Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Amazing Race 21: Episode 3 and This Week in Reality TV

What does this comic book cover have to do
with The Amazing Race?
Just read the blog, fanboy!
This was a banner week in reality TV. Project Runway is nearing its conclusion (I've only watched the first 30 minutes of this episode.) Comic Book Men began again on AMC. There was a really good scene with a woman coming into the shop and discussing the Legion of Super-Heroes with the staff who were excited to debate which was the lamest legionnaire (Bouncing Boy) and the drawbacks of Cosmic Boy's pink uniform. They even brought up Bouncing Boy marrying Triplicate Girl and then one of the guys pointed out that she was Duo Damsel by the time they tied the knot because one of her multiple selves was killed in action (by Computo, the giant living computer BTW, see the illustration to the left).

I've started watching The Fabulous Beekman Boys on the Cooking Channel. I saw all of season one on Netflix on my Kindle Fire, now the Cooking Channel is running season two. They are up to the third or fourth episode where Josh has to fly to California for his advertising job and Brent meets with a chef who has been on Top Chef to sell his caramelized hot sauce. (Six degrees of separation in the reality TV world: Top Chef-Beekman Boys-Amazing Race) Meanwhile, I'm reading I'm Not Myself These Days, Josh's memoir of his days as a drag queen by night and an advertising art director by day (I found it at the Claverack Library book sale, the same place where I bought those three sci-fi collections for a few dollars.)  To top it off, the third episode of the Amazing Race in which Josh and Brent the Beekman Boys are contestants, was a real knuckle-biter.

Before I give you my impressions of this week's TAR, let me just observe that Josh and Brent have become an omnipresence (I just made up that word. Take that, Lewis Carroll!) in my warped pop-culture universe. Two TV series and a book in addition to meeting them in person. It's like I'm looking into their lives at four different times as if in a sci-fi novel. The Amazing Race must have taken place a few months ago, season two of Fabulous Beekman Boys was last year and Josh's book is probably 10 to 15 years in the past. Plus their Facebook page puts them in the present.

Team World Domination in a loving embrace. (just kidding)
This week's Amazing Race starts in Surabaya where the first four teams get the clue and have no idea where they're going. It takes eight people to figure out they need to get a cab to find a restaurant where they have to serve 20 dishes at once without dropping anything. During the interviews, Ryan of Team World Domination crushes his girlfriend with his bicep with loving mock violence. Josh points out the race has divided into super competitive alpha teams and "regular" people who are just trying to get by. The Beekman Boys appear to have a strategy of quietly and efficiently completing the challenges so they don't appear to be a threat. Last week, they had very little screen time, meaning they were not flashy or screaming at each other (unlike on their Cooking Channel show where they bicker all the time.) They have moved up from 7th to 5th place, so their under-the-radar M.O. is serving them well. This helps them this week, they are on the first train out of Surabaya after the restaurant challenge and the four other teams ahead don't feel worried about them.

In the next town, the roadblock is a choice between wearing a heavy lion dancer costume and marching in a parade or having eggs fried on a coconut on top of your head. The first four teams go for the lion costume and Josh and Brent, being farmers go for the eggs. The Chippendales let slip some Freudian innuendo when they laugh about squeezing together into a tiny rickshaw. ("It looked like we were on a honeymoon," giggles one of the Jameses.) Team World Domination wins again--I'm beginning not to like them--and they get a free trip to Fiji, the first travel prize of the race. I prefer it when the team you don't expect to win triumphs. When it's a young athletic couple taking all the prizes, it's gets kinda predictable. The Beekman Boys stay in fifth place and appear to have enjoyed the egg experience. They are having a good time, unlike the next four teams.

The real drama starts when the "stragglers" arrive on the second train. One of these four teams--Mutt and Jeff, the Sri Lankan twins, Mr. and Mrs. Monster Truck, the Barbies--will be eliminated. You'd think it would be Mutt and Jeff, the TAR fans who've applied seven times, who are always dangerously at the bottom of the pack. This time there's a double U-turn and you just know these two are going to get it. Mr. and Mrs. Monster Truck fulfill their destiny by U-Turning Mutt and Jeff who, not knowing who is ahead or behind them, uselessly U-turn the Monsters who have already made it to the finish line by this time. While the ill-fated duo are completing the second part of the roadblock by having the eggs fried on their heads, the Barbies get utterly lost thanks to a bad rickshaw driver. It turns into a close race to the finish with the Barbies      just losing to Mutt and Jeff. Boy, are those guys lucky. But their good fortune won't hold out too much longer as the number of teams shrinks.

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