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The Amazing Race 8, Episode 1 First and Cargo Class Awards: Escape from New Yorkby Betsy Wasser -- 10/04/2005
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Welcome to another season of The Amazing Race! I’m already totally into this season, and I think having families race against each other adds a really interesting layer to the show. After all, don’t you have to work as a team and do you best to get along when you’re on a family vacation? The fact that there are several kids in the race might mean that the racers hit fewer exotic locales, but I actually think it will be really cool to see more of the United States on the show. Driving through New York City was certainly as harrowing as negotiating public transportation in India for some of the racers. And I really got a kick out of seeing Lancaster, Pennsylvania as a pit stop, thus adding it to such cities as London, Cairo, and Bejing.
This week, and every week, I’ll be giving the First and Cargo Class awards for the race. What’s this, you ask? Every week, I’ll be looking at the behavior of the racers, both as competitors, as team players, and as human beings. Those who have the very best attitudes, who seem like people who’d be fun to have a vacation with, will be riding First Class. Imagine them with comfy slippers, sleep masks, and champagne – or sparkling cider for the kids. On the other side of things will be those racers who are just miserable. They fight, they’re gratuitously nasty… in short, they’re people you’d hate to stand in line at the DMV behind, much less go on a long car trip. These people will win the Cargo Class award. Imagine them sitting in the cargo bay of an airplane surrounded by luggage and crates of chickens. Got it? Read Jenn Brasler’s fabulous recap? Then let’s give out some awards!
I’m happy to report that two teams will be riding First Class this week. Let’s start with the Aiellos – Tony and his sons-in-law Matt, David, and Kevin. First of all, I think this is a really cool team. I love the fact that Tony wanted to get to know his daughters’ husbands better and chose this incredibly cool bonding opportunity. Imagine the stories that these guys will have at Thanksgiving this year. Even though this family isn’t related by blood, they seem to have a real ease and comfort with each other. I liked when the guys joked that they were going to teach Tony, a man with three daughters, about “boy stuff” like camping.
The Aiellos worked well together as a team when they reached the Washington Crossing challenge. They rowed in unison, a feat not every team was able to pull off. It was great to see former Marine David pause for a moment before taking the flag, and the family again showed their respect by watching reverently as the flag was folded. I always appreciate it when participants take a moment to pause, just for a second, in the race to take in the experience.
As the race went on, these four gentlemen continued to behave… like gentlemen. At the campsite, they helped the Rogers family pitch their tent. Why not? They already had their departure time set, so getting a little good will cost them nothing and may gain them help in the future. They also showed good team work in the buggy challenge when riders Tony and Kevin offered to switch places if David and Matt got tired. In the end, when the Aiellos finished the race, Tony said that David, Matt, and Kevin could stay in the family. If they keep up this behavior, they can also stay in First Class.
The other winner of a First Class award this week is the Gaghan family. All four of them performed incredibly well. Carissa and Billy were right – other teams might underestimate them because they’re kids, but the two of them quickly proved their worth. Both of them showed off their running ability, both when the family took the early lead at the starting line and as they smoked the Weavers to hit the mat. Carissa did a good job of spotting signs in the city, a big help to her parents. She also took the time to help other families put up their tents. That was not only kind of her (as it was for the Aiellos), but also good potential strategy. In the opening interview, she and Billy said that they hope to spy on other teams. If they seem to be cute little kids, and if they seem to be around a lot, other players might not hesitate to talk in front of them.
Bill and Tammy were encouraging to their kids without being pushy. The two of them probably did most of the work rowing the boat – Carissa and Billy were just too little to paddle effectively. They also had one heck of a workout pulling the buggy. The Aiellos were right that they had an easier way to go, pulling “seventy pounds worth of kids” rather than two adults, but I’m sure it was still challenging.
I also thought the family treated each other well. The parents were good about letting the kids participate in little ways. Carissa got the clue from Kevin and Drew. Billy got to rip open some clues. That kind of thing is a big deal for kids. When they were in the buggy, Billy was really sweet, telling his parents they were doing a good job and he was proud of them. He even said he wished he could contribute more. Yes, the kids were a wee bit obnoxious singing as they passed the Aiellos, but since they’re kids, I give them a pass on that one. Finally, I admired the way they all thought positive as they drove up to the mat, Carissa imagining Phil sayng, “Gaghan family, you’re the first to arrive.” Although they weren’t first on the mat, they are in First Class.
Before I get to the winners of the Cargo Class award, I want to talk for a few minutes about the Black family. Several of the writers at RNO were disappointed to see the Blacks eliminated, and I suspect some of you readers would like to see them win First Class. They were indeed kind to each other, the kids were charming, and the parents were loving and supportive. But if I were the fifth member of their team, those people would have driven me crazy. They were a little too laid-back and relaxed. While you shouldn’t pop a vein screaming and stressing out, if you’re going to be successful in the race, you need to show some intensity that the Black family just didn’t show. Will I miss them? Sure, they were nice people… and I have to admit, I found it amusing that the only black family in the race was, in fact, the Black family. But I’m not going to give them a First Class award this week. Can we compromise and give them Business Class?1 2 Next-->
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