It was a dark and stormy night. Amid the high crags of rock strewn mountains, twenty-two travelers approached the ruins of the stony amphitheater, lit only by the occasional burst of lightning. As they entered the ancient stadium, the low rumble of thunder gave way to maniacal laughter. Laughter that could only come from one source, a tortured soul. And who was this tormented madman? In a flash, the lightning revealed a narrow face, highlighted with eyebrows that resembled the surrounding peaks. “Welcome friends,” the mysterious stranger hissed. “Welcome to the starting point of the most mind-boggling contest in which you will ever participate. Welcome to the competition that will determine if you live or die. Welcome to The Amazing Race! Wah, ha, ha, ha!”
As much as I’d love to continue this shtick for the whole summary, I just can’t. I’m no Stephen King, and so I must resort to biting sarcasm. To get us all up to speed, TAR9 starts with beautiful vistas of Colorado and then zooms in on Phil, pacing atop a tall building in the mile-high city of Denver. Hands tied behind his back by a Bruckheimerized contract, Phil makes his obligatory introductions of the teams without the slightest hint of the distaste he must surely feel for some of them. Fortunately, I have signed no such contract. Our teams are:
1. Team Tooth - Lake and Michelle. This married couple, a dentist and his lovely assistant, are looking for a way to escape Hattiesburg, MS for a little while. Lake, like TAR5’s Colin, can’t talk enough about how driven and goal-oriented he is, as if he is the only driven, goal-oriented man in the country and is therefore intimidating to everyone else. His little lady, and you know he calls Michelle that, compares herself to Scarlett O’Hara and states that she is “a typical Southern woman.” Southern women should revolt! Hmmm. I don’t think I’m going to like them too much. 2. Team Double D - Danielle and Dani. They were Team Double A before the surgeries. They’re from Staten Island and they look every inch of it. Big boobs, streaky highlights, pink as far as the eye can see, and occasional slips into a grating accent. I’ll try not to be too rough on them as I used to live in Westchester Co. and I know Manhattanites could list our faults.
3. Team Hair (as in the musical) - BJ and Tyler. I love me some hippies. This throwback duo from, appropriately enough, San Francisco, met while sailing the seven seas. They say that they search for the funny and ironic. I hope they can find both qualities here. By the way, was anyone else reminded of Merry and Pippin during their intro?
4. Team R.A.Y. - Ray And Yolanda. This attorney and teacher are into fitness, which is difficult when living in Chicago. You know, all that bad weather and deep dish pizza. I got flat abs and toned glutes just watching their little blurb. Yolanda thinks that Ray is the male version of herself (Dr. Freud would love to dissect that statement) and Ray explains that he went to law school to be empowered. Odd, because most people who go to law school want a job that pays a lot, or they just want to loudly state at parties, “Well, when I was in law school . . .”
5. Team Brother From Another Mother - John and Scott. This team from Cape Cod, MA is all about John. John, John, John, all the live long day. Scott is just an accessory. John isn’t really living. John is fearful of everything. John has been locked in a closet (No, not that closet. He left that one years ago.) and needs to start getting out among other carbon based life forms. Blah, Blah, Blah. John.
6. Team MoJo - Monica and Joseph. Monica and Joseph are from Fayetteville, AR. Monica and Joseph are dating. Monica and Joseph are friends and lovers. You know, I’m fairly indifferent to Monica and Joseph.
7. Team Beach Bum - Eric and Jeremy. There’s something one must admire about two young, healthy American men who choose minimum wage jobs to meet their basic needs just so they can spend the balance of their time on the Florida beach. So refreshingly honest. So candidly true. So incredibly lazy. So icky that Eric has both his nipples pierced.
8. Team Can They Get Any Louder? - Lisa and Joni. These self-styled Glamazons from Houston, TX (And really, is there any other state that could contain them?) are sisters who love to spend their time Bedazzling everything in sight. They enjoy primping while wearing tiaras and consider themselves to be superheroes. I suspect that they are on this race because their husbands, unbeknownst to Lisa and Joni, sent in an audition video begging that Phil and Friends take the girls away for awhile.
9. Team Determination - Fran and Barry. I call this retired Colorado couple Team Determination because the producers are bound and determined to get an older couple to the finish line. They almost succeeded with Meredith and Gretchen, and they’re hoping that Fran and Barry’s athleticism will make the grade. Sadly, I believe this will turn out to be wishful thinking.
10. Team Sexy Tamales - Wanda and Desiree. This Atlanta team is by far the best parent/child team in race history. I detested Momily, thought the father/son set from TAR4 was bleh, wasn’t overly impressed with any of the TARFE teams, and all others have barely left an impression (Except for Jim of Jim/Marcia in TAR5 who left an impression, and half his knee, on the Santa Monica Pier). Wanda, unlike Molly Weasley, has never been a “frumpy Christmas sweater” mom.
11. Team Revenge of the Nerds - Dave and Lori. Who isn’t irresistibly drawn to a couple of cuddly geeks from Kansas who admit to in-your-face nerdiness? Lori is great at card games and Dave is great at test taking. Great. They do know that neither one of these laudable skills will actually come in handy during the race, right? I don’t think “Spades or Grades” will be a Detour.