Recap: The Amazing Race 14, Episode 1 – “We didn’t get here by being idiots.”

Episode 14.01: Don’t Let a Cheese Hit Me

“The dawn of a new adventure.”
So says Phil as we being the 14th(!!) Amazing Race.  A phrase that could refer to many things about this new season.  Of course, a new season means new teams and new amazing destinations.  But for TAR14, it also means a “freshened up” TAR (more on that later).

The 14th season begins (and each season is a milestone for the six-time Emmy winner) with US Marine Corps helicopters flying the eleven teams to the Joint Forces Training Base and Army Reserve at Los Alamitos, CA.

Phil introduces us to friends/flight attendants Christie & Jodi, lawyer siblings Tammy & Victor, mother and son Margie & Luke, who is deaf, Steve & Linda married for 17 years, sisters Kisha & Jen, dating Preston & Jennifer, “bad ass older couple” Brad & Victoria, father and son writers Mel & Mike (who are also gay), dating Amanda & Kris, brothers/stuntmen Mark & Michael, and friends/former cheerleaders Jaime & Cara.

Phil explains the teams will have a “number” of legs (hmm…) and with “The world is waiting for you.  Good luck, travel safe… GO!”  The teams of TAR14 are off.

The teams get their first clue, telling them their first destination city is Locarno, Switzerland.  They have a choice of 2 flights; Lufthansa leaving at 3:35pm and flying to Zurich and Air France departing at 4pm, arriving in Milan.  From those cities, teams will then take a train to Locarno.

*cue theme remix*
As the teams drive off to LAX we are introduced to the new style opening and updated theme.  

The “freshening up” continues as we lose the Amazing Yellow Line and get Google maps for our route as we learn Tammy & Victor, Christie & Jodi, Jaime & Cara, Mark & Michael, Margie & Luke, and Brad & Victoria take the Lufthansa flight with Kisha & Jen, Mel & Mike, Amanda & Kris, Preston & Jennifer, and Steve & Linda on the Air France flight.

For the first time, we get no leg 1 airport drama, or really any airport scenes at all as the teams arrive at the airport and board their planes just like that.

The Race is On
The Lufthansa flight arrives first with teams taking a train at the airport, while the Air France teams head into the city where Preston & Jennifer miss the train.

On the way to Locarno, teams take in the scenery with Brad getting choked up.  Tammy points out that Luke is just as capable, if not more so because he is deaf.  We then get our very first TAR split-screen transition as we go from the Zurich train to the Milan train and check in with teams there.

Back on the Zurich train, Christie & Jodi are told by a lady that transferring to another train would get them to Locarno faster.  They break off from the pack and get into Locarno 13 minutes before the other teams.

Once in Locarno, teams must head to the Church of San Antonio where they will sign the register, signing up for one of three morning departure times, and receive a message from a priest.

After singing up, the teams spend the night at a nearby campsite. They all do some bonding before the race really starts the next day.Linda, who had been running behind the whole day cries as Steve talks about them being “last” and “slow.”

In the morning, teams are given a picture of the Verzasca Dam where they must go for their next clue.

Jump for Fun
Departing at 7:15 are Tammy & Victor, Margie & Luke, and Mark & Michael.  Christie & Jodi can not find a taxi, allowing 7:30 teams Brad & Victoria and Mel & Mike to leave first.  The flight attendants find a taxi, leaving Jaime & Cara behind.

At the Dam, the teams find the very first Road Block of the Race, Who Has Nerves of Steel?.  In this Road Block, teams will have to do the 2nd highest bungee jump in the world, 70 stories down before receiving their next clue.

As Victor makes the jump, the final group of teams set off from the church to the Dam.
Tammy and Victor get their next clue, telling them to take a train to Interlaken and find Kleine Rugen Wiese for their next clue.  As they leave, Michael, Luke, and Mike complete the Road Block. 
Meanwhile, Jodi is having second thoughts about doing the Road Block.

All the teams arrive at the Road Block, with Victoria and Jodi completing.  At the train station, Tammy & Victor fail to get on a train before the other teams and she suggests they not talk to the other teams.  Victor doesn’t see the need to make enemies too early and instead suggests they pretend they are less capable than they are.  He gives them “the story” of them being weary of the info some lady gave them about the train and that they’ll risk it just because.  On the train, Mel says to keep an eye on the siblings as they are off to Interlaken.

Split-screening it back to the Dam, Kris jumps (complete with time!, 8:41am), followed by Jaime (8:49), Preston (8:58), Jen (9:07), and Steve (9:14).Then split-screening it to Brad & Victoria in a taxi finding two trains to Interlaken, one through Lucerne and one through Italy.  

Christie & Jodi catch up to them and they decide on Lucerne which leaves in a minute (9:39am).  But Brad & Victoria take the the 10:50am train that arrives earlier.  

Cheese Rolls
Split-screen to the first train arriving in Interlaken as the teams head to the next clue.  Here, teams have to choose a pair of antique cheese racks and climb to the top of the hill where they must get the 200 lbs of cheese (four 50-lb wheels) from an aging shed that they will transport down the hill.  Once they’ve stacked all 200 lbs of cheese, they will receive their next clue.

