Aaaand they’re off!
Usually my Sunday night appointment television consists of vampires, dragons, and quippy dowager countesses. But when reality television’s closest proximity to sports, The Amazing Race, fields a hometown team, I have to get out my virtual pom poms and watch.
This year, The Amazing Race producers have chosen a Houston team who knows a thing or two about sports and playing well with others, former Texans teammates from 2006-2009, Chester Pitts II and Ephraim Salaam. Will all their experience help them win a million dollars, and even more importantly, help them avoid looking like ugly American idiots while milking a goat in outer Mongolia?
Considering some of the bizarre challenges The Amazing Race has thrown at racers in the past, Pitt’s talented oboe playing might come in handy more than any tackling skills.
The Amazing Race is the one television competition where the ability to feign rapport with taxi drivers is sometimes a much more valued asset than brains, brawn, or speed. Considering some of the bizarre challenges The Amazing Race has thrown at racers in the past, Pitt’s talented oboe playing might come in handy more than any tackling skills.
Over the years, viewers have discovered there are four general, unwritten rules every Amazing Racer should memorize before ever applying.
1. Never race if you can’t drive a stick shift
2. Never race if you’re afraid of heights
3. Never race if reading comprehension is not your forte
4. Unless you want the whole Internet acting as your judgmental and gossipy armchair couples therapist, never ever use the race as a way to work on your troubled relationship with your partner.
So how did Chester and Ephraim do this first episode and what does that tell us about their odds for the season? Let’s play armchair team manager for some post-game analysis.
First off the mark
For no discernible reason, the race begins at an old western movie ranch in California. Team Texans are profiled first, and we learn how Ephraim brought Chester to the football field at San Diego State, though no mention of Chester’s oboe mastery is given. Is being introduced first a good or bad sign from The Amazing Race editors? Only time will tell.
The first leg calls for the racers to fly to Iquique, Chile. With little drama, Team Texans manages to get on the first plane and once landed they make their way by taxi to cliffs high above the port city, arriving second to the roadblock. A roadblock is a challenge that only one of the pair can perform and this one calls for one team member to paraglide down to the beach below. After a slight confusion with the wording of the instructions, Chester ends up paragliding while Ephraim must follow him on the ground and navigate with their taxi driver.
There appeared to be only two real points to this challenge,: Getting the very big Chester into a very small, unstable boat and getting host Phil Keoghan to use the word “fishmonger” in a sentence.
After a requisite scream of joyous terror, Chester immediately endears himself, to me at least, by taking a few moments for sheer amazement and appreciation of the view as he soars.
They finish second, but lose time on the way to the second roadblock, ending up at the harbor area in fifth place. The twist of this challenge is that the paragliding partner has do the work again, this time taking a rickety rowboat out onto the bay to find one of three designated fishing boats amid what looked to be a hundred boats. The team member then has to to collect five fish from a fisherman and row his catch back ashore.
There appeared to be only two real points to this challenge: Getting the very big Chester into a very small, unstable boat and getting host Phil Keoghan to use the word “fishmonger” in a sentence.
As amused Chilean workers look on from the dock, Chester finds one of the fishing boats quickly, but by that time it only has four fish left. He’s off to search for one of the other boats in order to complete his fish run.
With breakneck speed, probably helped along by the Amazing editors who have many other teams to highlight, Chester finds the next boat, grabs his fish and rows back to the docks. The guys run to the pitstop, Chilean national monument Teatro Municipal de Iquique, arriving in fourth place.
Fourth is none to shabby, but how well did they do in accordance to our racer rules?
1. Stick Shift
They weren’t required to drive in Chile, so I’ll give them a pass.
Both Chester and Ephraim were ready and willing to jump off a cliff. They passed the heights test with gliding colors.
3. Clue reading abilities
Four of the 11 teams burned time, and one team team even suffered a 30-minute penalty, all because they didn’t read the clues correctly. Team Texans had no problems.
4. Team dynamics
Chester and Ephraim appear to thoroughly enjoy each others’ company and any intra-team ragging, like Ephraim telling Chester he looked like a “military grade jeep” landing on the beach, seemed to be received with affection. Chester’s reply, “I’m comfortable with my width,” was one of the funniest moments of the episode.
Could this be the year the Texans go all the way? And by all the way, I mean representing Houston admirably while they milk a goat in outer Mongolia.
Start planning your Amazing Race tailgating parties now because Team Texans is looking good.