Wednesday, May 11, 2005

TARCon: The Short Version

What is the legacy of the seventh season of The Amazing Race? TAR5 was about the underdogs: Charla running seven legs despite her short size and annoying partner, Linda & Karen setting a mark for all-female Racers and having a blast along the way, and Chip & Kim running on their love for one another and for others (particularly Kami & Karli, but it's best to forget that). TAR6, on the other hand, was a dark pit, where good Racers got taken out early. Karma had to be balanced after Chip & Kim's win, and if that meant Lena & Kristy had to be stuck on the hay bales while teams whizzed past them, so be it. The ending was a faves Kris & Jon couldn't get the good flight, and Freddy & Kendra cruised to victory. To add insult to injury, the winners didn't show up at TARCon, even though they were in the city to pick up the cardboard check.

As for TAR7? Part of it was about luck. Who had the bigger horseshoe up the yin yang? Rob, whose thickly accented siren call could bring forth eager helpers? Or was it Meredith & Gretchen, who managed to race better than at least one other team each leg despite going at a snail's pace and a banshee's wail? Or maybe Joyce's shaved head in India paid off in the head. Watching the plane pause before allowing her and Uchenna on board was one of the most unbelievable moments in reality television history. At that point, it was their Race to win...a little karmic nod to Ramber boarding the plane full of folks who freakin' ate the four pounds of meat.

The other legacy was the hunt for Ramber. Much like Rob Cesternino in Survivor: All-Stars, those two had targets on their backs from the first second. Unlike poor Rob C., they could control their destiny. From what I've heard, most of the teams hated them. Naturally, the team that was represented as the prime player haters by the editors were Lynn & Alex...who would deny ever hearing of Ramber before. It was like, "You wanna be like these jamokes? Go soak yer heads with Lex and Big Tom, while everybody else loves those lovebirds." I know that Rob didn't invent the notion of underhanded techniques on this show (hello, Guido Wedge!). I know Amber isn't totally useless...she just seems like she needs an ampersand before her name ("Rob & Amber," "Jerri & Amber," etc.) Most of the time, it felt like they got the big breaks when they needed it, and that drove me crazy.

In the end, as Uchenna & Joyce completed their improbable run – a feat that eclipses upsets like Sarah Greyson's five Gauntlet wins, Katie Doyle's two victories in the Inferno, and Lillian Morris making it to Day 39 in the Pearl Islands despite being voted out of the game one month prior – the crowd at the Play by Play went ballistic. It was a feel-good moment for most people. Some people on the boards tsk-tsked the win, saying that the plane getting called back was rigged to level the playing field. I just chalk it up to luck. And others have been bugged about the Agus saying that good people won. In the big picture, it's not that Rob & Amber are evil. Look at Uchenna & Joyce...laid off by bankrupt companies and unable to conceive a child. Maybe they felt that they needed a break, that karma would ride in like Santa on his sleigh. I'm happy that they won. Your mileage may vary.

As for Ramber? Every time I thought or Mariano, I thought of the negatives. I remembered the slacking off at Maraamu camp, the booting of overachiever Hunter, the slacking off at Rotu camp, and the rattling of John. I remembered the axing of Cesternino, the celebration of Susan Hawk quitting after she felt violated by Richard Hatch, the playing of other contestants whose intelligence couldn't light up a closet. But he was a good racer, and so was Amber. I can't deny that, and I'd be a fool to do so.

As for TARCon? I had my ups and downs. On the positive side, I met old friends, got to meet new people, and had a good seat for the action. On the down side, I sucked at admitting people into the joint, and I had major league battery drama, resulting in the fewest pictures taken by me at a TARCon. It was enough to send me scurrying out at 1 a.m., looking for a race to get batteries, which I knew would get sucked dry by my camera. But it was worth the crappy stuff...with its kinetic nature, The Amazing Race is ideal for group outings. If you couldn't make it to a TARCon this time, try again in December.

I'll be going over the details in the coming days. I spent seven hours at the Play by Play, so I have a lot to recall. I'll go over stuff such as the real reason Uchenna & Joyce won, the rousing ovations of incoming Racers, and DimSumCon. Heck, I might even go over the episode of Highway to Heaven with Chip in it (two words: "Satan's Helpers.") Hope you'll enjoy reading about it as much as I lived through it.

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