*cue hilarity*
Teams, having a hard just walking up the steep, slippery hill, find this task might not be as easy as it looks.  Mel’s rack breaks even before he reaches the shed.  Other teams find take two wheels of cheese may not be such a good idea. 

Margie & Luke hold each others hands walking down the hill, but Margie triggers something on her rack and her cheese rolls down the hill.  Luke then starts down the hill, accelerates and then falls with his rack shattering to pieces.  And his cheese rolling ahead of him, much to the delight of the Swiss bell ringers.

Victor’s rack breaks, but the cheese stays on while Tammy can’t even get up from the ground.  They leave the one wheel and they each carry one down the hill, though they lose another one halfway which rolls past Mel who is sliding down on his butt with his wheel of cheese.  (“Don’t let a cheese hit me!”)

We split-screen it back to Christie & Jodi on the train who say they’ve searched the train and found no other teams, concluding Brad & Victoria have lied to their face.

Back at the hill, Margie & Luke dump their pieces of wood and go search for their lost cheese.   Mike and Mark, meanwhile, manage to get down with their racks and cheese in tact.

On second trip, teams follow Mel’s example and slide down on their behinds or simply carry them down.

Margie & Luke finish first and are given the clue telling them to head to the Pit Stop, the last postal bus stop at Stechelberg.  There, they must listen for a group of yodelers to lead them to Phil and the mat. 
Tammy & Victor and Mark & Michael are right behind.

Mel & Mike are finishing as the rest of the teams arrive.  Linda and Jennifer have a particularly hard time getting up the hill.  Dropping off his racks, Steve goes back to literally push his wife up until she begins crawling up.
Christie & Jodi are slow going getting to the cheese.

At the top, Amanda, attempting two wheels on her back (which makes her rack collapse) complains she’s carrying her own body weight.  Kris manages two wheels.

Preston also carrying two wheels waits for Jennifer who’s “wasting time” and the flight attendants finally catch up to the others.

Yodeling to the Mat
At the Pit Stop, Phil signs to Margie & Luke that they are team number one, winning a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (It sucks TAR no longer has the budget for fifty grand anymore.)  Tammy & Victor take 2nd and Mark & Michael join the other two on the mat taking 3rd.

Back to the cheese, Jennifer, not taking any cheese, instead helps guide Preston down the hill which doesn’t help because he falls and breaks his rack anyway.  

Linda and Steve think they can get all 200 lbs on the rack.  They place three on one rack which Steve drags down the hill and Linda takes the other.  Steve’s rack apparently disintegrates as he drags it down and he tries to pull all three at once. 

Linda and the other teams decide on sliding down on their butts, Preston and Jennifer take each side of the rack but slip, and Kris powers down the hill with a wheel on each shoulder.  Amanda is right behind and they finish first in the group.

Linda & Steve “outsmarted” everybody and finish the task 6th. 
Preston loses a wheel, Kisha & Jen and Cara & Jaime each pull one wheel on their rack and hold another in their laps, and Christie leaves a wheel back up the hill without knowing. 
Preston & Jennifer finally finish, leaving Christie & Jodi in last.

Back to the Pit Stop, Mel & Mike check in at 4th and Amanda & Kris finish 5th.

Steve & Linda see footprints, but find they can’t cross the river.  They get themselves lost and Brad & Victoria, Cara & Jaime, Kisha & Jen pass them to finish 6th, 7th, and 8th  respectively.

Phil gives Steve & Linda the eyebrow when they finally check-in 9th, leaving us with two final teams in a footrace to the mat.

Ultimately, Christie & Jodi edge Jennifer riding on Preston’s back to escape elimination as the dating couple bid farewell to the Race.

Well, it was a good start to the new season.  The cheese task was TAR Hall of Fame material.  All kinds of hilarity right up there with the animal tasks and the Vietnamese basket boats and bikes.

But more importantly, as teased by Phil and Bertram van Munster last week, we got a bunch of cosmetic changes to the show.

First, the biggie,the updated theme.  While I might prefer Israel’s theme as being much more epic, the new American theme is pretty good as well.  I think they were going for a cross between more exciting and pulse pounding than the original, but just fell short.And while I love the new shots of the world, I miss the head turns and I think the name graphics are a step down from the previous ones used.All in all I think they could’ve done better with the new opening.

Now during the episode, we got a new font and new graphics to go along with them, including new icons for Route Info and Road Block, and of course the Detour when we get it next week.  Looked good I thought.  The Google maps actually didn’t seem as impressive as they usually do when used on TV or even as appealing as the classic Amazing Yellow Line.

There wasn’t much change to the musical scoring, definitely heard some TAR classics in there which is good (they shouldn’t completely change the music which I doubt they’d ever do).

And I expected the split screens to be used in very differently than just transitions between locations.  Though cool, I guess if used more than it was and in a way that had it up for more than a few seconds, the show would become too cluttered and busy.  So I guess transitions are a fair way to add something new to the show.

So overall, I have no major complaints about the visual changes to the show.  We’ll have to wait and see about how and what kinds of changes they made to airport drama editing that’s been talked about.  And also if there are any other kinds of editing changes they’ve made.

