The Amazing Race 15 episode 1 ranking

The Amazing Race 15

WARNING: This is going to be a long writeup before I start breaking down the first episode. Please ctrl+f “first leg” if you want to skip the setup for TAR 15.

Where the hell do I start with The Amazing Race 15?

I. STATIC ERA IS STATIC FOR A REASON

Starting with The Amazing Race 14, TAR now aired two seasons per year. One in the autumn and one in the spring just like Survivor. In TAR 12, the franchise reached its peak in popularity, and when TAR 13 was ordered because of the writer’s strike and was a major success in terms of ratings, we have had an autumn and spring season ever since.

This was written as of the end of TAR 24: All Stars (II). There are reports we will only have one season per year in the future. This has yet to be confirmed.

II. PERSONAL LIFE

I rarely talk about my personal life in relation to these blogs, but it is impossible to avoid it for the TAR 15 blog.

Upon the conclusion of TAR 14, one of the biggest transitions in my life occurred. In June of 2009, I graduated from high school. The elementary and high school that I attended were both within a ten minute walk from my house. My life between September and June from 1999 to 2009 had involved going to these schools (I moved to this city shortly before my eighth birthday).

In September of 2009, a couple weeks before TAR 15 and Survivor: Samoa premiered, I would begin university. The university was 90 minutes away by bus. This meant I would spend three hours per day for four or five days each week in transit alone. Add in class time, studying, and basic human functions, and my interest in keeping up with my favourite shows was all but gone.

Remember that I hated TAR 14 and was indifferent towards Survivor: Tocantins at the end of high school. I was on the border of ditching my favourite shows for good.

For some reason, I was able to keep up with Survivor: Samoa. I mean, it was the tenth anniversary of the godfather of all competitive reality shows.

I will touch upon that later.

Anyways, TAR 15 aired less than a month into the university experience. I was overwhelmed, a bit depressed as I was thrown into a new environment, and not physically feeling well. I recall throwing up a couple times in the first month of university.

When the season premiere of TAR 15 was announced to have a two hour premiere for the first time in a while, I was intrigued. A whole round is stretched to two hours? Sure, there have been 90 minute episodes in the past, but never two hours! This is great.

So I tuned in and watched. I was down with a stress flu that night, and I gave up on watching the premiere after ninety minutes into the episode. I was so infuriated by what happened in the first hour that I unofficially resigned as a hardcore fan of The Amazing Race.

I will stick with being the Survivor Ultra Fan or the 24 Ultra Fan or The World Series of Poker Ultra Fan.

But not Amazing Race.

I watched the last two episodes of the season, and grew more and more distant from the community.

I would watch only two episodes of TAR 16.
I would watch twenty minutes of TAR 17.
I watched the premiere and finale of TAR 18.
I watched the second half of TAR 19 when I started this blogging project.
I caught most of TAR 20.

Once TAR 21 rolled around, I started watching it on a weekly basis again.

Even 24 sucked that year so much to the point that the show was cancelled at the end of the season. It is funny to acknowledge this now because 24: Live Another Day premiered last week.

Survivor would never be the same as Samoa marked the Russell Hantz era where idols, production interference, bloated casts, and showing only two characters with 1, 000, 000 strategy sessions each episode became the new norm.

It is odd to think that this was nearly five years ago. I finished university in June of 2013, and will be attending my graduation ceremony in a month from now.

III. US ECONOMIC CRISIS CREATES BUDGET CUTS

This has to be acknowledged because 2009’s American economic crash would directly impact the future of Survivor and TAR.

Following Survivor: Tocantins, Survivor would re-use the same location for back-to-back seasons for each year because it was the best way to save millions of dollars. Furthermore, filming the seasons closer together also saved on production costs. No longer did they have to ship production items from Gabon to Brazil during the break between seasons.

This is why we have had four seasons in Samoa, two in Nicaragua, and four in a row in the Philippines.

These budget cuts were noticeable with TAR dating back to season twelve when they had only eleven rounds. In TAR 13, they would have two legs in Delhi and two legs in Moscow. Never before have they held two legs in the same city. TAR 14 would keep this up with Beijing, but increased it to twelve rounds.

TAR 15 would maintain this by having two legs in Dubai and two legs in Prague. Pay attention to this over the next several seasons. You will see locations being re-used more than normal, and if you pay attention to the prizes and locations by TAR 24, you will see how much more the budget shrinks over time.

IV. FAN MADE GAMES

This was right around the time where diehard childhood fans of competitive reality TV such as myself were entering adulthood. All of us were in the age group of 17-23 after the genre had survived for ten years.

It was also the time where technological equipment was becoming cheaper for the public to purchase, and thus created the genre of fan made games.

The Amazing Hunt, a TAR knockoff based out of my home region of Vancouver, Canada, had gained provincial news spots for how much it mimicked The Amazing Race. They would have six or seven teams, and play three rounds over the course of the day in Vancouver and the surrounding areas. They uploaded the videos with really good quality to YouTube.

Of course this means there was also a lot of fan made Survivor games going on.

Riddle Me Timbers’ Survivor, Survivor: Las Vegas, Survivor: Bush, Ferris Wheel Productions Survivor, Paul Asleson’s Montana/Idaho Mole and Survivor series, The Mole: Lake Tahoe. . .all of these seasons were ideal to watch during the summer.

I think this was a bit of Survivor and TAR overload. Even if Survivor was not airing a new season, you could go on to YouTube and watch a reasonably produced version of a fan made version play out.

I myself filmed my own version of The Mole back in 2008, but have yet to upload it to YouTube.

I would say these fan made games have kept Survivor and TAR in the mainstream. Why? Because die hard fans needed their non-fanatic friends to play, and in turn their friends would start watching.

Why, Ferris Wheel Productions’ original All Stars season revealed the winner during an assembly inside of their high school gymnasium.

V. TWITTER

Twitter was emerging in 2009. It became popular to the point that TAR announced the renewal for TAR 15 initially on Twitter before anywhere else on the web.

Five years later and Twitter is doing pretty dang good for itself.

VI. STREAMING

This is the biggest technological change for 2008/2009. Cell phones could now stream things from the Internet! You can watch episodes of TV shows online rather than needing a television set!

I think CBS is just starting to catch on that catering to a global audience online is more important to its brand than airing it on cable. Things like blogging about TAR Asia 3 or watching a subtitled version of the Dutch Mole were now possible because of the World Wide Web.

I am interested to see where this will take us five more years down the road as consumers and producers argue over the grey area of online streaming.

It is undeniable that this has changed the television landscape.

VII. UNIVERSAL RACE FATIGUE

This was right around the time when I saw more and more articles on the Internet from diehard fans who were saying “The Amazing Race just isn’t that good anymore” or “sorry, but it is not doing anything new” or “I don’t know why, but I am not the same dehard fan that I used to be”.

The same can be applied to Survivor too as the ratings take a huge dip between Micronesia and Caramoan. I recall Jay Fischer from the Survivor Historians podcast saying “right around Cook Islands is when Survivor became a chore to watch rather than a show I genuinely looked forward to each week”.

I think that describes many viewers today for Survivor and TAR. Initially you watch out of enjoyment, but now you may watch strictly because of your loyalty to the series.

I think this is the point where a lot of Day 1 viewers like myself pulled back from watching TAR.

VIII. SURVIVOR’S 10TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY

If there was anything that made TAR irrelevant again, it was the fact that Survivor was celebrating its 19th and 20th seasons. This was a huge deal because it gave us the polarizing nature of Survivor: Samoa, and twenty seasons worth of characters coming back for Heroes vs. Villains to mark the 10th anniversary.

There was so much hype behind Heroes versus Villains that they aired a Surviving Survivor special one week before the premiere, and a two hour premiere where only one person went home. This was the last time where it was cool to watch Survivor again.

Now we are about to end Survivor 28/Cagayan, and it has been the most popular and most viewed season since Heroes vs. Villains in terms of ratings.

But seriously, people forgot TAR 15 and 16 were going on due to Survivor’s 10th year anniversary hype.

Is it time to talk about TAR 15 itself?

IX. THE ROUTE

I do not have much more to add as I covered most of it in the budget cuts.

Two cities are responsible for four of the twelve legs this season.

This season also marks the third time that they travel across the Pacific Ocean before the Atlantic Ocean. It is the third time in six seasons that they have traveled this way.

For some reason, once TAR 10 hits producers decided to alternate between going eastward and westward. I personally prefer going eastward because the Asian countries tend to be the toughest to navigate and possess the greatest of language barriers. European countries tend to be easier to travel, and seem a bit lame when they are at the end of the season.

How is that testing teams?

