It’s a lazy Labor Day evening, which means two things: barbecues are finishing up and no news. No news isn’t good news, so I thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at The Race. Remember when there were three seasons of The Amazing Race per year? After riding high off Rob & Amber’s first stint on TAR, the progress quickly got thrown away with the ill-fated Family Edition, which came after being bumped in favor of Rock Star: INXS in the summer (itself the victim of abysmal ratings). Despite struggling ratings, The Amazing Race 12 has been kept around but reduced to a midseason appearance in early 2008, with the removal of non-elimination legs and 2 episodes. So what’s a diehard Amazing Race fan to do in the meantime?
No, this isn’t The Amazing Race Asia 2, which presumably will premiere in November or thereabouts (yes, I expect to cover that as well, though). Rather, it’s The Race, a production of Ithaca College, where teams race across New York state. Now I know what you’re thinking, but wait. Having seen The Race 1, I feel comfortable saying this is an entertaining program. Granted, it doesn’t have the exotic foreign locations or the multi-million dollar budget we’ve seen from The Amazing Race. What it does have is good quality character development and highly charged competitiveness we have come to expect. With two PEGASYS awards (Best Documentary and Best Educational Access) and a cast and crew of over 100 under its belt, it’s worth checking out.
The full recap of season 1 episode 2 is below. Check out the links to seasons 1 and 2 if you’d like to watch them. Season 2 is currently scheduled to premiere on ICTV Wednesday Sept 19th, and episodes will be online at some point thereafter (unclear exactly when, but stay tuned to dingoRUE for more). Season 2 Episode 1 is already online, though.
(Note: the videos are in Quicktime. If you have a plugin problem as I did, here’s how to get around it. Right click the link below the video. Select Save Target As. Save the file to your computer. Right click the file and choose Open With > VLC Media Player. If you don’t have VLC Media Player, you can get it here. Highly recommended, as any time I have trouble playing something, I always use that instead.)
With the success of The Race 1, this season has been expanded, with the addition of one extra episode, two more teams, and two more legs. Thomas Pardee returns as the host. The race 2 teams are:
Hal & Matilda, brother and sister from Oxford, England. They feel they have an advantage because they’re used to spending long hours in the car together.
Sadie & Ginalola, roommates who met at their freshmen orientation. They bicker like a married couple. Uh oh.
Daniel & Jeff, friends from Binghamton University and members of an a capella group.
Kristiyan & Nick, friends from opposite sides of the world. Kristiyan is from Bulgaria.
Jon & Jenna, boyfriend and girlfriend from Scranton, PA who met at work. Jon is worried about their ability to cooperate with each other.
Drew & Vanessa, friends who met minutes before auditioning for The Race (he didn’t have a partner and went up to her at random). This team looks like a disaster waiting to happen on the basis of the pre-race interview alone.
Dave & Matt, best friends and members of a comedy group. Some fun comic relief.
Nick & Chris, friends and drinking buddies. They call themselves “deceptively smart.”
We start off at Cayuga Lake, the largest of central New York’s finger lakes. The first task is to retrieve their keys from the lake with the tools provided, including candles, matches, sticks, saw blade, string, and a bandage, most of which probably isn’t needed. Now this I like to see. Make them work even for this. Dave & Matt are the first to get the bucket, containing car keys and a knife. The next destination is Beebe Lake at Cornell University. Dave & Matt got the wrong bucket and ended up with Jon & Jenna’s keys. They had an extra key to their own car, left the key they found on the windshield of the right car, and took off. This has to be a rule violation of some sort. Jon & Jenna happen to be the next team to retrieve their bucket and get all confused. Due to the misunderstanding, Kristiyan & Nick are the second ones to leave. Daniel & Jeff are next. Jon & Jenna figure out where the key is and leave in fourth, followed by Sadie & Ginalola, Drew & Vanessa, Nick & Chris, and lastly Hal & Matilda.
As if leaving the keys without saying a word was bad enough, Dave & Matt also stole the New York pages from Hal & Matilda’s atlas. Now I know it’s probably politically correct to be hating these guys now, but the way they say things makes it hard not to laugh. The flaw in this plan is that everybody knows it was them, and nobody seems to like them right from the getgo.
Nobody has any real idea how to get to Cornell. Daniel & Jeff hope for inspiration from Yanni. Dave & Matt find it first. Nick comes right behind them and feels okay turning around to find a place to park because there’s no way the other team can leave their car at the bridge where there’s construction. So much for that theory. Dave & Matt jump out the car and proceed to run to the foot bridge. Nick comes back to find the car’s still where it was before, now blocking traffic.
Detour: Maple Madness or Alpaca Antics. In Alpaca Antics, teams must drive 34 miles to Appalachia and herd an alpaca (notoriously stubborn animals) through a series of fences into a pen. In Maple Madness, teams must drive 28 miles to the Maple Festival in Marathon, where they must drive a soapbox derby car down a ramp and across the finish line without falling off.
Dave & Matt choose the alpacas and arrive back at their car with a bunch of angry bus drivers standing around it. Kristiyan & Nick also choose alpacas, as do third place Sadie & Ginalola. Daniel & Jeff aren’t very concerned with where they park either, but at least they park in a “Parking by permit only” area, rather than blocking traffic, and Hal & Matilda park alongside them, followed by Jon & Jenna. Daniel & Jeff go with Maple Madness because it’s the opposite of what everyone else is doing, reminiscent of Danny & Oswald on TAR2. Drew & Vanessa, Jenna & Jon, and Hal & Matilda also pick Maple Madness. Nick & Chris get as lost as could be expected and are bringing up the rear, with the maple task as well.
At the alpaca task, one of the first things teams are advised is that gentle talking will probably work better than chasing them. The guys don’t get the hint and not only chase their own but begin using dirty tactics to scare each other’s animals. Nick blames Dave & Matt, though he played a large role in the silly actions himself. After having garbage thrown out the window at them, Kristiyan talks about calling the cops, and Nick acknowledges they’re going to blow it out of proportion because Dave & Matt are immature. Both teams think they outsmarted each other at a red light when deciding whether to go left or right.
At the maple task, the padding provided is minimal, while the falls on concrete aren’t. Jon gets cut pretty bad, and he’s not alone.
The first pitstop is the Broome County Courthouse in Binghamton, which the Binghamton U guys are pleased about. As with the first episode last season, there’s no way to even disguise who’s going to be eliminated first. Teams are in roughly the same order they were before the tasks started. There are two terrible teams here, with Nick & Chris being the one that’s been long gone for quite some time (the other being Drew & Vanessa). To make matters worse, given their weight, this soapbox derby has the potential to be long and painful.
At the pitstop…
First: Dave & Matt (apparently not penalized for the key mishap)
Second: Kristiyan & Nick
Third: Jon & Jenna
Fourth: Sadie & Ginalola (right behind)
Fifth: Hal & Matilda
Sixth: Daniel & Jeff
Seventh: Drew & Vanessa
Eliminated: Nick & Chris
In the preview for episode 2, Nick apparently makes good on the promise to call the cops, Dave & Matt continue their mischief, and teams get frustrated at a tire changing task.