I’m just happy TAR is back! As long as TAR is up and running, I’m happy.

Leg One Itinerary
Los Angeles, California

Zurich, Switzerland
Milan, Italy

Locarno, Switzerland

Church of St. Antionio
Kleine Rugen Weise

Verzasca Dam

Stechelberg, Switzerland

Departure Times
Church of Saint Antonio
Christie & Jodi 7:15am
Tamy & Victor 7:15am
Margie & Luke 7:15am
Mark & Michael 7:15am
Brad & Victoria 7:30am
Jaime & Cara 7:30am
Mel & Mike 7:30am
Kisha & Jen 7:45am
Amanda & Kris 7:45am
Steve & Linda 7:45am
Preston & Jennifer 7:45am

Who Did the Detour?

No Detour

This Week

Road Block Count

In order of completion; Italics indicate who did this week’s Road Block
0 Tammy Victor 1
0 Mark Michael 1
1 Luke Margie 0
0 Mel Mike 1
0 Brad Victoria 1
0 Christie Jodi 1
0 Amanda Kris 1
0 Cara Jaime 1
1 Preston Jennifer 0
0 Kisha Jen 1
0 Linda Steve 1

Order of Finish
Margie & Luke 1st
Tammy & Victor 2nd
Mark & Michael 3rd
Mel & Mike 4th
Amanda & Kris 5th
Brad & Victoria 6th
Cara & Jaime 7th
Kisha & Jen 8th
Steve & Linda 9th
Christie & Jodi 10th
Preston & Jennifer Eliminated

My Team Rankings for Leg 1
No rankings yet, just in alphabetical order
Amanda & Kris Amanda & Kris – I wouldn’t call them the next Jon & Kris just yet, but they seem to be nice, they love each other, and they’re strong competitors.  I certainly hope they stay that way the entire Race.
Brad & Victoria Brad & Victoria –  Brad reminds me of Joe Biden without the foot in his mouth.  Considering Victoria’s “bad ass” declaration, they have the makings of being a Teri & Ian.
Cara & Jaime Cara & Jaime – Cara & Jaime – They seem to be all right.  Nothing much from them this leg, but I hope they can be an all-female team you can root for. 
Christie & Jodi Christie & Jodi – Not much of an opinion on them yet, I suppose.  The cliché “use our womanhood to our advantage” strategy doesn’t always get one far in the Race, so we’ll see. 
Jennifer & Preston Jennifer & Preston – They had the makings of a fun couple.  One in the same vein as Mojo or Nathan & Jennifer.  Bicker bicker, but really in love.  Too bad though.  It seemed as though Preston was carrying Jennifer the entire leg however, so they might not have gone far doing what they were doing.
Lakisha & Jennifer Kisha & Jen – Athletic women can go far in the Race, but then again, athletic women may not be so strong as one thinks (see: Survivor).  And they’re sisters, so it would be good to see a family team go far as well.
Linda & Steve Linda & Steve – Not quite David & Mary, but pretty close.  I feel like they could either be the next ones eliminated or they’ll make it halfway through the Race.  Linda was lost in the preview for next week, which 75% means they probably are safe.  If they keep up the determination, they can be very endearing.
Margie & Luke Margie & Like – Luke’s disability should definitely not be a big factor in their Race performance.  If they win, it would be a first for the American TAR, but not for TAR in general since one of the winners of The Amazing Race Asia 2 was deaf also.  So TARA has beaten TARUS to the punch.  TARA has already had the first all-female team and the first deaf contestant to make it to the finish line first. 
Mark & Michael Mark & Michael – They came out strong this first leg.  Professional stuntmen should be fun, and really there shouldn’t be any task where their height would be a disadvantage.
Mel & Mike Mel & Mike – Always good to see parent-child teams.  There’s always an interesting dynamic there.  Not sure how far they can go though.
Tammy & Victor Tammy & Victor – Thumbs up to Asians on TAR definitely, and for the 3rd season in a row (4th if we include TAR10’s Erwin & Godwin) we have what could possibly be another “Super Twins”/Super Siblings team.  Let’s see if they’ll go the way of Azaria & Hendekia or winners Nick & Starr.
Quotes from Episode 14-01

Jodi: “Blonde women in foreign countries really kind of can get away with murder.  And we’re going to use that to our advantage.”

Victoria: “We are the bad ass older couple.”

Jaime: “Often, women who are aggressive and assertive are viewed as a ‘bitch’ or a villain.  I don’t think that’s fair, but I ultimately don’t give a crap what anyone thinks of me.”

Mike: “The other teams might think my dad is Cloris Leachman, but he’s really MacGuyver.”

Jennifer: “I’ve never in my life ever been to a train station.”

Mel: “Let’s get the cheese, oh geez.”

Preston: “I don’t like cheese at all.  In fact, I may not eat cheese ever again.”

Mark: “Can a 100 lb guy carry 100 lbs of cheese?”

Margie: “We have to find our cheese.”
Luke: “Oh no.”

Steve: “We didn’t get here by being idiots.”

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