Believe it or not, TAR 15 visits TWO new countries. Ever since TAR 10, they have placed much more emphasis on visiting the Eastern Bloc which had been ignored for the first nine seasons. Estonia and the Czech Republic would be added to the TAR catalogue for the first time.

Japan was being re-visited for the first time since TAR 12 (TAR 9 was its original appearance).
Vietnam was being re-visited for the first time since TAR 10 (TAR 3 was its original appearance). In fact it will not be visited again for the next ten seasons.
United Arab Emirates is re-visited for the first time since TAR 5. Expect to see UAE a  bit more frequently in the future.
The Netherlands is re-visited for the first time since TAR 12 (TAR 4 was its original appearance).
Sweden is re-visited for the first time since TAR 6.

So really, not too many of the abused countries like India, Brazil, China, and Australia are in this list.

I do appreciate that the two new countries for this season are featured at the end of the season.

Oh, and I should note that TAR Asia 2 already visited the Czech Republic. It is the only time where TAR Asia visits a country before the American franchise.

P.S. This continues the abuse of Los Angeles as a starting line location.

X. TWISTS

a) A couple U-Turns and a couple Fast Forwards are in the mix.

b) For only the fourth time in history, twelve teams are in the cast. This worked out great in TAR 3 and 4 because it reduced the number of non-elimination legs. Typically everyone would be excited to hear that twelve teams are being cast for this season.

But then we all remembered TAR 10. We lost the most interesting team in the cast because the twist was to eliminate two teams in the first round, but still preserve all four non-elimination legs.

Once the twelve team cast was announced, producers also said “one team will be eliminated at the starting line.

c) That’s right. This is the first appearance of the Starting Line task. We will have one for every two to three seasons from now on in the TAR franchise. I find starting line tasks to be really dumb because travel and visiting new countries is much more exciting than a manufactured task in a field near Los Angeles.

In fact, does anyone know why producers think this is a good idea?

d) This is the only starting line task which outright eliminates a team. In the past, I have labelled the Bilal & Sa’eed elimination in the middle of the TAR 10 premiere as the dumbest production moment ever. Right up there with the hay bale task in TAR 6 and eliminating the weekly Fast Forward twist.

But TAR 15’s starting line elimination, in my opinion, takes the cake. There is no point to this except shock value. People spend months making real life arrangements in order to be on The Amazing Race. They are ready for a thrilling race but instead get eliminated due to a needle in a haystack task within the first ten minutes.

They spent more time in a hotel sequestered than the time they spent in the race.

The viewer backlash was great enough that production has never done an elimination before the first pit stop ever again. The closest thing we get to this is a starting line penalty, or a double elimination leg that we will see much later in the series.

e) Production hyped up a twist before and during the season called the Switchback. This is a twist that will be extinct by TAR 23, but was used once or twice per season between TAR 15-22.

You could say it was a brand new twist, but most would argue it is the exact opposite. What is this twist, exactly?

Well, let’s say you go to a city or region that has been previously visited on The Amazing Race. Furthermore, you go to an exact location that has been recycled. In addition, you are told the task you are going to do is identical to one that had been done earlier in the series.

The twist may be called the Switchback, but a better name is Callback or The Recycler.

The viewer reaction to the Switchback is split.

On one hand, production acknowledges a Hall of Fame moment from an earlier season and will even air an original clip as the new teams take on an adaptation of that task. On the other hand, all you are doing is rehashing what you have done before.

The first Switchback is, in my opinion, the dumbest task production ever conceived in the entire franchise of the show, but the task is so memorable for casual and diehard viewers that it is at the very top of TAR’s Hall of Shame/Fame.

I personally do not know why this task has ever been received with anything above total shame for producers, but whatever, if the audience liked its unfair nature then I guess it should be the first Switchback.

TAR 23 re-uses a very specific location, but since it was not acknowledged as a Switchback, I assume that producers have ditched the idea for good.

Ditching the Switchback eight seasons later may have been a good thing too because the final Switchback recorded was a very unmemorable task from TAR 8: Family Edition. A task done in the second round of Family Edition apparently needed a callback.

f) In the past, non-eliminations do not occur until nine or fewer teams remain. The series started out by having non-eliminations only when five to seven teams remain, but they would occasionally test the waters by having a team saved in eighth (Hi Don & Mary Jean) or in ninth (Hi Pinks/Wanda & Desiree).

TAR Asia 1 and 2 had a non-elimination on the first leg, but it made sense because they have to squeeze in five non-elimination rounds.

For some reason, TAR 15 does something infuriating. They eliminate a team at the starting line, but schedule a non-elimination for the end of the first leg.
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That is definitely as dumb as it sounds. And the worst part? My least favourite person in the history of television is the one that gets saved.

XI. THE RACE ITSELF

For a season that is rarely talked about anymore outside of the Harlem Globetrotters, it is a surprisingly eventful series of blunders as five out of nine teams will be eliminated in completely unexpected ways.

Some make you wonder why producers bothered to cast a team in the first place and if it was done strictly for “good TV”. Well, one of the eliminations was definitely intended for “good TV”, as I covered in the Twists section.

Which takes us to our final subject:

XII. CASTING

It was in 2008 and 2009 where people could become famous for what they do on YouTube.

joey furby

And get two TAR appearances out of it too.

Luckily this trend does not start quite yet, but we have  a handful of minor stars this season. In the past, there will be a Rob & Amber, an Alison & Donny, or a Mel & Mike that act as the token minor celebrity.

TAR 15 begins the trend of finding multiple D list celebrities and cast them for the same season.

First off, we have Mika & Canaan. Cast solely because they are mildly successful country stars. With a program that relies heavily on its Conservative and Southern fanbase, Mika & Canaan were undoubtedly used to bring viewers in.

Next, we have the Harlem Globetrotters. Yes, two fake basketball stars who win games by pulling the pants down of local police officers are used as stunt casting for The Amazing Race.

The Harlem Globetrotters theme music is licensed for the episodes throughout the season. Again, they are only being cast for their fame and bring in more viewers. It is odd to think that this is just the beginning of a very long run in their Amazing Race career.

Oh, and to follow the stunt casting of having a deaf contestant for TAR 14, TAR 15 has the first player with mild autism (Asperger’s) cast for the season. I do not mind a player with a disability is cast, but any player with some sort of disability like Luke or Christy are always portrayed with major bias as heroes even when evidence points to them being much more complicated as people.

We also have a surprisingly young team that are on average just twenty-two years of age each. That about covers it for the cast.
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Oh. Right. For those of you who do not know, I spent most of high school becoming a hardcore fan of poker. I watched poker programs all the time. Particularly the World Series of Poker. I would follow the live blogging updates for each event during the summer. I used to be one of those idiots who would rent poker-based video games. There was probably a time when I was familiar with hundreds of names in poker.

But my love for poker came to a stop when one individual was so annoying, so obnoxious, so entitled, and such an idiot that I was forced to stop watching the World Series of Poker. She is the only person I find to be unbearable to watch on my television. This woman made me put an abrupt end to something I loved for five years.

And guess what? She will be a big part why I quit watching The Amazing Race for several years. Who is this woman?
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tiffany michelle

Wait, can’t quite make out who that is.

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Geez, does she need a hat that always hides her eyes? Still can’t figure out who it is.

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NO! Sorry, I say that by instinct.

It is Tiffany Michelle. She accused every male poker player of having a crush on her if she called her bet. She would call the clock on a twelve million dollar pot even if she was not in the hand. If a woman was at risk in the Main Event, she would run over rooting for her demise just to see if she would be the last woman standing.

And she gets rewarded by being an interviewer for multiple poker sites and was granted a lot of airtime for her antics.

She represented everything I hate in a person.

When I heard two female poker players would be cast for TAR, I was excited. Cyndi Violette? Annie Duke? Mimi Tran? Bad Girl?

But no, it had to be Tiffany f—ing Michelle of all people.

tiffany michelle 4

And you know she loves to take her job and the race seriously.

I can assure you that Tiffany was striving for TV time, and did very little to prep for the race. What happens to her at the end of the first disgusts me with producers to the point that it put me out of the TAR fanbase for nearly three years.

All because of this one woman who for some reason is rewarded by being placed in front of the camera.

First leg

“Is This a Reality Show or a Game Show?”

COUNTRIES VISITED

JAPAN – VIETNAM – CAMBODIA – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – THE NETHERLANDS – SWEDEN – ESTONIA – CZECH REPUBLIC – UNITED STATES

Previously on TAR: We blogged the finale of TAR Asia 3. Lots of Allan Wu puns involved. Ida & Tania are awesome. Now you are caught up.

For the fourth season in a row, Los Angeles serves as our starting line.

PHIL: It is early morning, and the temperature is quickly rising in the movie capital of the world.

How long until we run out of descriptions for Los Angeles?

