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'The Amazing Race': Luck be a lady

December 7, 2009 |  8:17 am

Amazingrace_finale
Eight countries. 21 days. More than 25,000 miles. One winning team.

To say that this season of "The Amazing Race" brought the drama is a bit of an understatement. We saw siblings squabble, a former beauty queen throw tantrums (repeatedly, no less), pro poker players lose their cool, a musclebound lawyer do his best Hulk impression, brothers bicker again and again (yes, they earn a second mention) and the tragic elimination of a beloved team due to a missing passport. 

As always, the race came down to a single leg to decide the ultimate victors, a leg in which, rather miraculously, all of the teams managed to board the same transatlantic flight and remain almost neck and neck all the way to the finish line, where a cool $1 million and an eyebrow-raise from host Phil Keoghan awaited one team.

Fortunately, the ultimate victor of "The Amazing Race" didn't come down to who could eat a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza the fastest (remember that?) but to a series of challenges that not only fit in with the Vegas setting (everything from Cirque du Soleil to Wayne Newton) but also forced them to keep their heads every step of the way.

So which team won? And who got left in the dust on the Strip? Let's dive in.

Let's be honest: This was Meghan and Cheyne's race to lose, really. They had proved themselves the most competitive and successful team out of everyone thus far this season, and, going into the final leg, I think even they knew that they had the most at stake. 

Personally, I would have been fine with anyone winning the race so long as it wasn't Sam and Dan, who continued their streak this week of driving me up the wall and making me want to rip off my ears after having to listen to their nonstop verbal assault at each and every route marker. There have been teams before on "The Amazing Race" that I've loved to hate, but I can't even say that about the brothers. 

Leaving behind the beauty of Prague, the final three teams jetted off to Las Vegas, the site of the final pit stop, on the same flight. I had a feeling that the producers would pull some strings to ensure a race to the finish line with all three teams in the running because, really, there isn't much drama when one falls so far behind. (Remind me: Was it in the first season when a team was actually 24 hours behind the winner?)

Poor Ericka had her ups and downs this week. I was super-impressed with the way that she managed to rappel down the facade of the Mandalay Bay. Face first, no less. (Husband Brian was terrified of heights, but so was Cheyne, who performed the Road Block with his eyes closed.) But while Ericka dazzled with her fearless attitude here, a later challenge led to her having a complete and utter mental breakdown as she was trussed up in a Cirque du Soleil bungee harness attempting to grab a bouquet of flowers. Although I've liked watching Brian and Ericka, the sight of her screaming her head off and sobbing profusely left me wondering if there was any way that they still had a shot at winning the grand prize.

But Meghan and Cheyne made one HUGE error. Or make that two. One was not knowing where in the world Monaco was (or make that "Moe-na-co" as Sam pronounced it) and listening to their taxi driver when he said that the most famous casino in Monaco was the Venetian. (They also nearly listened to someone who told them that Monaco was in Spain. Um, the principality is, in fact, located between France and Italy.) It was an error that let the brothers get ahead of them and make their way to the Monte Carlo.

Viewers might remember how, earlier this season, Sam and Dan had trouble with a challenge that forced them to determine the value of gold, based on a fluctuating currency exchange rate. While the numbers weren't changing, counting still proved to be an issue for Sam and Dan as they had to count out $1 million in  poker chips. Fortunately, Meghan and Cheyne were able to catch up ... and pass the whiny brothers.

Whew.

Not sure why Wayne Newton told Sam and Dan who he was (the look of confusion and bewilderment on their faces was priceless) as it would have been so hysterical to have seen them wandering around the Strip attempting to find Mr. Vegas' home ... without knowing his name. 

Some tight editing made it seem as though it would come down to a footrace between Meghan and Cheyne and Sam and Dan, but that wasn't the case at all as Meghan and Cheyne made it to the finish line with some time to spare. 

As I said earlier, I would have been happy if the perennially perky Meghan and Cheyne won or Brian and Ericka, so long as Sam and Dan didn't walk away millionaires. But I have to say that I'm happy it was these two who won the grand prize. They played a good game, were extremely competitive but didn't (except for that one time with the Globetrotters) get caught up in mean-spiritedness or sink to underhanded dirty gamesmanship to win. In other words: They raced and they kept their eyes on the prize.

What did you think of this season of "The Amazing Race"? Did the right team win? Am I too hard on the brothers? Head to the comments section to discuss.

-- Jace Lacob (Follow my musings on television, food, and more television on Twitter at @televisionary)

Photo: All of this season's teams gather at the finish line on "The Amazing Race." Credit: CBS

Related:
'The Amazing Race': A Kafkaesque evening in Prague
'The Amazing Race': Slip and Slide

Complete 'Amazing Race' coverage on Showtracker 

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