Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Amazing Race - Episode 6 and 7

Greetings,well as I mentioned in the Survivor summaries, I have been a bit busy, so you get a DOUBLE FEATURE.

It also happens that Amazing Race moved from a Tuesday 10pm time slot, to a Wednesday 8pm time slot,which does no good for me at all. This means I now have to tape it and watch it later. In fact for Episode 6 I incorrectly set the VCR, which meant I resorted to using Google Video on Demand. For $1.99 I got to see Amazing Race Episode 6, the quality wasn't that bad, the doenload speed was fast, and as the Oompa Loompas would say "You'll get no commercials". Don't get me wrong I don't exactly enjoy paying $1.99 an episode but once in awhile it is convenient to have that option.

Okat we start off with a longer than usual segment of "Previouslys", I beleive they were cumulative of the entire season, and I suspect the new time slot justified trying to bring any new viewers they may catch up to speed. The credits roll and away we go!

Episode 6

Teams stopped at the Tiempo de Seggesta, Italy as the 4th pit stop. From this archeological/historical park, they begin with.

Clue #29 - Route Info
Make your way to Teatro de Romana, Catiana, Italy

Okay, they have to drive to Catiana and find the Teatro de Romana, which is a ruin of a former amphiteater. What makes this interesting is there are practically no above ground remnants, what is left is sunken in the center of a city square. That might make it harder to find.

BJ and Tyler are the first to leave the pitstop and the first to find the Teatro. It should come as no surprise that the Teatro does not open until 8:30. BJ and Tyler who are the class clowns this season, decide to make up a phony sign in sheet. Basically they rip a page out of a notebook and make up the cheesiest looking sign up sheet you can imagine. I'm sure they meant it in fun, as they staying in their car parked real close byto watch the fun,

Eric and Jeremy arrive next, and doa doubletake but are not fulled by the sign-in sheet. However, it all ends in laughs between the two teams. Speaking of the first two teams, they did catch a break in that they had to deal with no traffic, while later teams would deal with increasing amounts of traffic. In the end no one except Fran and Barry had trouble finding the Teatro. We were treated to a litany of dread and "we're doomed" comments from Fran and Barry.

Once the gates open the early teams search the grounds and find
Clue #30:
"Count the heads on the fenceposts surrounding the Teatro, then give your answer to the groundskeeper, when you answer correctly, he'll give you your next clue"

I love this kind of task, it serves one purpose and one alone, to get the teams who are in high gear, and in a rush-rush mode to have to slow down and think, The Teatro is surrounded by a fence that has decorative heqads on its, all they have to do is count the heads, then report bck to the groundskeeper. FYI: there are 41, a high enoug number that can invite honest miscounting which can lead to disagreeing counts amongst team members. In fact one team did have a disagreement, but they got over it pretty quickly and did decide to go with the correct answer. Another team got the correct answer and was so sure there was a trick to it they doubted themselves, but luckily they went ahead and reported the correct answer. Yet another team started telling the answer to any person in the place, trying to find the groundskeeper. Once they uttered 41 to the groundskeeper, they received:

Clue #31 - DETOUR
Small Fish or Big Fish
In Big Fish they have to go to one street market and pick up two 35 pound swordfish, one for each person, and then carry them on foot to another street market and give them to a specified vendor to get their next clue,
In small fish, they proceed directly to the second street market, in fact to the same vendor to wich the others are to take their swordfish, once there they have to open a stall and sell 4 kilos of a small fish.,

Its a case of the physically demanding but clearly defined detour option, or the not physically demanding but open ended detour option. In most cases its better to take the physcally demanding option, as most teams do.

Those that took the Big Fish option generally did not have problems, but there were plenty of comments about the weight and texture of the swordfish, not to mention the sliminess and the smell of the fish. Most got it to the second street market okay, but tried to deliver it to the wrong fishmonger, or had trouble locating the correct vendor. Hereiis where we start to see the break down of Joseph and Monica. BasicallyMonica loses her cool, puts her fish on the ground and pouts till Joseph finds the right vendor. It may not seem like much, but trust me this is the start of their killer fatigure related team breakdown.

Oh, and the other detour option, selling the fish, well who other than Fran and Barry took it, after Fran whined "I can't carry 35 lb., we have to do the other one!" They do have the streak going of picking the wrong detour options. The editing makes it sound like they are having trouble, but then commerical break, and back and they are selling fish like crazy and are soon finsihed,

Teams finishe the detour and get:
Clue #32 - Route Info
Make your way to Ponte Umbertino, Siracussa, Italy
Only comments was that it was a distance away from the Detour, and they had cars so this si where navigational skills could come into play, but we didn't get to see much in the way of trouble navigating.

Once there they get:
Clue #33 - Road Block
"Who can keep their balance"
Participate in a Kayak Polo game - score 1 goal.

