The Amazing Race Review: The Country of London

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The clip has been making the television rounds for weeks, but last night on the premiere of The Amazing Race, we finally got to see the context in which Claire got drilled in the face with a watermelon from the backfiring ballista. 

However, in my opinion, it wasn’t the best part of the episode, despite all the hype that it has received.  That goes to Nick and Vicki and their tremendous interview with Phil on the pit stop mat.

Melon Launch

The challenge and interest of the first leg of this seventeenth edition of The Amazing Race fell beneath the high standards that have been set on previous seasons.  Often the opening legs have many more clues than subsequent legs and lead teams all over the place with a number of different challenges.  Scaling a wall with water being dumped on you and firing a watermelon from a ballista do not qualify as particularly challenging or interesting. 

Fortunately, the racers themselves more than made up for any lack of interest in the leg with the blunders and mistakes committed throughout the leg.  Although they didn’t finish in first place on the leg (they finished eighth), Chad and Stephanie win the award for most blunders during the opening leg.  Starting with almost blowing things at the airport en route to London, to botching directions, to Chad’s stubbornness with the boats and ending with their jaunt around the castle, the dating couple ran the gamut this week.  At least they recognized how amazing it was that they finished eighth.

Ron and Tony get this week’s navigational (or lack thereof) award.  The highly educated friends from California spent the beginning of the episode boasting about Tony’s often downplayed intelligence.  What the pair forgot is that book smarts do not translate to street smarts.  Trying to rely solely on their ability (inability?) to read a map to find Stonehenge and Eastnor castle, the pair spent the majority of the episode going the wrong way.  Not that it would have mattered in all likelihood as we were probably treated to the abbreviated version of them floundering at the river.

Chad and Stephanie Receive Their Clue

Despite all of Chad and Stephanie’s mistakes and Ron and Tony’s ineptness getting them eliminated, neither pair wins the dunce of the week award.  That has to go to Nick and Vicki for one of the most priceless pit stop map interviews in The Amazing Race history.

Phil: Nick and Vicki, what’s the name of this country?
Vicki: We’re in London, right?
Phil: That’s right.  The country of London.

Phil seems like a great guy and he’s very photogenic on camera.  A great reality television show host he is not.  However, Phil absolutely nailed this interaction.  His face upon hearing Vicki’s response to his question was the best he’s ever made.  And with good reason.  London?!?  Come on!

Not to be outdone, Vicki admitted earlier in the episode that she had never heard of Stonehenge before.  I suppose we shouldn’t be all that surprised, each of them is from Las Vegas and covered with tattoos.  Oh, wait, as Vicki told us to start the episode, we shouldn’t judge them based on how they look.  Good thing we didn’t assume they were not the sharpest pencil in the drawer just because they were covered in tattoos.  Wouldn’t want to fall in to that trap.

Excited Vicki

That all brings us back to the defining moment of the premiere of the seventeenth season; the ballista/watermelon backfire.  I’m not going to criticize or make fun of Claire at all, there’s little she could have done differently to prevent it.  Instead, I’m going to mimic Katie and Rachel who were impressed that Claire got drilled in the face with a melon, took some ice and got right back in there.  Hockey players would be proud of Claire.  I’m proud of Claire.

How many former racers would have just quit right there?  Not to be sexist, but especially the females that have been on the race before.  The first one that comes to mind is one of the least deserving winners in history, Flo from the third season.  She absolutely would have quit on the spot.  Kudos to Claire for sticking it out.

Something that was overshadowed by last night’s events is the inclusion of the Express Pass into the race.  I like the concept, but I have an even better idea for it.  Instead of awarding it to a leg winner, include it in the leg like the fast forward.  Teams could risk losing ground in order to have the ability to make up for it later.  It would be interesting to watch a leading team who thinks they are safe, risk losing some ground to go grab the Express Pass.

The beauty and challenge of the opening legs of The Amazing Race is that so much is going on.  It’s fun to watch, but also hard to keep track of and document everything.  I’m sure there are so many good moments we miss because there’s only 90 minutes to see everything.  Here’s a list of other fun things about last night.

  • Mallory seems really nice and sweet, but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to take her.  She can be really painful to watch at times.  Same for Brook and Claire.  I’m sure they mean well, but the voices are so painful when they’re screaming.
  • Not much comedic relief on last night’s episode, but I’m banking on Connor and Jonathan coming through for us this season in that role.
  • The idea behind reuniting Andie and Jenna on The Amazing Race is certainly a heartwarming one, but their obvious lack of any chemistry was boring to watch.  I hope they improve somehow because we’re all rooting for them.
  • I’m always a big fan of father/son, siblings or friends teams because they bicker so much less than the couples.  Thus, I’m excited to watch Michael and Kevin and bummed that we lost Ron and Tony.

They Don't Call It The Amazing Race For Nothin'! Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (5 Votes)
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The Amazing Race Season 17 Episode 1 Quotes

Brook: I feel like I'm gonna barf.
Claire: That's ok, just puke in the trash can.

This car is my size!