Stretch Hummers deliver teams to Dodgers Stadium. Those teams include best friends Tian & Jaree, “old, fat, out of shape, middle-aged” air traffic controllers Steve & Dave, married couple Reichen & Chip, 12-year couple and virgins Millie & Chuck, father and son Steve & Josh, close friends Russell & Cindy, NFL wives Monica & Sheree, best friend bachelors David & Jeff, dating couple Amanda & Chris, recently engaged Kelly & Jon, “fat, forty and fun” married parents Debra & Steve and clown best friends Jon & Al.
Phil gives the teams his spiels before he flags them off. They run to their bags and open the first clue revealing their first destination is Milan, Italy. With $200 for this Leg, teams hop into their Mercedes Benz SUVs to drive themselves to LAX hoping to catch one of three flights.
Tian & Jaree fall behind right at the start as the trunk refuses to close on their SUV and they must wait for a replacement.
Meanwhile, most of the teams stick together as they have no idea how to get to the airport. Monica & Sheree manage to get a police officer to guide them toward the right exit.
Russell & Cindy arrive at the airport first, but decide to go to the Lufthansa counter for the flight that actually arrives second. Millie & Chuck and Amanda & Chris are right behind them. Reichen & Chip try to cut in front of them by going to a different agent, but are unsuccessful.
Jon & Al and Kelly & Jon are first on the Swiss Air flight. Steve & Josh are third in line with Monica & Sheree and Reichen & Chip behind them. But noticing Steve & Dave were wearing air traffic control hats, the father and son decide to work with them and promise to get them the last seats on the flight. Monica & Sheree cannot believe it.
David & Jeff, Monica & Shree, Reichen & Chip, Debra & Steve and Tian & Jaree have to settle on the last flight.
Due to delays, the first two flights arrive now only ten minutes apart. Upon arrival in Milan, teams must make their way to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Here, teams must search the crowded mall for tickets to one of three charter buses departing two hours apart.
Early alliances are formed as Millie & Chuck point Amanda & Chris to the early charter bus ticket and Reichen & Chip and David & Jeff agree to share information.
Josh decides to help Monica & Sheree get the last ticket on the 4am bus. They are the only team on the last flight to get on one of the first two buses. The NFL wives say they are now even after the line cutting at the airport. Josh says he just didn’t want the “blonde chicks with the fake tits” to get on the bus.
As night falls, teams decide to check into hotels for the evening to wait for their early morning buses. Debra & Steve are hesitant to pay 50 euro for a room and when they decide to ultimately get one, the hotel is fully booked. Reichen & Chip decide to share their room with them. Steve is upset that he was indecisive, but Debra says it’s alright.
Russell & Cindy, meanwhile, decide to sleep on the street. But only after they get very testy with each other.
The first group of Millie & Chuck, Amanda & Chris, Steve & Josh and Steve & Dave depart at 2am. Kelly & Jon, Russell & Cindy, Jon & Al and Monica & Sheree depart at 4am. The last bus at 6am carry Debra & Steve, Reichen & Chip, David & Jeff and Tian & Jaree.
The teams’ mystery destination is Cortina D’Ampezzo. The first bus arrives at 9am and the teams open the clue telling them to make their way to Cinque Torri where they must take a lift up to the top where they will walk to the next cluebox.
And that cluebox reveals the first Detour: Search or Rescue. In Search, teams will use a locator beacon to search a snow field for a signal emanating from under the snow. They will then dig up a key to a snowmobile they can drive to their next clue. In Rescue, teams must make their way to rock towers where they will make it across the divide on a rope before then taking a zipline over a ravine.
All the leading teams decide on Rescue and afterwards, they can make their way to the Pit Stop at the Hotel Lajadira.
Meanwhile, the second bus arrives and Monica & Sheree decide to go for the Fast Forward. To win this one, teams must head to a field in Passo Giau and hike up to a hill on snowshoes.
They hope to claim first. But Millie & Chuck, Amanda & Chris and Steve & Josh work together to find the Pit Stop and they all step on the Mat at the same time to tie as Team #1. All of them win a trip to Hawaii courtesy of the American Airlines website. Monica & Sheree settle for 4th.
First bus team Steve & Dave fall behind when Dave injures his right knee and they end up as Team #5.
Kelly & Jon, Jon & Al and Russell & Cindy check in as Teams #6 to #8.
It’s down to the last four teams. Debra is a little slow to cross the tightrope and Tian helps her get up onto the rocks. Tian & Jaree apologize for having to pass Debra & Steve on the way to the zipline. David & Jeff have already finished the Rescue, but are confused about how to head back down the mountain.
Reichen & Chip arrive at the Pit Stop as Team #9 followed by David & Jeff as Team #10. Tian & Jaree, having left the mountain before Debra & Steve, officially check in as Team #11.
That means married parents Debra & Steve are last and eliminated.
— DryedMangoez (@dryedmangoez) January 22, 2021
And so we take another trip back in time with season 4 of The Amazing Race. In the past, say 10 years ago, TAR4 may not have been a favorite season of mine. Even though Kelly & Jon have always been one of my favorite teams. But after years of pretty unamazing Amazing Race seasons, TAR4 certainly appears much better than it once did for me. So I’m looking forward to watching the season for the first time in a while.
Unlike TAR3, I haven’t watched TAR4 recently or even often. So it will be a different experience.
But this first episode definitely wasn’t the most positive experience to start off, I’ll tell you that right now.
