The Amazing Race 8 episode one ranking

THE AMAZING RACE 8: FAMILY EDITION

Countries visited

US, Panama, Costa Rica, Canada. That’s it. :/

Dedications

I have not done this for the past seven seasons, and this will perhaps be a one time thing. I would like to dedicate this season’s blog to three people in particular:

Kaleb – Kaleb is a new fan to TAR. The only season he has seen out of the first dozen is this season. Many will wonder why in the world this is the one season he chose, but keep in mind he adores this season. He also adores the team that will go down as one of the nastiest, hated, and most underrated villains of the competitive reality TV genre. So for adoring a season that is universally disliked, and a team that is equally disliked, I can’t see how this season can’t be dedicated to Kaleb.

Ben – Ben brought up a very interesting point of why some people outside of North America like this season. I had never thought of this point that I will soon cover. Plus Ben is an avid reader of this blog and likes (most) of this season.

Tammy Gaghan – Besides Ken Duphiney of TAR 3, Tammy is the only one who has wished me a happy birthday on my Facebook wall. In addition, Tammy is a real good sport with all of the jabs I throw at her season over the past few years. Be prepared for several more jabs, Tammy.

Introduction

So TAR just came off a year where seasons five, six, and seven all aired in a ten month period. Thanks to the success of TAR 7, the fatigue felt after the terrible TAR 6 had been erased. Everyone was eager for a new season. However, seeing that it was TAR 8 and Survivor having its all-star edition in their eighth season, the audience speculated if TAR would have its own all-star. Considering the overall failure of Survivor: All Stars many wished that TAR did not go this direction. An idea for a much more family-friendly show like TAR to have an ultra competitive and grudge-laden season did not bode well with fans. Nobody wanted TAR to go down this path.

So what did producers do?

They chose an equally treacherous path met with just as much criticism as if they did an all-star.

So what was production’s brilliant idea?
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Family Edition!

That’s right. Every team would consist of family-based relationships. All couples are married. Everyone else racing are either full blood siblings or in-laws.

You might be thinking “why in-laws? That’s not a blood relation”.

Well, have you seen in-laws race together as a team cooperatively? That’s TV gold. Nuclear family conflicts of the Waltons, the Reeds, the Griffiths, and whatever other shows your old wrinkly parents or grandparents watched simply doesn’t cut it in the 21st century. We want real people. Real problems. Real camera whores.

For those of you new to TAR the question on your mind is “Why do a Family Edition in the first place? Clearly nobody wanted that given the online reviews!”

‘Review’ is the key word there. After the fact. After the fact everyone blocked TAR 8 out of their minds like they did to TAR 6. But before the fact? Everyone and their mother wanted a family version of TAR. In fact, I wrote a family edition of TAR in the eighth grade where sixteen teams of two who were part of a large extended family raced around the world. This was written over a year before TAR Family Edition was announced. I’d like to say I was ahead of my time.

I was fourteen when TAR Family Edition aired and I assure you everyone who wanted to be on TAR but were under 21 or wanted to take their kids on the race with them were pestering production endlessly for years to bend the rules. It’s like a family vacation. You can hang out with Colin & Christie at the Sphinx. Roll over hay bales until the Phil comes home to eliminate you. Direct llamas across town. Eat pounds of caviar. C’mon production. Won’t you be so kind and do a special favour for us families? Pretty please?

Producers caved into demands. It took them eight seasons but they did. The migraines ensued as production had to face many realities of a family-based race (like the involvement of the Blacks) and make several format changes to the structure of the race.

These are the negative changes production had to make:

1) Team size would double from two to four. This means a cast of 22 people amongst eleven teams of two would nearly double to a cast of 40 amongst ten teams of four. Have you ever attempted editing forty contestants into thirteen episodes of a competition? It’s impossible. Many contestants would be ignored and make it all the way to their Philimination without uttering a word all season. Zero storyline means zero connection for the audience to the characters on-screen. It is extremely difficult to present forty different stories. Production has a tough enough time with 22 different stories.

2) Roadblock proportionality rule is waived. This season is the only exception from TAR 6 through TAR 20 to not have the proportional roadblock rule. For this season players could send out their same people to do the roadblocks over and over. Seeing how there are four to a team there will be contestants who will go through most of the season without ever doing a roadblock. The era of Flos, Nicoles, and Kims have been revived.

3) The reduction of the teams down to ten. A series low. You would think that production would adjust it down to ten or eleven legs, right? Nope. Production kept with thirteen legs but only ten teams. Wally Bransen of all people dropped the biggest bombshell for the season when he said that there was an eleventh family who was scratched at the last minute.

Trivia time: What was the name of the family?

The Flanders Family.

Trivia time again: Why did they drop out?

Maude died shortly before filming.

4) Ten teams in thirteen legs = an increase of non-eliminations. People were already complaining that four non-elimination legs are too much. But five? The idea of eliminating teams must have seemed mean to production. What a way to break an eight year old’s heart. I s’pose if they plant it strategically it wouldn’t be too bad. But production doesn’t. They save all five of their non-eliminations in the last nine legs of the race.

5) The penalty for coming in last on a non-elimination leg decreases. After production found the perfect penalty in TAR 7 they instead cut back by having a more lenient penalty in TAR 8. You are stuck with only the clothes on your back but your money is not taken away. I would say production was forced to do this. Can you imagine if the Black family was out on the streets begging for money all over America? Barack Obama wasn’t president yet so production couldn’t get away with a stunt like this.

6) The biggest change of all that everyone, including production, hated– not traveling across the world. No, this isn’t TAR 7′s version of not traveling across the world where they turn around when they get back to India. This is a whole different level. In this season teams do not even leave the continent. All thirteen episodes we are stuck in North America. However, there’s more than thirteen countries so we could still have a fun race, right?

Unfortunately no. Only four countries are visited in TAR. Canada, the US where all teams reside, Costa Rica, and Panama. So maybe they had the starting line and finish line in the US but then the other three countries took over for twelve legs? Canada is a huge country after all.

Again, no. Canada, Costa Rica, and Panama appear in 3.5 out of 13 legs. The teams who wanted to travel abroad are stuck within the borders for 9.5 legs. What’s worse is that many of these teams are globetrotters to begin with so they’ll visit places that they have lived in the past or visited prior. Typically this only occurs at the finish line or for the odd team in an episode each season but here it is commonplace. A team gets eliminated halfway through the season fifteen minutes away from where their house is. No joke.

