Recap: The Amazing Race Australia 1, Episode 1 – “I’ve got the biggest wedgie ever!”

EPISODE ONE

The Leg
It’s the Aussies’ turn to Race around the world!

Actor Grant Bowler stands atop the Melbourne Cricket Ground as eleven teams from all over Australia are being taken to the starting line on the field by helicopters.  And those teams are…

Anne Marie & Tracy, friends and co-workers at Big W.  They hope to be the Tortoise in the Race.
Richard & Joey, married entrepreneurs.  Their motto… “Focus… believe… achieve.”
Tyler & Nathan, friends and surfers.  They’ve backpacked to different places around the world for surfing. 

Dave & Kelly, married bikers.  They’re opposites.
Matt & Tom, farmers.  It might not look it, but their brains work 100% of the time.
Alana & Mel, newly reunited sisters.  Mel had run away from home at 15. 

Sam & Renae, models.  They’ll definitely use their looks they say.
Mo & Mos, friends.  Both have Egyptian and Muslim backgrounds, and their stopping to pray could help them in the Race.
Jeff & Luke, father and son.  Jeff had left Luke when he was 15 and he’ll do whatever it takes to regain the trust lost.

Ryot & Liberty, brother and sister.  Their family raises beagles, he is a pro poker player.
Chris & Anastasia, dating.  They’ll get married… if they don’t kill each other on the Race first.

The helicopters touchdown on the field and Grant does his spiel.  There are 12 legs… each with a Pit Stop.  Eight of them are elimination points.  Also, the first time to arrive at the end of this first leg will receive the Express Pass.

Grant makes a point to remind the teams to read their clues carefully and finally announces the winning team will win A$250,000.

He points them over to eleven clue boxes where they will find their first clues.

“The world awaits.  Race hard.  Race safe… GO!”

And they’re off!  They run over and find… the Road Block!?!


In this first Road Block, teams will have to take a number at one of the six MCG lighting towers and then climb the 75 meter high mast to retrieve a clue before abseiling down to rejoin their partners.  The six Road Block rule applies on this Race.

Tyler, Ryot, and Dave finish first and open their next clue telling them to fly to Denpasar, Indonesia then take one of three fastboats to Lombok, leaving 30 minutes apart.

As the other teams finish, Tyler & Nathan get the first flight out of Melbourne through Darwin scheduled to  arrive in Denpasar at 8:30pm.  Tracy & Anne Marie get stuck in a carpark/garage instead of parking in the designated slots at a different lot at the airport and manage to get A$3 from other drivers to pay their ticket.

All ten teams are on a direct flight to Denpesar.  Tyler & Nathan arrive at 9:15pm and head over to BlueWater Express to sign up for the first boat.  The 2nd flight arrives at 10:55pm and it is a mad dash to the sign-up. 

Chris & Anastasia and Alana & Mel join the surfers on the first boat leaving at 6am the next morning.  Sam & Renae, Dave & Kelly, Jeff & Luke and Tracy & Anne Marie are on the 2nd, while Richard & Joey, Mo & Mos, Tom & Matt and Ryot & Liberty are on the last.

It’s 6am and the first boat leaves and gets to Lombok at 8:27am.  Teams must find their next clue hidden in nets on fishing boats in a fisherman’s village.  But the 2nd and 3rd boats arrive before any team in the first group finds the clue.

Finally Tyler & Nathan find the boats and get the clue telling them to take a taxi to Pura Lingsa Temple where they will have to run through a rice cake war ceremony to get their next clue.

As soon as the surfers head off, it’s a game of telephone as teams help other teams and other teams get clued in to where the boats are.


Once Tyler & Nathan get pelted with rice flour, they find the Detour.
In Cash teams must make and sell 15 bowls of Bakso, the local delicacy at one of the mobile stalls for no less than 5,000 Rp per bowl.   They’ll exchange the money with the stall owner for the clue.
In Carry, teams must head to a marked market stall to pick up a basket of produce which they must deliver by carrying it on their heads.  Once they deliver the baskets without dropping them, they’ll get their next clue.

