Pop Culture Junkette

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Gnomes Run Amuck

As the other junkettes (and one junkie) know, I'm a little shy about posting but I do love The Amazing Race . . . . By popular demand (read: goading), therefore, here are my thoughts on Episode 4:

At the beginning of this episode, I found it refreshing to have the teams spread out naturally over three different flights from Moscow to Frankfurt, spanning around 12 hours. While there was some inevitable bunching at the Mercedes Benz factory, those who caught the earlier flights to Frankfurt didn't lose their leads in the morning. I hate it when teams make an enormous effort to catch a flight or train or bus only to have all the other teams meet up with them at the next clue because the park, museum, building, factory, etc. doesn't open for another 8 hours. I realize you need bunching to make it more exciting but that's one of the benefits of the pit stops.

I really did feel badly that Yolanda and Ray were not allowed on the earlier flight with BJ and Tyler. I'm not sure anything they could have said to that woman would have changed her mind, but I would have liked to have seen a little more of an effort made. I think Yolanda and Ray are such a solid team but sometimes they're just either too timid or too passive. I'd love for them to attack the Race a bit more aggressively.

I thought the Mercedes Benz "challenge" was just okay. Interesting to watch, but not exactly challenging. Far more challenging, apparently, was driving from the factory to the next clue. [As an aside, I wonder if the producers mandated a speed limit for the teams on the Auto Bahn? Let me just say that if I was in the Race and my partner was driving a Mercedes for 200 miles on the Auto Bahn, you know he would be trying to see what the car could do. . . .] What I can't believe is that the Double Ds just blindly followed Wanda and Desiree. I can imagine following someone who's been doing really well on the Race thus far, but following the team who has been in close to last place the entire time, did not seem like a smart move. I guess it goes to show how little they thought of their own ability to navigate that they kept with W&D for so long. I have to confess, I don't think it's looking too good for the Double Ds right now. My Dad will be gutted when they're eliminated.

And so we get to the gnomes. I don't mind this kind of challenge at all -- it's random, sure, but you get to see who can keep it together under frustrating circumstances and who can't. I wouldn't want all of the challenges to be like this, but it was a fine one. I was a little surprised to see the gnomes in Germany and not in a Scandanavian country, but if you visit here you'll learn, as I did, that gnomes (or Erdmanleins (lowland) and Heinzemannchens (alpine) in German), although originating in Scandanavia, have resided in Germany for 1500 years or so. Silly me. Desiree really lost it here. It's not like she was unrolling hay stacks looking for clues and cutting up her hands in the process. All she had to do was look under gnome feet and hats and keep track of where she'd looked. I was not impressed and I think her team deserved to lose after that meltdown.

And did anyone else notice the problem with the Detour? And I mean apart from the fact that everyone was so incredibly giddy (maybe they had been drinking all day at some festival with the poor guy Lake and Michelle abducted), which wasn't a problem per se, but which was odd in an endearing way. The problem I thought was that clearly no one bothered to tell the dancing judge that you actually had to perform the dance steps correctly before you received a clue. I could just imagine the German judge, in his adorable lederhosen, thinking to himself, "Ah, in Germany we have high standards. But these are Americans. And in America, it is sehr different. Plus, these are sehr, sehr uncoordinated Americans. It will take them hours and hours to learn how to do this dance properly. And in the meantime we may run out of beer. If they do not fall over, they will get the clue." And, no, it probably didn't help that Barry and Fran went first.

Finally, Phil and the Mat in Munich. Again, I'm not sad to see Wanda and Desiree go. From their bios I thought they would be a competitive team but they never really got it together. I do give Desiree credit for being honest at the end when she said that the last 4 days had been hell. Good for her. It looked like it was a hellish 4 days for them and I'm glad her first reaction wasn't "This was an incredible experience. I'm so glad we did this," like so many other teams immediately do, no matter how stressful it actually looked like it was for them.

Next week, could that be an ancient Greek statute that Lori is struggling over? One junkette will be very happy if that turns out to be the case.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Laura Holt said...

Now that wasn't so hard was it? Excellent first post! I actually was sad to see Desiree and Wanda go. They were one of the more functional parent/child teams we've seen on the race, and I liked their Gilmore Girls vibe. That said, they did HORRIBLY during this leg of the race and definitely deserved to go. I was also annoyed by the German judges' failure to enforce what sounded like pretty high standards in the clue. I'm sure Monica and Joseph would not have broken quite so many bottles if they'd known how little they'd be challenged by the dancing.

How cute was everyone in their lederhosen??

3/24/2006 3:05 PM  
Blogger Bailey Quarters said...

I totally agree with everything you said. Except that I was really disappointed in the gnome roadblock. First, because of the egregious product placement. And second, because it immediately followed another "needle-in-the-haystack" style detour in Moscow, and immediately preceded the detour option with the bottles that also depended a lot on luck.

I really didn't get why the hippies followed Lake and Michelle (and their German Fern) to the movie studio. They clearly have no trouble navigating on their own. Maybe they just knew they had a solid lead over the remaining teams?

Joseph is growing on me, and his sheer glee during the test drive was infectious.

Miss Ali thinks that Eric and Jeremy are cruising to "assured victory," which seems crazy. It's only the third leg.

3/24/2006 3:07 PM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

I love the information about the gnomes. Who knew? And I totally agree about the dance--it seemed so unfair that they were clearly letting anyone who tried get the clue, when the other teams were smashing those bottles. The challenge was to do the dance correctly, which is what they should have had to do in order to get a clue! I was surprised how close the two detours were to each other, though. Made it easy to switch to the other if it wasn't working.

And without any more delay, the scoring for this week:

Red Fraggle: 12 points (three teams in the exact place)
Laura Ingalls Wilder: 11 points (two teams in the exact place)
Laura Holt: 10 points (two teams in the exact place)
Bailey Quarters: 7 points (one team in the exact place)
Diane Chambers: 7 points (one team in the exact place)

Totals:
Bailey: 41 points
Diane: 36 points
Red: 32 points
Laura W.: 30 points
Laura H.: 29 points

That's right Bailey and Diane--we are closing the gap and coming to get you!

3/24/2006 3:16 PM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

A few more comments on comments--

I said to Gobo when Eric and Jeremy came in first: "wow, it's like Rob and Amber...and we know how that turned out." I don't know that we will ever see a team as truly dominant as Rob and Amber were. And they didn't win. So I think Miss Alli is counting her chickens before they hatch.

And I think they will probably be in Greece next week. We know they are going there because they showed some Parthenon clips before the series started. This makes me a little sad, because if they go to Greece on this Race, what are the chances they will go again when I am on the Race? And you know Greece would be a great advantage for me.

Although it sure seems that BJ and Tyler speak every language imaginable.

I wonder if the Racers will be in Greece when I am next week!

3/24/2006 3:25 PM  
Blogger Bailey Quarters said...

I forgot to mention -- why wasn't Tyler wearing underwear? And why did the Amazing producers feel it necessary to inform me of that fact? Thanks a lot Amazing producers!

3/24/2006 3:44 PM  

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