Category: The Amazing Race

Border agents, clown couple team up on new 'The Amazing Race'

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A pair of border agents, a married clown couple and last season's winner of CBS' "Big Brother" will be among the contestants competing in the upcoming 20th season of "The Amazing Race" premiering Feb. 19 on CBS.

The series this season will make first-time visits to Paraguay, Azerbaijan and other exotic locations. Along the way, the teams will travel five continents, 22 cities and nearly 40,000 miles.

One team will be composed of last year's winner of "Big Brother," Rachel Reilly, and her fiancé and fellow Houseguest, Brendon Villegas.

Other teams include:

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'The Amazing Race' finale recap: the best premarital counseling

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Three teams left Panama in Sunday's final episode of "The Amazing Race" knowing that by the time they reached their destination, one pair would have earned the million-dollar prize.

All teams flew to Atlanta, where Amani and Marcus live. “We’re going to the crib, baby.” says Marcus. “It’s home court advantage.” But not so fast: Marcus gets hung up on their first challenge.

With Ernie and Cindy in the lead, the teams arrive at a flight training center in Atlanta. One will pilot and the other will co-pilot the training version of a Lear Jet, a flight simulator that responds to their cockpit commands. "I wanted to be captain," says Jeremy, with the same dude-ish enthusiasm he had for racing a Mustang. "I wanted to fly that plane." They have to fly and land; Jeremy and Sandy finish first, on their first try. Ernie and Cindy land it on their second attempt. Marcus, in the pilot's seat, fails on his first try and skids off the runway on his second. This is not good.

In the lead, Jeremy and Sandy get directions to their next location: it's a former residence called "The Dump." We know that it's the home of Margaret Mitchell, where she wrote "Gone with the Wind." They don't, and when they get directions from a man in a pickup who tells them that's it's near the old Home Depot, it means a huge delay. They find The Dump: it's a large furniture store. They wander around among couches and bedroom sets, looking for a clue box that's not there.

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'The Amazing Race' recap: Trust your taxi?

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How many times, in the last episodes of "The Amazing Race," has a team lost the lead because of a taxi driver? Whether it's because they've taken a wrong turn, gotten stuck in traffic, or not driven fast enough, the wrong taxi driver can make all the difference. Seems like there is always some team staring helplessly from the back seat, wondering how, after racing around the world, it came to this. Maybe I'm a little slow, but when that happened in this episode I wondered, for the first time, how random are these taxi drivers anyway?

Four teams started out in Belgium and had to dress up in matching outfits and wander around the pre-dawn city finding out which characters they were supposed to be, from which comic. No one knew Tintin, or the Steven Spielberg 3-D version, "The Adventures of Tintin," out in time for Christmas, so they had trouble discovering they were Thomson & Thompson (alternately Johnson & Jonson and Dupont & Dupond). Andy & Tommy had the most trouble, getting Tintin right but believing they were dressed as Charlie Chaplin. Yet they all make it onto the same flight to Panama City.

The three teams that win this leg of the race will all be competing against each other in the next, final episode for the million dollars, so there's a lot of effort to avoid being last. They take a long ride in four taxis to some boats -- paddled by guides, they look like dugout canoes, but it's hard to tell because it's pitch dark. As the canoes cross a river, Jeremy & Sandy, in the lead, get stuck on a sandbar. Andy & Tommy are in first place.

They all spend the night in hammocks. In the morning, they're given tribal tattoos (temporary) in the order they arrived. Andy & Tommy are first; their next destination is a high-wire walk between two skyscrapers 35 stories above the city. They don't just have to cross it: they must cross and return. This is the kind of challenge that can stop a team in its tracks, literally. Things don't look good for Sandy, who is "terrified."

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'The Amazing Race' recap: Brought to you by Ford

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It was about the 400,000th time someone said "Ford" or "Ford Mustang" on Sunday's episode of "The Amazing Race" that I started to wonder, hmmm, could Ford be a sponsor? And yes, the Ford test-track racing was topped off by the members of the winning team each getting a Ford Mustang. More than any of the contestants, the American carmaker grabbed the spotlight in this elimination round -- even though it took place in Belgium.

