THE AMAZING RACE ASIA EPISODE 1
A train has its mouth wide open as a bunch of railroad makes its way down its throat.
With that, I welcome you to TAR Asia!
– Yep. The experiment has started. TAR freakin’ Asia. Who knew we could get here? I personally didn’t think so. Two years of blogging this crap.
– So what’s so different from TAR Asia compared to the sole American version that had been in existence for over five years? Well a few things:
a) Teams from multiple countries were cast for the show. This is an interesting dynamic because teams in the U.S. version could only hope for an advantage in terms of their hometown being the location of the final leg. In an Asian version everyone is bound to have a one round advantage prior to the season finale.
Casting from multiple countries also allows for the most diverse cast ever assembled.
b) An Asian guy fails at impersonating Phil Keoghan.
c) No Marked for Elimination. TAR Asia reinstates the best non-elimination penalty of all-time: Stripping you of all your money and baggage. Enjoy this while it lasts.
d) Several locations from earlier (and later) seasons of TAR are re-visited. It’s interesting to see how much TAR Asia copies or finds a way to improve each country’s route from the previous visit.
e) Yes, all locations on the race are limited to Asia. Although equivalent to about the same size of the route in TAR Family Edition (excluding Oceania). So no circumventing the globe or creeping into other continents. Unless you count Oceania as its own continent.
f) Fewer prizes for winning a leg of the race. TAR Asia couldn’t find too many sponsours willing to give away free s—.
g) You can’t get away with saying “oh, you know, the Asian team” when you can’t think of a team’s real names.
h) The music and editing has much more of an amateur atmosphere than the American version of TAR. It is far less polished here.
i) Despite over 1000 teams applying, only ten teams are picked. This matches the same number from TAR Family Edition. Sadly the same number of non-elimination legs will be in play. Snoooze.
– We are introduced to Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur.
Take a picture of yourself in front of them then head to the nearest Quick Foto Kodak Easyshare station!
– Teams are running for the jaw-dropping cash prize of. . .ONE HUNDRED thousand US DOLLARS!
So this was before the 2008 US economic crash, I imagine?
HOST: Ten teams each have an existing relationship.
Well no freakin’ kidding! Wait a second. Pre-existing doesn’t make sense. What’s the difference between pre-existing and existing? I know in the early years of TAR that you had to know each other for 18 months but those rules have been bent to accommodate mactoors and reality TV celebrities.
Ugh, I’m getting a headache.
– First up: Gina & Ernie. Married for ten years from the Philippines.
ERNIE: We go rock climbing together, we go mountain biking together, we go scuba diving together, we shower together, we have dentist appointments together, shrimp gumbo, shrimp scampi, shrimp. . .you can put shrimp into anything! We will evaluate other teams.
– Zabrina & Joe Jer. Workmates and friends from Malaysia.
Gains early home field advantage. Zabrina claims she knows the race really well. Joe Jer says they are not physically fit. Zabrina wants to break the spell of all-female teams doing atrocious. Joe Jer has a very British accent.
– Marty and Marcio. Heavier brothers from Indonesia. Marcio says he is more adopted while Marty is more spoiled brat.
Okay, the accents will be tough for me to make out from time to time. Get used to it.
Marty & Marcio give me the Indonesian Finger for my offensive remarks. . .Oh wait, that’s a thumbs up. They approve!
They didn’t have too many ideas in their audition video.
– Next we have Jaclyn & Aubrey. Also from the Philippines. Best friends.
Even in TAR Asia they need to cast the all-female prissy team. It’s an international stereotype. They remind me of the Able Sisters from Animal Crossing.
We already have our first TARsian nickname.
– They like to look good and go to the gym. Competitive and feminine is their catchphrase.
– Sandy and Francesca. Dating for one year from Hong Kong. We see them workout. They feel like strong competitors. Francesca admits she talks a lot while Sandy is more quiet.
Just in case you couldn’t figure out they are physically gifted. It’s hard work to read a magazine. Francesca wishes to be the planner while Sandy will be the do-er. Sandy thinks he will be excited.
