Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Strange Days

I never thought this would happen. I actually liked a Challenge episode more than The Amazing Race. Dear Lord, pigs are zooming outside my window right now.

Let's back up to Monday. I was resigned to the fact that Mike would beat Dan in the Inferno. The commercial basically laid it out. I didn't even go over the footage that hard. Why should anybody do that? With MTV.com no longer doing the fantasy game, there was no longer a need to be attentive. Looking back, "Mike's" arms were a little less muscular. Remember, Mike cares about his "guns" so much, he gave them names.

So I'm careening through the episode, past the drinking, past the fighting, past Julie trying to be all moral, etc. The mission's over, and Dan doesn't get the Aztec Lifeshield...but Mike does. Suddenly, everything is wide open. Mike's entrance in the Inferno was just a prelude for him giving his spot to Jon, thus levelling the playing field. Look, I've seen Dan in action. Dan can rock the house in missions. But against Mike? I gave him no chance, especially with Mike in most of the season teasers. Luckily, Dan was able to take down Jon to stay in the game. It was a perfect episode. Dan stayed on to snark on every little thing and get massive love from his team. Jon gets to leave peacefully. Beth expresses emotion over Jon that's as genuine as I've seen her. And Julie bawls like a baby. Coral alone couldn't make her cry. Melissa couldn't make her cry. But Jon leaving brought out the waterworks. Sweet.

Cut to the next day and TAR. Basically, the season is all about Rob & Amber, and how Rob schemes like he's on Survivor. The thing is that he played All-Stars the same way he played his original season of Marquesas, and the only reason he finished runner-up on All-Stars was because his peers were idiots. I mean, Lex should have engineered Amber's dismissal, then wrapped a fish in her buff. Y'know, let the "Robfather" know that his squeeze sleeps with the fishes. It was like Rob & Amber were monsters in a movie, and everybody else were folks that didn't have a plan to stop them. Shii Ann would have been the local scientist who would keep warning to ignorant townspeople, only to get killed in the final half-hour.

Anyway, the teams headed into a Roadblock. For those not hip: a Roadblock is a task only one team member can perform. The teams are given a clue, they pick one person to go, then the instructions are read. In this case, Rob had to eat four pounds of meat. Doesn't sound bad? Well, some of it were parts where you wouldn't eat. And Rob couldn't do it. So he came up with a plan: quit. Rather than gag down the foul food, he and Amber would sit on the sidelines. When another team came to the Roadblock, their four hours of penalty time started. It got worse: Rob convinced Ray & Deana (this season's problem couple) and Meredith & Gretchen (the old fogies who'll probably be the next ones gone) that it was better to not do anything than eat. The genius was that Rob & Amber now had a "lead" on the other two teams...and they didn't know that two more teams (Susan/Patrick, Debbie/Bianca) were far behind, victims of navigational woes. And there were Racers who were (gasp! shock!) doing the damn Roadblock! For actually not using a loophole, I give props to Uchenna, Patrick, Ron, and all the others whose names I can't seem to figure out. As for Team Cobra Kai and Team Fogie? I don't want them to win. And wanting Rob & Amber to win another million bucks is like rooting for the Yankees. As for quitters Rob, Meredith and Deana? Here's hopin' Charla kicks them hard. That woman had to bite into chocolate, eat a kilo of caviar, and chew on an ostrich egg's contents. Did she use her lack of size as an excuse to back out? No, she just had her stomach and an almost useless partner.

Who do I want to win? That's the weird thing: no team has stepped up to be the fan faves. Usually, one team delights the audience consistantly from the get-go. Sometimes, that team takes a while to come up. Circus clowns Jon & Al didn't start rocking TAR4 for the first few episodes, and Chip & Kim were seemingly destined for early elimination in TAR5 until Chip tore through the caviar. Even in the suck-filled Ring Ding that was TAR6, Kris & Jon reinforced how ugly most of the other teams were by comparison. This season, there isn't a clear-cut huggable duo. Lynn & Alex? Too obssessed with Ramber, and too schticky. I think of them as "Chacassin," since they're Oswald & Danny wannabes. Brian & Greg? Their dopey entrance in tonight's episode were cute...but they might be too big to be loved. I'm leaning towards Uchenna and Joyce...even with the sob story of being on failed dotcoms AND her inabilty to get pregnant, they seem to be nice people. With Susan & Patrick closing in on the ceiling for parent/child teams, Ron & Kelly continuing not to impress me (and couldn't the editors refer to them as "Dating Long Distance" instead of "Former P.O.W./Beauty Queen"?), and my distaste towards Ramber, Fogies and Cobra Kai, I figure Uchenna/Joyce is the safe bet.

The real winner in all of this? Chuck. In interviews, Ryan said he wanted to find a woman for his good buddy. At this point, those two guys are in Sequestersville with Heidi, Megan, Debbie and Bianca. I don't think any of those folks has the sexual drive of your average Challenge contestant, but I wouldn't be surprised if Chuck got to know any of the single ladies a lot better. I'd make a "load testing" joke, but I'll pass, since I like him.

As for the recap? I finished taking notes. It should be up tomorrow or Thrusday. I'll be spending tomorrow working on the recap, getting comic books, and hoping the Survivor twist doesn't take out Tom or Ian.