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The Amazing Race 5 - Episode 1 Summary

'Where's the beef?' By samiam
Original Airdate: July 6, 2004

Last week, on The Amazing Race…

Oh, wait. This is the premiere. The 90-minute premiere, as if 60 minutes weren’t bad enough. So all we did last week was slouch on the sofa in our jammies, gorge on donuts, and play Madden 2004, and that’s pretty much all the recap you need of that.

For those of you new to our little show, we’ll do a quick overview. There are these 11 teams, see, and they’re each made up of 2 people who already know each other but for some reason find their day-to-day relationships so unfulfilling that they yearn for the petty bickering and sweatiness they can only find by searching for small boxes with envelopes in a third-world country whose language they don’t speak so they can win a million dollars. The show is “hosted” – narrated, mainly – by Phil Keoghan, who is no Anderson Cooper (formerly of The Mole, now of CNN, always of my dreams) or Jeff Probst (of Survivor and Belly), but who does have more amplitude in his chestal region than I do. Which he attempts to hide by wearing large cable-knit sweaters (if it’s cold) or camp shirts with pockets on each side (if it’s warm). The rest you’ll just have to pick up on as we go along.

So. It's Tuesday. It feels like Monday. I'm bloated, I’m cranky, and I had to get up earlier than usual this morning to face the 11-mile-but-45-minute commute that is my life in the urbs of DC. My coffee was bitter, my bagel was stale, and I forgot my lunch (in my rush to leave earlier, of course), which means I had to scrounge in my desk for something to eat, which turned out to be three half-stale peanut butter crackers and a pop-tart.


Oh, yeah. It's on.

Sweeping vistas of Santa Monica, the jumping-off point for this race that we all just KNOW will be jam-packed full of the most intense competition and forced relationship building since the Lakers' training camp. Phil appears, at the helm of a boat, and begins to tell us the same things I just finished telling you up there in the second paragraph or so. He is, as anticipated, wearing a turtleneck fisherman sweater. It does not appear that he hired a personal trainer to work on his "pecs" in the off-season.

He narrates the teams' arrival, which occurs in 11 identical "lifeguard transfer vehicles." The bennies must have significantly improved since my teen years as a lifeguard, because I sure as hell didn't get a company car. And none of the folks driving the vehicles bear any resemblance to the Baywatch lifeguards. We're 30 seconds into the show and I already feel duped and used and broken and empty. That's unusual for a Tuesday; it's normally more of a Saturday morning thing.

Anyhoo, let’s get to the teams!

1. Brandon/Nicole – dating couple. She is a pageant veteran (Miss Texas USA 2003) and now an actress/model (a totally unlikely progression, I know, but stay with me), and Brandon is also a model, although he mostly serves as a model for dustmops and portraits of stigmata. Their personal resemblance to Flo and Zach alarms me. They make sure we know within 2.3 seconds that they are committed Christians, although, unlike one of last season's teams, they do not assert their virginity. We’re dubbing them Team Thumper.

2. Kami/Karli – identical twins. I know you’ll be shocked, but they’re both blonde. Three will get you five that at one time, they both dotted their i's with hearts. With daggers through them, dripping blood. One of Karli’s fears is getting stranded in a third world country without clean bathrooms. (Karli, honey, one of the definitions of “third world country” is “no clean bathrooms”, and sometimes the word “clean” doesn’t even enter into it. I went to bars in college that could be classified as third world countries, ferchrissake.) They say they can get really upset when they are not fed, or when the food falls on the floor of their cage. They pride themselves in lying and being manipulative; they’re like the Doublemint Twins on crack. Speaking of crack, we’ll call them Team Olsen.

3. Linda/Karen – best friends. Moms. Who bowl together. The Bowling Moms. They have T-shirts made up that say that. “Bowling” on one shirt, “Moms” on the other. The really sad thing? They have more than one set of such shirts. They live in Southern California, just north of L.A. There are hundreds of fun, unique things to do in Southern California. Bowling is not one of them. Although they do seem to have found their way to a few quality all-you-can-eat buffets. As self-proclaimed Bowling Moms, we’ll cooperate with them on that and nickname them Team BM (alternate: Team Number Two).

4. Marshall/Lance – brothers who own and operate a pizza shop in Texas. This story is in their Bios and I simply MUST share it, verbatim:

When Lance was six or seven years old, Marshall sold him a Sony Walkman for $60; the sale included a hand-written contract stating that Lance was buying the Walkman “as is,” with no refund. Shortly after buying the Walkman, Lance determined that it was broken. Lance went crying to their father and told him he wanted his money back, but Marshall pulled out the contract and refused.

Lance says that he’s looking forward to seeing “all the beautiful honeys and any nude beaches.” Lance is also looking forward to reaching puberty and moving out of his parents’ basement, the walls of which are covered with taped-up Playboy centerfolds, thereby guaranteeing he will never, ever have sex there. Marshall has a bachelor’s degree and recently got engaged; he also started his own business, grew it to 13 cities and 125 employees, and sold it, all within 18 months. Due to the blatant inequities in their personal qualities, I’m dubbing them Team Rainman.

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