SANDY: Items I can’t go without are my shavers, moisturizer, and eye cream.
He sounds more like a guy from the Jersey Shore than a guy from Hong Kong.
– Enough of that testosterone-filled audition. Who we have next is. . .
On second thought we can go back to the previous team.
– Chien and Andrew? Andrew is Malaysian-born. They have been dating for three years. Andrew expects nothing less than top three. She wants to win. Chien wants to make the final decision rather than her because she worries too much. Andrew acknowledges this that he is more level-headed.
– Who we have next is Howard & Cyron. A Sri Lankan inter-racial gay couple. Say that three times fast. How many minorities is that?
Where can I buy that shirt?
– We see them in a fine restaurant and in a hall with a piano. The Sri Lankan Danny & Oswald. They sip champagne and admit they have never been back-packing. Please send them to a desert landscape or a place very cold.
– Cyron lists his phobias. Snakes. Heights. Water. Public bathrooms.
– We have Melody and Sharon. Friends from Singapore. Finally names that are easy to spell based on auditory perception.
Matching clothes and matching shades. I wonder if they have had a chance to try bubble gum since entering Malaysia?
It wouldn’t be TAR Asia without two 50-year old women in bikinis having an impromptu kung fu match.
– One is Christian and the other is Catholic. They both fear god.
– Syhill and Passion from Mumbai, India. Male models. Not former drug addicts. Syhill discusses that he isn’t here for the media coverage because he gets enough from modeling alone. Passion feels everybody will be watching them because of their fame in modeling.
Whoa. A roadblock already?
HOST: Eddie & Laura. Engaged from the UK.
WHAT! Since when is UK apart of Asia? That’s cheating.
HOST: . . .Now living in Thailand.
LAURA: Lust at first sight which then turned into love.
EDDIE: It was a seven-year one-night stand. We’re very unlucky.
LAURA: Incredibly unlucky.
And that’s it. Those are the ten teams. I bet if I go to Wikipedia I will discover that I failed the TAR Asia spelling bee. My goodness that was a challenge.
– Host asks us who will have the right combination of brains, brawn, and teamwork as they get ready to “run on. . .The Amazing Race Asia.
To run on? Is that an Asian expression? It doesn’t quite make sense. Next time just plagiarize Phil word for word.
– Intro time.
– THAT’S how you spell you Mardy? Wow, wasn’t close with Sahran. And like I ever had a chance at spelling Prashant correctly. Jeena? Who the heck spells it Jeena?
– Host gives instructions. It is very stiff. He is doing an abridged version of Keoghan’s speech. TAR theme lightly plays in the background. It doesn’t feel right.
The pacing of his sentences are unnatural for English. It reminds me of the dubbing from Iron Chef.
– The crowd cheers over the 100k grand prize and the 25k shopping spree from The Brick.
HOST: The whole of Asia and beyond is waiting for you.
Needless to say he has an inability to raise his eyebrow. I wish he would’ve winked instead. At least do something! All we receive is a creepy smile. He must regret the botox shots in his eyebrow.
– The ten teams run. Random TAR track plays. The first clue instructs them to go to the Times Square Shopping Centre. They receive only fifty dollars for an opening leg.
– Teams had to drive several hours in New York for their first clue in TAR Family Edition. In TAR Asia it is just a short cab ride. Strangest opening route marker ever.
– Andrew & Syeon are first into a cab. It’s only two minutes into the race and it has already become a fight for cabs. There goes the 11-season tradition of teams driving themselves to the next destination/airport of every season.
– Syeon will not focus on the relationship until after the race. Francesca is in disbelief that she is a woman who can’t get a cab to a shopping mall. Yay feminism!
– Jeena & Ernie are second into a cab. Jeena describes it as the ultimate challenge for any relationship. Zabrina & Joe Jer are third. Sahil & Prashnat fifth. Sandy & Francesca fourth. Yes, I know it was out of order. Mardy & Marsio sixth. Sharon & Melody seventh. Andy & Laura eighth.
