Since this is the All Star season of The Amazing Race, Reality TV World asked some of the greatest summary writers from the past six years to work on this season. They were all in jail or dead, though, so you’re going to get people like me instead.
In other situations, this might have caused some disappointment among the readers. But let’s face it, you’re interested in an “All-Star” season of a reality show. How much can you expect when your All Stars look like this:
"The nurse forgot to give me my medication this morning."
THE AMAZING RACE: ALL STARS Season Eleven Episode 1 "Maybe This Time We’ll Win!"
Phil comes on to tell us that this Amazing Race is starting in Miami, “Gateway to the Americas”. Yeah, if you’re a waterlogged Haitian. Everybody else comes in through JFK or LAX.
He goes on to explain that this will be the very first All Star edition of The Amazing Race, with eleven teams from previous seasons. It’s about time. You Romber fans have been waiting for this for a couple of years now, haven’t you? Yeah, you’re silly that way.
Pardon my opinion.
Now, there has been some complaining about who wasn’t included in this Race. Colin & Christie, Kris & Jon, and Lenny & Karyn being the most glaring omissions.
Let it go, people.
With the obvious exception of Rob and Amber, most former reality show contestants don’t just sit around and wait for someone to put them on another reality show. They have their own lives to live. Besides, if you want to get the best teams from all of the previous seasons, then you would just have to include the Godlewski sisters. Do you really want that? Didn’t think so.
Maybe if enough people send in letters to CBS, we can get them to produce an "Also-Ran Amazing Race". Who needs tight competitions? Some of the best moments from previous seasons were moments of pure idiocy from the lesser Racers. Like flipping a truck. There needs to be more of that.
Anyway, Phil says that the Racers have relationships that have evolved since the last time each of them raced. Liar. Most of these teams are exactly the way we remember them. And that’s what we want. We either loved them or loved to hate them the way they were. Don’t give us different. Give us more of the same. In fact, just show us a bunch of clips from previous seasons and we will be happy.
We see the teams racing into Miami on speed boats. Well, actually, they would be coming back to Miami - repeatedly - to get just the right camera shots. Can you imagine how aggravating that would be? “Yes, we know that you are all eager to race around the world, be adored by thousands and possibly win a million dollars - but we need to have you all go out one more time in the speed boats because Ian was sticking his hand down his pants a la Al Bundy.”
The first team we are introduced to is Kevin and Drew - the Festers - from season 1 (pictured above). They also had a cameo in the Family Edition as hot dog vendors. Something tells me they should have just left it at that. Apparently, both of these skinheads got married in the intervening years. Kevin says that they are five years older and five more years out of shape. In other words, their little comedy routine isn’t going to last long this season. Get your laughs while you can, festerfan.
Sharing their boat is Rob and Amber - Romber - from season 7. I seem to recall them doing some commercials or something before that.
Amber is captured between thoughts. The lights are on, but nobody’s home.
Amber says their marriage is great. Rob reminds us that they didn’t win the last time they showed their faces in this contest and he assures us that they will have some new tricks. Amber thinks that everyone will be trying Romber’s old tricks. Does she have an ego, or what? This is All Stars, honey. Most of these people were kickin’ ass and taking names when you were still starving in a jungle somewhere deep down under the radar. So don’t go getting’ all proud with yourself just yet. Of course, Romber will play hard - but they’ve had one win out of multiple chances.
Speaking of people who can kick Romber’s ass, we get to the next team - Uchena and Joyce from season 7. UJ beat Romber that season on the final taxi ride and they are the only returning champions from any of the previous TARs. Unlike Romber, UJ are having a little problem in their marriage due to a continued inability to bring children into their lives. They should try a Wal-Mart supercenter. They’ve got everything there. Anyway, UJ may bow out early because of the tension in their relationship.
