I crawled out of the Slough of Despond CBS prefers us to call “Big Brother 5,” showered, and prepared to enjoy the more rarified atmosphere of The Amazing Race. This is, after all, my mother’s favorite reality show. Compared to the lard-filled reality dross I usually watch, TAR is Russian literature or, at the least, Cooke-era Masterpiece Theatre. Certainly, this week’s episode was an educational and philosophical delight: we had bestiality, bickering, foam, and trivial but compelling evidence that there is, indeed, a benevolent God. But I’ll get to that later.
As you may recall, last week introduced us to the various teams (it always seems like a small emerging nation in Episode One) and by the premier’s end Team Cold Feet (“Engaged/Chickened Out”) got the boot, thus sticking another fork in a relationship already studded with silverware.
The teams fly to Argentina where, the Bowling Moms speculate, America’s fabulous new peach-and-green $20 dollar bills will not be accepted. Apropos of nothing, Team Doublemint gushes about how much they love Chip and Mrs. Chip. We know this relationship is doomed by the airing of this tender tribute. After much discussion, only Team Electra wastes time in the peso queue; later, Dad indulges in a little paranoid rant and asserts Team Kingpin plotted to lead them astray through the use of native currency. Remember, Dad’s with the military. He can spot a conspiracy a mile away. What escapes him is the notion that, were a team to actively scheme to derail another team this early on, the non-competitive, injured teams are not likely to be the initial targets. Chances are Military Dad is also concerned that the Bowling Moms are concealing weapons of mass destruction in their matching Don Carter handbags.
The teams are told to find a local nightclub and STD exchange venue: the foam disco (while Military Dad thinks this is a uniquely South American delight, anyone who caught an episode or two of CSI is familiar with the Studio 54 Meets Mr. Bubble concept). There, they will search for clues hidden in inflatable balls on the dance floor. Phil gently suggest that, if the teams have time and find any extra balls, they could give them to Donny, who sure could use a new set.
The teams drive around town in search of glitter balls and suds. Team Newman furthers the Ian Project goal of completely validating every nasty thing people in other countries think about Americans abroad by barking questions (remember, kids: the slower and louder you yell questions, the better people who are rude enough not to speak English will understand what you want) and referring to the respondents as “Useless Foreigners,” ignoring the fact that the “foreigners” are, actually, at home and are possibly less useless than two obese, caustic, celibate (and therefore angry) reality show contestants. Team Newman also deplores the use of environmentally friendly fuel because it takes so long to fill a taxi tank. (Note: I am one of three people in this country who LOATHED “Seinfeld” but if the fat ugly Newman shoe fits, I say throw it).
In one of my favorite TAR moments to date, team Under the Rainbow decides to ask a local lass for directions to the nightclub because the lady in question is “wearing her disco clothes.” The lady in question is -- quite obviously -- a lady of the evening, and while there may be hustling going on, it’s not the shameful, syncopated Caucasian shuffling maneuvers so many of us practiced circa 1974. The hooker politely rebuffs Charla’s piping requests for information but I’m sure her pimp would not have been blind to the commercial possibilities inherent in a Charla/Mirna novelty act; Midget N Gidget flee (“She’s working,” Charla announces, with a keen if belated grasp of the obvious).