– Sandy & Francesca tell us they fight frequently. Francesca says that it is exciting. Yes, exciting to be stuck in traffic in the centre of one of the busiest cities in the world.
– Host informs us that teams will absail down the shopping centre when they reach the eighth floor. If they don’t do it, teams will receive an immediate time penalty.
– Sri Lankan couple is last. Zabrina & Joe Jer take an alternate traffic route. Laura requests to pass. Every team requests their driver to pass the other teams.
– Zabrina & Joe Jer are first at the shopping centre. Able Sisters are second. Zabrina & Joe Jer are first to the eighth floor. They start putting on the gear. Zabrina hopes nobody will be focused on them throughout the race. Like being first to the first route marker will help your strategy.
– Several teams exit at once. It’s tough to keep track. Jeena & Ernie are third to suit up. Joe Jer starts descending. Mardy thinks their disadvantage will be physical things. That’s all he says.
– More teams exit from cabs. Mardy & Marsio are fourth to the task. Sahran hopes the cameraman won’t ask him to do something horrible like bungee jumping which will trigger him wetting himself. Sahran sheds some water from his eyes when he sees the heights. Draaaama.
– Zabrina & Joe Jer are done. Ernie points out that Jeena owns a rock climbing gym.
– Teams must now travel by taxi to Kompleks Kraf.
Kompleks Kraf? Who came up with that name? The writers from Donkey Kong Country or Mortal Kombat?
– Jacqueline looks at the stores instead of the ground. Jeena & Ernie are done. So are Jacqueline & Aubrey. Sahran continues to freak out.
– Mardy flails on his way down. Mardy is already exhausted. Sahran & Howard and Sahil & Prashant are in their gear.
– Sahran is getting the classic “I don’t think I can do it but will all along” edit.
– Zabrina & Joe Jer have their clue but it suddenly switches to another team. Unusual editing.
JEENA: At rock climbing is where we met. Now we’re climbing each other.
I don’t need that visual.
– Jacqueline fans herself in the taxi. Must be a humid day.
– It’s a Detour. Paint or Pot.
In Paint, teams must work together to trace, wax, and paint a silk painting. Once finished, they will hand it in to the expert. If she approves, they receive their next clue. If not, they must start over.
In Pot, teams must work together to make a small pot. No Ghost’ing here because here one person controls moulding of the clay while the other controls the speed of the wheel. If the pottery master is happy with the end result, they will receive their next clue.
In TAR Asia, they don’t trick you by instructing to ‘throw pots’.
– Sahran is quivering and crying. He starts rotating in the air.
SAHRAN: I don’t like it twisted.
He hates it when his schwartz gets twisted too.
– Sahran keeps telling himself he is doing okay.
– Zabrina & Joe Jer chose to Paint. Joe Jer thinks clay making would be too physical.
– Marsio says that he will do most of the brain work while Mardy will do the physical stuff. Jeena & Ernie complain that their taxi ripped them off as they are second to the Detour.
MARSIO: You have to go really fast because everything is an emergency for us.
The taxi driver may not be convinced by the least enthusiastic emergency request ever.
– Jeena & Ernie choose to do pottery. Sahran finishes the descent.
Something tells me he will be crying a lot if descending a few stories will trigger tears.
Howard & Sahran fell behind when Sahran embraced one of the instructors and cried on her shoulder for an hour straight.
The only time we will see ‘TOUGH’ and Sahran in the same space and time.
– Jeena is struggling with the clay. Andrew & Syeon are third and are doing the Paint task. Jeena is freaking out over maintaining the shape of the pot.
– Sharon & Melody finish the descent. Zabrina & Joe Jer hand in their paint job. It’s good. Zabrina & Joe Jer are approved. They must drive themselves to Shah Alam Stadium. Each member must complete four laps of the karting circuit.
Unfortunately all Go Kart jokes were used up during TAR Family Edition. Are there any racers whose family member died in a racing accident? Okay. Maybe there will be new material to work with. At least there won’t be fifty laps.
