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The Amazing Race: Donkeys Have Souls, Too (season premiere)

by Jackie Schnoop, posted Nov 4th 2007 10:05PM
The Amazing Race is back!(S12E01) Yes, it's that time already! Despite occasional teams who have irked me to no end, The Amazing Race has always been my favorite reality television show. I love the whirlwind travel around the world and peeking at places I'll probably never be able to visit in my own lifetime.

The pace can be amazing; the countrysides and cityscapes can be amazing, too. I find I learn from this show as I'm always tempted to research a bit after seeing an episode. The season premiere turned out to be no exception to the rule. It's off to a good start and, so far, I enjoy most of the teams. Those teams I don't care for ... heh ...

I'm just about as satisfied as I can be with the start of this season. Although it's a California-heavy cast as I mentioned previously, it's not all models and Hollywood-wannabes. We went through a few seasons of that and I'm glad casting stepped away from it a bit. Oh, there are a few teams who fit that mold, but more teams who don't ... or even march to the beat of a different drummer.

Kynt and Vyxsin of The Amazing Race 12

By far, the "different drummer" team who marches to the most unusual drummer (for this show) might be Goth couple Kynt and Vyxsin. After watching the show, these two surprised me by working their way onto my list of favorite teams. They've got spunk, they're smart, and they're more determined than one might think. They're also not mean to other teams, nor to each other. They might not always be up there on my list, but right now I hope they stick around for a long while.

I suppose I should talk about the race a bit before I get into my other team likes and dislikes. Or, better yet, I'll praise or fuss about the teams as I go along! Yeah, that'll do it!

I liked those classic cars the teams drove to the Playboy Mansion to start off the race, but the Playboy Mansion? Huh? Why? I guess I should be happy we didn't have to suffer through an appearance of an aged Hugh Hefner and his stable of Bunnies on Demand.

From there it was off to LAX and then trying to get flights to Ireland. As per the usual Amazing Race practice, not all teams could catch the first flight. Also, as it rather typically goes, several teams made a wrong turn heading to the airport following one team who went the wrong way. When will they ever learn not to follow? More rare, but as we've seen sometimes in the past -- the first flight doesn't necessarily mean a delay won't happen which causes the later flight to arrive first. Ah, yes, the first shall be last, it's always a gamble.

Ari and Staella stole one taxiThe father and daughter team, Ron and Christina, thought to borrow someone's cell phone on the plane to call ahead for cabs for themselves and the brother/sister team of Azaria and Hendekea with whom they had bonded a bit. Then that nasty Ari of Ari and Staella stole one of the cabs after Ari told us, "Karma's a bitch, but I'm a bigger bitch."

How dare they! The taxi driver didn't seem too pleased with them, either. He let Ron and Christina's taxi pass them. Good. But karma wasn't done with little Mr. Smarty Mouth Ari, not by a long shot. As the show continued, Ari just kept building up those bad karma points which ended up making me feel this was one of the most satisfying ever conclusions to a leg of the race.

The teams had to go to take ferries separated into three half-hour separated departure times to get their next clue at Inis Mór. From there they went to the Teampall Bheanain -- the ruins of the smallest church in the world. It measures just 10.75 feet by 7 feet.

Once they picked up their clues there they rested and took a similar ferry process back to the mainland to get their next clue. The best line as they headed for the ferry belongs to Vyxsin -- "Two fairies getting on a ferry!" She was referring to herself and Kynt, of course.

It was off to the Cleggan Farm where the teams had to ride tandem bikes to what I think is the coolest Roadblock ever. In the tandem bike segment, I found yet another reason to like Kynt and Vyxsin. Immediately after starting the rocky trail on the bike, their chain broke. Instead of fussing, whining, or fighting, they just quickly decided to pick up the bike and run with it rather than to lose time. Oh, to the roadblock ...

Nathan, Jennifer, Kynt, and Vyxsin on high-wire bikes over the bay
Yes, it's high-wire bikes over the bay! I don't think I'd want to be the pedaler in this "Who's ready to pedal for your partner?" challenge, but this whole thing looks so darn exciting and fun! One team member pedaled a bike across while the other member rode 8 feet below.