7) You get to see children born of reality television. What I mean by this is you see children who act not as themselves but rather possess all of the reality TV lingo that no doubt raised them. This is the same thing witnessed in Fear Factor: Family Edition. It doesn’t come off as authentic and you can’t help but feel uncomfortable knowing 12 and 13 year olds are striving to adopt the personality of a camera whore. It’s one of the few situations where you wish reality TV never existed at all.

8) The second half of the season. The first half does really well. I can picture memorable moments and themes from each of the first six legs. Five teams are ousted in six legs to make for great suspense. Legs seven through thirteen? Not the case. They go to a really boring section of the United States where the tasks are more like a 5th grade field trip rather than a cultural or adventurous experience. My least favourite field trip in elementary school was when I went to the ranch that had been around since the founding of my town. It is the most boring place on earth.

Now picture your 1800s tourist time machine and bring it onto TAR. Yeah. Pretty terrible and bland crap. The days of pioneering is not compelling television. That’s why it only exists on PBS.

9) A season called “Family Edition” has a 10:00pm time slot for almost the entire season. The worst time slot the series ever experiences and it occurs in a season where a younger audience is crucial for the season’s success ratings wise. I don’t know about you but my energy level to watch a bland season in the first place does not increase when I have to watch it on Wednesdays at 10pm.

So nine big negative changes for the season. There are some positive ones, though.

1) Some roadblocks are performed in groups of two. Production was bright enough that having one person perform a roadblock while three people sit on the sidelines isn’t really a family involved race. In fact, twelve roadblocks for the season means a rotation would work out to each person doing only three roadblocks. Production’s solution was to increase every few roadblocks to two people so those who are chomping at the bit to participate have the chance to do so.

Also, some of the younger competitors wouldn’t be allowed to do some of the roadblocks unsupervised. Therefore allowing two people to do a roadblock together allows the really young crowd to be involved with the race.

2) Virtually no taxis this season. This is indirectly caused by the fact a team of four, camera personnel, and sound personnel traveling together would fill a cab to capacity. So the only solution is to rent out as many vehicles as possible and let teams drive themselves. This will be the only season that pretty much plays out without teams being able to blame it on the luck of a cab driver.

3) Because of the mass amount of driving, all teams have their gasoline and airplane tickets paid for. One less headache for teams who will be driving some legs hundreds of miles at a time.

I think that covers all of the changes. This season will be near the bottom in the rankings but will it earn the absolute rock bottom spot? Read on to find out.

First episode

- American band music begins playing. It resonates with the anthem of American values. What image sums up American values best?

The Statue of Liberty. Phil informs us it is the beacon of freedom and cultural diversity for over 400 years. That’s a long time. Meredith & Gretchen were just born.

- Phil creates a buzz kill to tell us ten FAMILIES will be racing across the world. Bummer. They still get a million. Water taxis are currently transporting teams to a state park in Brooklyn. Each taxi carries four members of the same family.

I think teams puking on a speed boat in Chicago is much more epic, in my opinion.

- Phil begins announcing the teams.

I wish production would make them wear permanent name tags for the first few episodes. Carissa’s name will be easy to remember. But Bill, Tammy, and Billy? Not so much.

- Tammy has already uttered the reality TV U-word (underestimate) which has been so bastardized by this point. She tells us the family is a quartet of marathon runners. So guess what’s thrown into their intro?

Running. Get it? Because they’re the marathon runners? They’ll be known as the Road Runners to the audience. Meep meep.

- Tammy lists off all the runs they do like the guy from Forrest Gump lists off all the products involving shrimp.

TAMMY: Carissa can run a seven minute mile.

Although the expressions on Billy’s and Carissa’s faces tell us running is not their thing deep down. Or maybe they ran a 5-mile and clocked in at 35:00.01 and were sent to bed hungry. Who knows.

- We see them engage in a water balloon fight outside of their farm. Ah. A family activity. Because this is Family Edition after all.

CARISSA: I will really beat the adults and we’ll run faster than all of the other adults on the other time.

Poor Carissa. She thought she was signing up for The Amazing Race: Foot Race Edition.

BILLY: Me and my sister Carissa will work as a team and spying on the other teams and pretend to fool around WHILE we have our eyes and ears open.

. . .What the heck? Spy? SPY?! Like, how do you spy on TAR? You’re gonna take Tijuana Bradley to the bushes to confirm for her that Burton and Jon are coming after her?

“Hey Daddy, I spied on the Weavers. They’re full of angries!”

“Hey Mom, Wally Bransen won a custody case and that’s why he is stuck on the race with his three daughters.”

Although I think the spying strategy will come to a stop when he becomes a bit too involved with what Stassi Schroeder does at the pit stop.

CARISSA: I might be small but I’m not shtupid. I can trick any adult that is trying to trick me.

I doubt that strategy will come into play unless it’s “Roadblock: Who will not talk to strangers?”

- The Linz family. All siblings who range from about 19 to 25 years of age.

I must take an aside. I have three brothers and a sister in my family who are within six years apart. They are just as goofy and hilarious as the Linzes. I’ve always drawn a ton of similarities between the Linzes and my own siblings.

Why do they split between two colours of clothing? Hasn’t reality show casting taught us that everyone must wear matching outfits? Since when do they get to split between two colours? What is this this? Micro Machines for Super Nintendo?

- They talk about not taking themselves too seriously. Much like how the Gaghans have a water balloon fight, the Linzes have a bean bag fight. Okay, even my siblings aren’t ridiculous enough to have a bean bag play area in the backyard.

- Megan talks about being the only girl. And the only girl. And. . .

Oh! Puppies! Sorry, were you saying anything that was worth listening to, Megan?

ALEX: Tommy and Megan are still in that educational state of maturing and learning and paying their electric company’s electric bill on time. Or their landlord.

TOMMY: . . .Shut up Alex, you’re still living at home.

Don’t worry Alex. My sister didn’t move out until she was 30. My brother didn’t move out until he was 26. You’ve got plenty of years to use up.

- Next up we’ve got the Paolo family.