Sharing their boat is Dustin and Kandice - the Beauty Queens - from season 10. Kandice says that people will be out for blood in this Race. We could only hope. At best, we’ll get some pushing and shoving at a ticket counter. Booooring. Dustin says that racing against these other popular Racers from previous seasons will be like racing against a teacher. Hero-worship will get you sent home early, ladies. I happen to believe that they will get their heads on straight and win this whole thing.
Next up, we have Bill and Joe - Team Guido - from season 1. For those who didn’t watch season 1, these old gay men are to TAR what Richard Hatch is to Survivor. Except that they didn’t win. And they didn’t walk around naked. And they wanted nothing to do with alliances. But they were tough, intelligent competitors who were cast in the villain mold.
After showing the Chihuahua for which they are named, they downplay their ability to compete by saying they are two gay grandpas. Boys, you’ve been fighting a lot of people for decades. You’re tougher than you want us to believe. Not in the top five in this group, but tough, nonetheless.
Speaking of people with special challenges in their lives, we come to Charla and Mirna - Schmirna - from season 5.
Maybe Charla could get everywhere faster by doing cartwheels.
Charla is one of the little people and Mirna is her cousin. I have a soft spot for people who have physical challenges. Sue me. Also, I think Mirna has a certain sensuality that…never mind. I’ve been drinking again. Mirna does make the unfortunate mistake of saying “we’re gonna win this time”. They are the first team to make that claim in their intro - a sure sign that they won’t win. Middle of the pack. Again.
We are then introduced to the team that has the lowest chance of winning: David and Mary - Kentucky - from season 10.
Had to include this. Not a bad looking’ gal.
Her husband, on the other hand….
David and Mary didn’t even crack the final five last season against some pretty lame competition. Somebody must have backed out for them to get into All Star. Or they hung around the CBS offices with their seventeen children and assorted farm animals until they were put into this season. If they’re not gone early, then this is going to be one dreadful season.
With them on the boat to Miami is Teri and Ian - the Paper Drawers (how’s that for a nickname, you asshat?) - from season 3. We can only hope that they have gone with more substantive undergarments this time.
Ian reminds us that they were a very close runner up in the finale of their season. Probably because Teri used her supernatural powers to overcome their opponents. Look at her - she’s evil, I tells ya! In any case, this team will be under the radar and could be dangerous. But Teri uttered the “we’ll come in first this time” line and, like Schmirna, they are doomed to fail.
Oswald and Danny - Team Cha Cha - from season 2. They had some problems but they are now “like husband and husband”.
Listening to folks as this season geared up, it was evident that these two are hardly remembered. Partially because their season was so long ago and partially because TAR was not as popular back then. It was watched by so few people at that time that CBS would have had no problem bumping it from its time slot to air additional coverage of a golf tournament. Unlike now. Anyway, the Cha Chas are pretty good and they are likely to go far.
With them is John Vito and Jill - no nickname necessary - from season 3. Used to be dating and now they’re not sure where they’re at. That’s their motto: “We don’t know where we’re at”. They’ll be using it later. They both talk about working on their relationship. That’s a sign of an early exit. You don’t get into a contest like this to find yourselves, morons. The only team that was working on their relationship and won was Zach and Flo from season 3, and that was only because Zach had the fortitude to drag Flo’s whiny carcass across the finish line. But their relationship was over.
Finally, we have Eric and Danielle - Mix’n’match - from season 9. Their previous partners kicked them to the curb. Phil says they “fell in love”. Nah, they just had sex.
We’re eye candy. Don’t expect us to do much.
These two talk about how much they like each other and I barf. We don’t care if you like each other. We want to know how much you hate the other teams. He did well in season 9, she didn’t. They’ll probably go out somewhere in the middle.
When they are all on land, Phil tells them to look around at the fierce competitors around them. Rob gives Uchena the old stinkeye while David and Mary collect autographs.
Phil says that none of the teams should be taken for granted. At that, Ian points at Bill and says, “You’re going down, Nancy.”