Once the teams completed the Roadblock (which all the teams really seemed to enjoy), the teams had to do Donkey Walk. Now, it's pretty much as it sounds. The teams had to load 15 pieces of peat, which actually looked like donkey doo, in baskets on a donkey and walk said donkey to the farm. It's easier said than done.

Staella and Ari with a reluctant donkeyAnd it brings that old karma thing right on back to Ari. As Christina said, "Donkeys have souls, too." Ari was nasty and mean to his donkey, threatening to cut him up and eat him, even. Now, I don't think the donkey understood, of course. But with animals, they do react accordingly to treatment. If you're not nice to an animal, chances are it will balk at doing something for you.

Other teams had some fantastic success with moving along their donkeys. Azaria and Hendekea even got one who wanted to run all the way to the farm and they had trouble keeping up with the donkey!

Another team had horrible woes with their donkey and I didn't feel all that sorry for them. I don't like bickering couples on the show especially when they mistreat each other. I hate high-pitched whining for the sake of whining. Yeah, I'm talking about Jennifer and Nathan. As their donkey stopped dead in its tracks and refused to budge while other teams went on by, it would have been great if Nathan stole a line from Colin (TAR5) and yelled, "My ass is broken!" That, of course, would be in lieu of Colin's "my ox is broken."

In the end, the finishing order at the Connemara Heritage Centre Pit Stop went down like this:
  1. Azaria and Hendekea - they also won a trip to Alberta, Canada
  2. Kynt and Vyxsin
  3. TK and Rachel
  4. Lorena and Jason
  5. Nicolas and Donald
  6. Shana and Jennifer
  7. Ron and Christina
  8. Kate and Pat
  9. Julia and Marianna
  10. Jennifer and Nathan
  11. Eliminated -- Ari and Staella. Karma came back to kick their ass, good.
Azaria and Hendekea at the Pit Stop
My quick takes on the teams after watching the premiere:
  • Azaria and Hendekea: I like these two, but I was put off by Azaria thinking he's smarter than anyone else.
  • Kynt and Vyxsin: As mentioned before, they have grown on me. They're good racers and, as a dating couple, they don't fight.
  • TK and Rachel: What I saw of these two, I liked. They didn't bicker.
  • Lorena and Jason: I can take or leave these two at the moment. They bicker some, but not horribly.
  • Nicolas and Donald: I definitely want to see more of these two, but don't know how far they'll make it.
  • Shana and Jennifer: Who? Oh, the blondes. I'm neither impressed or unimpressed.
  • Ron and Christina: I like them. I loved Ron dancing around asking "Who's your daddy" after the high-wire bike. I also liked how they teamed up a bit with Azaria and Hendekea.
  • Kate and Pat: We didn't really see a lot of these two. They go in my take or leave department file.
  • Julia and Marianna: Again, a team we didn't see a lot of during the premiere. It's too early to judge whether I like them or not.
  • Jennifer and Nathan: As far as I'm concerned, they can be eliminated next. Mean to each other when times are rough, all lovey-dovey when times are good. And, he's nasty to donkeys.
So ... what did you think of the premiere? Have you any favorite teams coming out of the gate? Am I alone in being very surprised in liking Kynt and Vyxsin when I thought they'd fall on their faces before I watched them? One very interesting item to note -- despite advance information, apparently three legs of the eleven will indeed be non-eliminations. When Phil started the race, he told the teams that there will be eleven Pit Stops, eight of which will be eliminations. That sounds like non-elim legs to me.

Have you a favorite team based on the premiere?
No, no favorite yet96 (18.0%)
Yes, Lorena and Jason7 (1.3%)
Yes, Azaria and Hendekea64 (12.0%)
Yes, Kynt and Vyxsin147 (27.5%)
Yes, TK and Rachel70 (13.1%)
Yes, Donald and Nicolas28 (5.2%)
Yes, Kate and Pat10 (1.9%)
Yes, Marianna and Julia4 (0.7%)
Yes, Jennifer and Nathan3 (0.6%)
Yes, Shana and Jennifer6 (1.1%)
Yes, Ron and Christina57 (10.7%)
I just like looking at Phil Keoghan42 (7.9%)

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I've known Azaria for about 10 years now and i got to say, he is probably the smartest guy i have ever met. As far as the relationship with him and his sister, you just have to know his personality... he's very close with his family and not in a "gross" way. All of his friends call him "A-Z", fyi.

