The Amazing Race 4, Episode 1: The Race Is On, but There Is Always Time for Coffeeby Phil Kural -- 05/30/2003
I'm assuming that by now we all have the general idea of this race. If not, here is quick explanation: twelve teams race around the world performing challenges and overcoming obstacles in order to win one million dollars. At the end of each leg of the race (with the exception of three), a team is eliminated until only three remain and they will race the final leg for the cash. With that, let's jump right into the first episode.
Our first shot this season is of Phil Keoghan standing high above Los Angeles telling us the rules of the race. (Speaking of Phil, if you haven't read my interview with him, posted yesterday, click now to see it.) He then points out that all 12 teams are being taken to Dodger Stadium, where the race will begin. I have already given you background information on each team (see my preview), but this is when each team is being introduced. Let's take a quick look at our 12 teams:
After a brief introduction, the teams are assembled at the stadium, where they are lined up and explained the rules once again from Phil. He tells them about challenges, money and eliminations. Apparently, there will be 13 legs to this race and nine of them are elimination legs. Everyone looks really nervous. Phil also tells the racers that their first clue is on their bags, which look to be about 50 feet or so away. On that note, Phil raises his hands… On your mark, get set… GO!
Every team sprints off to find their bags. There seems to be a bit of mix up when certain teams get to their bags and some have trouble identifying their luggage. As they finally get their route info, each team finds out they will have to make their way to Milan, Italy, on one of three flights. First come, first served. This is where it starts to heat up. Every team knows they want to make it to the airport as soon as possible to get on the best flight possible. Kelly and Jon make it out of the stadium first, while Tian and Jaree are moving ever so slowly as they drop their bags. Looks like they carried a little too much mascara and it may be weighing them down. The instructions say they have to make their way to the Galleria Victoria in Milan, and that is where they will find their next route marker.
Kelly tells Jon that by the looks of Reichen and Chip, they are from California and know the fastest way to the airport. Josh tells Steve, his dad, that since he lives in L.A. he knows what's up. While all this is going on, we still have Tian and Jaree stuck at Dodger stadium trying to get their stuff loaded into the van because the back won't stay shut. All the teams are starting to get stressed as the camera shows us Chris saying Amanda can be evil. Then we get a good shot of Amanda cursing in traffic. A lot. David and Jeff can't seem to find the entrance to the airport, while Debra and Steve are moving at a very slow, calm speed. I know already I love them. Tian and Jaree, still at the stadium, are given another vehicle because the back on the original van is busted. They now have to play catch up to the others. Wow, what a way to start the race. Such bad luck from the get-go. (The rule on this is explained - if they have a vehicle problem through no fault of their own, they can get a new one, but they don't get any sort of time credit.)
More shots of everyone trying to get to the airport. Cindy tells us that Russell is her security blanket. Then we are treated to Jon and Al cutting off Kelly and Jon. Jon seems to be really pissed that he was cut off, while Kelly tries to calm him down. They are my pick to win, and I stick by it. Next, we find out that Millie and Chuck have been together for 12 years and Millie is ready for marriage. Chuck admits he is scared of marriage and commitment. Um, Chuck? You have been with the girl for 12 years; it's time for something other than dating! Monica and Sheree may be lost, but find a cop on the interstate who tells them to follow him to the airport. On that note, we see Russell and Cindy get to the airport first, with Steve and Josh right behind them. Poor Tian and Jaree are lost. Jon and Al then make their way to the airport, followed closely by Amanda and Chris as well as Millie and Chuck.
We find out that flight one is Swiss Air and will only have room for four teams. The second flight, Lufthansa, will carry three teams, while the third flight, KLM, will carry the remaining teams. Russell and Cindy get there right away and book their flight on Lufthansa. They are not aware which flight leaves first, so they take their chances with Lufthansa. Meanwhile, Monica and Sheree get to the shuttle, and are stiffed by Jon of Jon/Kelly when he tells the driver to keep going. Other teams in the shuttle cheer while Kelly gets upset with Jon telling him that karma will come around and bite them in the ass. Monica and Sheree look pissed, as well they should be.