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They could very well re-use the same B-roll footage from TAR 12 and we would not know.

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How many times have they shown the Hollywood sign in the premiere? Three? Four? Five times?

– We are now going to start at the Los Angeles River. An iconic place used for stunts in movies.

PHIL: Such as Grease and Terminator 2.

grease

When I think of action flicks, I think of 60s romantic musicals that contain the lyrics shanananananana, changity changity and shoopity booda bop.

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Don’t you remember that multi-million dollar police chase from Grease?

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Mark & Michael’s second home.

– We see a police car drift for several seconds. You would think it is more of a promotion for Grand Theft Auto IV at the time rather than The Amazing Race. I wonder if Oswald & Danny were apart of the stunt?

PHIL: Teams are heading to the hidden concrete caverns of Los Angeles.

They really are sugar-coating the significance of this location, aren’t they?

japan bus

It only took them fifteen seasons to revive the TAR 1 method of transporting teams to the starting line by bus. I wonder if it took eight years for them to complete the renovations on it?

TEAM #1: BRIAN & ERICKA

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Woo! Inter-racial couple!

Let’s do a quick mactor background check on them.

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Son of a b—-.

– Ericka talks about her accomplishment of winning, and Brian says he wants to show America that inter-racial couples are awesome.

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Brian expresses the wonders of an inter-racial cleavage glance. . .

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Twice.

– Lance & Keri are an engaged couple from Salem, Massachusetts.

LANCE: Woo! Yeah!

Yikes. Phil is just doing their intro and Lance is already yelling in the tunnel.

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How much roids can he bench?

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Are they trying to take after Ray & Deana from TAR 7? Soon they will be challenging seniors to a game of Checkers in no time.

LANCE: We’re the powerhouses going into it. We bring too much physically and mentally not to win it.
KERI: Lance is a good person. He’s smawwwwwt.

Oh my. Strong Bostonian accents. I love it. Although there is one secret lethal weapon that they have in their arsenal. . .

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Roundhouse kick!

chuck norris

He would be proud.

– Lance is a trial attorney by profession. Which is supposed to mean he is smawt, I guess.

– Our third team. . .

PHIL: Maria and Tiffany. Professional poker players.

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Ugh. Let’s get them over with right now.

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F—ing b—-es.

– Thankfully Maria Not-As-Much-Of-A-Ho-As-Tiffany is the one who speaks. She says that playing games every day for a living will help them in life.

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3/10 offsuit for Maria in the pocket.

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Her puh-puh-puh-poker face.

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The most exciting hand they could show is Tiffany winning a hand against Maria’s 3/10 offsuit that is folded pre-flop?

– We move onto our fourth team. Zev & Justin. Best friends from two blocks with L.A. Zev tells us he has Asperger’s which he was diagnosed with when he was eleven, and does not leave his comfort zone often.

Not leaving your comfort zone? Things may not bode well with you.

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Already at each other’s throats, evidently.

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Are they doing an audition video or are they auditioning for their own show on the Home Gardening channel?

Justin says Zev is as honest of a person as you will find in life.

ZEV: That’s nice to hear.

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ZEV: Tear.
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Justin is not going to react to this?
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There we go. Justin is a late comer when it comes to sarcasm.

– Our fifth team? Mika & Canaan. Newly dating from Nashville.

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Mika on a river? This is unexpected.

caroline jennifer

They’re gonna win The Amazing Race.

Why is that, Caroline & Jennifer?

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Oh. Country Singers. Are either of them related to John Wayne or Annie Oakley?

CANAAN: I have a song right now that I wrote on the country charts.

Yes, not a sing he PERFORMED, but rather one that he WROTE. Yeah, that will bring in the big bucks.

CANAAN: As a follower of Christ, my faith. . .

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

MIKA: I am a Christian too. That will probably help us in the race. We can pray to win.

Next.

– Sixth team. . .

japan flight time big easy

Thumbs up all around? Who are they posing for?

They are teammates of the Harlem Globetrotters.

For you Canadian readers, they are the American version of the Canadian Half-Pints.

japan farmer pete

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But instead of being a bunch of White Canuck Little Persons who pull down the pants of their opponents, the Globetrotters are a group of tall Black men who pull down the pants of their opponents.

japan flight time

Now he’s just mocking my glorious Half Pints!

BIG TIME: We’ll be the best looking team to ever win The Amazing Race.

Winning? You may have won 10, 000 basketball games, but do not get used to that word being in your vocabulary during the race.

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This team is a real slam dunk!

– Seventh team? Sam & Dan. Brothers from Missouri.

SAM: We are Christians and are a couple of Midwestern boys, but we can be bad too.

What? Christians can’t be bad.

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This looks dangerous.

SAM: Dan and I came out to each other about a year ago. He said “I have something to tell you” and I said “no way, me too”. We high fived each other.

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Homosexuals ruin the sanctity of a high five! Next we will have cats and dogs raining through our roofs!

– Are you ready for our eighth team? A father and son from Montana named Gary and Matt. Between country singers, family-friendly globetrotters, boys from Missouri, this is becoming a very rural and conservative cast.

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Pink hair? Dear god! He is challenging Montana tradition! Look out!

– Gary is crying already as he discusses how they miss out on time together because they are running so fast.

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That is tough to believe because Gary looks like he is 5’2″ or 5’3″ at best. Since when does he run fast? He must have a small stride. Why, he could audition for the Canadian Half Pints for their Manitoba team.

FUN FACT: Matt used to regularly play ORGs.

– Now for our ninth team. Eric and Lisa. Married yoga teachers from L.A. After going through an extensive casting and auditioning process, they are ready to travel the world!

LISA: Everybody thinks Eric and I have this reputation as these zen yoga people.

japan eric lisa

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Well, can you blame them?

ERIC: Lisa and I, we’re like yoga from the hood. We will be able to use that to catapult ourselves to the finish line. Numero freakin’ uno.
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Numero freakin’ uno.

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Owning a motorcycle alone makes him more of a bad boy than Jean-Robert Bellande.

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I rarely use the word stud, but I think Eric more than qualifies to be the biggest stud the race has ever seen.

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I wish Eric can teach me how my girlfriend and I can do this move. Just sayin’.

– Ready for team number ten? You will remember them long after this season is over. It is Garrett and Jessica. Dating on and off from northern Carolina.

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Legends in the making.

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In case you have forgotten they are from northern California, here they walk in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

GARRETT: I grew up with a brother and never had to deal with female drama.

So. . .you never had friends of your own?

JESSICA: I come from a family of strong Colombian women.

colombiana

Wait, she is related to Colombiana? This could get interesting.

– Garrett says that her fiery “Colombian side” baffles her. If he cannot get through the race without her blowing up, their relationship could be at stake.

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By the way, this is the closest that either of them get to a smile.
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Are they related to Kelly or Christy?

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Their best impression of a smile.

– Now to a couple that did not make casting fall asleep. Marcy & Ron. Dating. From San Francisco. Not northern California.

– Marcy tells us that they have been dating for one year, and met on the Internet. After several months of sexting, they finally met in person.

japan marcy ron

The second thing we learn about them? They like bows and arrows. The third thing?

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Ron is bald.

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Synchronized archery–a new sport.

– Marcy explains how well they get along. Ron tells us that he wakes up each morning worrying about the day, while Marcy greets the day with excitement.

MARCY: Never dated a bald guy before.

Oh yeah. The erotic things you can do with a bald man. Bald men have a larger sex drive. It is proven.

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See? He is like Billy Gunn’s grandfather.

billy gunn

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She knows.

– Our final team. Megan and Cheyne. A dating couple from San Diego.

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The Amazing Race 15: Mactor Edition.

Couples from San Diego are known for being extremely dynamic in the past.

siberia amanda kris
Oh. Right. Scratch that.

michael kathy

YOU LEAVE MICHAEL & KATHY OUT OF THIS! BEWARE OF THE WEREWOLF! ROAR! HE CAN COOK AND HE CAN SKYDIVE!

MEGAN: Cheyne and I met in elementary school. We played tetherball. I beat him for the record.

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Fifteen years later and she is still rubbing it in.

CHEYNE: She is definitely the best female athlete I have ever met.

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I don’t know, she can’t even pull off the Isaac & William intro shot yet.

– Megan knows they are going to marry each other. Cheyne hesitates before agreeing.

– Those are our twelve teams.

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I guess Phil is not interested in answering the question of who has the right combination of brains, brawn, and teamwork to win the million dollars.

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Phil sizes up the twelve teams.

PHIL: You will encounter every obstacle possible, and many unexpected surprises.

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A shot we have seen many times over the years.

– Phil tells them that they can run over to their bags, read the clue, and begin the race when he gives the word. The first team to cross the finish line after twelve rounds will win a million bucks. They applaud.