Tyler & Nathan go for Carry, but have so much trouble, they switch Detours after Sam & Renae pass them to move into first place.  Joey & Richard are first at the Cash side of the Detour, but mistakenly accept 1,000 Rp as payment for the bowls.

The rest of the teams get through the Detour and now all teams are headed to Malimbu Beach where they’ll take a traditional boat to the island of Gili Trawangan where they’ll Snorkel underwater to retrieve a briefcase.  Inside the briefcase are loose Indonesian Rupiah bills which they must count correctly before receiving their next clue.

All the teams end up at the task at the same time.  Ryot & Liberty love numbers.  Farmers Tom & Matt drop one of their bills in the sand until Dave kindly stumbles upon it for them.  And Anne-Marie & Tracy have fun dropping their briefcase in the water.

Sam & Renae are the first team to have the correct total and they get their clue telling them to head to the Pit Stop at Sunset Point via cidomo, a local form of transport.  The models easily take first and A$10,000 from NAB Classic Banking… and more importantly, the Express Pass.

Married bikers Dave & Kelly check in as Team #2 with siblings Ryot & Liberty close behind as Team #3.  Jeff & Luke are 4th, Matt & Tom are 5th, Nathan & Tyler 6th and Chris & Anastasia 7th.

Tracy & Anne-Marie are more than relieved to get their Pit Stop clue and they check in as Team #8.  Sisters Alana & Mel check in 9th and Richard & Joey finish 10th. 

Buddies Mo & Mos are the last time to arrive, but Grant informs them this is a non-elimination leg.  They are now Marked for Elimination and will incur a 30 minute penalty on the next leg if they don’t come in first.

Episode Thoughts
Well, that was fun!  Even though it was very déjà vu, it was very refreshing and there was plenty to love.

First of all, the entire leg was basically one big Switchback to the 8th leg of the most recent season of The Amazing Race Asia, specifically one side of the Detour and the Road Block-turned-mandatory task as well as the several Route Markers and the Pit Stop.  Though it is not that surprising considering Michael McKay is the executive producer for both series.  And while it may be odd for those who have seen TARA and are now watching TARAu, the leg and tasks still feel fresh and exciting.

And that is in large part to the wonderful production.  TARAu feels like a step up from TARA.  Though The Amazing Race Asia gets a lot of flack from TAR fans, I have personally enjoyed the series so far even if I wish they’d step up their game.  TARAu seems like that souped-up TARA I’ve been waiting for.

From the fresh and slick looking new on-screen graphics and maps to the crisper and more vivid visuals of the HD video, The Amazing Race Australia is like a breath of fresh air.  The Amazing Race US better step up their own game for the upcoming 19th season.  Even the opening credits sequence for TARAu tops all the head-turning awesomeness of TAR Original’s openings.  There’s no reason TARUS can’t do some freshening up of their own.

TARAu’s first leg was great.  Again, a repeat of TARA4’s Indonesia leg, but well designed and the tweaking of the Detour for TARAu was a wise decision.  Also, having a Road Block at the Starting Line is a clever twist.  It’s been something I wish TARUS would do.  They did it this season with TAR18, so I hope they continue that in the future where Starting Line tasks determine which flights you get on for the start of the Race.

Probably the best thing about TARAu is its cast.  A great, diverse bunch of teams where even the cliché teams (models, surfers, dating bickersons) and standard teams (siblings, parent/child, older teams) all present distinct personalities.  It can be hard to get a handle on teams during the first leg when maybe only two or three teams get to stand out, but TARAu mananged to highlight every team and every team managed to provide highlights to feature.  That’s a sign of good casting.

Grant Bowler is okay so far as host.  He may want to be a little more lively and enthusiastic and less stiff, but he’s got time to work it out.  He’s certainly no stranger to being in front of the camera, nor is he a stranger to hosting reality-competition programs, so he should be more than able to do well as host.

So The Amazing Race Australia is off to a great start.  Definitely looking forward to the season and am very excited to have it bridge TAR18 and TAR19 as TARA4 did between TAR17 and TAR18 for me.