Back inside the airport, Jon and Al have landed seats on the first flight leaving out of Swiss Air, as have Jon and Kelly. Millie and Chuck, along with Amanda and Chris, have booked seats on Lufthansa. I don't understand why they didn't ask the ticket people to check Swiss Air and KLM to see which flight was leaving first. All those teams so far on the second flight could have been on the first. Next, we have Josh at Swiss Air booking tickets for himself and his dad. He has Monica and Sheree standing behind him, yet reserves tickets for Steve and Dave, who are behind the two ladies. When Monica and Sheree find out, they are pissed because there is no more room on the first flight. Josh tries to tell them that he's sorry and directs them to KLM, but Monica and Sheree tell him not to talk to them. I'm glad they tell him off, that was a jerk move on Josh's part but he says it is valuable to be in the good graces of the air traffic controllers instead of the two women. So this is how the teams look concerning flights:
Flight One - Swiss Air - Jon and Al, Josh and Steve, Steve and Dave, Jon and Kelly
Flight Two - Lufthansa - Russell and Cindy, Amanda and Chris, Millie and Chuck
Flight Three - KLA - Reichen and Chip, Debra and Steve, Dave and Jeff, Tian and Jaree, Monica and Sheree
Each flight takes off as we see how bitter everyone on the last flight is - except Debra and Steve. I love their positive attitudes. Monica and Sheree have a right to be bitter though because they were screwed over twice at the airport. Time to land, and it turns out that the Swiss Air flight is delayed a little and makes it there not much sooner than the Lufthansa flight. This makes it interesting as both flights are so close. Off to the Galleria Victoria as each team grabs a cab and gets going.
Kelly and Jon get there first, find the route marker, and find out they have to search the common area for bus tickets that will take them to their next destination. Once they find a ticket and pull it off the line, they must take that bus and cannot exchange their tickets for better ones. Buses leave at 2 am, 4 am, and 6 am, but they aren't told that in the instructions - they need to figure it out for themselves. Russell and Cindy get there next, followed by Amanda and Chris. Wow, most of the second flight people are getting there before the ones that were on the Swiss Air flight. Really shows you how much luck is a factor in this race. Russell and Cindy and Kelly and Jon find tickets for the bus that leaves at 4:00 and they both take them. Amanda and Chris find the 4:00 bus, but don't take it and look for something better. Jon and Al find and keep the 4:00 bus tickets. Millie and Chuck start hunting and find the bus tickets for the 2:00. They quickly show Amanda and Chris where they are and then state that the four of them get along really well so they plan to stick together. Just then, Josh and Steve and Steve and Dave get to the Galleria and start looking.
Time for the final flight to land and as they are running through the airport Debra falls. I find myself on the brink of tears. She is so cute! At this point, we find out that Reichen and Chip have formed an alliance with Dave and Jeff. I really don't think this is going to be that strong of an alliance because it was not so much formed on the basis of friendship but more along the lines of, "Oh dear, one of us could be going."
Back at the Galleria, Josh and Steve have found the 2:00 bus and direct Steve and Dave over to the tickets as well. That bus is now full. Debra and Steve get there and find tickets for the last bus, while Monica and Sheree find tickets for the second bus with a little help from Josh, the one who screwed them over earlier. They say they forgive him and that everything is back to normal. Josh tells the camera he didn't mind helping Monica and Sheree because he doesn't want "The two blondes with the fake tits to make it." By that, he means Tian and Jaree. Monica and Sheree are the last for the second bus and all the other teams are stuck with the last bus. This is the bus rundown:
Bus one - 2:00 - Millie and Chuck, Amanda and Chris, Josh and Steve, Steve and Dave.
Bus two - 4:00 - Monica and Sheree, Russell and Cindy, Jon and Al, Jon and Kelly
Bus three - 6:00 - Debra and Steve, Dave and Jeff, Reichen and Chip, Tian and Jaree.
