons” or “A roadblock is a task only one team member may perform”. It was really obvious on the detour this time that they were trying to give Phil a different (and wordier) way of saying that without saying the classic line.

I didn’t notice until another Doper pointed it out last week, but based on body language and little else, I think that Team Doctors are indeed a romantic couple…

They certainly dont turn on each other in times of Race-induced stress, instead treating each other with compassion and understanding, something other teams may do well to emulate.

Yep. During their talking head segments in the first couple episodes, their arms were linked so I just assumed they were a couple, but then nothing more was said about it. My wife doesn’t think they are but I do.

It is obvious that none of the people who couldn’t do the sledding task have ever been on skis, or a skateboard, or a surfboard. The teams that completed it understood that you keep your center of gravity low, use your feet for balance and braking, and throw your bodyweight around in the turns. The father and daughter team were nearly horizontal as they crossed the finish line.

The others sat up straight, put their feet on the runners, and went downhill. They never had a chance. It seems like common sense to me, but I guess it’s not.

God, I want to do the sledding challenge.

I’m relatively new to the show, but I did see most of last season. I never thought it was exactly 12 hours at the pit stops. The first time I noted the times, (with Phil saying something about “Having arrived at 2:30 PM, Team Streptococcus departs at 2:30 AM”) I thought that it was likely that it was 12 hours off, plus at least a day.

Was it ever established or was it the norm for them to really only have 12 hours to get some food, wash up, sleep, etc. and go? That *does *seem more like a race, to me.

I wish the editing of the sled runs had shown us a little more. It looked like people were starting into turns high on the outside edge, but I couldn’t be sure from a 3/4-second snippet. They seemed not to understand that you’ll slide sideways around the curve, so you need to give yourself some room to do that by coming in on the inside edge whenever possible.

The early seasons of the show were set up with explicit 12 hour pitstops. Since then, they’ve been deliberately vague on the exact length of the pitstops. I’m sure the producers are careful to manage the pitstop length on each leg to produce the typical bunching points we see in this show.

Yeah, it used to be (for about the first 10, 12 seasons or so) exactly 12 hours to “eat, sleep and mingle with the other contestants” as Phil used to say. When there were technical problems, they’d be announced at the beginning of the leg (“Due to inclement weather that closed the airport, the racers have been delayed an extra 24 hours. The teams will be departing 36 hours later in the order they arrived at the pit-stop.”)

I can only remember about 4 times when they that happened-they really seemed to bust their asses making sure teams only had a 12 hour turnaround period (and when you consider that a leg can be a couple of days (including travel time) you can imagine how grueling it got)

And again, many of the pit stops weren’t castles and luxury hotels like they are now. The racers slept on beaches (or used up their money to buy a motel room), slept in the streets, etc, so the racers, by the end of the race were exhausted and filthy. The way they’re doing it now really does seem more like The Amazing Vacation with occasional bursts of activities.

Pit stops used to be 12-hours, as a rule (but occasionally 36 hours, apparently). I think it was last season that they abandoned the old “Team X, who arrived at 10:36 pm, will leave at 10:36 am.” I’m sure they jigger with the start times now to make each leg a little more competitive, or so you don’t have teams leaving the Pit Stop at 2:00 am to spend the rest of the night at an airport.

Fenris, how do you know those sleds were motorized? I didn’t hear any motors in the background. Also how do you drive a motorized ATV if you’re kneeling on the seat with both hands raised to catch a flag?

My feeling is that lately they have been reserving the right to set an arbitrary start time for the first team and then launch each subsequent team based on how soon after the first one they checked into the pit stop the prior leg rather than adhere to the whole AM, PM convention of earlier seasons.

I assumed the dog sleds were wooden sleds with wheels.

No, they were doing it right. The fastest line through a corner looks like this; start on the outside, aim for the apex, then let your momentum carry you back to the outside. They could either do that, or just ride the banking around the corner.

Start on the inside and you go across the track, straight up the banking, and out.

For wheeled sleds that looked so rustic, they had suspiciously modern handlebars; obviously taken off an ATV or something similar. I don’t think it was a full ATV under the skins, though. They use those when there’s no snow, right; so I figured they had brakes controlled by the hand lever on the handlebars. (Snow sleds have something to drag only the ground to act as a brake, I think.) Now I’m wondering if the handlebars were hooked to the reins somehow, and they really did steer with them.

Robot Arm - I’m almost positive that sled dog teams are not controlled with reins; rather, they’re voice-controlled.

I’m quite sure those were wheeled training carts kitted up to look primitive. Just like the bundle of hides they had to carry, it was to evoke the Saami lifestyle rather than imitate it.