Here is a case of a local sports related challenge, it looked like the other players were all trying to help the racer get their goal scored. We did get to see one racer capsize their boat, but they were soon back into the race. Barry took this one for them and had a bit of troble, Michelle took ths one for Lake/Michelle, and Lake who was reduced to watching from the sidelines was not supportive of all. He waqs all "I should have taken this one" well, yes you should have mr. alpha male, I meanyou might have seen the game going on before you took the clue, But hey, maybe this will help with road block parity. Oh and the two just look so dorky with their passport protectors on the OUTSIDE of their clothes.

Once they score that goal its,

Clue #34 - Route Info
" Make your way to Fonte Aratusa - Warning: This is a pitstop!"

This is a fresh water spring within walking distance of the roadblock. Noteworthy is they had an orchestra playing on the walkway to the pitstop.

Not much change since the last leg, Eric and Jeremy and BJ And Tyler traded the lead once again, putting Eric and Jeremy into the lead, so they win a cruise.

The order:
1) Eric and Jeremy
2) BJ and Tyler
3) Joseph and Monica
4) Fran and Barry
5) Lake and Michelle
6) Ray and Yolanda
7) Dave and Lori

The orchestra stops playing the second Dave and Lori step onto the mat and are eliminated from play.

Episode 7

The teams leave from, where else, Fonta Aratusa, which was the 5th pit stop.

Clue #35 - Route Info
Travel by train to Rome, Italy (Roma, Italia) - go to Trevi Fountain

Okay: Let me get it out of my system - I have been fortunate to go to Italy, and to Rome in particular, therefore for the next short segment I got to see some nicely familiar sites. Those interested in my Italy trip can find out more at this web journal.

Now let me really get something else out of my system: The next set of clues are a completely pointless product placement for the new Da Vinchi Code movie.

How pointless? Well the train tickets to Romeare IN the clue the racers get at the pitstop. Some teams are wise enough to ask at the train station about better arangments, but learn they have the best arrangements courtesy of the show. No work required on the part of the teams there, and whats more the train is late enough (8am) to ensure that all teams are on the same train, so any lead a team may have built up is effectively eliminated.

Therefore they have no trouble making itto Rome. Two teams (Eric and Jeremy and Joseph and Monica) play by the usual unofficial Amazing Race playbook and optto hire taxis from the train station in Rome to Trevi Fountain, all other teams take the subway.

The two taxi riding teams are rewarded with getting to Trevi Fountain first, and therefore get:
Clue #36 - Go to the Spanish Steps and pick up a portfolio in a horse and carriage.

Okay the Spanish Steps are a short distance from Trevi Fountain, so the navigational side of this task isn't much. Inside there clue they are given a piece of tracing paper with a partial sketch of a famous Da Vinchi sketch, and a note about cracking the code for a special prize.

Once they get to the horse and buggies at the Spanish Steps they bick up a black leather potfolio which they are instructed to keep with them. Inside the portfolio is the next clue and more pieces of tracing paper with more parts of the sketch. Laying the pieces of tracing paper on top of each other in the correct orientation allow you to read the secret message that was partially written on each sheet. The message is as simple as "You craked the code, the first team to present this at the next pit stop wins a special prize. The 'code' wqs so easy to crack, this bssicaly means, the first person in wins a prize, just like with the Travelocity Gnomes a couple weeks back, Its a useless product tie in, that really doesn't change the fact that the leg leader gets a prize.

Oh, and the clue that was in the portfolio:
Clue #37 - Fly to Athens, Greece, one there go to the Agora.

Okay,two more bottleneck about to be served up. One, all teams obtain the same flights thus the whole sidetrip to Rome to promote Da Vinci Code was totally pointless, and once there the Agora doesn't open until 8AM. Meaning all teams should theoretically start off in Greece dead even,

Oh, and he depart from Leonarda Da Vinci Airport - one more Code reference, and hey I have flown out of that airport. Once in Greece they must take taxis to the Agora which is the onyl way I can explain why Fran and Barry seemed to get behind, then again they may not have SEEN the taxis or the customs office, or any number of different things. A couple cab drivers must have asked why teams wanted to go to the Agora after closing time, which I thought was going to set us up for a situation like in a past season where teams were to go to a clocktower, and teams asked locals what time the tower usually opens, and therefore rested in a hotel and arrived at the tower in shock to learn the tower had opened extra early that day, for the benefit of the racers.

Well no such special hours this time. So eventually the Agora opens and the teams receive a special clue:
Clue #38 - Travel by train to the Isthmus Tran Station, Corinth, Greece
- OR -
Try for the Fast Forward: Go to a local restaurant and partake in a local ritual to ward off evil spirits - breaking plates. Of the hundreds of plates available,only one has a miniature Amazing Race flag baked into it.

Okay, Phil tells us there are only two fast forwards available the entire race, and that only one team can win fast forward, and a team canonly use fast forward once. This is simply a "Lucky Chance" challenge, and though I usually don't prefer the lucky chance type challenge, when only one person can win, it makes sense. I meanyou do get a small advantage if you arrive there first, but it does mean that being first there doesn't automaically give you the prize.

We see Eric and Jeremy and Joseph and Monica go head to head for the detour, and by sheer luck Eric and Jeremy found the special plate, and were thus given a car with which they could drive directly to the pitstop skipping all further tasks in this leg.

Fran and Barry arrived at the restaurant after the special plate had been found and were thus greeted at the door with the red "The Fast Forward has been taken" sign. We then see Joseph and Monica having issues of their own hailing a taxi.

They make their way to the train station where Lake and Michelle, Ray and Yolanda, and BJ and Tyler all make it onto the first train. Fran and Barry and Joseph and Michelle arrive at the train station, some time later, not close enough to the first train to shoot any heart wrenching shots of just missing the train.

But things don't seem all that bad for the people on the second train as the people on the first train made a mistake. One team got off at the wrong station,and the other two teams followed them. When they discovered their mistake, they did not go back and try to get back on the train (perhaps it had left? or were they just that lazy and uncaring about it?), and depsite the clue which explicitly told them to take the train to Corinth, they instead hoped on a bus. I think it was Michelle that even said as they were boarding the bus that she felt that they were doing something wrong. Of course Lake acted like she was being stupid and nothing would happen.

Remember Busgate, it will come into play later in our little story.

Meanwhile Fran and Barry and Joseph and Monica correctly ride train 2 to the correct station.

Once at the correct train station, they get their next clue.
Clue #39 - Road Block
"Who wants to hear themselves scream"
Task: Go to a bungee jump operation at the Corinth Canal that looked to be quite close to the train station. The selected member must perform a bungee jump into the canal.

Its a fear factor road block, and I hate this kind as it gives no team the chance to pass another teaqm, I mean they get their line ticket, wait in line, take their jump proceed on. The only peice of intrigue here is Fran volunteers for it, and as soon as she finds out what "it" is, goes into a near panic attack. We see her refuse to jump, commerical break, then we see her not so boldl step off the platform. As Fran and Barry and Joseph and Monica were last we can assume that the bus the other three teams took, did get them to the train station faster than the second train, however given the one at a time nature of the roadblock, I wonder if the difference in the two trains was negated in waiting in line.

Anyway the bungeemaster gives them:
Clue #40 - DETOUR
Wow the road block and the detour back to back. Gota make up for time wasted on the Da Vinci Product Placement

"Herculean Effort" or "It's All Greek To Me"
In Herculean Effort they travel to an ancient stadium and take part in a recreation of the first Olympics. One team member must to the discus, the other one the javelin, then the go 2-on-1 again a Greek wrestler, they don't have to pin him just get him out of bounds.

In "It's All Greek to me" they drive to about the same locatiton where they go to a sand lot and find 9 shards of pottery, on each shard is a greek letter. They then have to take the shards to a group of helpful Greeks waiting nearby who will tell then what English letter the Greek letter corresponds to, then using that information they have to unscramble the letters to form the name of a Greek city. To aid them the city name will appear on a map they are given.

Okay thins one is physcial vs. mental, in other words a detour option where one really could pick which task is right for them,.

Joseph and Monica arrive and to Herculean Effort, there are some Greeks in period costume to assit them in their Olympic Games recreations (and note how careful CBS is not to use the word Olympic, after all that is the property of the IOC and NBC has exclusive TV rights to that name, thats why its a Herculean Task and not an Olympic Task, that said the promos for this week, and the feel of the challenge leave little to doubt that a recreation of the ancient olympic games is what they had in mind,) ("Every 4 years people gather for a sporting spectacle, well this isn't it") So the locals have to wearf period costume, it would have been neat if part of the taks was he racers wearing period attire.

Joseph and Monica act like track and field stars at least in trash talking, and they do get the discus event covered (throw must be at least a designated distance), but they have trouble with Javelin, enough trouble that it allows Ray and Yolanda to arrive, complete discus and also have trouble with javelin, (javeln was also a deswignaed distance type task, and I think the javelin had to stick not lay on the ground), the wrestling was the most contrived with its 2 on 1 play, and the fact that I saw the racers go out of bounds in the act of pushing the 'wrestler' out of bounds and not get called on it. Once all three events were complete they get their next clue.

Fran and Barry - well you guessed it they took the mental option. We learn that the shards of pottery are more like "laying out in plain sight" instead of hidden, they have no trouble conversing with the locals, who speak English, and getting their letter translations. Apparently the rules state you can only get one letter translation per local, so you do have to interact with several people. They do fail to see the maps which were in a rack in a clearly visible stand that is the only thing standing in the area. They do soon get their map, solve the word scramble and get their clue. Oh, I hope Barry's car inusrance company didn't watch this episode and see Barry's one car accident where he bakced up into a tree hard enough to totally destroy the rear windshield. I don't think they even got out of the car to look, just kept going. Like its an eveyday ocurance.

