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The Amazing Race 8 (Family Edition): Thinking Smart in Episode 3by Jeffrey Clinard -- 10/17/05
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I never really like linear episodes of The Amazing Race, where there is little chance for a team to make up ground on their way to the pit stop. It’s happened before, such in Amazing Race 7 where the safari nature of the leg gave trailing teams little chance to catch up. However, tasks like the Roadblock and dash to the pit stop almost determine the order of the finish. Teams finished exactly in the order they completed the Roadblock.
Of course, how teams got to that position in the first place is due to their own choices, which, while might have seemed like the right idea at the time, turned out not to work that well in the long run. Notably, the Gaghans, Weavers, and Aiellos all picked the Detour option which, while not necessary slower in absolute terms, was 30 miles further away than the other one. None of these teams had no way of knowing that they’d have to drive 30 miles back, resulting in a 60-mile trip out of their way. If the next route marker had been further along the road, and not required a trip back to Charleston, it may have been a much faster option, but as it stands, the round trip did come into play, putting all of them on the second bus (The Paolo family also was on the second bus, though this was because they were on a later fight which put them at a time disadvantage). After that, there were only two ways to get ahead; drive to the museum quicker, or get a number for the Roadblock quicker. The clue clearly said first come, first served. The Aiello family didn’t pick up on it quite as fast as the other teams, and ended up in last place as a result.
The Roadblock required no skill at all, except perhaps a strong stomach. However, it’s going to be notable for being the first Roadblock where two team members participated. I speculated that it might be the case in my preview article. There wasn’t much strategy involved, though the Godlewski sisters correctly figured out that they should use people who enjoy thrill rides.
The Detour provided a different choice: “Forrest Gump” or “Muddy Waters.” Which was faster? In hindsight, it was “Forrest Gump” - by a large margin. The up-front advantage was that all four team members could participate in the task. The hindsight advantage was that the “Muddy Road” option was the travel time required. The producers made some attempt to balance it out by sending the shrimp boats out to sea while the task was being performed, resulting in time spent waiting for the ship to dock after the task was completed, and requiring the team to walk to the visitor’s center to sign up for the bus, while teams that performed “Muddy Waters” could drive to it. I don’t know how long it took to travel by foot from the shrimp boats, but a direct comparison between the Bransen and Gaghan families shows the time advantage. Both were on the US Air flight which arrived 2 minutes after most teams, but the Bransen family (“Forrest Gump” option) was able to get on the first bus, while the Gaghan family, which only needed one run at the mud track, ended up one place behind them, and on the second bus.
Still, each team did make some other decisions, even if they weren’t reflected in the final standings. Which teams were thinking smart in episode three?
Bransen Family: First place, and with a very nice prize in the form of free gas for life. Overall, they did a decent job of racing, asking to borrow a cell phone and checking out flights on the way to Washington Dulles Airport. While they were on the second flight out, they made a good detour choice and ended up on the first bus out of Charleston. With a good run to the museum, they ended up at the Roadblock first, leading to a first place finish. Well done.
Linz Family: Second place yet again. Actually, they led for a great deal of the race, getting to the airport first, then completing the faster detour option and being the first to sign up for the earlier bus. After that, they were second to the Roadblock and thus second to finish the leg. Overall, they are making excellent decisions and have vastly improved since the first leg.
Schroeder Family: The Schroeders did a decent job in this leg, obtaining the first flight and working well through the detour. It led to the first bus, and a front running position in the race. However, I think Char is being too hard on Hunter for talking with Rollie. I have no idea exactly what secrets she thinks he can spill, because the race doesn’t have very many. The three big ones would be secret knowledge of a better flight / faster bus, Yield strategy, and Fast Forward strategy. There just isn’t a whole lot Hunter could reveal.
Godlewski Family: The sisters had an unremarkable run during this leg. They booked the first flight to Charleston and performed the faster detour option. This led to the first bus, but the ended up last of the four teams on it. Still, there wasn’t much they did wrong, or could have done to improve their position.
Weaver Family: This team cracked a bit due to the pressure of the race, but ultimately dealt with it, even if the other teams thought they had lost their marbles. They obtained tickets on the first flight to Charleston, and as they were not familiar with airport operations, asked more questions afterwards. While they made a bad choice with the detour, and for the second time in the race abandoned it and performed the alternative. They would have placed better if they had picked “Forrest Gump” initially, but ultimately got through the leg. I suspect they will crack again, but at least they know how to cope with it now.
Paolo Family: The Paolo family actually had one of the better legs, and might have placed better if they had made better decisions in previous legs. However, as they were unable to get on either of the two earlier flights (due to their bad placement in the previous leg, coupled with them not using a cell phone to make reservations), they lost a half hour. Despite picking the faster detour and doing well at it, they couldn’t make up enough time to get slots of the first bus. As it stands, they did about as well as anybody else in this leg.
Gaghan Family: The Gaghan family, to their credit, borrowed a cell phone to make flight reservations. This was defiantly thinking smart, though they were on the second flight. However, two minutes at that point were not really going to change things that much. They also performed well on the detour (being the only team to make the run in one attempt), though they picked the option that ultimately took more time to complete. They are going to be last to depart, but in all honesty it would have taken very little for them to have either come in first - or be eliminated in this leg.
Aiello Family: What went wrong? Well, part of the blame is due to their choice of detour options. Even if they had completed the course on the first try, they likely would have been on the second bus to Huntsville. Other than that, the fault lies with not getting a number before any other team. The linear nature of this leg worked against them.
Jeffrey Clinard has been writing about The Amazing Race since the first edition, writing over 80 articles about it for RealityNewsOnline since it’s premier season. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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