Five teams are still competing: Amani and Marcus begin in first place, after checking in with Phil and learning that they'd get no rest. They get lost on the way to the Ford Proving Grounds, so Ernie and Cindy are the first to learn they have to drive 100 mph, execute a slalom and stop perfectly, then do victory doughnuts. Ernie struggles to complete the slalom in the allotted time.

Jeremy and Sandy catch up, with Jeremy waiting for Ernie to try the slalom again. Ernie finally gets it, so Jeremy -- who is having a blast -- doesn't pass him. Andy and Tommy arrive, and while Tommy is on the track, Marcus suits up. Bill and Cathi are the last to get to the track.

Andy admits that he really loves cars, almost more than snowboarding, and he's got jealousy in his heart because he let Tommy do this task. After Tommy struggled with reciting the poem in the last leg, they decided that Andy will do "the mind stuff," he says, which means that Tommy gets to wheel around the track with a huge grin on his face while Andy simmers on the sidelines. "I had to ask for forgiveness through Christ, and Christ just lifted it from me," he says. With a little help from Ford.

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'The Amazing Race' recap: From Legoland to Van Damme

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This is an episode of "The Amazing Race" in which performance matters. Five teams start out in Copenhagen, Denmark. Their first task is to find a statue of fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen, memorize a four-line poem he wrote, bike to a theater, take the stage and recite the poem with enough dramatic flair that a critic in historical costume will give his nod of approval. An incorrect or poor recitation and it's time to bike back to the statue and try again.

In this, two things can go wrong: the competing team member can get lost trying to find the theater, or he/she can recite the poem as if rattling off items at a drive-thru. Cathi and Tommy each get lost, so Amani laps them and takes the stage first, performing with panache and putting her and Marcus in the lead. Cathi's recitation goes well, but Tommy reads the poem as if it's his own death sentence and has to try again. Cindy forgets a word. Sandy is wooden her first time. Finally, everyone gets to the (approriate) last line: "To travel is to live!" and they're off  -- to Legoland.

At the original Legoland, which looks like an enormous Lego city from the air, the teams have to assemble a puzzle while on a spinning pirate ride that's a lot like Disneyland's tea cups attraction. Bill & Cathi get lost on the way. Ernie & Cindy blast through the task and are the first to leave. Next stop: Hamburg, Germany, by car.

No one loses their lunch on the spinning ride, although Jeremy & Sandy lose a puzzle piece -- it flies out when the ride starts up -- and when they finish the puzzle, they have to do the whole thing a second time. "It was absolute torture for me," Sandy later says to the camera. Oh, stop complaining -- you're on a race around the world! Take a hint from Andy & Tommy. "I was a Legomaniac as a kid so I was stoked to be there," Andy says. When they finish their puzzle, they take the last few seconds to spin their seats harder. That's the way to do it.

Or like Ernie & Cindy, who are four hours ahead of everyone. They get to Hamburg and discover they need to buy train tickets to Brussels, Belgium, traveling through Cologne, Germany. Apparently everyone will be on the same 12:30 a.m. train. As they walk away, Cindy drops their connecting tickets -- a mistake caught only by the camera. Later, they realize the tickets are gone and can't find them (I guess they're not allowed to ask the camera operator). So yeah, maybe don't do it like Ernie & Cindy, who can't afford new tickets and can't figure out a way to prove they'd bought them already -- Cindy is upset, convinced their race will be over in Cologne.

 

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'The Amazing Race' recap: Did you see those bunny rabbits?

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"The Amazing Race" has gotten down to few enough teams that the pack shifts a lot during the course of a single leg. Deciding which task to do can make a huge difference, and if one team doesn't quite understand a clue, it might slip behind when it retraces the 400-plus steps up the side of a grand old church to try to figure out what it got wrong.