As they wait for time to pass before it is time for the busses to leave, the teams go to seek shelter. Debra and Steve get to a hotel and debate whether to try and save money or pay for the room. They decide to go talk it over, but the other teams arrive and suck up the rooms, leaving none for Debra and Steve when they finally decide they want one. Luckily, Reichen and Chip let them stay with them in their room. That is so nice of them, and like Kelly said earlier, karma will come back to them. I like Reichen and Chip at this point. In their room though, Steve is sad that he let Debra down. Debra tries to be encouraging, but when Steve starts to cry, so does Debra. They really love one another and it's so sweet. They have it better than Russell and Cindy though, who are bickering by the bus terminal because they can't figure out if they are allowed to sleep on the street or not. I'm not sure how I feel about these two yet.
Time for the 2:00 bus to head out to parts unknown. The teams on the first bus find out they are headed for the mountains, and that is where they will find their next route marker. As the first bus arrives, each team makes their way to the route marker that tells them to get to Cinque Torre and get to the base of the mountain, where there will be a marked path that will lead them to their next route marker. Each of the four teams makes their way quickly to the next route marker where they find the detour. The choice for this detour is search or rescue. In search, the team must use a locating device over a large area to find a small signal. Once they find it, they must dig up the signal and catch a snow mobile to the bottom of the mountain. It may be a hard task, but getting to the bottom of the mountain will be quick. In rescue, each team member must walk across a set of cables and then use a zip line across another small gorge. This task can be terrifying, but done rather quickly. Each of the first four teams chooses rescue.
Amanda and Chris go first, followed closely by Millie and Chuck. Both complete the tasks rather quickly, but Steve and Josh are right behind them. Steve and Dave, due to their age, are running a bit behind. After they complete the detour, Amanda and Chris are the first to get the route marker that says to get to the pit-stop at The Lajadira Hotel. The last team that gets there will be eliminated. Millie and Chuck are right behind them. At this point we see the second bus get to the mountains, while the third is just leaving with Steve of Steve/Debra saying that he is sure one of the teams on that bus will be eliminated. Steve and Dave are still struggling with the detour and are very slow to complete the tasks. They blame their age. C'mon fellas, you are really not that old. 47 is seriously not that bad. They are acting like they are over 70. If the Gutsy Grannies could hang glide, I think Steve and Dave can zip-line.
The teams from the second bus arrive at their destination but Monica and Sheree decide to go for the fast forward. Why? I have no idea. That was really not a smart decision. They have two hours on the other bus and decide to waste their fast forward this early. Not a good decision at all, ladies. Headed for the pit stop, we have Amanda and Chris fighting while Millie and Chuck just stroll right by them. Amanda is dragging and Chris yells at her, "Come on, Flo!" Ah, he obviously watched the third Amazing Race. Chuck says that Millie motivates him. Isn't that sweet? Maybe she'll motivate him to propose, I mean… it's WAY overdue!
Monica and Sheree are having problems getting to the fast forward, as which they have to hike in the snow to acquire it, but sure enough they claim it and head right for the pit stop. I still think it was a waste to get it this early. There were in no danger of being eliminated. Speaking of the pit stop, Amanda and Chris, Millie and Chuck, and Josh and Steve all stick together and wait for one another when making their way to the pit stop. Meanwhile, Steve and Dave are still making their way down the mountain and Dave gets hurt because he has a bum knee. They have to rest for a few minutes but eventually get to the bottom.
At the pit stop, Phil is grinning from ear to ear as Millie and Chuck, Amanda and Chris, and Josh and Steve all claim first place together. Good news for all of them. Since they all came in first, they ALL get a trip to Hawaii to enjoy after the show. All this love tends to make me sick to the stomach. Thank goodness we know Chuck and Millie aren't making love, since we are on the subject. Steve and Dave are still struggling to get to where they are going. At that point, Monica and Sheree get to the mat and find out they are the fourth team to arrive. They are happy, but I think they thought they were first. They both say they do not regret using the fast forward this early. I don't know ladies, not a good idea at all.