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The bags.

PHIL: But there is something else I need to tell you and I don’t think you’re gonna like it.

japan phil keoghan 2

“I have full blown AIDS.”

Whoa. The speech has taken a sudden twist. After fifteen seasons, I thought I had the speech memorized by heart.

PHIL: There is going to be one challenge that is going to have a devastating effect on one team. And for this one team it will be a very short race. Just beyond your backpacks is your first challenge. The details are in the clue. The team that is unable to complete the challenge will be eliminated RIGHT HERE. For the first time ever, one team will not even get past the start line. Everybody understands that?

japan phil keoghan 2

Nobody understands why production needed to make that decision in the first place, but okay.

PHIL: The world is waiting. Good luck. Travel safe. . .GO!

– It is a frantic scramble as teams run to their bags.

japan start 6

Usually the best shot of each season.

– Speaking of scrambles, teams discover that they must fly to Tokyo and find the Shibuya Crossing.

julie chen

MARCY: But first!

– Phil tells us that teams must search the wall of over a thousand license plates for one of eleven that are from the Shinigawa District in Tokyo. This is their first destination. Teams with an eye for detail will match the symbol in their clue with one of eleven license plates that contain the same symbol.

japan license plate

japan license plate 2

See?

– The team that finds the correct license plate will receive a ticket for one of two flights to Tokyo. The team that do not find a plate will be the first team to not leave the starting line.

– Chaos ensues. Sam discusses how frantic everyone was at the route marker. Sam believes he found the symbol first.

PHIL: One team at a time!

Oh god. Teams are shoving random license plates in Phil’s face. Production and Phil must be having a fun time sorting through who gets to show their license plate first.

– There are a ton of rejections off the bat. We may be going through 989 license plates before a correct one is found. Sam mentions the symbol on the top of the clue and assumes nobody ever figured it out.

japan phil

This is the first time Phil has been directly involved with a task. I bet he hopes this is the final time.

japan phil 2

kass

Plenty of chaos and Kass is sadly not around to enjoy it.

– Justin figures it out. He is slow to understand sarcasm, but he is fast to understand clues. Justin knew they would not be expected to understand Japanese, therefore the symbol on the clue must tip them off.

Not a bad task so far. Just too bad that a team will be eliminated two minutes into the game as a result of it.

– Teams pull license plates on a whim. Guess who solves it first by pure luck?

japan maria tiffany 6

Jesus. When Maria grabbed the correct license plate, she said “let’s just go with this one”. Want to know how lucky they were?

japan license plate 3

Still a huge number that remains.

japan marcy ron 6

Marcy and Butt Squeezer Ron are the next ones to luck out.

japan megan cheyne 3

Cheyne tells Megan “good job, baby” as if she used any skill whatsoever. The three teams to succeed have no idea why they have been approved.

This task is suddenly becoming one of the lamest and most chaotic tasks in TAR history.

– Maria and Tiffany are the first ones into a car.

japan tiffany michelle

TIFFANY: I’ve got my Asian Lucky Charm right here.

That’s. . .not even that witty. Shut your face Tiffany.

japan phil 3

Those pleading eyes.

japan flight time big easy 3
You know it is a bad task when teams are confused when they get it right.

– Gary & Matt are the next ones to be lucky. They are in fifth.

– Zev & Justin, the only ones to figure out the clue, finish the task in sixth place. Ugh.

– Teams currently in cars are celebrating their trip to Tokyo and make fun of teams who are still searching for clues even though eleven out of twelve teams do not understand why they are wrong.

– Intro time. We haven’t left the starting line and are over eleven minutes into the premiere. This is bad.

CURRENTLY DONE THE WALL OF LUCK

MARIA & TIFFANY — LUCK
MARCY & RON — LUCK
MEGAN & CHEYNE — LUCK
FLIGHT TIME & BIG EASY — LUCK
GARY & MATT — LUCK
ZEV & JUSTIN — KNEW WHAT THE HELL THEY WERE DOING

THOSE STILL AT THE WALL OF LUCK

BRIAN & ERICKA
LANCE & KERI
MIKA & CANAAN
SAM & DAN
ERIC & LISA
GARRETT & JESSICA

– We resume the task. Sam & Dan are approved in seconds.

japan sam dan 4

Dan has Flight Time of his own.

japan mika canaan 3

Phew. If they weren’t Christians, they would not have survived this task.

– Brian & Ericka rejected. Ericka is hysterical as she is panting. Lance & Keri rejected. Lance says he is a street type of lawyer who flies by adversity.

japan garrett jessica 5

The most electrifying team is alive in ninth. Only three teams remain.

japan brian ericka 4

I am curious how long this has taken. Ericka sounds winded.

– Phil announces there is only one more set of tickets to Tokyo. Granted it is a voiceover.

japan tickets

Oh the suspense.

japan phil keoghan 3

The look of a man who is afraid of being roundhouse kicked in the face by Lance Layne.

– Commercial. Eric laments it is unfreakin believable and Lisa worries they are in trouble.

– Both teams suddenly figure out the symbol simultaneously as they scan the wall. Keri snags it.

LANCE: That’s right baby, c’mon, you know it’s it.

japan lance keri 4

Thankfully TAR does not determine its winner by a jury vote.

japan phil keoghan 4

Phil looks down and away in shame.

japan eric lisa 7

Numero freakin doce.

japan car

Even though they have fixed tickets to Tokyo, they do not bother staying behind to apologize or comfort Eric & Lisa. I am surprised none of the teams did that.

– Eric & Lisa step onto the mat.

japan phil keoghan 5

The look of a man who knows they should never do a twist this stupid again.

japan eric lisa 8

Thirteen minutes into the premiere, and a team has been eliminated at the starting line.

– Lisa says she was “really looking forward to this”, but it is the start of the next adventure. Eric knows his elimination means the pain and suffering of anybody else who could have experienced being first out is gone for them.

japan eric lisa 9

Equally confused as we are as to why the hell production put them through the audition process, cast them, sequestered them for a few days, paid for hotel and food, lectured them at the starting line, and eliminated them within the first twenty minutes of the game.

NOTE: Elimination Station is a special show they have been doing since TAR 11 where cameras fill what the first five or six teams eliminated do at the sequester resort in Mexico/elsewhere in the world. Everybody who is eliminated early is contracted to go there.

Well guess what? Eric & Lisa outright refused to go. They went through the trouble of booking five weeks off from their work, and decided to vacation around the world on their own instead of being stuck in a resort. CBS granted their wish. If I recall correctly, we will not even see Eric & Lisa at the finish mat at the end of this season.

NOTE #2: Production never eliminates a team before the first pit stop ever again. TAR 10 and TAR 15 will be the only cases of this extreme case of stupidity occurring.

– Lance jokingly tells Keri that it was her job to read the clue. Or, #readyourclue. They get into a funny spat with Bostonian accents, and continue driving.

– Phil informs us that the first six teams are on an American Airlines flight leaving at 12:45pm. The remaining five teams receive tickets on a United flight that leaves at 1:15pm.

– The scramble to the airport is edited out because, well, no need to scramble when you already have the tickets. The interactions between teams begins. The first we see is of Flight Time & Big Easy with Zev & Justin.
japan airport

Zev says he plays for the Harlem Globetrotters and Big Easy claims he is a M.I.T. grad.

They’re lying about their jobs? So much for Flight Time & Big Easy. More like LIE Time & Big Easy.

It is funny that the first two teams we see are the only two teams who will be brought back in the future.

– Gary & Matt, Megan & Cheyne, and Marcy & Ron discuss the intensity of the task. Marcy has never experienced something so intense since child birth.

– Now it is time for the unnecessary Gary Hawkins/Hogeboom moment of TAR 15. Big Easy asks Maria & Tiffany what they do for a living. You’re not going to believe their answer.

japan flight time big easy 4

japan maria tiffany 7

Eyes rolling into the top of your head and scratching behind your ear nervously? Psssst, I think that’s a tell.

TIFFANY: The bluff that we’re running is that we work for a homeless program in Los Angeles. We don’t want them to know we make a lot of money playing poker.
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Uh, how about something more normal. Like flight attendants, pharmaceutical sales reps, cashiers, dental receptionist, etc. Why say you WORK WITH HOMELESS KIDS IN LOS ANGELES WHEN YOU LOOK LIKE THE MOST ACCESSORIZED PEOPLE IN THE RACE?!

– Phil recaps who is on each flight. I tell you why.