Pictured above, Andy & Tommy climb that church, in Copenhagen. The snowboarders got the clues right, but Jeremy & Sandy weren't so lucky. After misinterpreting the clue and bumbling around the city, they went back and climbed all those stairs again. Their return was so late that they bumped into Marcus & Amani. The former NFL star and his wife were hours behind all the other teams in traveling from Malawi to Denmark. We saw several shots of them snoozing in the airport as Laurence & Zac flew to London and then Copenhagen, landing first, and the other teams traveled through Amsterdam. As the other contestants raced through airports and streets, Marcus & Amani slept; they only realized they were behind when there were no other contestants on their plane.

Marcus & Amani would be toast if Jeremy & Sandy weren't so inclined to getting lost. When they do well, they do very well -- and then they go way off track. Marcus & Amani have a chance.

The teams must find a palace and have one team member dress in a Renaissance costume and learn how to do a period dance. Laurence & Zac and Ernie & Cindy are the first two teams. "Normally I don’t wear tights," Ernie says, as Cindy jumps up and down with glee about his dancing. "I had to get shown how to dance by a weird-looking man in tights," Zac says. "Not one of my proud moments." What's the problem here, Zac? The wierd-looking part? The dancing? Dancing with a man? A man in tights?

Bill & Cathi arrive; she dances. Of the snowboarders, Andy dances, and he's such a quick study his teacher thinks he's done this before.

As the dancers are learning their steps, the other halves of their teams chat. Cindy asks Bill how he and Cathi met. He tells her they met in middle school when he was 13 and Cathi was 12, and they stayed together for eight years and married when she graduated from college. So sweet! Cindy tells him that she and Ernie met in a bar. Overachiever Cindy is starting to look more human.

Ernie finishes dancing first. "You killed it," Cindy tells him. "Cathi was right on your tail, though." Ernie asks, "What about Zac?" We'd seen Zac fail in his first dancing attempt. "No, Zac has zero dancing skills," Cindy says confidently.

Jeremy & Sandy arrive as the snowboarders are leaving, and ask if they're last. Nope, Zac is still trying to get the dancing done. Zac finishes while Sandy learns the steps. After getting lost in remote-looking fields, Marcus & Amani show up. Sandy leaves, and in last place, Amani dances with the most style -- she makes it look like fun.

Ernie & Cindy arrive first at the next challenge, and must choose whether to churn butter or race bunnies through a steeplechase course. Spooked by their problems with sheep, they choose the butter. If only they could see how cute the racing bunnies are! They're the first to finish the task, and find upon finishing that there's a double U-Turn. Ernie & Cindy, the first to arrive, decide they'll U-Turn one of the other teams.

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'Amazing Race' recap: Tippy canoe

"The Amazing Race" in Malawi
The teams competed in Malawi, and the show started with the traditional sense of warmth and displacement of African Americans dealing with the idea of being in Africa. It wasn't quite Goree Island, but Marcus mused about the landscape during their initial long cab ride.

In the first challenge, one team member had to pilot a bike taxi carrying a passenger, in turn carrying a couple of fresh fish, to a destination. The bikes were tricky to balance, and Cathi had a hard time getting started. Sandy and Laurence found they were heading to the same destination, so they teamed up but ended up going out of their way. Cindy, in first place, complained. "This is nuts, I don't know what these kids are doing not in school," she said, adding, "No one seems to speak English." Andy's bike fell apart along the way, but he managed to complete the task. Jennifer almost didn't -- she had left her clue back with her brother, Justin, and waited for the next contestant to come along so she could find out what to do next. She waited. And waited. She seemed to have forgotten the "race" part.

Apropos of nothing, we found out that Justin is gay and his sister was the first one in the family he came out to. Random revelation? I think Justin and Jennifer are in trouble.

Next, the teams headed to Lake Malawi, which we learned has the most species of fish of any lake in the world. Ernie and Cindy followed by Andy and Tommy came over a hill to a grand vista of the enormous sparkling lake with mountains in the distance. Everyone was impressed. At the lake, they either had to canoe a traditional race course or wade through the water and unload a ferryboat -- carrying things and people on their shoulders.