TONY: I came from Italy when I was twelve years old and now work as a garbage man for the past twenty-one years yada yada yada I work hard I’m living the American dream.

Tony’s reference to moving from Italy when he was 12 years old count: 1.

The garbage man can, Marge. The garbage man can.

Yeah, I’ll warn you now that Tony will reference the move from Italy numerous times.

Question: Did Marion happen to just finish watching Rikki Lake in Hairspray by any chance? It’s the only reason I can think of for why she possesses that hairstyle.

MARION: They have a father that works hard and a mother that works hard. And they don’t appreciate it.

Oh. Paolos. So maybe this is supposed to be the stereotypical loud Italian-American family? Surely they won’t have all of the stereotypes.

Ah, she cooked uh lasagna!

- Who’s next?

It’s the black family. Oh, and their last name is Black, too. I feel like I recognize them from somewhere.

Oh of course! I remember that episode of Family Feud clearly now.

JON O HURLEY: We’ve surveyed 100 viewers. Top five answers on the board! Name a mildly offensive and playful running joke will have throughout this season.

Anyways Kim talks about how you don’t have to hurt anyone to get ahead. To follow water balloon and bean bag fights, this family goes the splashing route.

Thank god they’re wearing life jackets. Wait, what do you mean? I didn’t mean it like THAT. Ugh. Is there any way I come out of this season politically correct? I’m just blogging. I know when I’m crossing the line. It’s black and white. Wait–no! No! Not. . .next family please?

KENNETH: The other teams might underestimate us because we’re kids they think we’re not physically inclined or not as smart as them but I think they’re wrong because we have a lot of drive to win.

AUSTIN: I think people are going to help me because I have a good personality and it doesn’t hurt that I’m kinda cute.

Thank you Austin! You’re the only kid on this season who avoided reality TV lingo, didn’t say anything stupid, and you accomplished the impossible by making me laugh out loud! In most seasons people would help you because you’re cute. Unfortunately the Weavers are in this cast so you’re SOL and on your own, pal!

Odd to think he’s sixteen now. He would probably flip the bird to anyone who thought he was adorable and wanted to squish his cheeks nowadays.

- Then we have the Bransen family.

WALLY: When you have three daughters they’re always going to be your little girls.

So it would be different if you had two, four, or five, or lose that custody battle? The daughters claim most of the sarcasm is directed towards their dad. He just smiles and knows they love him.

- Then we have. . .

Oh. My. God. EVERYONE RUN!!!! AH!!!!!!

- But seriously these are the infamous Weavers. They talk about how their dad worked on a racetrack and was sent out to pick up debris. A racecar came around and killed him. The story touches our hearts no doubt. However about an episode from now their ability to touch our heart will be impossible once their hands are as cold as ice. Be prepared. It’s good.

- So we move onto the Aiello family. A father traveling with his three sons-in-law. The favourites to win simply because they are all physically fit?

Yep, another Italian-American grey-haired fellow named Tony is running this race. Tony discusses a father does not get to spend quality time with his three sons-in-law. Unfortunately Tony doesn’t reveal that the relationship of his three sons-in-law is polyandrous with his daughter. I guess it was 2006 where the world wasn’t ready for polyandry on reality television.

- The clip of them at home shows the three sons-in-law tackling Tony in a game of football. Why nobody went for the wallet is beyond me.

“You can pick your own nose, your friend can pick his nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose!”

Matt wishes to disprove this saying. Just a couple inches further up and he smooshes the sweet spot.

MATT: I know these guys on the surface so I’m real looking forward to the opportunity to get to know these guys on a more intimate level.

TONY: Not that intimate.

Of course not. These guys would never share their intimate and personal space.

Oh wait.

- The Schroeder family. A dad, stepmom, and children. Oh my. A stepmom? That should be fun. The stepmom is first to speak. How does everyone react?

Google Search: Smile.

Zero results found.

- Char believes they have a strong physical smart team. It is them against the world. Stassi claims she is a daddy’s girl and admits to being my 9th grade crush. Mark’s turn to talk.

MARK: I think my boisterous personality tends to intimidate people. Just cause I like to eat small animals doesn’t mean I’m not cute and cuddly with my family but small animals taste good.

Who’s been getting into bath salts lately?

Alright, Hunter’s turn. What does he think?

So insightful.

- It is the four Godlewski sisters.

Ah yes. The Godlewski sisters. Michelle, Christine, Sharon, and Helen Hunt. I guess Godlewski is her Maiden name.

- They talk about being blonde and that the teams will -underestimate- them. Moving on. . .

- It’s the Rodgers family.

A dad, a mom, a mactress, a mactor, and an oak railing to indicate they are from the south.

DENNY: I’m the one that’s going to be taking control. I think it’s a man thing. I think it’s Biblical. I truly believe the man is the authority of the house.

If this were the Hunger Games, Denny would not be receiving any sponsours. Holy crap did editors bury him. His first confessional is to air the least popular statement he could possibly utter. On the other hand this is 2006 and Sarah Palin had yet to run for vice president.

- Brock says something stupid about how they get into ‘scruffles’ all the time about how he does not have a later curfew.

BRITTNEY: I think people will -underestimate- us seeing we’re a Southern family. A lot of the other parts of the country think people from the south may be slower which means dumb.

Replace ‘think’ with ‘know’ and your statement is correct, Brittney.

- Denny says that other teams think southern hospitality and charm is a weakness. Fortunately the audience won’t think that because Denny isn’t exactly an expert with charm so far.

Nothing says quality time together like rotating between four stations to ensure you never share the same activity with another member.

Unless they’re fishing for a book of old cliches.

- Phil asks if these families can handle the stress of traveling thousands of miles and which family will muster the right combination of brains, brawn, and teamwork so that Rolly Weaver can afford to move out of his mom’s house ASAP.

- Phil gives the usual speech. It’s the ultimate family adventure. Some of the tasks will require individual strength or endurance.

Aiellos have that covered.

In most cases success will depend on the ability to work as a team. Well Flo won TAR 3 and I assure you her and Zach did not work together. They receive cash every leg that will cover all costs except gasoline and airline tickets. Seven pit stops are elimination points. Their first clue is on top of the luggage. The luggage is several metres away. They can then jump into a GMC Yukon and drive across the Brooklyn Bridge. What they do after that is completely up to them. Except shoot a man. Then you end up in prison.

PHIL: The world is waiting for you.

Heh. You lied right to their faces, Phil. Mama Paolo is expecting New Zealand to be a destination. So much for her dreams.

The best part about Family Edition is seeing a 22-person stampede nearly double to a 40-person stampede. To the Gaghans it would be a marathon race but really it’s  quick sprint to a bunch of luggage.

- One of the Bransen girls says they must drive themselves to Soho then find Mr. Hyde beating Carew with a cane. Er, I mean find Eastern Mountain Sport and pick up a bunch of camping supplies. Sorry. I thought finding Mr. Hyde in Soho would be much more interesting for viewers.

Screw the Angel of Independence or Victoria Falls, lets go to Eastern Mountain Sport for our first route marker.

BILLY: Soho is a nice place.

Is Billy really good at sarcasm and I’m not aware of it?

- Intro time. It’s still early enough in the season where the audience is fooled into thinking this is a race around the world. I will always recall being stumped when they would be stuck in New York for half an episode and wonder when they’d finally leave. I finally clued in by the end of the episode that the season would be a major letdown.

- Schroeders struggle to load their gear in. Char is driving and follows other teams. Aiellos load up. Linz are next. Gaghan’s parents congratulate their kids and are happy to be in first. They are the only ones to make a light. The Weavers are screaming at the top of their lungs when they get to a red light. Linda has to calm everyone down.

- Renee Rodgers fell in the run while Brock dropped too and lost a shoe. In the words of Austin Powers, who loses a shoe? Wally Bransen tells his kids to buckle up. They talk non-stop.

Why did I ever agree to drive my three kids across the country for thirty days?

The Bransens are on their way.

- The Blacks are next to start moving. . .What? The Bransens, The Weavers, The Blacks? There’s nothing offensive about that. You’re overreacting.

- DJ, Brian, and Marion all scream at Tony to drive to the right. Marion freaks out at him. Bransen daughters love the shopping they have done before in Soho. Linda Weaver tells Rebecca Weaver to turn around. They lost their second place standing.

- LINDSAY: ‘B-R’ probably means bridge.

No s—, Sherlock. Just sit back and enjoy the drive.

- DJ insists for Tony to follow the other cars. Rebecca Weaver drives on the wrong side of the road.

LINDA, ROLLY, and RACHEL: IT’S THE DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES!

Fourteen minutes into the episode and the Weavers have already come up with an offensive name for a team.

ROLLY: Don’t let the stupid old farts pass you.

And two seconds later to further offend the same team. The Godlewskis are the nicest team in the whole race and Weavers have already attacked them. This will be fun.

- Teams continue navigating. Tammy says they travel the US and internationally all the time. Tammy thinks that because the other teams haven’t left the US it will give them an advantage. Too bad Tammy will soon discover that staying within the United States your whole life will be extremely advantageous this season.

- Aiellos blow through a red light. Kevin, specifically. Even though he has been married to Tony’s daughter for five years he thinks he still has a lot to prove to his father-in-law. Tommy says it is the Big Apple in the worst New York accent possible.

- Godlewskis are at a traffic stop and ask for directions. The man provides them with a map. Ah. That will be crucial considering these episodes will be 150 to 200 percent driving.

CHAR: Pink ladies. They’re going the wrong way.
MARK: Is that silicone?
STASSI: Dad!

Mark, Stassi would prefer to not go through a second divorce. One was tough enough. The AFC and NFC plates were already divided up evenly. You’re stuck with the NFC plates and now you’re bound to lose half of those. Don’t jump ship for the silicone, Mr. Schroeder. It ain’t worth it!

- Rodgers comment on seeing New York for the first time.

BRITTNEY: Isn’t it pretty?
BROCK: No.

Is this the Southern Charm Denny was referring to?

- Reggie Black tells his kids to look out both windows to spot the store. Kim says the kids are sharp and their minds work quickly.

- Meanwhile the Paolos work a bit too quickly as they shout at each other. Tony deals with three backseat drivers who tell him to roll down his window, not to ask anybody, why he doesn’t know Soho if he works in the Bronx, and a bunch of other statements that are lost in the thousand words per minute pace that the Paolo family maintains. Marion wants the A/C on which Brian cusses her out for. Tony sits quieter than Vito Corleone in his younger days.

- Linz family parks their car. Megan calls for Nick to lock it. Well it would suck to have your car stolen by another team on the race like Adam & Rebecca. Teams right behind like the Blacks could just as easily take your car. . .or the Weavers! Weavers, too.

- Gaghans and Linz have their gear.

The first route marker in The Amazing Race. You can’t see it but the Christ de Redeemer is just outside of this frame.

- They are given the next clue. Navigate ninety blocks of New York to find a Frank. I hear Frank is lost at the Wagner family reunion. But seriously, a Frank refers to a hot dog stand. A hot dog stand. Foot race ensues between Gaghans and Linz.

“Who’s got the closer parking spot?!”

And this goofiness is what will make Family Edition such an eccentric season.

- Godlewskis accidentally enter a lounge and back out like they are Pikmin. Schroeders and Godlewskis receive their clue next. Paolos are stuck in New York City driving in circles despite Tony working here all his life.

DJ: We just had to follow the other teams. That’s all we had to do.
MARION: Alright! You’ve said that a hundred times already!
BRIAN: Shut up.

- Marion wants to go to a phone booth because a phone book is inside. Her sons make fun of her thinking it only existed in the 60s. Aiellos are fifth to receive their clue. Weavers scream, knock over shelves, and nearly knock over the Bransens. Bransens aren’t too impressed with the Weavers disregard for others.

Astute observation, Lindsay Bransen. Or Beth. Or Lauren.

- Weavers scream past the Rodgers family and bullrush them in the narrow door.

He has been called to stop the Weavers screaming.

- Brittney asks for directions to the hot dog stand. One guy silently points. The Blacks get out of their car and hustle really fast into the store. Dang those Blacks are fast.

- DJ gets out to ask for directions. All three continue screaming at Tony. They find the store. Megan Linz wants to ask to follow somebody. The three siblings are too proud to follow and Alex proceeds to mock Megan. Megan is already annoyed. Carissa sees the sign for highway 9A.

CARISSA: It looks like people like to spraypaint.