– Aubrey & Jacqueline are painting. Jeena & Ernie make their third attempt at the pot. Mardy & Marsio are painting.
ERNIE: Harry Potter. . .
Quite the international recognition if Harry Potter is referenced before Ghost. Swayze must be rolling and spinning and moulding in his grave.
– Andrew & Syeon are second to complete the Detour. Jeena succeeds at creating a clay pot. Howard & Sahran have exited the mall. So do Melody & Sharon and Sahil & Prashant.
– Andy & Laura dive into Sandy & Francesca’s cab to avoid last. Sandy & Francesca finally claim a cab.
– Mardy & Marsio finish the painting to be fourth. Able Sisters claim fifth.
– Sahil & Prashant are sixth to the Detour. Sahil thinks he is more hasty while Prashant is cautious. Sorry mactors, but only the casual fans care about you.
– Auble Sisters hire a cab to follow to the Stadium. Andy offers a “one ring” tip if the cab can get them to the route marker fast.
I certainly hope “one ring” is a form of currency otherwise Andy will be paying a steep price.
– Andrew & Syeon think this is their best chance of winning a round because they are in Malaysia.
– Jeena & Ernie completely grind against a car. Ernie was looking in his mirror and side-swept a parked car. Jeena tells him to stop. Ernie finally stops. He explains he is lost and couldn’t figure out the controls for the mirror.
How do you side-sweep a parked car?! Must. . .Not. . .Make. . .Asian. . .Driver. . .Joke.
MAN: Sorry is not going to cut it today!
*Return from commercial*
Problem is magically solved.
– Mardy & Marsio hire a cab to follow. Sahil & Prashant are lost as they ask “what’s a ladel?”. Wow. They must come from a rich family. Sandy & Francesca are seventh. Howard & Sahran are eighth. They would’ve been fifth if Sahran didn’t stop to cry for ten minutes.
– Andy & Laura catch on that their cab drove in a complete circle. Apparently they don’t have any desire to switch cabs. Andrew & Syeon need a map because nobody is behind him.
– Able Sisters don’t want to pay their taxi. They consider kissing him.
– Zabrina & Joe Jer see Mardy & Marsio alongside them.
– It’s a Detour battle between the three teams at the Paint task. Mactors, interrracial Sri Lankan gay couple, and the Kung Fu ladies.
– Able Sister in the backseat powders the nose of the Able Sister driver.
– Prashant tries to convince Sahil that they must copy the picture in front of them. Sahil ignores him. Melody & Sharon finish the task.
– Prashant spilled wax and failed again. They must restart. Sandy & Francesca fail too because they didn’t catch on that the colours must match. Howard & Sahran are done. Sandy & Francesca finish right behind them.
– Sandy & Francesca run past a slow-walking Howard & Sahran. They receive directions from a hotel employee.
– Howard says he has a driver take him everywhere back home. He struggles with driving the car. The best part?
It’s an automatic. I can’t wait for the episode where they drive a stick. This might be the most ill-equipped team I have seen on TAR except for Meredith & Maria or Wynona’s pre-race preparation of vodka and 7-Up.
– Melody can see the stadium in the distance. Zabrina & Joe Jer pass Andrew & Syeon on the road. Andrew is worried by how well Zabrina & Joe Jer are doing.
– Sahil & Prashant complete the task but lose ten seconds when they initially forget their bags. Andy & Laura magically appear at the Detour and complete the Paint task.
ANDY: We hope you get lots of money when you sell it.
TARsian paintings are a big hit. Well, at TARcon charity events.
– Francesca realizes they are going the wrong way and instructs Sandy. Sahran receives directions.
SAHRAN: He said go ‘straight, straight, straight’. So we’ll go ‘straight, straight, straight’.
Never has the word ‘straight’ come out of Sahran’s mouth so frequently.
(HOWARD turns left.)
SAHRAN: Uh, everyone is going to be ahead of us now.
Who knew Howard would have such a problem going straight. Even 100k on the line can’t make a man go straight.
– Mardy & Marsio and Zabrina & Joe Jer are at the stadium. They read the clue that instructs them to complete four laps.
