Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Amazing Race: Season 8 

There are only two TV shows that I actually schedule into my week, as opposed to just happen to watch (sports don’t count): 24 and The Amazing Race.

Tonight was the premier of TAR: Season 8, the family edition. Instead of teams of two as in past seasons, there are teams of four competing. Some of the teams include teenagers and elementary school-aged kids. This is either going to be very interesting or a complete bust.

Here are this year's teams, and an idea lovingly ripped off from the best TAR recapper Jen: my own snarky nicknames:

The Gaghan Family aka Team Marathon: Bill: age 40; Tammy, 42; Billy, 12; and Carissa, 9. This team is a bit cringe-inducing, what with watching young Carissa compete with all the grown-ups. As a family, they run marathons, Carissa included. I'm glad she's in shape (most kids her age aren't), but I'm not jumping for joy that her parents have her compete in long-distance running. Still though, they're tougher as a team than you may think, and for the most part they worked well together on this first episode.

The Paulo Family aka Team New Yawk. Tony, 52; Marion, 52; DJ, 24; Brian, 16. Ho boy, is this going to be an interesting team. While I've read a few people have been put off by their spirited conversations, I was eating it up. I don't think they're as annoying as some people think; they're just relating to each other in stereotypical New York fashion. I'd actually like to see them stick around for awhile.

The Black Family aka Team Awkward Surname. Reggie, 42; Kimberley, 40; Kenneth, 11; Austin, 8. Another cringe-inducing family, for a couple of reasons: Two young kids and a surname that matches their skin color. During the show, when "Black Family" was said, it sounded more like a description than a name. I just loved how encouraging the dad was to his two boys. Unfortunately, they had trouble the whole time keeping up with the other teams.

The Bransen Family aka Team Shampoo. A father: Walter, 51; plus his three daughters: Elizabeth, 25; Lauren, 22; and Lindsay, 20. According to their TAR bio, the four appeared in a Prell shampoo ad together. Not exactly your average family, but hey, it's reality TV people. They didn't leave much of an impression on me either way.

The Weaver Family aka Team Nascar. Linda, 46; and her three children: Rebecca, 19; Rachel, 16; and Rolly, 14. This is the tragic team of the Race. Linda's husband worked at Daytona International Speedway, and he died in an accident there. This team is devout Christian, which they frequently allude to. Unfortunately for them, they often seemed flustered and unsure of themselves. They can be uncomfortable to watch, and they may not last too long.

The Godlewski Family aka Team Doublemint Twins Squared. A team of four sisters: Michelle, 42; Sharon, 39; Christine 37, Tricia, 26. Ugh! This is the most annoying team of the Race. Appropriately, they saunter around most of the time in matching pink shirts, giggling at anything and everything. I've never been a fan of airhead blondes, and I can't wait to see them go.

The Schroeder Family aka Team Stepfamily. Mark, 40; Char, 39; Stassi, 17; Hunter 15. The kids are Mark's, he since remarried to Char. This team has all the underling tension that you might expect from a stepfamily. This is a good candidate for the first Major Meltdown of the season.

The Linz Family aka Team Abercrombie. Four siblings: Tommy, 19; Megan, 21; Alex, 22; Nick, 24. I'm undecided on how I feel about this team. One moment, they're obnoxious, another moment they can be quite funny. Either they will grow on me, as the Team Brothers did last season, or I won't be able to stand them. We'll see.

The Rodgers Family aka Team Bayou. Denny, 46; Renee, 42; Britney, 22; and Brock, 19. One of two teams from Louisiana (they're from Shreveport; Team Stepfamily is from New Orleans). Since the show was filmed before Katrina, it's a strange coincidence that two of the ten teams are from that state. I'm sure both teams will get a lot of sympathy support from viewers. What is it with twentysomething Britneys and the state of Louisiana? Plus she's a former Miss LA to boot. Not coincidentally, she seemed to have a great deal of camera time. They seem OK.

The Aello Family aka Team In-Laws. Tony, 57; and his sons-in-law: Kevin, 31; Matt, 31; and David, 27. Not only is this my favorite team of Season 8, they're the likely favorites to win the Race. Since they are from Massachusetts, I can only dream that Team In-Laws and Team New Yawk both make the final group. World Series, my butt!

Here's a quick recap of the two-hour first episode. Credit to the official CBS TAR website for filling in the gaps in my memory:

* The ten teams stated off in New York City, near New York harbor. Team Bayou managed to trip (literally) out of the starting gate, as Mother and Son took a spill.

* The first clue sent the teams off to Eastern Mountain Sports in SoHo to get outfitted. It was embarrassing how many teams immediately got lost and had no clue where SoHo was. I know NYC may be the toughest city in the US to drive in, but it's the one city you know you're going to travel around in. A little pre-race map studying would have helped. Worst was Team New Yawk, who managed to get lost in Manhattan. The stress of a Race will get you lost anywhere.

* After getting outfitted at EMS, the next clue directed teams to a hot dog stand on East 91st Street. Manning this stand: Kevin & Drew from Season 1. I didn't realize it since I only got into TAR a few years ago. Oh well.

* The next clue directed Teams to Washington Crossing Historic Park, as in "Washington Crossing the Delaware." After getting their clue Team Nascar spend time wondering if they should go to Pennsylvania the state or Pennsylvania Street somewhere in New York City. Someone wasn't paying attention in history class.

* On the way out of town, Team In-Laws couldn't pass Yankee Stadium without giving it raspberries and breaking into chants of "Yankees Suck!" This immediately sealed their place as my favorite team for this season.

* Once at the Park, teams had to row a boat (complete with a George Washington look-alike) across the Delaware River, retrieve a colonial-era US flag, then row back for a flag-folding ceremony. The kids were lucky; if only my history classes could ever be this cool.

* Once the flag ceremony was over, it was off to Philly, where the teams pitched their tents in a park, and claimed departure times for the next morning, based on the order of their arrival.

* The next morning, it's pouring rain! All the waterlogged teams head out to a farm near Mount Joy, PA. We’re in Amish Country now. Once there, we see the first Detour of the season: Build It or Buggy It.

For Build It, teams have to build a working watermill. For Buggy It, teams have to move an Amish buggy a mile and a half, while two team members are riding inside. Not only was it 1 1/2 miles, but it was hilly as well. It soon became obvious the Build It was the far better option.

Team Nascar was one of the teams that initially chose Buggy It, and they underestimated a downhill slope, losing control and spilling Mom out. I was having flashbacks to last season, when Team Brothers flipped their car in Africa. Fortunately, Mom was all right, and most of the teams ultimately (and wisely) chose Build It.

* Once finished with the Detour, the teams were off to the Pit Stop in nearby Lancaster. Team Doublement Twins Square came in first (ugh!), and received a prize of $20,000 (bleegh!). Sadly, last to arrive were the Black Family aka Team Awkward Surname. The boys were crushed, and it was quite sad.

* Next week: A trip to a Civil War battlefield (Gettysburg??), and Team Shampoo Dad appears to have some kind of heart problem. Yikes!

I love it! Team Awkward Surname.

I still like "Team Token" better though. Very South Parkian.

And Team In-Laws is the Aiellos. I think you missed the "i"
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