BILL: Yeah, it’s pretty popular in the cities.

CARISSA: Are you allowed to use spraypaint?

BILL: I think they highly discouraged it.

Bill is not entirely right. If you’re spraypainting “obey your thirst,” then the government and corporations tend to turn a blind eye.

- The Schroeders are driving through NYC traffic. What does Mark have to say?

Any statement that begins with ‘too bad we don’t have any handicapped children’ would be a cue for most people to stop talking mid-sentence. For Mark Schroeder however, he finishes by saying he wished he had handicapped children to push into traffic and block the other teams. Nobody else is impressed.

- Tony Aiello admits he has never been camping. Weavers are on 20th street. That means they must drive 71 blocks. Sounds like a long drive. Bransens and Rodgers pass the Weavers on the road.

What the f— is Brock doing? Is that a gang sign from back home? Is that the Louisiana equivalent of Bobby Mason’s “The King’s Ransom”? I’m waiting for Brock to say “Southern hospitality, represennnnt!”

I wish he would say it. Then there’d be evidence that he is a complete tool for the rest of his life.

- Reggie Black says they may struggle because they have not traveled outside of the east coast. Clearly geography is another key component that they struggle with. New York City is the west side, right?

- MARION: I love you boys.
BRIAN: Stop asking stupid questions.
MARION: You know you’re cute when you get angry?
BRIAN: Yes, thank you. I’m always cute.

Now picture this exchange and other random shouts but with 25% of their vocal chords containing helium. It’s only 25 minutes in and they have run out of oxygen from yelling so much.

- Megan scrambles out of the car and gets a clue from the hot dog stand. Linz brothers bug her to get hot dogs with mustard.

“Those f—ers didn’t recognize us!”

- Megan reads the clue. Cross the George Washington Bridge and get to the George Washington Crossing. They will travel 97 miles through New Jersey to Pennsylvania. Once there they will find Washington Crossing Park and snag their next clue. Heh. Production wanted teams to get through New Jersey as fast as possible. I don’t blame them.

- Carissa grabs the clue from Kevin & Drew. Drew comments that she is cute. Stassi takes the clue from Kevin & Drew. Tricia Godlewski is excited to eat a big hot dog. See, you can’t call them desperate housewives. Because Tricia wants to eat.

- Tony Aiello has the clue. Kevin observes that Tony Aiello will have a heart attack as he is running. Blame the race for making teams ask for a frank. They’re only facilitating Tony’s unhealthy habits.

- Bransens are the sixth team to get a frank.

DREW: I’d like to be on their team.

I understand why this season had to air at 10:00pm.

- Brittney, Brock, and Rolly all run together to get the clue. No idea why Brittney ran out because she was way behind. This time Brock gets through a sprint without losing a shoe.

- LINDA: Your clue is in the historic park in Pennsylvania. I don’t know if that means the state of Pennsylvania.

You know, Pennsylvania AVENUE? It’s right between North Carolina Avenue and Park Place. It is The Amazing Race: Monopoly Edition.

- Linz family asks for directions at a BP Gas station. We see a zoom-in on the BP sign. Megan is surprised to hear they are indeed going into the state of Pennsylvania. The Gaghans have a tough time believing it, too. I bet it’s so tough to accept because Phil said this was a RACE AROUND THE WORLD.

BILLY: Do you have a good feeling, Mom?

Ah. Billy is going to a sports commentator when he gets older. Next he’ll ask what she was thinking as she aimed to parallel park the car.

Amazingly Carissa outlasts many viewers who fell asleep much earlier during this episode.

- The Blacks ask for a Frank. Kevin hesitates before giving the Blacks their Frank.

- Brian runs out to get a frank.

BRIAN: By the way, you guys are the best.

Brian will regret this statement three seasons from now. I guarantee you that.

- Godlewskis pass the Schroeders on the road. Schroeders follow them because it looks like they know where they are going. Aiellos pass by Yankee Stadium. They all chant that the Yankees suck. Wait, which team was it that went over 80 years without a World Series? Which team had jack—es like Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez? Oh. Right. And which GM was featured in Seinfeld? Yeah.

- Bransens, Aiellos, and Rodgers go to a rest stop. They all get directions on the map.

LINDA: Pennsylvania may be a state.

MAY be a state?????????????

LINDA: We’re really lost.
GUY: I’ve got a map.
LINDA: Would you be interested in selling this?
GUY: No take it.
LINDA: God bless you.
GUY: God bless you too.
LINDA: Do you know the lord?
GUY: He’s my friend.

The guy just gave his map away out of kindness. Shouldn’t he be rewarded in the after life rather than face eternal screaming damnation? :/

- Reggie is happy they experienced New York. Tony Paolo hopes the teams with younger kids will have to stop and go to the bathroom. Several teams ask for directions from locals but nobody knows where the Washington Crossing Park is located. They slept through History class as much I did.

- Aiellos and Bransens come from 5th and 6th to be first at the Washington Crossing. They found the two people in all of New Jersey who paid attention in high school. Teams choose a rowboat and will cross the Delaware River to New Jersey to retrieve a flag. Teams will hustle to get out of that dump and back into their boats and get back in safe Pennsylvanian territory.

- Teams will then hand the flag over to a couple guys in costume for a flag folding ceremony. Once the folders have snapped their fingers to wake up the teams who no doubt find this to be the most boring task in TAR, teams will receive their next clue. Along with the folded flag which teams can recycle in the service bins on the way out.

- Bransens get into the boat. Denny Rodgers is lost and asks for somebody to be reading the map in a very Ian-like manner. Bransens struggle paddling while the American whistle music plays and David Aiello hits the beach to retrieve the flag. Bransens are next to have the flag. Schroeders follow the Godlewskis. Until the Godlewskis turn the car around and tell Mark they are looking for a gas station. Char Schroeder refuses to follow them ever again. Good decision.

- How many blondes does it take to read a map?

More than three because they’re still lost despite six eyes on the map.

SHARON (driving): Unnnn-believable!

- Aiellos are having a good rhythm.

The rhythm continues.

Er. An entirely different type of rhythm has been powering them all this time. 10:00pm timeslot is 100 percent justified now.

- Wally insists his daughters to stroke in rhythm. They retort that he should relax. Weavers and Rodgers are the next two teams to get into boats. Gaghans are next to the route marker.