It’s unusual that we are told what the task will be before they read the clues.
– Prashant runs into a gas station to receive directions. Able Sisters reduce the fee to twenty dollars and a kiss.
– Mardy comments on how Andrew & Syeon and Zabrina & Joe Jer are the first two teams to the stadium.
MARDY: How did the Malaysian teams get here so fast?
Maybe because they are from Malaysia. But that seems too easy.
– Joe Jer wipes out as she spins in a circle.
Looks like somebody pressed ‘A’ too early after Lakitu lowered them onto the course.
The track ain’t got nothin’ on this pro.
– Joe Jer pulls into the pit stop.
No. Not that pit stop. It would be amusing if the pit stop for this leg of the race was in the pit stop of the stadium. That will be reserved for 2014 in the first edition of The Amazing Race: Meta Edition.
– Joe Jer pulled in too early. She did three laps instead of four. She must do four CONSECUTIVE laps. So off she goes for another four.
JOE JER: Now I have to do eight laps.
3 + 4 = 8.
I THOUGHT ASIANS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD AT MATH!
– Andy has the same skills as his cab as they are lost.
ANDY: Bad luck.
It’s not bad luck when everything is in your own hands and you screw it up.
– Teams wipe out several times as if banana peels and green shells are on the course. Andrew & Syeon are done. It’s time to drive to the pit stop. Menara Kuala Lumpur. It’s 480 metres high. Yeah, thank god for metric measurements. The American version refuses to use the simple log of metric.
They never left the city. For all of you TAR Canada and TAR Family Edition h8rs, at least you witness teams leaving the city. With TAR Asia we suffer from claustrophobia in the series premiere.
– Teams must park at the jungle trail and run from there to the base of the tower.. It’s a deceiving trail because it will lead them to the base before taking them through a maze of paths to the base of the tower.
– Mardy & Marsio are done the task. Zabrina is now racing around the track. Sharon & Melody are at the stadium. One of them completed in racecar circuits.
– Able Sisters are third. Jeena & Ernie finish the stadium task in fourth. Andy proclaims himself as lost tourists.
– Howard & Sahran are lost after screwing up the easiest directions in the history of TAR.
– Zabrina & Joe Jer finish the circuit in fifth. We can blame Joe Jer. Howard & Sahran assume they are last as they pull into the stadium. Andrew nicknames Mardy & Marsio as M&M. Syeon refuses to underestimate them.
– Mardy & Marsio hire another cab. Sahil looks at himself in the mirror to fix his hair as Prashant asks for directions. Howard & Sahran are eighth to the stadium. Sharon & Melody finish the task in sixth. Sahil & Prashant are at the stadium in ninth.
– Melody & Sharon fail at obtaining directions to the jungle trail. Mardy & Marsio are first to the jungle trails. Marsio is tying his shoes. They slowly jog on the trail. Sharon admits she underestimated Mardy & Marsio. They see a monkey on the trail.
– Andrew & Syeon are at the trails. Mardy asks if there is an elevator. Maybe in Japanese jungle trails. Sahran instructs Howard how to drive a car despite the fact that Howard already drove a car.
– Andrew & Syeon pass Mardy & Marsio are on the trail. Mardy & Marsio are lost.
Personally I’d start underestimating Mardy & Marsio again.
– Zabrina & Joe Jer run fast on the trail. Jeena & Ernia and Able Sisters start running into the trail simultaneously.
– Sandy & Francesca ask for directions to the stadium. Prashant brags that he lapped Howard on the track. Andy & Laura are done the stadium task in seventh and honks at a car in front of him. Sahil & Prashant leave the stadium in eighth.
– Jeena & Ernie, Able Sisters, and Zabrina & Joe Jer run together. Howard & Sahran are in ninth and assume they are last.
– Sandy & Francesca finally get to the stadium. They’re right about being last. Zabrina sits on the bench and asks Joe Jer to repeat the additional info again. They ask for more directions. Jeena & Ernie read the map too.