FIRST FLIGHT

MARIA & TIFFANY — LUCK
MARCY & RON — LUCK
MEGAN & CHEYNE — LUCK
FLIGHT TIME & BIG EASY — LUCK
GARY & MATT — LUCK
ZEV & JUSTIN — KNEW WHAT THE HELL THEY WERE DOING

SECOND FLIGHT

BRIAN & ERICKA — LUCK
LANCE & KERI — KNEW WHAT THE HELL THEY WERE DOING AT THE LAST SECOND
MIKA & CANAAN — LUCK
SAM & DAN — LUCK
GARRETT & JESSICA — LUCK

– Once in Tokyo, they must travel by taxi to Tokyo Tower Studios.

japan flight

They all look so small.

japan tower studios

They are on American reality TV show whose first task is to be on a Japanese game show? Odd.

– Marcy & Ron and Megan & Cheyne are on the first shuttle. Where are Maria & Tiffany?

japan maria tiffany 8

Casually strolling through the airport waiting for a concierge to escort them to the next route marker.

– Tiffany starts crying already as she feels her and Maria are not racing at their best.

japan maria tiffany 9

Yes. Tiffany is crying that they are making too many mistakes after finishing a task first, getting on the first flight, and have just landed in the first destination.

It is like if a general manager cried because his team lost a baseball game 3-2 on the first day of the 162-game regular season.

– Maria has to calm her down and say that getting frustrated will not help them.

japan airport 2

A crowd of people who could not care less about Maria & Tiffany at the moment.

– Zev & Justin and Flight Time & Big Easy are in taxis.

– The second flight lands right away. Brian tells us that the second flight landed THIRTY MINUTES EARLY. Therefore, everybody is together. Sam waves at Marcy & Ron’s taxi. Marcy & Ron are stunned.

– Maria & Tiffany pull alongside Sam & Dan. They have a nickname for them.

japan sam dan 3

Yes. Maria & Tiffany have their eyes on flirting and engaging with Sam & Dan. The only issue?

japan sam dan 5

Maria & Tiffany may be looking for a pair of kings to match their two queens, but Sam & Dan are seeking two more kings to make four of a kind.

– Mika & Canaan say their taxi driver is killing it and comments they see Team Blue (Megan & Cheyne). I always feel bad for teams that are defined by a colour.

donald sterling 2

Especially on TAR 30: Legends when Donald Sterling refers to Flight Time & Big Easy as Team Black.

– Marcy describes Sam & Dan as “guys in orange shirts”. . .

japan sam dan 6

Even though Dan is wearing a green shirt. Butt Squeezer Ron may be bald, but Marcy is colour blind.

– Mika & Canaan’s “killer taxi driver” takes them to the studio tower first. They wonder what it is that they are doing.

japan sushi

It’s time for an offensive portrayal of Japan!

japan crowd

The crowd goes wild!

japan host

I think that woman in the background may be underage.

– Canaan talks about the atmosphere with the crazy crowd perpetuating stereotypes.

japan newly dating

Newly dating? Remember when all teams need to have a pre-existing relationship that has lasted for at least one year?

japan crowd 2

Why couldn’t he have been cast for TAR Asia 2 as opposed to Daichi & Sawaka?

– You know what is odd? The host is refusing to start the task until several teams show up.

– Cheyne talks about how he hoped that it would be a Japanese gameshow after reading the clue.

MIKA & CANAAN
MEGAN & CHEYNE
SAM & DAN
MARCY & RON

– The three teams wait. This is the middle of the day. With later Japanese game show tasks we will see them start right away, but this is freakin’ annoying.

GARY & MATT
FLIGHT TIME & BIG EASY
BRIAN & ERICKA
GARRETT & JESSICA
MARIA & TIFFANY
ZEV & JUSTIN
LANCE & KERI (Last again, lolz)

JUSTIN: Nobody gets excited like Japanese people. They are really into gameshow stuff.

I should note there have only been twenty-eight seasons of Survivor and twenty-four seasons of TAR. I do not think there has been more than a season of Survivor in Japan. So much for your assumptions, Justin.

– All teams are now present. The host is ready to begin. What an odd premiere.

HOST: Welcome. Welcome. Are you ready to pray. . .Sushi Roulette!

japan mika canaan 2

Pray!

– No. He meant to say ‘play’ but. . .well. . .you know. . .hey! They added a unique graphic!

japan sushi 2

What the heck is with TAR? Twenty minutes into the episode and we have already eliminated a team at the starting line, nine teams completed a task without knowing what they did correctly, flights were fixed beforehand but didn’t matter because all flights got in at the same time, and now we are seeing a uniquely edited task where all teams are equalized with an audience ready to watch them play.

Are you ready to pray?

japan sushi 3

PHIL: The Japanese are well known for their wild and outrageous game shows. Teams must now complete a Roadblock where one person will play a gut busting game of. . .

japan sushi 4

HOST: Sushi Roulette!

PHIL: . . .Sushi Roulette!

Yeah, the Japanese host totally photo bombed Phil’s Roadblock explanation.

japan sushi 5

Byahhh!

japan sushi 6

Phil brings the eyebrow. . .the Japanese fellow brings the underage workers.

– Phil explains that they will spin a wheel containing nine sushi rolls and two wasabi bombs. He even explains that wasabi is Japan’s version of scorching horse radish.

Really? He had to explain what wasabi is to the viewers?

japan sushi 7

That guy is scooping out the wasabi like it is the batter at the bottom of chocolate chip cookies.

– The contestants will eat whatever lands in front of them, but they must continue playing until they receive a wasabi bomb. Once they do, they will have only two minutes to consume this fireball of flavour to receive their next clue.

japan sushi 8

This guy clearly lost “Dream Team Roulette” to determine who would have to test out this task for producers.

japan sailor scout

Live Action Sailor Scout!

– The host fires up the crowd. I could not imagine him and Phil interacting.

japan start game

Ah. Now I remember why I was minutes away from needing a five season break from the show.

– Brian re-explains what Phil just said. What the hell is this? Big Brother? This is something that irritates my parents, siblings, and extended family. Phil just told us the task. We don’t need to be told twice.

– Ericka remarks that Brian does not eat sushi. Confetti flies everywhere. The crowd chants ‘eat the wasabi’.

– Ron and Cheyne both land on the wasabi. 2/11. Wow. It really didn’t matter what order you showed up to the Roadblock. The timer starts ticking.

japan camera

The cameras are getting into the shot just a little bit.

– There is a creepy sound effect that says “Eat the wasabi!”

japan wasabi

And another amateur graphic.

creepy shoyin

I like how Cheyne eyes up Ron with his best Shola & Doyin expression.

– Marcy comments that Ron was smart to shove the wasabi into the roll. Everyone else has to eat their sushi too. The host eggs on Ron.

japan dinosaur

What am I watching?

japan man

He doesn’t even know.

japan host 2

rafael palmeiro

I never ate wasabi. . .
japan justin kanew

He objects to that wasabi.

– The time keeps ticking. Ron is having a tough time. The crowd is rather supportive. Cheyne requests that they cheer too. Is this The Amazing Race that I am watching?

– Ron raises his hands to indicate he is done. Him and Cheyne both stick their tongues out.

japan ron shalita tongue

Thankfully this will be the first and last tongue that I will show.

– Teams are now given a coloured flag. They must match the coloured flag with a group of people inside the studio who are wearing the matching coloured hats.

japan purple flag

Purple flag. . .

japan purple hat

Purple hat.

– These are Japanese tourists. They must lead these tourists from the studio audience and through the Shibuya Scramble Crossing (a million people pass through this intersection every day)! The teams must lead the tourists through the streets to Konno Hachimangu Shrine.

japan pit stop

Which is already the pit stop. What the hell? One destination and then they guide people to the pit stop? This is unusually lame.
japan crowd 3

As I have said before, the Shibuya Crossing is one of my top five most desired locations to visit in the world. It’s just a shame that this is already the second trip there in six seasons, and the fourth trip to Japan since TAR 9 (TAR 9, 12, Asia 2, and 15). Besides I think this is the lamest Japanese leg they could have put together. Guiding tourists through Shibuya? Why not shop? Or cosplay The World Ends With You as I previously suggested?

the world ends with you

Or use the epic soundtrack when teams are completing this task at the very least!

japan taxi

How long until the light turns green?

– Megan & Cheyne pick up the red visor tourists. Marcy & Ron have the blue ones (you would think producers would give Megan & Cheyne blue for kicks). Marcy makes the tourists yell blue.

– It now time for round two of the wasabi bombs. A starting line task entirely based on luck and now a Roadblock entirely based on luck.

japan wasabi 4

The most electrifying man versus Justin. . .Justin may be slow to get that joke. Garrett describes what it is like to eat spicy food.

japan fan

We get it. Japanese people are expressive in a game show studio. Very funny, producers.

– Megan & Cheyne ask for directions to the scramble crossing. The tourists follow behind them. Marcy has researched the Japanese word for ‘blue’. Team Ow.

japan blue

japan blue 2

Marcy is acting like she is the Captain Olimar to her tourists.

japan pikmin

Megan & Cheyne’s team.