Phil tells them there are eleven pit stops and eight elimination points. He shows them where their bags are and says that they will get their first clue there. “What you do after that,” he says, “is completely up to you.” You would not be wrong to think that Romber is taking that as an invitation to throw all of the contest rules out of the window.
Phil picks a painful wedgie out of his butt before telling them “GO”!
And they’re off!!
What can you tell from the image above? Well, Eric and Danielle seem to be out in front with John Vito and Jill a close second. Mirna is doing well (pink top in the middle of the pic). Now, find Charla. This is going to happen the entire Race. God bless her stumpy little legs, she just can’t keep up. I would think it’s kind of cruel to pit Charla against some pretty good athletes. But after they get their backpacks on, she keeps ahead of Drew. He looks like he can barely walk because he‘s carrying a backpack the size of…well…Charla. And Mary is no Flash, either. On second thought, maybe Charla will keep up just fine.
The first clue tells them they’re going to Ecuador.
Oswald and Danny get to their car first. They’re from Miami and they get a good lead to the airport. John Vito and Jill follow them. Romber, Guidos and Beauty Queens are next. None of that matters because the lead is always going to change depending on who is willing to break local driving laws.
Almost every team makes an “it’s good to be back” comment. Foot races can make a lot of things seem fun. Just wait until they’re camping outside of a museum gate all night and then we’ll see how many of them think it’s good to be back.
Uchena shouts, “This is the chance of a lifetime - twice.” Ummm, yeah. How many lives do you have, brother?
Eric says they will do well so long as Danielle does whatever he says. She submissively says “okay”. Nice people.
Drew says, “Did you see everyone pass me? I looked like an idiot.” Kevin obligingly responds, “Yeah, you do.” Nice guys. And I mean that.
After Romber passes Oswald and Danny for the lead, we get a little video clip of Rob claiming, “Amber and I did not drag our asses back to Amazing Race All Stars to finish in second place. Mark my words.” Okay, we’ll mark your words hot shot. It’s what we call ironic foreshadowing. You’re not going to finish second. And you won’t be finishing first, either. Go take your seat by Schmirna and Paper Drawers over there. Cardinal rule of watching reality TV – a person or team who claims early on that they are going to win never wins.
In the Miami airport parking lot, Rob actually tells the shuttle driver to let Oswald and Danny on. Trying to balance your karma a little bit, Rob? Like that’s gonna work. They killed Ghandi for doing stuff like that, y’know.
At the airport, there are only two flights to choose from. Except for UJ. They can get any flight they want. The flight that leaves later arrives earlier. Most of the teams figure that out. JVJ, Romber and Team Cha Cha are the first to book the later flight.
David and Mary almost run over Charla in the parking lot. She transforms into the Hulk in short pants and much hilarity ensues. Mirna gets on the shuttle - an airport shuttle in Miami, mind you - and shouts “rapido, rapido” at the driver. Mirna has told a driver in Russia to go “rapido” before. And she’s a lawyer? Sheesh. David and Mary tell the shuttle driver not to pick up anybody else. Maybe they did learn a thing or two from last season. It was those darned Cho brothers who messed them up, that’s what it was.
Kentucky makes a mistake when the agent at the counter prints their tickets before they find out which flight they should take. Paper Drawers, the Guidos and the Beauty Queens decide to check out the early flight, also. David tells Teri and Ian to go to American Airlines, while Mary tries to convince Dustin and Kandice to stick with the flight Kentucky is on, which arrives later. The Beauty Queens and Guidos figure out what’s going on and race to American Airlines only to find out that Teri and Ian got the last seats. If Kentucky ends up getting the Beauty Queens knocked out, it will be a huge success for the underdogs.
At the American counter, Oswald sticks up for Schmirna. Some of these teams are being so damned nice to each other. What is with this season? The worst, most stomach-churning moment is when Kentucky catches Romber among the travel books and they gush all over them. “Just meeting Them, it’s like we’ve already won.” No, no, no! They are your enemies and you must destroy them. Calling them the wrong name was a good start. Keep it up!