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'Amazing Race' recap: Africa, tobacco and a smile

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Malawi looks like a really pleasant place. The warehouse workers get to wear teal jumpsuits — did you hear, teal is the color for fall? — and they clap and sing at work. Regular people, who often carry things around on their heads, are good-looking and calm. The little children at school are perfect and adorable. Smiling ladies in cool purple dresses sing a welcome to reality television contestants when they finally check in at their destination.

Sometimes, "The Amazing Race" feels a teensy too much like a promotional tourist video.

In this leg, the contestants leave Thailand and travel in the same plane across the Indian Ocean to Malawi in Southern Africa. When they reach the capital, Lilongwe, they must go to a warehouse for tobacco, the small country's main export. There, one orange-clad team member must move ten 200-pound bags of tobacco on a handcart through an obstacle course of singing and clapping staff members in teal jumpsuits.

En route, Cathi makes conversation with the taxi driver. "We love your country already; it is very spacious," she says slowly and loudly in that awkward way of trying to communicate with someone who speaks another language. That comment, by the way, became the title for this episode.

The work, although physically difficult, goes relatively quickly for Jeremy and Justin and Ernie, and also for Laurence and Tommy. It's kind of fun to watch, if seeing dozens of guys joyously jumping around bales of raw carcinogens can be fun. But the taxis carrying Amani & Marcus and Bill & Cathi get caught in traffic as the other teams labor. Cathi, perhaps, continues to make awkward conversation during the wait. Of the last two teams to get to the tobacco warehouse, oldster Bill somehow manages to finish before former NFL star Marcus. Really? Is Marcus OK?

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'The Amazing Race' recap: God's will

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If you wanted to know why snowboarders Andy & Tommy have been winning so many legs of this season's "The Amazing Race," they have the answer for you this episode. "It's God's will," says Andy. "God's always there with us, and he's going to help us," Tommy says, explaining how they overcame a mistake.

The teams are in Thailand, where they must first take an elephant ride upriver. Everyone enjoys the elephant ride, except Sandy, who complains to Jeremy that she's scared, and Marcus, who looks like his size is going to drag his seat right off the elephant. Five of the teams get into an elephant jam on the narrow riverbank. Twins Liz & Marie, who escaped elimination last episode, have a roadblock: They must wash and clean up after the elephants before taking their ride. Good thing the twins LOVE ELEPHANTS! They squeal that they LOVE ELEPHANTS SO MUCH! "Hi, I love you!" they cheer while elephant washing. When shoveling elephant poop, they even say, "It doesn't smell!"

The elephant ride takes them to a stopping point where one team member must go to a waterfall and pond and look for a clue near a traditional Thai floutists. There are bundles in the pond, and everyone finds them quickly. Inside, they find directions to their next task: disassemble a small shrine called a Spirit House and take it to a Buddhist temple.

The directions don't say they'll have to reassemble the complex shrine when they get it to its destination. But they do.

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'The Amazing Race' recap: A day at the beach

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The lesson of the latest episode of "The Amazing Race" is snowboarders can do just about anything, but don't let them buy you a plane ticket.

As the teams left Indonesia for Phuket, Thailand, snowboarders Andy and Tommy, in first place, wanted to help out Laurence and Zac, in second, because they'd worked together on the previous challenge. So they figured out at the airport which tickets to buy, and redirected the father-son team to the proper counter.

Except they were wrong.

The six remaining teams beat the two leaders to Thailand. Soon a taxi race ensued, with oldsters Bill and Cathi scoring the most aggressive taxi driver, who waved a tattooed hand in glee each time they passed another team. Bill and Cathi needed the boost, because each time they face a physically taxing detour, they fall behind.

