Recap: ‘The Amazing Race’ – ‘The Ultimate Fun House’

04.21.13 4 years ago 28 Comments


Sunday’s (April 21) installment of “The Amazing Race” was definitely one of those Legs that would be much more fun for the people participating than for those of us sitting at home on our couches.
I realized that as Joey from Team YouTube made his way through the Roadblock, which basically asked one player from each pair to navigate the “American Horror Story” opening credits, which were set up in the back of a Berlin bar.
Joey, as he does, kept emitting high-pitched squeals of pleasure and he insisted that this was the best Roadblock in “Amazing Race” history. I’m sure it was amusing for the people actually doing it, because they kept comparing it to being high, but for me sitting at home, it was just a confusing, seizure-inducing mixture of blinking neon, arbitrary fright masks and other exposed oddities edited together without any sense of physical space. I don’t have a clue how easy or hard the labyrinth was to traverse, nor a clue how long it was taking anybody to do. A couple people were making it look hard, but I don’t know what they were doing wrong. And because the maze was obviously at least somewhat small and limited, there was no opportunity for anybody to gain or lose an advantage. 
From the perspective of a dude sitting at home on his couch watching on TV and hoping to enjoy the drama of The Race, it was a dreadful Roadblock. From the perspective of a shrieking YouTube sensation? Awesomesauce.
[More after the break…]
Oh and did I mention it was a Non-Elimination Leg? Are we done now? I don’t want to count, but I feel like half of the season has been Non-Elimination Leg. Since I have a busy work morning ahead of me tomorrow, I’m content with not needing to fit an exit interview and subsequent transcription into my schedule, but… I like people to go home. It adds drama and makes “The Amazing Race” seem like a competition, rather than what it has been this season. Factor in the various NELs and the To Be Continued Leg and then add in the Leg in which Dave & Connor eliminated themselves at the beginning, Phil Keoghan has had very little Philiminating to do this season. I hope this doesn’t make him sad. 
This Leg wasn’t really about either tasks or eliminations. It was about Ford Fusion cars and losing respect for contestants due to their difficulties with simple historical trivia questions.
We began with the teams equalized as they traveled from Switzerland to Dresden by train. The teams seemed to have a full train car all to themselves, but somehow Bates managed to either misplace his bag or have it stolen. I assume that if he’d misplaced it, the “Race” editors would have  been able to show us where Bates and bag were separated. Then again, how does a bag get stolen if you’re in a train car with 10 Race competitors and at least five cameramen? This confuses me. I don’t expect answers.
So it was off to Dresden and then off to a location were five Ford Fusions were parked. Somehow, the journey between the train station and the cars allowed Max & Katie to get out to a big enough lead that they were never threatened for the rest of the Leg and, in fact, never spotted another team, did they? How does that happen? Well, I guess they could also have been faster than the other teams in driving from Dresden to Berlin. Teams knew that destination because they kept getting text message trivia questions on their Ford’s awesome video dashboard, which let us learn that Max is a cigar-chomping Republican, but he didn’t know that it was Ronald Reagan who said, “Tear down this wall.” Stupid Max. He at least seemed chagrinned with his initial ignorance. YouTubers Joey & Meghan didn’t have a clue and they just giggled about being dumb. I watch several shows that are all about making me feel sad or worried about Kids Today, but that’s not usually what “The Amazing Race” does. Tonight’s episode, however,  made me feel pity for Team YouTube when they did dashboard trivia and then later when they didn’t have any idea of who said “Ich bin ein Berliner” and they had to get smug Germans to tell them. Then again, Beth also didn’t know who said it and she has no generational excuse. Ugh.
So the teams drove to Berlin, where they got to base-dive 37 stories from a hotel. I don’t understand why they were equipped with cameras pointing into their jowls, rather than cameras pointed at the ground as they took their plunges. So many flapping lips. So little excitement. I’m not a huge fan of heights or diving from things, but that looked like a hoot. For them. Not for me. For me, it wasn’t interesting. Also, it was a reminder that tasks like that fall flat dramatically if nobody is pathologically scared of heights. In this case, nobody was. So… yawn.
The Detour wasn’t bad, I guess. The choice: Train Trails or Font Follies. In Train Trails, teams had to go to a train museum and, using a model train set, construct a long, circuitous track and then run the train around the track without it going off the track. In Font Follies, teams had to collect a large, flashing letter apiece and then carry the letters to an obscure museum that they had to make fun of. Oh. The making fun wasn’t part of the task? Well, everybody just did it for fun. 
Font Follies required a lot of navigating on foot through Berlin and if you happened to choose the wrong letter, they could be difficult to travel with. Also, if your letter tipped over, it would probably shatter and you had to start over again. Every team other than Team YouTube decided to do Font Follies, though Bates & Anthony decided to do Train Trails after Anthony’s “V” fell over in the wind and broke. I don’t quite understand why Katie’s letter counted even though it either stopped flashing or never flashed in the first place, but… whatever.
Train Trails was the one that the producers most enjoyed. They even made a little animated graphic featuring a train exploding into flames to accompany each off-track failure. It was cute. 
For most of the teams, both Detours were straight-forward an uneventful and the positions went unchanged. The only variation occurred with the Hockey Brothers, who fell into last by having to change Detours, but then they caught up with the Derby Moms, who got lost going between the Detour and the Roadblock. The Hockey Brothers smartly decided to just draft behind the Derby Moms from the Roadblock to the Pit Stop and then easily out-sprinted them to Phil, only to be told none of it mattered anyway. 
I have very little to say about this episode. And why would I? Non-Elimination Legs are always dumb and this may have been even less engaging than the usual Non-Elimination Leg.
A few other thoughts:
*** This was the worst Bates & Anthony have looked in a while. If this had been an Elimination Leg, they only would have survived thanks to being in better shape than the Derby Moms. They also looked really opportunistic with the Country Blondes. First they were pairing up to get to a destination in Berlin with Anthony leading and Anthony violated the No. 1 Rule of Following/Follower Ethics: If you’re the lead car, “yellow” means “stop and wait.” So that annoyed the blondes. Then as we saw, the guys were completely lost and clueless going to the Detour and they only found their way because the girls showed up and they got to be all, “You’re doing Font? Well I guess we might as well, too.” Boo.
*** There was a lot of Reagan this week. Will that placate the people offended by the show’s jaunt to Vietnam? No. Probably not. But boy… You’re supposed to know who said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” It’s not some vast secret. And for Meghan to guess Albert Einstein shows an impressive general level of cluelessness. 
*** I’m glad the Derby Moms survived, because if they’d gone home this week, I would have had almost nothing to talk to them about in their exit interview. They still haven’t displayed separate personalities. 
*** Jennifer comparing the Roadblock to an Eli Roth movie wasn’t bad, as references go. I think it was more Rob Zombie than Eli Roth, but that’s just me.

That’s all. Do you have anything to say about Sunday’s “Amazing Race”?

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