Movin' on up
The Amazing Race, week two: Team Houston wants to sell Ghana some sunglasses
The Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Sydney Opera House, the pyramids of Giza, a basketball court behind some nondescript houses in Sugar Land.
These are the sights of the world shown in the opening credits of this season’s The Amazing Race. We owe that quick view suburban Houston architecture to Michael and Kevin Wu, YouTube celebrities and our home team on The Amazing Race.
Last week we left Team Houston in a respectable seventh place at Eastnor Castle in England. They began this episode about an hour behind the first place team. Racing out of the castle grounds Kevin urged his dad to keep up and then we see a short clip from an interview that looks like it was shot here before the race. Michael worries that he’s going to slow the team down. The Amazing Editors are great believers in both foreshadowing and irony, so we know that at some point in the episode Michael is indeed going to slow the team down or he is going to succeed in a task so swiftly the team will pull ahead.
Their seventh place beginning did not matter much because the teams are off to Accra, Ghana and there’s only one flight a day from England. Everyone is on the same flight, and once they land, it’s a free-for-all for the taxis. Their first major task of this leg is at Makola Market for one of Race’s familiar sell-something-to-the-locals challenges, in this case, sunglasses. Many of the other racers appear completely overwhelmed by the chaotic outdoor market, but Michael tells his son that, growing up in Taiwan, he’s not a stranger to this type of market. This is a roadblock task, so only one member of the team can attempt it and it’s Michael’s turn.
This season gives us lots of pretty blond team members, and most of them are sent in to sell, sell, sell. It’s hard to tell if the Ghanaian market goers sense a genuine niceness about Michael or they simply trust him for quality sunglasses, but somehow he completes the task early. Only a Home Shopping Network host can sell faster. That’s not a metaphor. One team consists of two HSN hosts, and yet Michael sells almost as fast.
From the market they hop a taxi to the detour, a choice between two tasks. In this episode the choice is “tune in” or “check out.” While the Amazing editors love foreshadowing and irony, The Amazing Race planners love a good bad puns. For “tune in,” the teams have to install television antennas in locals’ homes. In “check out,” they have to transport coffins to a coffin showroom. Team Houston picks “tune in,” which is a bit of a shame because it’s the coffins that are truly amazing. They are carved to reflect the spirit of the deceased and we get to see coffin fish, pianos and cameras.
Houstonians don’t have to go to Ghana to see these works of coffin art because our own National Museum of Funeral History has a permanent exhibit of them.
However, “tune in” appears to be the better choice for our team. They locate their client’s small house quickly. Michael goes up the ladder and installs the antenna on the tin roof. They manage to get a clear picture with only a little tinkering. The next time the cable goes out around here, we now all know who to call.
Team Houston races to a the second market, Kaneshie, which host Phil Keoghan tells us is “one of the largest markets in all of west Africa.” Our guys run through the packed market to the finish mat, and a very nice lady, with a large bowl of fish on her head, welcomes them to Accra. Third!
Irony also pulled ahead of foreshadowing, as we see how see how invaluable Michael was on this leg, and Kevin tells how he’s coming to see his father as an equal partner.
From seventh to third, and the Texans won. Go teams Houston!