Recap: The Amazing Race 23, Episode 1 – “We’re Not in Oklahoma No More”
Phil introduces us to our fresh set of teams:
Chester & Ephraim, friends and former NFL teammates.
Rowan & Shane, Queens of Bingo, theater performers.
Tim & Marie, exes who establish they are the dysfunctional bickering couple from the start.
Leo & Jamal, cousins who call themselves the Afghanimals.
Ally & Ashley, friends and ice crew members.
Nicole & Travis, married ER doctors.
Hoskote & Naina, Indian father and daughter. He wants to set up an arranged marriage for her.
Tim & Danny, Oklahoma oil plant workers.
Brandon & Adam, childhood friends who live in the woods.
Nicky & Kim, baseball wives.
Jason & Amy, dating.
Phil walks out of the saloon and meets the teams. Giving them a shorter version of his usual opening spiel, he tells them the winner of this first Leg will win two Express Passes and sends them off to their brand new Ford C-Max hybrids.
As soon as they hop in their cars, they’ll use the spiffy Ford Sync system to make a phone call which would reveal their first destination, Iquique, Chile.
After the debut of the fresh new opening credits and version 3.0 of the iconic TAR theme, teams hurry to LAX to get on the first of two flights on American Airlines to Iquique via Santiago, Chile.
The seven teams on the first flight are Leo & Jamal, Chester & Ephraim, Rowan & Shane, Tim & Marie, Ally & Ashley, Nicky & Kim and Nicole & Travis. The four teams on the 2nd flight arriving almost 3 hours after the first are Brandon & Adam, Jason & Amy, Hoskote & Naina and Tim & Danny.
The first flight arrives and teams must make their way to the Zona de Parapentes in Alto Hospicio where Javier will hand them their next clue.
The first teams arrive and open up their envelopes to reveal the first Road Block of the Race.
In this Road Block, team members must follow their partner who will be paragliding from the cliffs atop Alto Hospicio down to the beach.
Nicole & Travis, Chester & Ephraim and Rowan & Shane are the leading teams. While Nicole and Ephraim’s taxi drivers let them off far from the landing site, Shane gets dropped off right at the spot and they move into sole first place.
Right behind them are Ally & Ashley, Leo & Jamal, Nicky & Kim and Tim & Marie.
After reuniting with their partners, teams must head to Muelle Prat for their next clue.
As the second flight arrives in Iquique, Nicole & Travis arrive at the next clue first and find the next Road Block.
For this second Road Block, teams must row boats into a harbor and collect five fish from any of three ships: Scarleth, Dona Hilda and San Francisco. Each boat has a limited number of fish. Once they’ve been delivered, the fishmonger will hand them their next clue.
Travis collects his five fish as Jamal and Rowan get started. The other four teams arrive and Nicole & Travis are handed a picture of the Pit Stop, the Teatro Municipal de Iquique, which they must head to on foot.
Unfortunately, Nicole & Travis decide to hop into a taxi. They arrive at the Mat, but Phil tells them they must wait out a 30 minute penalty for the taxi.
Meanwhile, back at the harbor, as the other teams arrive, they clue Leo onto the fact that he is supposed to the Road Block and not Jamal. He yells to Jamal to row back.
Tim quickly finishes the Road Block and he and Marie run to the Pit Stop where they officially check-in 1st and win the two Express Passes. No other teams arrive and Phil can officially check-in Nicole & Travis as Team #2.
Rowan & Shane are next as Team #3. Chester & Ephraim and Nicky & Kim step on the Mat together as Teams #4 and #5, respectively.
Ally & Ashley finish 6th and Leo & Jamal finish 7th.
Jason & Amy, Brandon & Adam and Tim & Danny arrive at the Road Block while Hoskote & Naina are in last.
Jason & Amy head off to the Pit Stop to check-in as team #8.
Naina gets started with the Road Block, but as Tim & Danny and Brandon & Adam finish up, Naina realizes her father is supposed to do the Road Block.
That’s the death knell for the father and daughter. Tim & Danny officially check-in as Team #9 and Brandon & Adam take 10th.
Night falls and that leaves Hoskote & Naina in last and eliminated.
First off, FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!! Bert & Co. have finally decided to spruce up the graphics and the opening. It’s about time. And with the Emmy loss this year, it couldn’t come sooner. Let’s hope TAR24 also sees some tweaks for the better too. The graphics update is a good start.
Now, the new opening feels very glossy. Maybe a little too glossy for TAR though. The background effects are pretty unnecessary and for some teams, looks weird. And it’d be nice to have brand new location clips too.
The new globe looks great in the closing credits, but the big bold dark RACE in the new-old logo looks too out of place. The thicker logo has been used for years, so it’s not really new. But they yellow and thick black looks super imposing. It’ll take some getting used to.
The 3.0 version of the theme song is good. Not as drastic a change as the first time, but just enough to be fresh. Still doesn’t top TAR Israel’s great remix of the theme though.
And the info graphics during the actual episode are alright. I kinda wish they kept the old Microgramma font for the “Road Block” and “Route Info” titles though instead of generic italicized Arial.
As for the Leg itself, it was largely forgettable. It was an okay episode, but very bland tasks. The first Road Block was too deja vu from TAR20’s switcheroo fake out and it didn’t create as much drama or meltdowns as the first time. The second Road Block would’ve been okay if the Leg had another, more interesting task.
And of course, we had no Starting Line task, which is a bummer. I really wish though that they’d do away with the different flights and have all the teams start off on a level playing field when they first arrive in their first destination. Let the Race be decided by what they do on the Leg, not who can get the worst directions to LAX.
Anyway, I’m excited TAR23 is back, but I’m actually more anxious about TAR24 since it’ll be the first season Bert & Co. have planned after their Emmy loss. It should be interesting what they do to step up their game because I am pretty sure they’ve kept it safe this season, like they’ve done in recent seasons.
in subjective order
It is an okay cast so far. No one has really stood out yet.
Though I am sad about Hoskote & Naina. Hoskote seemed like he could’ve been the next Ron (of Ron & Christina). He’s a firecracker of a dad it seems and it would’ve been fun to see him and Naina go back and forth throughout the Race. Sucks that it seems they just got a bad cab.
Rowan & Shane and Tim & Danny seem like nice guys and Ally & Ashley seem like they could be strong competitors. Jason & Amy look to fill the nice couple spot while Nicole & Travis seem like a less-trainwrecky Holly & Brett (TARC1).
Chester & Ephraim could do well while Nicky & Kim could ruffle more feathers the wrong way while skating their way through. (Wrong team to use that reference, but you get the idea.)
Now for the teams I like the least. I’ve never been one to like the “hippie” teams, so Brandon & Adam are meh for me. But the Afghanimals Leo & Jamal come off as loud and annoying more than fun and witty. They are one of those teams that try too hard to play up to the camera.
Meanwhile, Tim & Marie being exes seems so contrived. The bickering right in the intro feels so forced. It makes it hard to enjoy their dysfunction since we’re told they are dysfunctional right off the bat. It is much better when we find out later on. But for them to be “that couple” from the very beginning screams forced.