– Marcy admits she can get intense at times. She says she is in her body and is having a good time. And you’ll never guess what she does next.

japan marcy maloy

As if the megaphone was not enough, she busts out a harmonica. She is guiding tourists by harmonica like a 1950s folk singer hired as a tour guide.

– Justin succeeds. Zev calls him a cow. Zev & Justin pick up their group of yellow tourists.

japan yellow

See, yellow tourists. What did you think I meant?

– Garrett is done too. He picks up green tourists.

– Round three of the gameshow. Maria was not intimidated by the wasabi bomb until she saw others eat it.

japan maria ho 2

Maria Ho is all on her own. Go Ho!

– Tiffany tries to pump up Maria by saying she loves wasabi.

– Megan & Cheyne successfully ask for directions and have a guide who will guide their tourists to the mat. But you know what is far more interesting?

japan dog

A million dogs may go through Shibuya every day, but none will ever be cuter than this one!

– Marcy finally puts away the harmonica and focuses on the task.

japan marcy ron 8

Oh. Right. A race.

– Justin finds an English tourist who will lead them to the route marker. They cheer on their yellow team.

– Speaking of yellow, we see Maria down to ten seconds of her wasabi task. Ho! Ho! Ho! Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Zero! The crowd goes silent. Tiffany sees the tears in Maria’s eyes as she starts crying.

japan man 2

Oh! Producers so funny with showing expressive Japanese men!

– All racers prepare for round four as they try to control the wheel. Who gets it on round four?

japan maria ho 3

They don’t call it Lady Luck for nothin’. Back-to-back rounds where Maria exclusively plays the task as everyone else is stuck eating sushi rolls.

– Megan & Cheyne make a 360 degree turn as they scan Shibuya and comment on the insanity of the place. Almost as insane as producers who tried to put this incredibly dumb round together. Cheyne creates another chant for the red team. Marcy & Ron are moving too as they ask for directions from a Japanese vendor.

japan kirin

I hope it is not a harmonica shop.

– One of the blue tourists makes an interesting offer to Marcy.

japan carry

japan marcy

The tourist literally carrying Marcy on his back!

– Zev ridicules one of the tourist’s footwear as her high heels are breaking. It makes her slower than Justin’s reactions to sarcasm.

– Maria believes it is mind over matter as we enter the last ten seconds. Five, four, three, two, one, done! Tiffany gives out the most exaggerated compliment in the history of civilization.

japan tiffany michelle 2

japan eric lisa 4

No, I would say this is the most amazing thing ever.

– Megan & Cheyne continue the cheers for team red.

japan pit stop greeter

Paula Taylor from TAR Asia 2 is in a kimono as she greets teams on the mat. For the first time ever, Phil has his arms folded on camera. Since when did Phil try to act cool and mug for the camera?

FIRST PLACE: MEGAN & CHEYNE

japan megan cheyne 4

The tourists gather to hear the good news.

– Megan & Cheyne win a ski trip for two to Aspen. They will be staying at Hotel Gerome which amuses me to no end. Tubing, snow shoeing, and snow scooting.

– Cheyne says him and Megan have been dreaming of hearing they are team number one from Phil since high school.

– We are still doing the damn wasabi task. Who is playing round five?

japan wasabi 5

nba jam

I bet that is what Big Easy thought of when he saw that screen.

The way Big Easy bites into the wasabi bomb makes me think their team should be called Bite Time & Big Easy.

– Brian laments over not being picked to eat the wasabi bomb. Big Easy starts shimmying for the crowd after commenting the wasabi bomb tastes like money.

japan big easy

Yes, this is the first of approximately thirty-one dances that Big Easy will do over the course of his TAR career. The start of a legend, folks.

japan big easy 2

Okay, THIS is the last tongue I show.

– Big Easy and Lance are done. Globetrotters are Team Sky Blue.

SECOND PLACE: ZEV & JUSTIN

japan zev justin 5

You can tell that Zev & Justin are a strong team as they are the only ones who figured out the starting line task, and so far made up time after being forced to eat the wasabi bomb in round two instead of round one.

– Of course producers air a remark that Zev said about his disability. Really, producers? Zev is doing just fine on his own. You do not need to degenerate down to a Margie-like state of enabling.

JUSTIN: I was proud of you today man.
ZEV: I was proud of you too.
JUSTIN: Should we make out?
ZEV: Oh god.
JUSTIN: Sorry.

– Canaan is playing round six of the wasabi bomb.

DAN: It was like Rue-leigh. It was out of our hands.
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You mean Roulette? You do know there are two T’s in there, yes.

– Flight Time & Big Easy call out loudly in the streets. Flight Time accurately describes as Big Easy looking like Godzilla in the streets.

– Lance & Keri lead the light red team thanks to a Japanese teen who agrees to guide them to the pit stop.

– What are we on? Round seven of the wasabi bombs?

japan wasabi 6

Brian looks like he is getting ready to rob somebody.

– Gary explains that there is not sushi on every street corner of Montana. I guess he means that a spicy food task is somehow tougher for him because the state lacks an adequate supply of sushi.

– The flame-vomiting dinosaur returns for Gary, by the way. Sam & Dan are the only team that has been excluded from the game.

– Maria & Tiffany go by a bunch of very familiar Japanese people.

japan nhk

Ah yes. The NHK. The national radio for Japan. It is what CBC is to Canada, BBC is to the UK, and NPR is to the US.

japan nhk 2

It is also the title of one of my favourite animes.

Poor Sato-San.

– Maria & Tiffany enter Shibuya Tobu Hotel and receive a map along with outline of directions from an employee. Who knew poker players would use a nice hotel as a source of information.

– Gary finishes the task with 20 something seconds left. Ericka encourages Brian. Ten seconds remain. He is done just after time expires. Bummer. Gary & Matt have the purple team.

– The intensity of the music picks up as multiple teams are at the scramble crossing simultaneously.

japan scramble crossing

Big Easy has never been one to blend in amongst a crowd. He ain’t no Waldo.

– Lots of screaming Americans as they want their tourists to move. The one lady keeps thanking Flight Time repeatedly.

squirtle

It is like she is a pokemon but instead of saying her name she just says “thank you thank you” over and over.

– Lance SHOUTS at them to run.

THIRD PLACE: LANCE & KERI

Uh, how did this happen? Luck was all they needed to stay alive.

japan lance keri 5

Not as big of a celebration as I was expecting.

– Round eight as inter-racial couple and the gay brothers wait for their wasabi bomb. Sam & Dan finally get their turn.

japan wasabi 8

Production tried a bit too hard to spice things up for this premiere.

– Dan has the quickest time as he has over a minute left on his timer. Him and Sam have sushi every day. Lots of sushi stands in Missouri.

– Brian talks about how the studio is practically empty. Ten out of eleven tourist groups are gone from the studio, and all that remains is them, the host, and the sailor scouts. Round nine.

ERICKA: I think we should stick to American game shows.

Like The Amazing Race.

– Brian has his second wasabi bomb. If he finishes this, it will be the most amazing thing ever.

– Sam & Dan and Maria & Tiffany agree to work together. Tiffany says the “young 20 something hot guys” have become their friends. Sam believes Maria & Tiffany are awesome for having a non-profit organization that works with homeless youth.

japan sam dan 7

I don’t know what Dan is doing during the confessional, to be honest.

– Ericka screams that ten seconds remain. Brian does it at the buzzer. It counts. They take their pink team with them as Ericka orders Brian not to vomit until the round is over.

– We are thirty-eight minutes into the episode. We spent twenty-one minutes on the wasabi task.

– Two more teams check in.

FOURTH PLACE: MARCY & RON
FIFTH PLACE: FLIGHT TIME & BIG EASY

japan marcy ron 7

Ron cheers louder than a megaphone as Flight Time & Big Easy start what will become a very long chain of adequate finishes for each leg.

– Brian uses the megaphone to recruit somebody who speaks English. A local finally agrees to lead them. Brian refers to him as an angel. He seems okay with it although annoyed when they mention they are Americans.

– We see a random shot of a glamour truck driving on the street.

japan truck

Happy Mail!

– The next shot?

japan mcdonalds

Happy Meal with Happy Mail.

– Gary & Matt find some young American women to show them the way.

japan tourist

She looks like one of those losers from Reality Fan Forum.

– One of Garrett & Jessica’s tourists needs to go to the bathroom. Garrett has a stone-faced angry expression when he tells us the situation. Jessica finds a bathroom for her. It would be funny if the tourist squatted in the middle of the Crossing and took a dump.