Either they realy do have vision trouble and could not see that tree, or he was totally confused and had his car in the wrong gear. We'll hope it was just the later, but other occurances on this race involving their visoion do let doubt enter into play.

More interesting: Lake and Michelle - you would have thought this team would have chosen the physical option,m but they arrived at the site of the mental competiion first so switched up and went with the word scramble. They were apparently given a sand sifter, and thought they would have to dig through the sand to find the shards as the instructions suggested, and they were honestly shocked to find the pieces just laying out. They had no trouble finding the map stand, or getting the letter translations, though Lake did cut them off before they got the last translation, I guess he figured 8 of 9 letters would do, I don't know if this hurt them in finding the answer to the word scramble, but they did find it and moved on.

In a shocker BJ and Tyler who you may remember as being one of the two dominant teams made a bad turn in driving and found themselved an hour out of their way. The eventually make it back to the detour site and choose Herculean Effort. We won't know if they had trouble with it as they seemed to breeze right through it.

COmpleting either task gave them
Clue #41 - Route Info
Travel to Fotress De Rion, Rion, Greece - Warning, this is a pit stop

Okay I didn't mention it but some time ago we saw fast forward winners Eric And Jeremy make their way to the pitstop, check in, show their Da Vinci Portfolio, and receive an invite to the red carpet premiere of Da Vinci Code as their special prize. Ohhh, Ahhh, Let's not get too excited,

Now lets see the other chek in:
Ray and Yolanda step onto the mat, and get the dreaded "You are the second team to arrive" instead of "You are team number 2" This usually means that Phil is about to assess some penalty. In fact he called Ray and Yolanda out for taking the bus instead of the train to Ithsmus as directed. This year the ever changing arbitrary penalty is 15 minutes (didn't it used to be 30?) Phill was nice enough to have the penality clock start the second they steppd onto the mat. They are told to step aside and the 15 minute penalty clock is shown.

Unfortunately before the clock could expire Joseph and Monica are able to slip in and claim the second spot, much to the teams disbelief. We know that J and M has enough of a challenge at the detour to let Ray and Yolanda catch up to them, then I guess Ray and Yolanda had better time of navigating to the pit stop.

Speaking of navigating it seems the teams who were smart enough to pick up road maps were not smart enough to make sure they were in English, instead they grabbed Greek language maps. We are entertained both at the Detour and the drive to the pitstop to more of that killer fatigue settting in between Joseph and Monica.

Oh, and in the meantime the penalty clokc expires and Ray and Yolanda are allowed to check in. Hey they could not have won the leg prize, and they are not in the rear of the pack so the penalty probably won't hurt them at all, especially if the next leg starts with a bottleneck.

Next in is Fran and Barry whose self proclaimed excellentmap reading and navigational skills must have some merit as they were able to gai ground on Lake and Michelle who were aheadof them at the Road block.,

Then coming in fifth are BJ and Tyler, "BJ and Tyler you are the fifth team to arrive" OH NO!, they get slapped with a 15 minute penalty for taking the bus, and go to the penalty 'box' as teir clock counts down. We see a montage of them waiting out the penalty as the clock ticks down, with Lak and Michelle arriving at the pitstop. Wow, LAke and Michelle must have either really sucked at the detour or in navigating to the pitstop to fall behind BJ and Tyler who took the 2 hour scenic ride. It comes as no surprise that we see Lake and Michelle treating themsleves in a manner that brings back nasty flashbacks of Jonathan and Victoria.

I cringe, hoping that the clock will run out and BJ and Tyler (class clowns) will be allowed in before Lake/Michelle (Team domestic abuse), luckily the prayer seems to be granted and the penalty clock expired and BJ and Tyler come in in 5th place. Their dropping out of the lead into 5th is really the only major change in the standings. EJ are still up front, RY and FB are your bottom feeders, JM continues to do wel. Again, put a bottleneck early in the next leg and BJ and Tyler will be right back into it.

Speaking of Lake/Michelle we see them check in, and I recall we have not yet seen a non elimination leg yet. I cringe again, how many times has a depsied team gotten saved from doom by a non elimination leg. Luckily this did not happen, team domestic abuse were eliminated, they tried to talk like their abusive interactions are perfectly normal as they are kicked out of the race. Hey this means I like all the teams that are left, how often does that happen. Time for a new enemy to form.

In previews we see what looks like Ray and Yolanda finally get bit by killer fatigue, and it seems thy go to the Middle East and the hot sun becomes a big issue.

See you then!


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