An "Amazing" Return
Okay, I'll admit it up front: I gave up on CBS's "The Amazing Race," which is probably the most realistic portrait of travel hell on television, a few seasons ago when somebody came up with the bright idea to include families in the competition. The result was a tedious slog through (mainly) North America.
But, people, I'm here to tell you that if you've never watched the show, now would be a good time to begin. Sunday at 8 p.m., the "Race" begins anew, with a rogues' gallery of previous seasons' standouts. I'm usually anti-all-star editions of shows, but this should be an interesting spectacle.
If you're not familiar with the show, teams of players race from one point on the globe to another, following clues and accomplishing tasks (hang-gliding over a waterfall, navigating an obstacle course on a camel, eating disgusting stuff in large quantities, etc.) as they go along. The last team to arrive at that day's pit stop is eliminated. (Well, mostly. Annoyingly, sometimes the last team is spared, apparently to increase the number of episodes.)
I always tape the show (sorry, I'm in a non-TiVo zone) and watch it later, skipping over some of the tasks in favor of the actual travel portions. Delayed flights, cabbies who can't communicate, rush-hour traffic -- they've all done in even the smartest teams. Pity the poor person who can't read a map, or doesn't realize that they're putting diesel fuel into a gas engine. (It's happened before, and the camera always makes sure to pan down to the "GAS ONLY" sign on the car as the idiot is pumping in diesel.) The fighting among the couples alone is worth it. Who can't relate to squabbling with your better half or best friend after being crammed onto a bus for 10 hours or finding an attraction you have to visit closed?
At the very least, "Race" offers some good ideas on how to travel in out-of-the-way places. (I think it was Oswald and Danny, included in the new season, who finally figured out that going into a Western hotel like a Hilton is a good way to find some English-speaking advice-givers). And you get a nice, often chilling overview of the world's airports and transportation systems.
I'm rooting for Charla and Myrna, a team from Towson, Md., who appeared in Season 5. Who can forget when Charla, all four feet of her, slung a giant slab of meat over her shoulder when her whiny cousin Myrna was about to give up the chase? Actually, I'll be happy with anyone who wins, as long as it's not Rob and Amber, the off-putting "Survivor" transplants who skeezed up Season 7.
Travel is bad enough without having to contend with those two.
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