This was a horrible Leg. Definitely a horrible first Leg and season premiere. I remember it being 90 minutes. But man, this Leg and episode definitely did not deserve a 90-minute timeslot. 1/3 of the episode was the Race to the airport. And while we got some insight into the teams on the drive, it wasn’t so much that it warranted all that time.
The only interesting thing to come out of that entire section of the episode was the little tension between Monica & Sheree and Team ATC/Steve & Josh. And that ended up getting resolved in Milan with the pointing out of the tickets.
And that was the next big chunk of the episode; teams running around a mall to find hidden ticket boxes. Okay? That’s certainly not very amazing. Especially when they’re in Milan which deserved a whole Leg on its own.
The next section was then the hotel situation. And the only two interesting moments were Debra & Steve having to room with Reichen & Chip and Russell and Cindy’s awkward fight.
After that, the Leg was pretty much decided based on the buses (TWO hours?!) since the Detour was so inconsequential. Both the Detour and the Fast Forward were basically teams just walking around in the snow. Which, while a beautiful location, isn’t the most exciting or thrilling thing to enjoy on a supposed Race.
Again, we got some fun character moments sprinkled throughout. But they weren’t so amazing that they redeemed the rest of the episode for me.
Not to mention the hints of alliances being formed. And with the wounds of TAR32 still fresh, I definitely didn’t want to see such things here. Though from what I remember, any alliance on TAR4 isn’t going to come anywhere near the level of nonsense TAR32 devolved into. But let’s try to just push that season toward the very back of our minds, shall we?
One of my favorite things about TAR4 though are its episode title quotes. THE BEST episode titles in all of TAR history. When I do my recaps over the years, I always try to find a better quote from the episode to use instead of the ones they actually use. Because the actual episode titles are so lame and uninteresting. But for TAR4? No need. The episode titles and quotes are iconic.
Also, the one thing in this episode that totally dates it as something from 2003? Stretch Hummers! lol
Anyway, it wasn’t a very good premiere. Despite my liking the teams a lot so far, the Leg and episode itself was far from exciting or amazing.
My Subjective Team Rankings
I don’t remember there being THREE Steves on this season lol
My favorite team after this episode was definitely Amanda & Chris. I remembered Amanda’s cursing, but watching it again like it was the first time was hilarious. I know they don’t survive long on the Race. But I wish they did. I think TAR4 would’ve been completely different if they made it further than they did. Seeing their bickering all season would’ve been fun. And I’m sure they’d probably get into some kind of rivalry with another team as well. But the best part of this ep for them was Chris calling Amanda “Flo” lol. That was amazing! That’s the impact TAR had back then. People actually watched the show! lol
I know Debra & Steve were just cast as early boot fodder. I feel bad saying it, but we know it’s true. That’s really how TAR cast teams early on. But the married parents were a very fun team. They certainly did not lack a personality. They might have eventually fallen behind at some physical task in a future Leg, but I would’ve enjoyed watching them Race longer. Debra & Steve had more impact and fun moments in this episode than some teams have in entire seasons.
Tian & Jaree were one of the few teams that really showed they’d be a fun team right off the bat. I totally forgot about that moment with Jaree and the barista. Lol That was hilarious. And it was just one moment for them that would foretell how great a team they’d be on the Race. Both as Racers and as great characters.
Kelly & Jon, on the other hand, were like the opposite. They seemed like a fun team here on this episode. But definitely does not even scratch the surface of the fun drama they’d bring to the Race later on.
Team ATC, Steve & Dave, definitely delivered with their characters on the Race. If you look back on this season and think about the big personalities, Steve & Dave would be one of the teams you remember. Obviously not the strongest Racers per se, but they would always be big parts of the episodes. And we saw it here already. From the airport drama to Dave’s knee, they would always garner attention and they definitely added to the fun of the season.
There was really no reason for Monica & Sheree to take the Fast Forward. They didn’t finish first and they were two hours ahead of the last bus. But it did help to give them some screentime aside from the airport drama. They were definitely strong, fierce ladies. You know they would never back down from competition.
Jon & Al fit the TAR archetype of the funny goofballs that the show seemed to cast every season. Kind of like a Ken & Gerard, Gary & Dave or Kevin & Drew. They were definitely under the radar though in this episode.
Reichen & Chip‘s time in the episode was focused mostly on them being married (which in 2003, is certainly an interesting detail about their relationship) and their alliance with David & Jeff. Otherwise, another under the radar team. (Definitely the opposite of how they’d be later on.)
Russell & Cindy were an interesting team. I’m sure TAR cast them in the mold of Flo & Zach as the “Let’s see if TAR gets us to fall in love with each other” team. Their storyline would pretty much play out as expected though. So this episode was more of them setting up that eventual ending.
Steve & Josh certainly have the makings of the cutthroat, uber-competitive team. And the airport drama supports that. But Josh’s dig at Tian & Jaree really came out of nowhere.
Millie & Chuck‘s “virgin” label was always kinda awkward. Especially when the show would keep harping on it all season. (Heck, it’s their team description.) But it was a quiet episode for them. And the fact that it was Millie that initiates the alliance and actually waiting for other teams is not surprising at all. Lol
David & Jeff were probably the least interesting team in this episode. They are basically the alpha male team. And they barely got a chance to show off any kind of personality. So when the other teams were able to have their moments, David & Jeff really faded into the background.
Josh: “There’s going to be a lot of walking on this trip.”
Chris: “Come on Flo!”
Amanda: “Dude! If you yell at me again, I’m gonna fucking die.”
Jeff: “My lungs hurt more than my pride.”