– How are Brian & Ericka doing?

japan brian kleinschmidt

japan brian kleinschmidt 2

I can already imagine the marketing scheme: Twenty yen per hen.

– Teams make their way through the scramble crossing.

japan hmv

HMV still existed in 2009? Really?

– Mika & Canaan are lost on the streets. More walking ensues.

– Garrett & Jessica chase down Sam & Dan and Maria & Tiffany. Sam panics a bit as all three teams may be working together. Garrett & Jessica venture off into their own direction. Dan asks Maria & Tiffany if they should follow Garrett & Jessica. Maria will not follow, but give permission for Sam & Dan to follow Garrett & Jessica.

– Another team shows up on the mat.

SIXTH PLACE: BRIAN & ERICKA

japan brian ericka 5
The one skill-based portion of the round and Brian & Ericka are showing their strength early.

– SEVENTH PLACE: GARY & MATT

It is odd to see the Japanese crowd cheer after each team’s pit stop finish is announced.

– Maria & Tiffany keep walking. Maria asks the tourists in her own group if they should keep heading straight. No response. But Maria decides to count the number of tourists that are with her. She tells Tiffany to stop to ensure there are indeed twenty.

japan maria tiffany 10

Maria is convinced they went with the green team. So where are these two missing tourists? Abducted in Nigeria?

– For some reason a rock soundtrack plays when they are solving this problem.

japan tourist 2

Being herded by a couple of Americans? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

– Maria & Tiffany know the location of the shrine. She tells Tiffany that it was her job to keep track of all twenty people. Heh, Tiffany is terrible.

So let’s recap Maria & Tiffany’s season premiere:

1) They get really lucky by grabbing the correct license plate.
2) They squander their lead in the airport because they could not reach the shuttles fast enough.
3) They are lucky enough to have an equalizer at the Roadblock.
4) They fail the Roadblock, but are given a second chance before all other teams.
5) They once again throw away a huge stroke of luck by not bothering to keep track of two of their tourists.

How? How? How?

EIGHTH PLACE: GARRETT & JESSICA

japan garrett jessica 6

This is where legends are born.

– Someone on the street leads Mika & Canaan to the shrine. It is an American.

– Dan starts hopping around like a crazy person when he and Sam hop onto the mat.

japan sam dan 8

High knees, Dan. High knees.
NINTH PLACE: SAM & DAN

DAN: OH. MY. GODDDDDDDD.
SAM: That’s horrible but we’ll take it.

Yes. Dan’s first OH MY GODDDDD of the season. The first of many.

japan sam dan 9

The Yellows look a bit frightened. Even that guy wearing a rock T-shirt.

– We go back to Maria & Tiffany. In another fail, they do not find the two tourists standing in Shibuya.

– Phil asks Mika & Canaan to count their people. They have only nineteen. Where is their twentieth?

japan mika canaan 4

It’s so hard to count when they all look the same.
.
.
.
I mean, they’re all wearing orange hats.

japan lady

That lady and her slow little legs. Canaan should have carried her like Brian did with his slowest woman.

– I should note the rules state for Mika & Canaan to take their group of nineteen with them as they search for their twentieth team member.

– Maria & Tiffany have yet to find their teammates. It really is a race to find the lost souls of Japan. Maria says she cannot keep dragging her group everywhere.

japan lady 2
Mika & Canaan find their lady at the base of the shrine. She is probably only a minute behind them.

japan mika canaan 5

I should note too that the lady is either crying from embarrassment or laughing from being carried on the audio track. It is tough to tell.

TENTH PLACE: MIKA & CANAAN

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Take that Tiffany Michelle. Shows producers why stunt casting does not work!

Who cares about them? It’s your race. Make them run twenty-five damn kilometres if you have to in order to stay in the race.

It is as if they are trying to find the easy way out. “Oh, we’re quitting because it is for their good.” Yeah, such class acts, Maria and Tiffany. Just admit that it was -you- who didn’t want to walk the additional kilometres to find your missing members.

– Maria & Tiffany quit the task. The task probably had them walking for only a couple kilometres at the most, and they blew it. Now the humiliation increases.

japan maria tiffany 11

Because not only do they quit, but 180 Japanese tourists, Phil Keoghan, Paula Taylor, Twenty racers, and roughly thirty producers are all on hand to point and laugh at them. The closest to there being a crowd at the pit stop was when Jonathan & Victoria were eliminated in TAR 6. This is ten times worse.

– PHIL: Maria & Tiffany, do you have all of your team members with you?

japan phil keoghan 6

I love how Phil asks that just to rub it in some more. We know full well there is not a group of twenty with them, but he asks anyway.

TIFFANY: No we don’t.
PHIL: I’m sorry to tell you that you have incurred a two hour penalty for not completing the challenge.

Oh. Yeah. I need to mention that the minimum penalty for not completing a task according to the rules has been four hours. The maximum is twenty-four hours.

japan maria tiffany 12

This is even more hilarious because we know how hideous that belly shirt looks on Tiffany.

PHIL: The good news is that this is a non-elimination leg.

No. F—ing. Way.

PHIL: There is some bad news. There is a Speed Bump.

That. Won’t. F—ing. Matter. Eric & Lisa must feel outraged as they watch from home.

– Tiffany told Maria beforehand that they needed a one-outer. Of course Tiffany has to explain to non-poker players what a one-outer is, and that one-outer is indeed the first non-elimination leg to appear on the first leg in TAR history.

Unless you count the first round non-eliminations in TAR Asia 1 and 2.

– And that is it for this round. It lasted 45 minutes and 24 seconds of the 85 minute and 44 second premiere.

CONFESSIONAL COUNT

BRIAN.ERICKA 7.3
LANCE.KERI 2.1
MARIA.TIFFANY 8.8
ZEV.JUSTIN 4.4
MIKA.CANAAN 2.1
FLIGHT TIME.BIG EASY 1.2
SAM.DAN 5.3
GARY.MATT 4.1
ERIC.LISA 1.1
GARRETT.JESSICA 2.2
MARCY.RON 2.1
MEGAN.CHEYNE 1.5