The destination is a beach, accessed by speedboats. Thailand's blue-green water looks pretty fantastic, and the contestants all seem to be enjoying their speedboat dash across the stunning watery landscape. But even with the wind in their faces, Justin and Jennifer manage to keep bickering. "We're the king of the world!" she jokes, referencing the movie "Titanic," and/or James Cameron's speech to the Academy after winning the Oscar. Justin groans and says he wished she hadn't said that. He's right, but then again, someone was bound to.

On the beach, the detour is to set up beach chairs and umbrellas for a beach club, or to construct a coral nursery and plant it out in the water. Three teams opt for the beach chairs; five want to help the planet and decide on the coral. Maybe they're just struck by the beauty of the moment, because the coral sounds really hard.

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'Amazing Race' recap: Cooperate for the Buddha

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When it comes to the Buddha, the competitors on “The Amazing Race” find themselves teaming up across enemy lines. So it was in Indonesia, when they got to the stunning Borobudur temple and had to count the number of Buddhas in certain positions. Starting with the first two to arrive -- Laurence (whose son Zac waited on the sidelines) and snowboarder Tommy (with teammate Andy waiting) -- everyone had to work together to figure out the task and then get it right.

Everyone, that is, except for oldster Bill, who managed it solo, proving that he and wife Cathi may be the smartest team in the race. Then again, after they finished the task, they didn’t seem to notice the other teams pulling ahead of them -- maybe they’re not so smart.

Cathi had difficulties at the detour, where she slipped and fell over and over running across rice paddies. The teams had to either plant 300 rice seedlings or feed and water sheep. That was a lot of seedlings, but the sheep were stubborn -- Amelia and Marcus picked theirs up and carried them -- so they seemed, at least in the editing, to take about the same amount of time.

The episode started with each team taking a bicycle ride with a leisurely Dutch-influenced bicycle patrol, wearing snappy khaki uniforms with their names embroidered on them. I wonder if they get to keep the outfits? Snowboarders Andy and Tommy, in first place, popped wheelies and did tricks. Not everyone had as much fun. “Today is a good day to focus on the positives,” says Justin, who has been bickering with his sister Jennifer. She promptly smashes into a fence. And Ernie and Cindy hit even bigger trouble.

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'The Amazing Race' recap: Survivors expire

Ethanjenna Two former "Survivor" champs failed to make it past the second episode of this season's "The Amazing Race" Sunday, proving that it's the toughest reality show on TV. Either that or no matter what else you've accomplished, you really ought to read the small print when doing a reality TV competition.

It was missing a small detail that put Ethan and Jenna too close to the back of the pack in an episode that promised the show's first double elimination.

The teams were fairly close for most of the episode, all traveling on the same flight and then the same overnight train from Taipei to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. There, there was much spelunking. One member of each team had to descend by rope 160 feet into a natural, very dark cave, retrieve a mask and knife, and then climb out on a rope ladder.

First, however, oldsters Bill & Cathi -- who the other players are affectionately calling "Ma and Paw" -- had to complete a roadblock. Maybe the show's going easy on them: they just had to untangle a rope, which Bill joked was just like unknotting Christmas lights.

Bill & Cathi escaped elimination last time, but seemed to flip their luck this episode, trading off the lead spot with Ernie & Cindy.

After the cave, the teams either had to dance in the street in a Javanese costume or park motorbikes for tips. While making the wrong choice can often mean curtains for a team, the two tip-earning tasks wrapped up in about the same amount of time.

Once completed, teams had to take tips to an orphanage. Once there, they were supposed to give not just the tips but also the rest of their cash to the orphanage -- a detail that was easily missed by teams rushing to make it to the next pit stop.

The first three teams to arrive at the orphanage -- Ernie & Cindy, Bill & Cathi, and blonde twins Liz & Marie -- all miss the donation note. Host Phil Keoghan sends each team back, one by one, to the orphanage before they can check in. When Cindy learns that she missed the note, she starts crying about her problems, which at this moment amount to not coming in first in this round of a reality show. The orphans' problems? They don't seem to be weighing on her mind.

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