'The Amazing Race' recap: ready, set, go!
Hold on, this is going to go fast! Which is one of the excellent things about "The Amazing Race" -- how fast it moves. So before the first commercial, we meet the 11 teams competing in the 19th season of the Emmy-winning race around the world.
1. Andy and Tommy: snowboarders, now pro, once Olympians.
2. Ethan and Jenna: both "Survivor" winners (who seem to think they can conceal that from the other players, as if competitors on one reality TV show haven't watched other reality TV shows).
3. Laurence and Zac: father and son. L.A. Times readers may recognize them as the sailing Sunderlands of Thousand Oaks -- in 2009, Zac became the youngest person to sail around the world solo (his sister Abby later tried and failed to do the same thing, after her boat was disabled by a storm in the Indian Ocean).
4. Ernie and Cindy: recently engaged.
5. Justin and Jennifer: brother and sister (who bicker).
6. Bill and Cathi: long-married grandparents who are farmers (and used to be educators).
7. Liz and Marie: twin blonds. "We don't even literally have to talk to each other," one says.
8. Jeremy and Sandy: dating now, but they don't cohabitate.
9. Ron and Bill: domestic partners who are flight attendants.
10. Marcus and Amani: a former NFL player and his wife. He is evasive about his former football career, except when he's talking to the camera, when he readily points out that he used to guard Peyton Manning.
11. Kaylanie and Lisa: former Las Vegas showgirls who look freakishly similar for people who aren't related.
Got that? It took longer to type it than it did for "The Amazing Race" to show it. The contestants are already in the middle of a madcap word puzzle with colorful paper umbrellas. The last team -- Kaylani and Lisa -- will get a new penalty called a Hazard that has to be done in this leg of the race. The teams leave from Los Angeles for Taipei, Taiwan.
If early successes can mean anything, the snowboarders are the first to finish the first task, followed by NFL man Marcus and wife Amani, then the blond twins, then Ethan and Jenna. Before they all get on the plane, word gets around that Ethan and Jenna had both won "Survivor" -- knowing that meant a million dollars each, someone calls them "greedy."
Meanwhile, Kaylani drops her passport at a gas station and she and Lisa drive away, oblivious. What could save them? Could it be a social network?
After much panicking and driving, the passport is confirmed as geniunely lost. But a passerby who was asked by another team how to get to the airport picked it up and tweeted what had happened. A fan of the show urged him to bring the passport to LAX, and he did (here's the whole story).
With Kaylani and Lisa saved, all the teams make it to Taipei -- and seem to miss the first clue, which is displaying on an electronic billboard above them. Justin (of the bickering-siblings team) is the first to figure it out, and one after another the teams head to the Taipei Confucius Temple.
Except for the two two-girl teams and the grandparents. Bill and Cathi slip deeply behind.
At the Taipei Confucius Temple, there's a roadblock that involves Twitter! No, it actually involves a totally different kind of technology: a pay phone. They have to memorize a phrase and repeat it to a monk.
Cindy is the first to finish, as the rest struggle; the Blonds have a really hard time of it. Of all the teams, Kaylani and Lisa (I think it's Lisa, but I can't yet tell them apart) and Bill and Cathi are the only ones who get it on the first try. Both need, it because Kaylani and Lisa have the Hazard penalty up ahead, and Bill and Cathi are in far, far last place.
Next up: dragon boat races, where one teammate has to be the boat's drummer and the other join the many rowers. The first three teams are Cindy and Ernie, Jeremy and Sandy, and Justin and Jennifer. It's more fun when the second set of teams come in and are racing against one another: NFL, Laurence and Zac and the snowboarders.
The Hazard turns out to be bungee jumping in a big mall. Kaylani, perhaps repentant about the whole passport fiasco, does the jump.
First to finish are Ernie and Cindy. "Control freak Cindy on the race is a pretty good teammate," Ernie admits, not exactly sweetly. Last in are grandparents Bill and Cathi, but it's a non-elimination round, so they have another chance. But next round, for the first time on "The Amazing Race," will be a double elimination. That's "The Amazing Race" -- keeping things moving.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Cast of "The Amazing Race" season 19. Credit: CBS