Kentucky, UJ, Mix’n’match, Beauty Queens, Guido and the Festers are on the flight that leaves earlier but arrives later. Romber, JVJ (John Vito and Jill), Cha Cha, Schmirna and Paper Drawers are on the flight that arrives earlier. This will mean absolutely nothing when we reach our first bunching point.
They have to go to the Plaza San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador for their next clue.
"Attention, squad leader - we have the Dominican Republic targeted and will commence firing on your order."
Naturally, as soon as they land Romber finds the driver who knows a shortcut. How do they get these kind of breaks? How? True, they only reach the clue box a couple of minutes ahead of the others. But the point is that they are ahead of the others because they happened to find someone who knew the best way to get to where they wanted to go. They are running on borrowed luck already, and it’s only the first leg.
Oswald says his face is going through menopause. Since he’s a gay man, he may not understand what goes on during menopause. Then again, maybe he sees menopause as a good thing to experience. Now that I think of it, some women in menopause do act like flamboyantly gay men – dramatic, hot flashes, concerned about the potential drop in sexual activity as they age.
Mirna says “rapido” another hundred times. You need to know this.
The clue box tells them to go to Pim’s restaurant where they will get a tag that tells them what departure time they have: 7:00, 7:15 and 7:30. Goodbye two hour lead. Wouldn’t that just suck if you were on the first flight and then you got eliminated later? Yeah, that would suck. Keep in mind how much that would suck when we get to the end.
7:00 - Romber, JVJ, Schmirna and Cha Cha 7:15 - Paper Drawers, Beauty Queens, Guidos, UJ (thanks to having longer arms than Kentucky) 7:30 - Kentucky, Mix’n’match, Festers
Amber says that they really don’t care who they are racing against but that everyone must be really excited to race against them. The little girl who was one broken promise away from not getting a million on Survivor All Stars has gotten an awfully big head in the past few years.
We catch a rare glimpse of the teams sitting down together and eating a meal. The early teams joke about how they don’t really feel sorry for the later teams. The later teams are shown in their taxis trying to get ahead of one another. Kevin says that he and Drew have gone from worst to first before and they can do it again. Moments later, we see Drew tumble out of the taxi and take a big spill. He lays on the ground for several minutes while Kevin tells him to get up. Drew says he may have dislocated his shoulder. It turns out to be just a bad case of clumsy.
The next morning, the first four teams get their clue which tells them to go to the Cotopaxi National Park. Phil’s voiceover clearly states that the best way in is through the north entrance. Whenever they state something so explicitly, you know right away that at least one team is going to do the wrong thing. You would think that since this is an All Star competition, that the teams would not make such mistakes. You would be wrong.
The teams have to drive themselves to an ecological preserve in the park. Anyone else think it is funny that a bunch of dumb Americans in a bug hurry are going to be crashing SUVs through an ecological preserve?
Oswald and Danny get the first car – which they have done twice now, John Vito and Jill go second. Mirna claims that she can not drive a stick shift that well. Red herring. Very few Racers have been eliminated because they can’t drive well. Usually it’s going in the wrong direction or a stupid taxi driver or a flat tire.
We have the usual bickering from teams in the middle. Teams in the lead are all, “You’re doing great! I love you.” Teams in the middle fight as they each try to take command. Teams at the end are back to “You’re doing good honey. I love you no matter what.”
Guidos complement Paper Drawers for being tough competitors. It’s funny how the “seasoned” Racers are aware of each other while the younger teams pay very little attention to them. You’ve got to remember, the Guidos lost the first TAR contest because they thought they could sit on a lead. Paper Drawers fought much younger teams to the very end. These guys can’t be overlooked just because of their age.
JVJ have trouble finding someone who can help them. Romber, as usual, have no such problem and find a taxi driver who can lead them. Schmirna pick up “Juan” and they say that they enjoy dealing with the locals. Wonder if that feeling is mutual.
While discussing the likelihood that they are in first place, Romber says that “everybody could have gotten lost when we followed the taxi”. Is it me or is that a strange comment to make? Why would you think that everyone else gets lost just because you found someone who can help you? Seems to me that they are really underestimating their competition. But by some insane “coincidence”, Romber’s closest competition does run into trouble. JVJ are given directions that will take them one hour in some godforsaken direction; Cha Cha disappear for a little while; and Mirna and Charla drop off Juan who tells them to just use the south entrance even though they show him the clue that says to use the north entrance.
Romber reach the clue box first and Phil comes on to tell us that this is a Detour where teams can either choose “Wrangle it” - where they have to clip and trim a horse - or “Recover it” - where they have to find pieces of a military uniform in a field. Romber go for Recover it first. They are the only ones who choose that task. Rob says they spend three hours doing that and then they decide to Wrangle it. And somehow they still complete the task ahead of all the other teams. How good was that taxi driver they followed? Oswald & Danny and Teri & Ian get in through the proper gate. How the hell did they fall so far back? People will claim that Romber are just better Racers, but so far they just keep getting ahead because they are finding better taxi drivers. Once again, they are borrowing an awful lot of luck from somewhere.
Romber finishes the horse trimming task and run to the Pit Stop nearby where PeeWee Herman dances around, throwing clumps of grass at them and giggling loudly.
This is not PeeWee Herman.
They win a trip to some cold place. Phil says they can have whatever they want on the trip because…you know…they’re Romber.
Not sure what they’re doing to that gnome, but I wouldn’t want that as a “prize”.
When Paper Drawers pull into the Detour area, Teri suggests they may be the first team there. Ian says, “That would be a miracle of God. Are you listening, God?” No. God stopped paying attention after the Weavers lost the Family Edition.
Oswald and Danny are team #2. Teri and Ian are team #3. The other 7:00 team is Charla and Mirna and they are told that they are nearly an hour away from where they want to be. Thanks, Juan.
Eric and Danielle are #4, quickly followed by Bill and Joe in the #5 slot. No, that’s not code for anything. Everyone is doing the horses and staying in the order in which they arrived.
Schmirna are almost convinced that they’re lost until Kentucky comes up from behind. Charla says, “We’re not last. Maybe we can beat them in a foot race.” Mirna turns around and says, “You’re a DWARF, goddammit! The whole reason I have to shout ‘rapido’ at everyone else is because I’m trying to make up lost time for your waddling!” If it is at all possible, Charla shrinks a little more.
Meanwhile, the Festers draw the Flat Tire Card. Drew says, “Screw it. It ain’t our car.” They drive the car until the tire is completely gone from the rim. Trust me, rental agencies don’t like it when you return the car in that condition.
The Beauty Queens and UJ get in a race for 6th place. The blondes get there first.
Dustin and Kandice find the special clue from Phil’s golf equipment.
Mirna reads the clue that says they will have to hold down a wild horse if they do Wrangle it. Charla says, “I’ll hold it down.” Let’s see - outrun people, holding down horses. Do you get the impression that Charla is a little delusional?
Charla and Mirna stay ahead of David and Mary to claim the 8th spot. Kentucky is standing right there at the Pit Stop with them and they gush all over Schmirna. It’s quite possible that Kentucky let Schmirna get to the Pit Stop ahead of them because they are in awe of the other teams.
The Festers stumble their way to the Pit Stop as team #10. JVJ get their little bittersweet comments played as they clip the horse and jog to the mat. They act surprised that they are eliminated.
“This is not how we wanted to come back,” says Jill. Some of us didn’t really care that you came back at all. They both say that getting back into the Race has brought them back together as a couple. Again, this is a race for a million dollars. If you want to find out how to fix your relationship, go on Dr. Phil or something.
Next week: People get worried that Romber may have a better flight and Charla kills one of the Beauty Queens.