BILLY (before he opens the clue): I’m doing it.

Tammy and Bill’s patience will be tested when Billy says this at every single route marker all season, I have a feeling.

- Aiello in-laws want Tony to have the honour of handing over the flag. Tony feels patriotic as the drumming battle music plays. The calm situation is diffused by Gaghans running by during the serene flag folding ceremony.

- Teams must now drive 34 miles into the city of Philadelphia. Then they must make their way to Belmont Park and find Belmont Plateau where they will be camping for the night. Teams must race to pitch their tents for an early departure time the next morning. An eagle scout will hand them a departure time once their tent is pitched properly. 1000am, 1030am, and 1100am.

- Rogers, Weavers, and Gaghans are on the water. Bransens get their next clue.

Heh. Even the writers for the route markers are cynical about the idea of teams driving within the US borders for an entire leg.

-
So they’re off to West Philadelphia
Where I was born and raised,
where I used to spend most of my days,
Relaxin, campin, boatin
Pitchin some tents outside the school
When a couple of Weavers showed up
They were up to no good
Started screaming in my neighbourhood
I made one little comment and a religious group once said
‘Stop blogging, get offline, and go to bed!’

- Schroeders are in the water too. Rolly takes a sick jump. Rachel is swimming in the middle of the river for whatever reason. Denny wants Brock to paddle hard. Rogers’ boat is spinning around. Gaghans work together in unison. Schroeders wonder how the Gaghans got there earlier. Weavers and Rogers receive their clue and are back into their GMC Yukons. Bill has the flag then Hunter.

- Four teams have yet to paddle. Schroeders are lost leaving the route marker. Blacks are next in the boat. Reggie is not happy to be paddling. C’mon the reality TV stereotype will not stand in your way, Reggie! Linz family has a map to Philadelphia. DJ Paolo realizes they went the wrong way.

- The Blacks have troubles paddling. No surprise there. . .because they have small kids! Austin is eight. Ken is ten. You try paddling with two young kids on a river with serious current. It’s not easy.

- Aiellos find the Eagle Scouts. They choose an outlined chalk spot. Rogers are told they are going in the wrong place. Weavers are next to the park. Aiellos catch on that it’s colour coded. Gaghans catch on they are third. Bransens hate the little kids beat them and are fourth. Carissa Gaghan showed ye up big time, Bransens. Aiellos and Weavers are first ones done at 1000am. So do the Gaghans. Bransens get the next departure time (1030am).

- The Black family continues to struggle paddling.

Am I the only one who finds it inappropriate that George Washington stands and does nothing while the Blacks have a tough time paddling him around. Since when does George Washington get a break and the Blacks wear themselves out?

- Mildly offensive remarks aside, Ken and Austin team up to grab the flag and they eventually make their way back to shore. Godlewskis are next to get in a boat. They hand off the flag. They’re in 8th.

- Linz fall from first to ninth as they finally find the Washington Crossing. Megan talks about being the only girl and how she can match them like she is Chun Li in the Street Fighter competition. Paolo family are dead last to the Crossing. Washington tells them to row together. Together? That’s not a word in the Paolos vocab.

- So Megan talks about how she needs to prove her physical strength and that she can work on her own. The very next clip we see?

Brittney Rogers–not a feminist. She won’t be in a Destiny’s Child music video anytime soon.

- After Aiellos help Rogers, the Rogers help Schroeders. The Schroeders are disappointed they finished today in sixth.

Marion Paolo is only saying what is on the minds of viewers. Ten flag folding ceremonies becomes a bore after a while.

To make the episode exciting Marion decides to run with the clue hanging out of her back pocket. The question is if they will catch on.

- DJ says to go to 95 South. Tony drives on 95 North. More yelling in the car ensues. It doesn’t help when Marion announces she lost the clue. DJ says they don’t need the clue and recites the instructions of the clue. Recalling places in Pennsylvania is much better than recalling to go to the Gleitterschlucht in Straffinhausen, Switzerland just outside of Ghahjdhlkdinstein.

- The Blacks arrive. Everyone pitches in to help the Blacks who are clearly in need. . .of help after a long day of paddling on a river with serious current. Godlewskis get the 1100am departure time. Linz are next. Then Paolos. Marion embarrasses DJ and Brian by saying they were boy scouts when they were younger.

- Morning arrives. The clue is on the dashboard. Weavers, Gaghans, and Aiellos depart at 1000am.

MATT: Tony Brubaker has a farm at Mount Joy.

Fun fact?

PHIL KEOGHAN: Teams must drive 92 miles to Mt. Joy and find the Brubaker Family Farm to receive their next clue.

Ugh. That’s actually a route marker? Crap.

- Billy and Tammy argue over whether or not Billy intentionally jumped in a puddle. Weavers pray in the car and talk about God. Teams say they need to get on Route 76 West. Bransens, Schroeders, and Rogers depart at 1030am. Schroeders and Rogers team up because they are the two Louisiana teams. Luckily the South unites at the Washington Park instead of Lincoln Park. Otherwise I would have a field day with that.

- Blacks, Linz, Paolos, and Godlewskis depart at 1100am. Tommy Linz wants to follow the Godlewskis because he is attracted to the Helen Hunt look-alike. It may seem like a good decision for the first few years but then she’ll age faster than Taylor Hicks’ hair. Tread wisely, Tommy.

- A bunch of the teams are wearing their raincoats. DJ is driving today. I guess Tony’s inability to listen sent him to the back. Weavers are first to Mount Joy. It’s a detour. Teams have to choose between Build It and Buggy It. In Build It, teams build a miniature working wheel and a house. In Buggy It, two members pull a buggy while the other two sit inside for a 1.5 mile course. The buggy is a traditional Amish buggy.

- Weavers and Aiellos both choose to pull the buggy. Then Gaghans. Bill and Tammy automatically pull the buggy because they have kids who weigh less than a single Aiello. combined.

- Linda and Rolly pull the buggy. But then they get on a hill. Rolly crashes into a house and Linda dives as the buggy crashes into the bushes. After Rebecca driving on the wrong side of the road in New York City, and a buggy crashing, you think the Weavers would avoid any type of vehicle when it came to a detour task.

No kidding.