Back at the detour we find out that Jon and Kelly also chose rescue. Kelly is scared of the zip-line like she is scared of marriage. All she has to do is take one leap and it's over. Wow, great comparison Kelly. Jon feels the same way. Oh, old-heads Steve and Dave just checked in the pit stop in fifth place. Good for them. Russell and Cindy are now doing the detour and choose rescue as well. They have a good time doing the task though. Oh, look! The last bus has finally arrived! Tian and Jaree say they know one of the teams will be gone soon as all the teams search for taxis. This is my favorite part. As Jaree is waiting for a taxi, she gets a cup of coffee and rests her ass. Tian is not happy and when the taxi finally gets there she screams at Jaree to hurry up. And to think, I figured Tian would be the one that got on my nerves.
Over at the pit-stop we see that Kelly and Jon have come in sixth with Jon and Al arriving seventh respectfully, all while wearing big, red clown noses. I like these guys because they are having a good time, not taking things too seriously, but still getting everything done in a timely manner. Three of the last four teams get to the roadblock and choose rescue. Tian and Jaree are still taking their sweet time. Russell and Cindy check in at the pit stop as team number eight and really don't look all that happy about it. As well they shouldn't. They had the chance to be on the first flight out of Los Angeles and overlooked it. They also had a chance to be on the first bus out of Milan but settled for the second one. They would be in the top four right now if they had made better decisions.
Tian and Jaree finally get to the detour as David and Jeff along with Reichen and Chip have already completed it. Steve and Debra are at the detour as well but Debra seems to be having problems. I really don't want to see them go and am rooting for them to beat out Tian and Jaree at the detour. Since only one person can go at a time, Tian and Jaree are stuck behind Debra and can't get by. They start to basically push her to the finish. It is a little funny, but I don't like they way they are rushing her. Both teams finish the first part and head for the zip-line. Tian and Jaree finish it first while Debra and Steve are now bringing up the rear. Jaree is so slow though and Tian has to yell at her in order for Jaree to move. We then cut to the pit-stop where Reichen and Chip find out they are the ninth team to arrive. They look happy to still be in the race. Back over to Tian and Jaree. Now, Jaree decides she needs to rest. Tian says no and has to attach a cable to her and literally pull Jaree up the mountain. This is really pathetic. Jaree blames it on smoking but I blame it on her being lazy. I mean, even Debra can carry herself down the mountain and she is in worse shape than supermodel Jaree! On that note, the last three teams start to race for the pit stop because they have all eventually reach the bottom of the mountain.
David and Jeff check in as team number 10 and don't exactly look thrilled. However, they are happy that they are still in the race. Look on the bright side; at least they are still beating TWO teams! Although, that's not saying much. Even though I love Debra and Steve, they are pretty slow. Tian and Jaree are just plain stupid. Strike that. Jaree is stupid and I feel bad for Tian. Now it's time for suspense. Shots of Phil. Shots of steps. Shots of the last two teams racing. Who will it be? Tian and Jaree! They run up to the mat to find out they are the 11th team to arrive. They look like they don't understand that they are still in the race. I guess any number past 10 is a challenge for them.
This means that Debra and Steve are last. Such a shame too. They know it as they are walking up to the mat though. Phil informs them that they are the last to arrive and that they have been eliminated from the race. They take it pretty well. Debra says that Steve has motivated her to do things that she never thought she could have done. Steve says that Debra is his inspiration and that he loves her with all his heart. That, ladies and gentleman, is love. It's so nice to see how much these two love one another and that the race has only made them closer. They kiss, and I'm sad.
What's in store for us next week you ask? Well, Italian snow rafting, Kelly and Jon screwing up, gondolas in Venice, and a roadblock that looks to be a messy situation for several teams.
I have to admit I wanted to see Debra and Steve do better. They were such a favorite of mine after only one episode! In my preview article, the three teams I picked to be gone first all finished in the top five. Shows you how good I am at predictions. Oh well, next week I say it's goodbye for Tian and Jaree. I really don't think they will last that long unless they make a run for the fast forward. It's really their only shot. Until next week!
Phil Kural is a senior at Temple University, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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