– Andrew & Syeon and Mardy & Marsio are in an elevator together. Mardy tells Andrew & Syeon how they screwed up. Syeon assumes they are messing with them.
I don’t understand why Mardy (or Marsio?) would go into a full sprint when they are certain that Andrew & Syeon screwed up. No point risking the injury of an achilles heel.
– Andrew & Syeon are informed they are first. Then commercial. Strangest commercial break ever. We return from commercial to hear the host explain their penalty. They must go back to the trail. Mardy & Marsio are first place and win nothing for their efforts. No 10k. No cars. No Royal Caribbean cruises. Nada.
– HOST: Ernie & Jeena. . .
WHT IT SAYS ON SCREEN: Jeena & Ernie. . .
This is annoying as crap. Please match how you say the teams aloud and how they are listed on-screen. These minor details are important for viewers. Especially in a series premiere.
2nd: Jeena & Ernie
3rd: Zabrina & Joe Jer
4th: Able Sisters
– Sandy & Francesca complete the circuit. It was shown about ten minutes less than the go kart race from Family Edition.
– I love how the same music track can be played for ten minutes. Sandy & Francesca drive into a dead end. Andrew & Syeon sit on a bench. Andy & Laura try to decipher the path. Sahil & Prashant go into a temple thinking it could be a forest. Andy & Laura bicker some more before Andy gives in to Laura’s suggestion.
5th: Andrew & Syeon
6th: Melody & Sharon
7th: Andy & Laura
8th: Sahil & Prashant
– Sandy & Francesca are still on the road. Sahran picks up a man to join them in the car to direct them to the forest.
You know it’s TAR Asia when this fellow appears!
– Howard & Sahran are ninth to the jungle trail. I can’t see them with good cardio. Sandy & Francesca are last to the trail. The teams argue about where to go. Francesca complains about being lost. With no warning whatsoever–
9th: Howard & Sahran
This editing is so funky.
10th: Sandy & Francesca.
HOST: Sandy & Francesca, you are team number ten. I am sorry to tell you you’re the last team to arrive.
Not quite the TAR script. This is the first time where the last team has been awarded a number. rather than ‘last’.
HOST: However, this is a pre-determined non-elimination round. Unfortunately I will have to take all of your cash (it’s only been one leg so this is by no means crippling).
This is why ten teams is a bad idea. A non-elimination on the first leg seems unnatural. It tends to keep the crappy teams in longer (I’m looking at you Don & Mary Jean) while the good teams merely delay the inevitable.
After this season, the philosophy to have a non-elimination in the first round increases overall in the TAR universe. An opening non-elimination trumps the previous record held by TAR9 with a non-elimination on leg 3.
Next time on TAR: Teams scramble fro rides at the airports resulting in an unprecedented taxi race. Teams come face to face with their fears or it gets pushy.
NOTE: In the preview, we see “Howard & Sahran currently in fourth place”. The editing is going to take time to adjust.
ZABRINA.JOE JER 4.2
Rank the Legs
1) Kuala Lumpur -> . . .Kuala Lumpur (It would have been funnier to either have the pit stop at the pit stop of the stadium or to make them go back to the starting line of the race.
The route was fine for the first round of the first ever Asian edition. Production did a good job of avoiding any landmarks already seen in Kuala Lumpur throughout multiple seasons of TAR. The teams are all friendly and cordial which makes it an extremely unusual competitive reality TV show. Nobody screams. Nobody shoves another. Nobody gets into arguments with locals. This is the calmest and most respectful group of people I have ever seen. Well, until Sandy goes a few more days without his muscle milk.
The jungle trail to the pit stop is unique and inventive. The rest of the tasks were fairly textbook TAR. An eleventh team being cast would have been a better idea than a first round non-elimination merely because the non-elimination penalty is not very effective when teams cannot be devastated by the penalty.
If I had to describe the round in one word: Calm. Yes, I described a race as being calm after one episode. Shows how crazy those dang Americans are.
And whoever is in charge of timing the use of the TAR soundtrack needs to be fired. I think the editors of The Amazing Hunt do a better job with music.)