- Rebecca and Rachel stop screaming and crying. In a confessional Rebecca cries about how she was scared she would die or less their mother and be orphans. I think dying in an Amish buggy would be scarier than its results. Seriously. Can you imagine your family’s reaction when they find out you died in an Amish buggy? That would soooo end up on the Darwin awards.

- Aiellos pass by the Weavers on the buggy. Weaver’s buggy is too jammed so they switch detours. Smart move. They are kind enough to tell the Gaghans to check the brakes. Tammy instructs Billy how to use the brake.

- Bransens get directions. Mark Schroeder thinks they drove too far and pulls over to inform the Rogers family how they will get back on track. A montage of teams looking for Mount Joy. Marion Paolo freaks over an ant on her arm. Godlewskis, and Linz all get there together. Two 1100am teams have passed all four of the 1030am teams. Bransens are next there.

- Linz are pulling the buggy and Godlewskis build it. The Bransens build it too. Tricia is excited to do their first detour. Tommy farts in the buggy much to Megan’s buggy. Apparently Tommy’s maturity level is below Billy and Carissa Gaghan.

BILLY: She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes. . .

Billy sings this non-stop as they ever so slowly pass the Aiellos who are exhausted from pulling. Black family is seventh to the detour. They don’t catch on that Ken and Austin weigh about one hundred pounds combined and decide to build a house with two small kids who will be liabilities instead of assets for the task. Not a wise decision, Reggie and Kim.

- Carissa is in awe of the goats at the buggy turnaround.

BILLY: Mom and Dad, I’m wicked proud of you. I wish I could contribute.
CARISSA: Get used to it, dork.

Ouch. The ultimate humiliation. Your sister just burned you on national television, Billy.


You’ll be begging to be home school’d once the burn airs on TV because the kids will laugh at you, they’ll rose bowl you, they’ll make comments about you quietly at their lockers and will glare at you when you look at them, you don’t hear exactly what they’re saying but judging by their looks you know enough, it’s like the beginning of the movie Juno when Juno’s pregnancy is revealed, oh you haven’t seen Juno? Well ask your parents about it. Plus you’ll want to be home school’d so you can get away from the bullies, but really you just want to play World of Warcraft on your computer during the day because the 30 minutes of it on a school night when your parents have you go through extra-curricular activities and an early bedtime just isn’t enough to get into the game. . .

- Schroeders are there. Time to build it for them. Stassi thinks 1.5 miles is a long way. Rogers are ninth. They’ll build it too. Paolos are dead last and realize a fat and out of shape mom is not ideal for buggy pulling. Alex Linz stops to pour water on his head and is ready to puke. Megan regrets not pulling the buggy. They’re not even at the halfway point. Megan takes on the role of cheerleader. She’s been hanging around Brittney Rogers too much.

- Weavers are first ones done the detour. Pit stop. Drive seventeen miles to Blue Rock Road in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and look for two blue grain silos. It means they have found the production assistant’s house, which is the pit stop for this leg of the race. Er, I mean the Rohrer Family Farm. It is one block away from the Schrute Farm I bet.

- Godlewskis finish putting in the wheel.

Michelle Godlewski is a bit too welcoming for that pipe. The pitfalls of driving around with three sisters makes you desperate, I s’pose.

- Mark Schroeder has no idea where the roof is while the Rogers family puts it on no problem. Paolos yell at each other as they build the house. Godlewskis are done in second. How excited are they to be done?

That they run in four polar opposite directions. They intend to run to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Or run out of the country so they aren’t stuck racing in the United States anymore. One of the two.

- Gaghans are done pulling the buggy. Bransens are fourth and made up a ton of time. Wally says they are going in the wrong direction when they start driving. Aiellos finish and are ecstatic to go to the pit stop.

I think the Aiello camera operator is drunk. They took way too much poetic license and put the camera on a tilt.

- Linz team gets to the buggy turnaround. Tommy has yet to push but is ready to puke from being out on the farm. He indeed pukes. Don’t worry, Tommy. Farms are disgusting. I would puke within thirty seconds.

- LINDA: Dear Lord, we have no idea where we’re going.

GOD: Uhhhhhhhhh, isn’t this that Family Edition of The Amazing Race?
LINDA: Yes, Lord.
GOD: Yeah, I’m not gonna waste my time on that. It’s not even a real race for God’s sake. Sorry.

- Sharon and Michelle get in a screaming match. Gaghans thought they did a good job.

TAMMY: That was a good butt workout.

Ten bucks says Tammy is subscribed to Jennifer Nicole Lee’s magazine and is doing the ‘Glutes that Salute’ workout.

- Linda prays further for God to direct them to the pit stop. She reads the clue to him. If God had any mercy he’d put them in the wrong direction and not let them waste their time on Family Edition anymore.

- Carissa thinks a dream will come true of Phil saying they are #1. Will Carissa’s dream come true?

But first the greeter with the Hell’s Angels beard greets them.

Holy crap they scream louder than the Weavers.

Even Jaree can’t handle the noise!

- Phil informs them they have won $20, 000. Phil asks where Michelle’s pink T-shirt is. They proceed to all talk over each other. Phil asks if this will be normal. They emphatically answer with ‘yes’. What a joy, for Phil. Joy on Mount Joy.

- Gaghans are right behind the Weavers. Weavers have nicknamed them the ‘rugrats’. Rebecca unbuckles her seatbelt while driving. Yeah, Weavers and vehicles are a terrible combination.

- Gaghans defeat the Weavers in a foot race. Rolly Weaver frowns as he hears he is third.

KEVIN AIELLO: It’s a farm so we need to be out in farm country.

. . . .Big help.

- Remaining teams scramble to put the house together. Rogers finish the detour in sixth. Denny crowns Brock as the Most Valuable Player. Mark Schroeder can’t hammer out the pipe. They appear to be screwed. Mark uses brute strength to fix it. They’re finished. Seventh place for them. Mark tells Char to turn right. Everyone questions if Mark is right.

- A few more orders and Paolos have amazingly improved from tenth to eighth place. How the heck did they improve their position while barking at each other? It must be working. Although Marion cries in the car and tells Tony that he needs to have a good heart-to-heart with his son who doesn’t know when to shut up. No way that heart-to-heart never happens.