Team Averages

Bulls— Round One/Starting Line Eliminations
Eric & Lisa N/A
Bilal & Sa’eed N/A

— F minus–
12th Debra & Steve 12.0
12th Gina & Sylvia 12.0
11th Preston & Jennifer 11.0
11th Anita & Arthur 11.0
11th Ari & Staella 11.0
11th John Vito & Jill All Stars 11.0
11th Vipul & Arti 11.0
11th John & Scott 11.0
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 Edwin & Monica 10.0 (Only team to finish last for the first two rounds of the race.)
10th Neena & Amit 10.0
10th Lisa & Joni 10.0
10th Kevin & Drew All Stars 10.0
10th A Black Family 10.0
— F +–
10th Anthony & Stephanie 9.5 (Why them?????)
10th Megan & Heidi 9.5 (Wow. They sucked.)
10th Kate & Pat 9.0
9th David & Mary All Stars 9.0
9th Peggy & Claire 9.0
10th Meredith & Maria 9.0
10th Dennis & Andrew 9.0 FF
9th Marianna & Julia 8.33
10th Russell & Cindy 8.33
8th Don & Mary Jean 8.2
10th Kellie & Jamie 8.0
10th Kim & Leslie 8.0
8th Danielle & Dani 7.8 – Yielded
8th Marisa & Brooke 7.75 – Sucked.
9th Isaac & William 7.5
9th Jim & Marsha 7.33
8th Aiello Family 7.0
8th Singaporean Sophie & French Born Aurelia 7.0 (French Born Aurelia sadly does not know the English words for ‘team averages’. :/)
–D minus–
8th Tom & Terry 7.0
8th Dave & Margaretta 7.0 R.I.P. Margaretta
9th Lena & Kristy 7.0
10th Hope & Norm 7.0
7th Niroo & Kapil 6.75
9th Rogers Family 6.5
8th Susan & Patrick 6.5
6th Henry & Terri 6.44 Used Their Yield; Finished last on a non-elimination round THREE times. R.I.P. Henry.
6th Lenny & Karyn 6.43
9th Brett & Kinar 6.33
8th Pailin & Natalie 6.33
9th Wanda & Desiree 6.25
7th Aja & Cabbie 6.2
7th Paul & Amie 6.2
8th Steve & Dave 6.2 FF
6th David &Mary 6.13 FF
–D+–
10th Ernie & Jeena 6.0
11th Amanda & Chris 6.0
6th Andre & Damon 5.86
7th Daichi & Sawaka 5.83
7th Dave & Lori 5.83
5th Kami & Karli 5.8
8th Michael & Kathy 5.8
7th Cyndi & Russell 5.8
7th Shana & Jennifer 5.8 Used U-Turn
9th Heather & Eve 5.75
5th Nancy & Emily 5.67 R.I.P. Nancy.
6th Gaghan Family 5.5
10th Alison & Donny 5.5
6th Tian & Jaree 5.43 FF
8th Sahil & Prashant 5.4 FF
–C minus–
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
6th Joe & Bill All Stars 5.25
8th Bob & Joyce 5.25
8th Lorena & Jason 5.25 U-Turned
3rd Andrew & Dan 5.18
7th Silver & Gold 5.17
6th Kelly & Christy 5.14
7th Ray & Deana – 5.0 FF
7th Melody & Sharon 5.0
9th Steve & Josh 5.0 – FF
9th Pat & Brenda 5.0 – FF
9th Mark & Bill 5.0 – Wah.
5th Fran & Barry 4.89
6th Howard & Sahran 4.88
–C + —
3rd Lyn & Karlyn 4.85 – Yielded
5th John Vito & Jill 4.8 – FF
6th Mai & Oliver 4.8 – In a car
7th Teri & Ian All Stars 4.83
7th Schroeder Family 4.75
6th Lake & Michelle 4.71 – Used Yield
6th Brian & Greg 4.71
5th Erwin & Godwin 4.70
3rd Adam & Rebecca 4.69 FF and Used Yield and Yielded
9th Duke & Lauren 4.67
5th Lori & Bolo 4.6 – FF
2nd Teri & Ian 4.53 – FF
5th Paula & Natasha 4.45
5th Uchenna & Joyce All Stars 4.33 – FF
8th Shola & Doyin 4.25 – FF
–B minus–
3rd Ray & Yolanda 4.23
3rd Nicolas & Donald 4.18 FF and U-Turned
4th Linda & Karen 4.17
3rd Charla & Mirna All Stars 4.15
6th Mary & Peach 4.14 (Two failed FF attempts.)
5th Paolo Family 4.13 FF and Used Yield
5th Lynn & Alex 4.11
5th Andy & Laura 4.00 – Yielded
3rd David & Jeff 4.00 – FF
4th Oswald & Danny 4.00 – FF
2nd Pamela & Vanessa 3.92
4th A.D. & Fuzzie 3.90 – U-Turned
5th Gary & Dave 3.89 – FF
2nd Kelly & Jon 3.85
1st Zabrina & Joe Jer 3.77
2nd Sandy & Francesca 3.77 – Used Yield
4th Diane & Ann 3.75 – Yielded
4th Jon & Al 3.73
6th Charla & Mirna 3.71
–B+–
3rd Blake & Paige 3.69 – FF
5th Millie & Chuck 3.67 FF
5th Kynt & Vyxsin 3.63 Used Yield
1st Eric & Danielle All Stars 3.62 – Yielded Twice
4th Mardy & Marsio 3.58 FF
6th Jonathan & Victoria 3.56
3rd Ida & Tania 3.54
4th Joseph & Monica 3.50 – Yielded
3rd Andrew & Syeon 3.46
1st Freddy & Kendra 3.46 – Used Yield and Yielded
2nd Ronald & Christina 3.45
4th Nathan & Jennifer 3.40 – Never finished in 1st
1st Chris & Alex 3.38 – FF
1st Chip & Kim 3.38 – Used Yield
4th Kevin & Drew 3.36 – FF
3rd Brandon & Nicole 3.31
5th Terence & Sarah 3.25
1st TK & Rachel 3.18
4th Godlewski Family 3.18
4th Dustin & Kandice 3.17 – Used Yield
–A minus–
7th Peter & Sarah 3.17
9th Aubrey & Jacqueline 3.17
3rd Weaver Family 3.15 – Yielded Twice
1st Reichen & DK 3.15 – FF
1st Uchenna & Joyce 3.15 FF
4thToni & Dallas 3.10 Still in Russia
4th Derek & Drew 3.10 – FF
2nd Geoff 26 & Tisha 31 – Used Yield and U-Turn
2nd Rob & Kim 3.08 – FF
3rd Ron & Kelly 3.00 – Yielded
6th Azaria & Hendekea 3.00
4th Hayden & Aaron 2.92
2nd Dustin & Kandice All Stars 2.92 – Used Yield
2nd Bransen Family 2.85
1st Linz Family 2.77 – Used Yield
3rd Joe & Bill 2.76 – FF
–BEST OF THE BEST–
5th Henry & Bernie/Bunn-Eh 2.75 – Yielded
8th Rob & Amber All Stars 2.75 – Used Yield
1st Flo & Zach 2.69 – FF
3rd Ken & Gerard 2.69 – FF
4th Oswald & Danny All Stars 2.67 FF x2 and Used Yield
2nd Ken & Tina 2.64 FF
2nd Colin & Christie 2.54 – FF and Yielded
2nd Tara & Wil 2.53 – FF
1st Rob & Brennan – 2.46 FF
1st BJ & Tyler – 2.46 FF and Used Yield
1st Vince & Sam 2.45 FF
1st Nick & Starr 2.45 FF
1st Tyler & James – 2.38 FF
2nd Frank & Margarita 2.38 – FF
2nd Kris & Jon 2.38
2nd Rob & Amber 2.31
1st Adrian & Collin 2.23 FF
2nd Eric & Jeremy 1.69 FF
lol 3rd Marc & Rovilson 1.46 Used Yield and Yielded

Combined Team Averages (Repeats Only)

11 legs David & Mary 6.91 FF
11 legs John Vito & Jill 5.36 FF
18 legs Danielle 4.78
19 legs Teri & Ian 4.63 FF
13 legs Kevin & Drew 4.38 FF
20 legs Charla & Mirna 4.00 None
21 legs Joe & Bill 3.71 FF
22 legs Uchenna & Joyce 3.64 FF x2
*31 legs Eric & Danielle 3.48 FF
23 legs Oswald & Danny 3.30 FF x3!
25 legs Dustin & Kandice 3.04 None
26 legs Eric 2.65 FF
17 legs Rob & Amber 2.41 None

* I determined Eric & Danielle’s average in this last section by adding up all of their individual points from TAR 9, then adding up their total points in All Stars and dividing it by 31.

Rank the Legs

1) Los Angeles, USA -> Tokyo, Japan

Oh god. Where to begin? The design for this round is worse than I remembered. I fully understand now why I quit watching TAR until TAR 20 after this episode aired.

Nothing makes sense. I know this world cannot function without a few idiots in the mix, but did all of them need to be working on the design for The Amazing Race 15?

Every decision they made needs to be followed by a chorus of “Why?!”

Why did they need to eliminate the first team at the starting line?

Why did we need a task at the starting line? What does searching for license plates have to do with the city of Los Angeles or Tokyo?

Why not let teams drive to LAX and determine their own order for flights?

Why do a task at the starting line when you can only do two tasks in Japan?

When the starting line task is essentially in a studio, why did we need the Tokyo task to be in a studio too? What does a game show inside of  a Japanese studio have to do with Japanese culture?

Why make it an equalizer at the Roadblock to negate any reason for putting teams on separate flights?

Why make it a randomized order of who eats the wasabi rolls rather than the order of when they arrived?

Why have those unique graphics that make it look like they are meant for a Nickelodeon or YTV game show?

Why have the pit stop immediately after the Roadblock?

Why couldn’t Maria & Tiffany keep track of their tourists?

Why have a non-elimination in a round where you eliminated somebody at the starting line? That is extraordinarily insulting to Eric & Lisa.

What a waste for an awesome location like Tokyo.

I will go on record to say that this is the worst leg design in the history of The Amazing Race. It was awful from start to finish.

Rank the Teams

1) Eric & Lisa

Perhaps the only team from California this season that may have been cast as mactors, but had a worthy enough personality that you can understand why they have been cast.

You can see they thought being eliminated was as dumb as we all assessed it to be too.

I can only imagine how they watched from home seeing teams get approved by luck alone. . .and see a team be saved by non-elimination in the very first round.

If only they could have been numero freakin’ uno. They join Bilal & Sa’eed in the Super Duper Screwed teams in TAR history. Both teams would have been interesting to see go further, and both were robbed of a journey they worked so hard for.

Oh well.

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2 Responses to The Amazing Race 15 episode 1 ranking

  1. Curious, what brought you back into watching Amazing Race? There really has not been that many great (except S17, 23, & 25) or good seasons (21 & 22) since TAR 14/15. The show has lost its soul or just became something that I don’t connect.

    What were your motivations? I, myself, view watching TAR just as a chore these days – there’s no joy to it (I like the international versions much more these days).

  2. I don’t know how any fan can watch this and not feel bad about for Eric & Lisa. It truly is the worst twist & most cruel thing, TAR has ever done. It was just becoming more meaner & it helped drive away long-time fans. I don’t blame Eric & Lisa for not going to “Elimination Station”.

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