Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Countdown to TARCon: Best Week Ever

Every show has its own period where nothing can go wrong, and the streets are paved with gold. People might differ on what's the best and worst season ever, but they can agree when they had it good. The Amazing Race has had some great seasons in the past, but nothing can beat one week and change way back in 2004.

Tuesday, September 14

It started out like any other episode...overachievers Colin & Christie were out in front of the field of four to start, and Colin rocked a climbing Roadblock. They were the best team, the Yankees of TAR5 in terms of ability and being hated. They were good enough to get the breaks and finish first in most of the legs. But this time, they missed a connecting flight to Manila, and the other teams caught up to them. And thanks to some amazing luck, they fall behind the other teams...and when they get to the next task, they find themselves Yielded by Chip & Kim. The Yield was used once during the season...and boy, was the timing sweet. While the other teams assembled jeepneys, Colin had to grit his teeth and wait until an hourglass ran out. In case you never saw TAR5? Colin was one intense cookie. It was "I'm packin' it!" this and "We have to beat the midget!" that with him.

Anyway, the lead teams ended up getting to the Detour, and they all opted to have an ox plow through a field and pull up a clue. All three teams figure out how to do it: one person works the yoke, the other leads the ox. While that's happening, Colin & Christie are losing their minds en route to the Detour...especially with Christie muttering to her jeepney driver, "Mush drive faster...[hand to his face] because they Yielded us!" and encouraging him to run people over. In other words, they've lost their minds. So...Colin gets behind the yoke. Christie? Is doing nothing but yell at him. The ox is going every which way, since he has no clue where to go. Colin: "Oh, my God! My ox is broken! This is bullshit!" I can't do that scene justice. It's one of the greatest moments in TAR history. Long story short: they're in last place. Good news: it's the final nonelimination leg. Even as Phil relieved them of their funds, they were still the odds-on favorite to win.

Saturday, September 18

Before I go out to a comic book show, I check the mail...and there's the latest issue of TV Guide. I flip through it...and I'm floored by what I see. They had a preview of TAR6, complete with pictures, biographies and Racer commentary. I focused on the oddballs, like wrestlers Lori & Bolo, and "entreprenaurs" Jonathan & Victoria. In the fall preview issue, one writer said that Jonathan would make the infamous Team Guido look like pussycats. In retrospect, I guess he did. When I got home, I looked up names online. I found Gus (called "Gustavus"in the article) had flown around the poles, Hayden had played in the Lingerie Bowl, and that Avi graduated from the same junior high school I did...a few months before I entered it. I was pumped for a season which wouldn't air for a few months. Sad, right? Especially after we saw it play out.

Later that night, Mad TV opened their season. They had a sketch called "The Amazing Presidential Race," with Bush & Cheney facing off against Kerry & Edwards. They got the music right, as well as the head-turning in the credits. The skit was assisted by TAR5 media faves Charla & Mirna. I admit to being turned off by people drooling on Charla since she's short, but whatever. After reenacting their dancing in the opening credits and running over Ralph Nader with a golf cart, the cousins cut loose...especially at the Roadblock. Mirna read off the details: eat an ostrich egg and chocolate on top of caviar...while carrying meat on the back. And just like in real life, Mirna palmed it off on Charla. It was a good sketch.

Sunday, September 19

Emmy night. I don't really care about it, but fan pride was on the line. TAR won a reality Emmy in 2003, and the show was poised to win again. The main competition: Survivor, which had a good season in Pearl Islands, and a carwreck with All-Stars; and The Apprentice, Mark Burnett's breakout show on NBC. Also nominated were American Idol and Last Comic Standing. I still don't get how mediocre comics make for a good show.

Anyway...things weren't looking too good...especially after Star Jones called Phil Keoghan "Bill" in the E! pre-award show. Omarosa and Rupert showed up to pump their shows, while we got Phil, Colin & Christie and (natch) Charla & Mirna. But we got a happy ending, as TAR won the award again. I'll say this...the theme music sounds great played by an orchestra. And the TWoP message board was flooded with happiness. Even better, Donald Trump openly bitched about not understanding how a low-rated show could beat his yooooge juggernaut.