November 09 2007 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the same thing, hafoc1, that there would be 3 points at which Phil would say, the leg isn't finished, keep racing, instead of having a non-elim leg. I guess that's all right, although I always did like the non-elim leg when a team I liked was in last. The problem is that usually that team was doomed regardless, either the time penelty was too much to overcome, or they were just raced-out. It's probably just as well this way.

Unlike a lot of you, just about all the teams annoyed me some. They're all just so damn peppy & eager to start the race! Don't they realize hard hard it's going to be and how much heartache they are in for? (Just joking, sort of.) I'm sure there will be some team that I come to like. There usually are. The scenery is always good, though.

November 06 2007 at 5:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was thinking the same thing as hafoc1 regarding the continuation legs. It does fit with the earlier reveal that there wouldn't be any non-elimination legs.

I love dad & daughter, and grandpa & grandson. Hope they both stick around for awhile.

As for the brother and sister- I am so with all of you. My wife actually pulled an "ewww" at the beginning when they showed the bro jumping on top of his sister after playing soccer or whatever. A little wierd. They seem nice enough, just a bit off.

November 05 2007 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Couldn't they at least have ONE token 'happily married' couple in the race ? Isn't that a reasonable expectation ? JMHO..."

There are. They are the lesbians. I think they said they were married.

November 05 2007 at 7:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

The problem with all-male teams (or at least young all-male teams - known in fan parlance as "alpha male" teams is that they tend to win a disproportion at number of seasons, as do heterosexual married couples. Of nine races (not counting Family Edition or the All Star season) alpha male teams have won five, and straight married couples have won three (TAR 3 was won by Zach & Flo, or more accurately Zach & whiny dead weight). That may be why there are no alpha males or married couples this season.

November 05 2007 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unless I missed it, I don't think there is a single married couple in this race...

To me, TAR is about normal people given outstanding challenges. This set of people seems to stray far from the 'normal' category.

Couldn't they at least have ONE token 'happily married' couple in the race ? Isn't that a reasonable expectation ? JMHO...

November 05 2007 at 5:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's funny that this Amazing Race there are no two male teams. The only one they have is the grandfather and grandson but there are no two young male teams as they have had every other season. I assume its because they always win and they want other people to have a chance.
I don't like Hendekea. She started off wrong but telling her brother to take a right and wouldn't like him turn around even after he saw other teams turning left to go to the airport. But it turned out better for them since they missed the first plane which ended up leaving after the second plane.
Lorena and Jason look interesting. She will freak out everytime since he won't listen to her. I do like the Goth team and I like TK and Rachel.

November 05 2007 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't forget about the two Jennifers (of Nathan & Jennifer and Shana & Jennifer). Even the show editors got confused. At one point last night, when Shana & Jennifer were in last place, the on-screen graphic said that Nathan & Jennifer were in last place. Sorta hard to confuse Nathan and Shana, don'tcha think?

November 05 2007 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love the Goth team - they are good to each other and those around them. I hope they win it all. I am glad that Ari and Staella are gone, because Ari is a bitch and not a good way. A gay guy can call himself a bitch and have the term actually be enduring, where Ari was just an ass!

The brother and sister team, Azaria and Hendekea kind of creep me out. Is it just me but there seems to be a weird connection which to borders on incestuous. I know, sounds gross - but they are just off. I could see him saying "My sister is hot." and mean it.

Grandpa and Grandson - hope they last awhile. Same for the Father and Daughter and the Lesbian Ministers. The Dating teams are the same as always - either hatin' on each other too much or lovey dovey to the point of nausea.

November 05 2007 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am ecstatic that my fave reality show is back on! Based on first impressions, I'm really liking Kynt and Vyxsin - nice to each other and the other teams, and no whining when they had some bad luck. I'm rooting for them from now on!

November 05 2007 at 9:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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