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

November 21, 2011 |  8:39 am


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.


But it's not! They manage to make the switch as stowaways. Stowaways traveling with 10 other people and their camera crews and lights. Sneaky.

In Brussels, both members of the teams must change into tiny orange bathing suits, grease themselves up with fake tan, and perform 12 bodybuilder poses in a routine that is judged by three enormous bodybuilders. Bodybuilder/actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is from Brussels, and the city is making the most of it.

Bill & Cathi are the first to arrive. "Our kids are just going to die when they see us in this little clothing," says Cathi, resigned to the indgnity of it. "I'm going to die. So it's going to be a family death."

Marcus explains that the fake tan "shows off the cuts." That would be of the muscles that, say, a pro football player has. The rest of the contestants, not so much.

"I"m going to teach you a posing routine," declares a very muscle-y lady with a very deep voice. Performing here includes hitting poses exactly, moving fluidly between them, and smiling like a maniac all the while.

Amani insists they practice until they're ready, saying she only wants to do this once. They have to go on stage in front of the judges and a small crowd applauding and/or booing, just to add to their discomfort level. Teams try and fail.

Amani & Marcus take the stage with their trainer and are the first to get through the routine with a high enough score. Tan, scantily-clad competitors watch and learn.

Ernie & Cindy score high enough on their second try. Andy & Tommy take two tries but score too low; it's the first athletic competition in which the snowboarders haven't excelled. Bill & Cathi take a try and have a very low score. Jeremy & Sandy's physical attractiveness finally pays off and they get through on their first try.

Meanwhile, Amani & Marcus, in the lead, are the first to reach the pit stop. Phil, with a twinkle in his eye, checks them in, tells them about the trip they've won from Travelocity, and then ... sends them off! The pit stop is just a stop. They're still racing.

And that's where it ends. Ernie & Cindy and Jeremy & Sandy are done with the bodybuilding task, but haven't yet reached the pit stop. Bill & Cathi are facing Andy & Tommy in the bodybuilding performance. I guess they're trying to keep things moving so people remember to watch "The Amazing Race" in their post-Thanksgiving fog.


"The Amazing Race" recap: Getting exciting

"The Amazing Race" recap: Tippy canoe

"The Amazing Race" recap: Africa, tobacco and a smile

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Marcus, left, and Amani perform their routine with a bodybuilder, center. Credit: CBS