- Linz really chose the wrong detour option. They are way behind. The Blacks meanwhile are still building it. Bransens and Aiellos are both ready to puke from the nerves of racing. Rogers check in at fourth place. They improved on the road. Impressive. Schroeders climb up to fifth. Louisiana drivers know how to navigate Amish country, apparently.

- Paolos are on the road.

DJ: Look at a damn map! What is so hard?
MARION: DJ shut up one minute please! Just cool it!

I know someone else who needs to cool it. Care to guess, Marion? Also, the last time I heard somebody use the phrase ‘cool it’ was when I watched an episode of The Wonder Years.

- Paolos run to the mat. They are freakin’ sixth.

We’re freakin sixth!

Oh my word! Tony is turning into The Blob!

Tony is tackling Phil harder than Bill throws Anderson Cooper into a pool of water.

I really wish my contract was up for negotiation with CBS soon.

All of you guys shout, scream, and tackle me. What gives?

- Marion is all smiles.

- Linz family takes another break. Austin goes to fetch water from the marsh.

Who knew one of the Black kids would have troubles in water. Seriously. It’s two inches of water.

- Reggie pulls Austin out and spanks him on national TV. Bransens arrive at the pit stop. They’re seventh. The diagonal camera work of Aiellos get them to the pit stop in eighth. Ouch. Terrible driving. Blacks finish the detour and are driving to the pit stop. Linz family completes the detour. Holy cap was that the wrong choice. Megan Linz wishes Black family luck as Reggie drives away. Does Megan know this is a do-or-die situation? Ken wants Reggie to start driving and stop talking to the other team.

- Linz family is following Black family. Nick intentionally drives east instead of north. Megan thinks they should have been following the Black family and hope their legs that just struggled to pull a buggy 1.5 miles will outrun a family who conserved energy building a house.

- Suspenseful music begins. Linz see the two blue silos. So does the Black family. The Blacks and the Linzes get there thirty seconds apart. It’s the Linzes who are able to win out by about a minute. Phil teases them that a bunch of kids beat them to the mat.

- Then here come the Blacks. All four of them tear up. Reggie is sad but not disappointed. They say they’re a Proud Family. Well the only thing you guys have in common with the Proud Family is. . .

Next time on TAR: The Paolos scream, the Weavers scream louder, and another US history lesson is taught. Fun stuff.
Confessional counts

Carissa.Bill.Tammy.Billy 2.0.3.2
Megan.Tommy.Nick.Alex 3.1.2.2
Tony.DJ.Brian. Marion 1.1.0.3
Kenneth.Kim.Reggie.Austin 2.3.4.1
Lauren.Beth.Wally.Lindsay 1.1.3.1
Linda.Rachel.Rebecca.Rolly 3.1.3.0
Tony.Kevin.David.Matt 3.1.2.0
Stassi.Mark.Char.Hunter 2.1.2.0
Michelle.Christine.Sharon.Tricia 1.1.0.1
Brittney.Denny.Renee.Brock 1.2.0.1

Team averages

12th Debra & Steve 12.0
12th Gina & Sylvia 12.0
11th Ryan & Chuck 11.0
11th Team Seinfeld/Avi & Joe 11.0
11th Dennis & Erika 11.0
11th Deidre & Hilary 11.0
11th Matt & Ana 11.0
10th A Black Family 10.0
10th Megan & Heidi 9.5 (Wow. They sucked.)
9th Peggy & Claire 9.0
10th Meredith & Maria 9.0
10th Dennis & Andrew 9.0 FF
10th Russell & Cindy 8.33
8th Don & Mary Jean 8.2
10th Kim & Leslie 8.0
9th Jim & Marsha 7.33
8th Dave & Margaretta 7.0
9th Lena & Kristy 7.0
10th Hope & Norm 7.0
8th Susan & Patrick 6.5
6th Lenny & Karyn 6.43
7th Paul & Amie 6.2
8th Steve & Dave 6.2 FF
11th Amanda & Chris 6.0
6th Andre & Damon 5.86
5th Kami & Karli 5.8
8th Michael & Kathy 5.8
7th Cyndi & Russell 5.8
-
9th Heather & Eve 5.75
5th Nancy & Emily 5.67
10th Alison & Donny 5.5
6th Tian & Jaree 5.43 FF
4th Meredith & Gretchen 5.36
7th Monica & Sheree 5.33 FF
7th Marshall & Lance 5.33
9th Debbie & Bianca 5.33
7th Gus & Hera 5.29
8th Bob & Joyce 5.25
7th Silver & Gold 5.17
7th Ray & Deana – 5.0 FF
9th Steve & Josh 5.0 – FF
9th Pat & Brenda 5.0 – FF
5th John Vito & Jill 4.8 – FF
6th Brian & Greg 4.71
3rd Adam & Rebecca 4.69 FF
5th Lori & Bolo 4.6 – FF
2nd Teri & Ian 4.53 – FF
8th Shola & Doyin 4.25 – FF
4th Linda & Karen 4.17
6th Mary & Peach 4.14 (Two failed FF attempts.)
5th Lynn & Alex 4.11
3rd David & Jeff 4.00 – FF
4th Oswald & Danny 4.00 – FF
5th Gary & Dave 3.89 – FF
2nd Kelly & Jon 3.85
4th Jon & Al 3.73
6th Charla & Mirna 3.71
3rd Blake & Paige 3.69 – FF
5th Millie & Chuck 3.67 FF
6th Jonathan & Victoria 3.56
1st Freddy & Kendra 3.46
1st Chris & Alex 3.38 – FF
1st Chip & Kim 3.38
4th Kevin & Drew 3.36 – FF
3rd Brandon & Nicole 3.31
1st Reichen & DK 3.15 – FF
1st Uchenna & Joyce 3.15 FF
4th Derek & Drew 3.10 – FF
3rd Ron & Kelly 3.00
4th Hayden & Aaron 2.92
3rd Joe & Bill 2.76 – FF
2nd Tara & Wil 2.53 – FF
1st Flo & Zach 2.69 – FF
3rd Ken & Gerard 2.69 – FF
2nd Colin & Christie 2.54 – FF
1st Rob & Brennan – 2.46 FF
2nd Frank & Margarita 2.38 – FF
2nd Kris & Jon 2.38
2nd Rob & Amber 2.31

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