Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Amazing Race - Season 21 - Kicks Off In Los Angeles

OK, who doesn't know what an abacus is?

Fresh off its most recent Emmy Award for Best Reality TV, CBS' phenomenally successful "race around the world," The Amazing Race kicked off its twenty-first season in Pasadena, California tonight.  A quick opening challenge put the teams on the plane to Shanghai, China, and the race around the world has begun again.  I have to admit, though, I was disappointed by the opening city, as its becoming tiresome to begin in Los Angeles and then quickly hop over to China.  Granted, last season took off for Argentina as the first stop, and a couple seasons back, they left from Massachusetts.  But, in general, the Amazing Race leaves from LA and heads to Southeast Asia, and the whole thing is becoming cliche.  My family was predicting an East Coast start heading to Europe, and I was calling for a kickoff from Washington, D.C. to honor the presidential election.  Alas, it was not to be, and the teams were quickly out of LAX and on to China.

The teams are as eclectic - and strangely predictable - as always, and I don't see any real favorites yet.  Certainly, the winning team tonight - which was the dating divorced couple - ran a nice first leg.  And the Amazing Race creators have developed a fascinating new twist with a potential million dollar bonus if the first leg winner actually wins the whole race.  Now, the pressure is on this young couple.  And the big news - and bittersweet moment - from the opening is the couple from Crested Butte with the girl who survived debilitating injuries from meninigitis as a young woman.  At the moment that it counted most, the Colorado couple was out front and told a couple teams where to find the final clue - one team made them pay and ran them down for first place.  Certainly, it was hard to watch.  But they didn't have to share the information.  That's just the way the race goes.  Though it was tough to watch double amputee Amy struggle and get passed right before the pit stop.  Angst.

Beyond that, there were certainly some annoying situations for long time race viewers.  For example, you never simply follow a team without first getting your clue, as the Chippendale dancers did.  They lost valuable time by running after a team before they had their final clue.  And, it was tough to see the monster truck driver make the mistake of not reading the clue - and being forced to eat a double dose of the frogs' fallopian tubes.  Retch!  But that's a standard practice for the Amazing Race.  Always read your clue closely.  I mean, really.  Who doesn't know these basic practices.  And I don't care about the intensity of the race and making rash decisions.  If you watch regularly, you know to play the game prudently.  Certainly, the old couple lost after their ill-fated trip to the Bank of China. They even commented how fortunate they were to get that tip - and it cost them the entire race.  Oops.

I have to say that I still lament the loss of Elimination Station on the website last season.  It was one of our favorite parts of the show, and I still would like to see it return.  Regardless, it's nice to see the return of The Amazing Race.  Who's your favorite?

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