Tuesday, September 21

This was it. For the first time, four teams would go into the final two legs: Chip & Kim, Colin & Christie, Brandon & Nicole (the religious models), and Linda & Karen (the lovably loud bowling moms). TARCon was rockin' the Play by Play before the episode aired, with Kevin & Drew filming stuff for ESPN2's Cold Pizza. The finale for Big Brother 5 played out on mute, and few people cared. Since I'm pressed for time, I'll go over the highlights:

- The teams had to find an island with a flag of the Phillipines. Chip took out binoculars, and we got the usual POV. Brandon did the same thing, but one of the lenses was capped...and we got half of the POV.

- After getting followed to a wrong island, Chip decides to fake out Brandon by pretended he chose wrong again. How does he do it? By looking at the clue, finding out he was right, and shouting "SHUCKS!" I'd love to see him play poker. When the models (Godels?) find out, they are pissed that Chip lied. Guys? RAAAAAAACE!

- Meanwhile, Colin/Christie and the Moms are in the trailing pack, and the Moms break off on their own, guessing a flag correctly. That puts C/C in last place, in danger of elimination.

- Brandon & Nicole get to the Roadblock first, and Brandon ascends up a cliff. They end up finishing first. Chip struggles with it, and the Moms catch up. All this time, everybody is hoping Colin & Christie don't show up...but they do. After Chip nails his Roadblock, Karen has a chance to finish up at third. But men are from Mars, women are from Venus...and Colin's from friggin' Krypton. He goes up, comes down, and he and Chrsitie get one more leg.

- The Moms' elimination? Nobody was crying at TARCon. Really. It was...unusually dusty, and allergies were acting up. Yeah, that's the ticket. They went out as a team...the highest placement by an all-women team.

- The mid-show interviews, mostly to the tune of "Oh, I know we're gonna win." Chip: "It's on like Donkey Kong now, baby!"

- For the final leg, the Race hits Calgary, the first-ever visit to Canada. There's some Olympic events, including Nicole wiping out on a bike while going down a slope, and Chip & Kim wipe out on the luge. Bottom line: C/C and B/N make reservations for Dallas, where the Race will wrap up. Colin has even acquired the services of the best cabbie in that area. Looks like we're not getting that happy ending.

- In one of those cool plot twists, Kim finds out that the lead plane to Dallas is going to be delayed...big time. So Chip & Kim get the next flight out. There's stuff with bags, but I won't bore you.

- The ending: Chip & Kim futz through a maze, getting out just as Colin & Christie get in. Our heroes run smack into traffic. Meanwhile, Colin manuevers the maze like a pro, and his cabbie has zero problem with driving on the shoulder to avoid traffic. But in the end...Chip & Kim won. The reaction at TARCon? Pandenoium. At long last, a fan fave team won the Race.

The rest was a blur. Some of the teams made it to TARCon, and all were recieved warmly...even Colin, who had to check out folks wearing t-shirts they said "My Ox Is Broken!" Now that's a good sport. The following morning on The Early Show, he proposed to Christie, and she accepted. Yeah, they do deserve each other. Chip & Kim got their check, and appeared on The Late Late Show, Live With Regis & Kelly, and The Larry Elder Show. And for TAR fans, it was great. At least until the nicer teams got eliminated early in TAR6...and Adam & Rebecca started sniping at each other...and we were left with one halfway-decent team in the homestretch...and Jonathan & Victoria...and heck, you get the picture.

As I prepare for TARCon tonight, I hope that once we get past the finale and next season's "family race," we can get back to the glory days. For one week in September, The Amazing Race was king. Hail to the king.

PS: Right now, I got about 10 minutes before I have to go. I'll end up editing this entry if needed.

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