STARTING LINE & ROAD BLOCK
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Melbourne, Australia

CASH
A$140

CONNECTING CITIES
Darwin, Australia

ROUTE MARKERS
BlueWater Express
Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Fishing Village
Mataram, Lombok, Indonesia

Pura Lingsa Temple
Ampenan, Lombok, Indonesia

DETOUR
Mandalika Market
Mataram, Lombok, Indonesia

ROUTE MARKERS
Malimbu Beach
Lombok, Indonesia

Gili Trawangan
Lombok, Indonesia

PIT STOP
Sunsent Point
Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia

CASH
<



CARRY


>


> or < indicates team switched Detours.

Who did the Road Block?
Who is your tower of strength?
In order of completion; Italics indicate who did the Road Block

1 Tyler Nathan 0
1 Ryot Liberty 0
1 Dave Kelly 0
0 Joey Richard 1
0 Alana Mel 1
0 Sam Renae 1
1 Tracy Anne-Marie 0
1 Matt Tom 0
0 Anastasia Chris 1
1 Jeff Luke 0
0 Mo Mos 1

PIT STOP
Sunset Point
Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia

1st Sam & Renae
2nd Kelly & Dave
3rd Ryot & Liberty
4th Jeff & Luke
5th Matt & Tom
6th Tyler & Nathan
7th Anastasia & Chris
8th Anne-Marie & Tracy
9th Alana & Mel
10th Richard & Joey
11th Mo & Mos

Tracy & Anne-Marie Tracy & Anne-Marie – The Bowling Moms of TARAu.  And as loveable as the Bowling Moms were in TAR5, so are Tracy & Anne-Marie.  They are absolutely hilarious and fun, and it is great to see them enjoying every minute of the Race.  From falling on their butts to surprising themselves with their performance, they are a joy to watch.  And their giggle fits are absolutely infectious!
Sam & Renae Sam & Renae – They may be models and former Miss Australia Universe candidates, but they’re in the same mold as the immortal BQs and Jaime & Cara (and in turn TAR17 winners Nat & Kat) as a potentially strong female team.  They certainly did very well this leg and show no signs of it only being a fluke. 
Tyler & Nathan Tyler & Nathan – Kind of like TAR10 winners James & Tyler, they’re laid back, but can turn it on when they have to.  They lost their lead, but they definitely are not going to fade away easily.
Alana & Mel Alana & Mel – Probably the most interesting backstory of any team.  Kind of like TAR17’s Andie & Jenna.  Will their time apart cause tension and problems for them?  I doubt it.  But them giving up, even if it was jokingly, during the leg isn’t a good sign.  They’re nice, but I’d love to see them step it up and match Sam & Renae,
Ryot & Liberty Ryot & Liberty – They fell behind, but they recovered at the end.  It might be iffy for them to keep up, but they didn’t give up this leg so that is definitely good for them.  They also showed a little bit of Tracy & Anne-Marie aloofness which can be very endearing.
Jeff & Luke Jeff & Luke – Father and son look like they could be a strong team.  They obviously have the brawn.  I don’t see any of their issues outside the Race to affect them in, but you never know.
Mo & Mos Mo & Mos – They’re kind of like a less annoying Dandrew (TAR13).  They’re actually funny.  It might get old, but for now, they’re fun.
Matt & Tom Matt & Tom – They’re a less annoying and douchey Cowboys.  They did well this leg despite their country bumpkin personalities, but they could definitely make a run.
Joey & Richard Joey & Richard – We’ve definitely seen them before.  The type of team that is.  A couple that is very determined, very competitive… and hilarious.  They’ve definitely got a fire about them and it is very fun to see them be frantic and overexcited.
Dave & Kelly Dave & Kelly – Definitely a Ken & Tina vibe and Kentina were the runners-up on TAR13.  They also seem like a fun couple, so don’t bet on there being any bickering from them.
Anastasia & Chris Anastasia & ChrisThe designated Mr. and Ms. Bickerson for TARAu.  The kind of dysfunctional couple that’ll fight on minute and be all kissy-face the next.  Dysfuction can always be fun and they both seem very fit so they might do well.
Quotes from Episode 1.01

Mel: “I’ve got the biggest wedgie ever!”

Mo: “I’m surprised they didn’t call the police.  ‘There’s a random Arab climbing up the MCG.  Should we be concerned?'”

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