The first thing you learn on the Amazing Race is Don't Tell Anyone Where the Clue Is, You Dumb Fuck! In the very first episode of the 21st season (debuted Sept. 30), the team with the woman with the metal legs was all nicey-nicey and told another team--this season's heterosexual couple with the hot girl and guy--the location of the clue that led them to the pit stop. Now, normally this would not be that big of a deal. The winning team of the first leg usually gets a pass so they can skip a road block in a future episode. That's helpful, but not crucial. But this time coming in first on Leg One was a big deal. The twist this season, as host Phil Koeghan announced at the top of the show, was that if you win both the first AND the last leg, you win not one but two million dollars. So it matters a great deal who won in the first leg.
Amy and Daniel were in the lead, Amy is a snowboarder with artificial legs, and like a pair of idiots they told their nearest competitor the location of the clue in Shanghai that led to the pitstop and potentially $2 million dollars. Naturally, the second couple didn't think twice about passing Amy and Daniel and I don't blame them. I would run past the physically challenged person who helped me out to win $2 million. Amy and Daniel have no one but themselves to blame. Other teams--like the substitute teachers and the Sri Lankan twins--had the right idea and not helping their competitors by not revealing where the clue was. I particularly loved the attitude of Mutt and Jeff, the substitute teachers, who said the other teams were standing between them and $2 million dollars and they would screw them without blinking an eye. You see Mutt and Jeff--not their real names,but one is really tall and the other short, like a comic strip of the previous century--are huge fans of the show. They've auditioned 7 times and finally got on, so they know how to play the game and they ain't gonna lend a hand to nobody. Particularly not to the team right behind them, two Chippendale dancers, who almost got eliminated in spite of their physical prowess, handsome features, and gorgeous pecs.
But let's go back to the beginning. The show opened with the usual suspense of teams arriving at the starting point--this time Pasadena, Calif. They've obviously hired a new director and editing team. The introductions of the contestants were full of quick cuts and artsy shots. On first impression, I hated Abbie and Ryan because of Ryan's macho attitude ("I insist on world domination" Gimme a break!), sorta love-hated the Chippendale dancers (both hot and cute, not arrogant, but I don't like it when physically powerful teams always win), and naturally adored the gay goat farmers. I also was drawn to the rock guys--even though celebrities who had played with Megadeath should not be competing with John and Jane Doe--and the substitute teachers.
The producers wisely pumped up the adrenaline right away by making the announcement about the $2 million and then having everyone repel off a high bridge to get the first clue rather than just running for it in their luggage. They also cut down the time at the airport which is always boring. Seven teams got on the first flight to Shanghai and the bottom four had to take a later flight putting them about 90 minutes behind.
Having recently taken a 14-hour flight from Johannesburg to NYC, I don't see how anyone can run a race after all that jet lag, but the teams raced to a ping pong challenge where they had to score a point against a 10-year-old national champion. "Who's ready to be paddled?," asked the Chippendale guys and I was ready to volunteer my services. I was worried the gay goat farmers--stuck on the second flight--were in trouble, but they surged ahead to 7th place. The following challenge was the traditional gross food chowdown in a restaurant full of cheering diners. This time it was frog fallopian tubes. Aside from the usual eeewwww factor, the only drama was provided by the monster-trucker guy with green-golden beard who broke the rules and used his hands rather than chopsticks and had to eat the tasty treat twice.
After the food roadblock, the next location was the Bund in Shanghai where stupid Amy and Daniel gave the location of the lady with the abacus, the holder of the pitstop clue, away to Abbie and Ryan. Abbie and Ryan now have a huge target on their backs and Amy and Daniel will spend the rest of their lives thinking "I ain't never helping anybody again." "That's just the kind of people we are," they lamely offered Phil at the finish line in explanation for their stupidity.
Amy and Daniel and Abbie and Ryan will be the teams to beat. The Chippendales could figure prominently due to their charm and muscle, and the substitutes are savvy. I see the goat farmers, the monster truckers, and the twins as cute and fun, but falling by the wayside early.