'The Amazing Race': For whom the bell tolls
Adversity is the name of the game on "The Amazing Race" and producers throw all manner of obstacles at our racers to overcome, but none of these are as destructive as the contestants second-guessing themselves and, well, misreading the clues.
This week found the teams jetting off to the Netherlands, where they had to engage in a series of eccentric behaviors, from cross-dressing and stripping down to their underwear to counting bells and eating raw herring. Fortunately, no one attempted to force anyone down a slide for a million dollars this week, making it a relatively calm leg without any tantrums or shoving.
In fact, with Mika and Canaan out of the race, things seemed pretty quiet all around, other than Ericka's constant screeching at her husband Brian and her tears while attempting numerous times to count the bells at a church outside Amsterdam. Repeat attempts at various roadblocks and detours seemed to be a recurring theme this week; not only did Ericka make effort after effort, but Maria and Tiffany (left) also found themselves switching back and forth between two different detours several times over.
The professional poker players should have had this leg in the bag, given the help they received at the church from the brothers (who took the opportunity during some downtime at the airport to come out to their fellow racers). I've expressed my opposition to alliances on the Race several times in the past; here it was extremely grating as Dan simply gave Tiffany the answer on her way up the stairs. I get that you guys are working together but COME ON. There's helping out your competitors and then there's handing them solutions on a silver platter.
Ericka, meanwhile, spent two hours wandering about the church tower and repeatedly ended up short of the 62 bells she needed to count; I have to give her husband Brian credit for remaining not only calm but supremely supportive towards his panicked wife. It was a pleasant change of pace compared to Canaan's behavior with Mika last week. The duo faced other problems later as well, as they failed to read their clue correctly and ended up walking in wooden clogs for miles rather than taking bikes.
But it was Maria and Tiffany who had the most difficulty this week. Unable to ring the bell of the strength-tester (in order to get into the dancing detour) after 71 attempts, they then switched back to the golfing detour (their original choice) but couldn't complete that challenge either. In fact, they were out there for so long that Phil himself came to them as it didn't appear likely that they'd ever finish ... and they withdrew from the race.
I really liked Tiffany (Maria, on the other hand, was pretty useless this whole time) and she did try her best with the strength-tester, even if she couldn't quite get the weight to hit the top. And, despite their tears, the poker players did remain fairly calm instead of freaking out, so I have to give them that.
How awesome were the Globetrotters this week? After falling behind, they quickly rallied, donned some hysterical costumes, and nailed that dancing challenge without breaking a sweat ... even as they turned green with the prospect of eating that herring. I'm also extremely glad that Ericka and Brian managed to avoid elimination, even after incurring a 30-minute penalty for not following their clue properly.
All in all, a fun episode that was far less controversial than last week and demonstrated some truly impressive support and teamwork from several individuals. What more can you ask for from "The Amazing Race"?
What did you think of this week's episode? Sad that Maria and Tiffany are out? Concerned that Cheyne and Meghan are winning (or coming close to winning) several legs now? Who do you think will take home the top prize? Head over to the comments section to weigh in.
-- Jace Lacob (Follow my musings on television, food, and more television on Twitter at @televisionary)
Photo: My-my-my poker face: Maria and Tiffany lay down their cards on "The Amazing Race." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS