Have you ever asked yourself, "Gosh, I wonder what would result if you strategically 'censored' a children's television program?" Well, wonder no more....
I just learned this afternoon that legendary sportscaster Jim McKay died last weekend at the age of 86. He will be missed.
If I had to attribute my love of sports to any one person it would be McKay. In the days before ESPN there weren't a lot of television options for a bored kid on a Saturday afternoon. So on those days, I'd frequently turn into the Wide World of Sports. Sometimes it would be covering sports I had no interest in (boxing, racing), but frequently enough it would slide into the fun or bizarre that it kept my attention. Cliff diving, pool, sports you'd frequently only see during the Olympics, it was all covered in the Wide World of Sports. And McKay projected both reverence and joy in whatever sport he was covering. As a kid, who knew something could be both fun and important?
I was around 6 months old during the 1972 Summer Olympics, so I did not get to witness first-hand his coverage of the hostage situation. But I've seen him oversee coverage of many other Olympic games, and without even reading the reports could know that he covered things perfectly.
I miss the Wide World of Sports, the same way I miss MTV. Both shows forced you to sit through the bad so as to guarantee you'd not miss the good. They gave you little tastes of things, and if you liked what you were tasting you could go elsewhere to savor them in larger portions. There are no television smorgasbords anymore, just hundreds of stations filled with focus-grouped programming.
So, goodbye, Jim McKay. You'll be missed for what you brought to the wide world of sports, and that can never be replaced.
When Sweetie and I relocated we opted for the cheapest satellite package that would meet our needs. Meaning it had ESPN available.
With baseball season arriving it has come to our (Sweetie's) attention that our station lineup did not include Fox Sports Northwest, which meant that the Mariners were largely inaccessible to us. Sweetie was going to add the Mariners to the lineup, and there was a discussion as to if that would be covered under his budget or the joint budget.
Personally, I don't watch much baseball on TV (prefer live or radio), so FSN wasn't important to me. But, for just $5 more we could get a lineup that included Bravo as well. So we went for that.
And yesterday Bravo thanked us by having a marathon of the current season of Top Chef. I'd seen a couple of episodes up at the in-laws, but now I've got all of them at my fingertips. And that makes me happy.
I've stopped blogging about The Amazing Race every week, because it seems there are only so many times I can blog that Jen needs to SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY before I get bored of it, and I'm sure y'all were bored of it long before I was.
However, I had to interrupt the lack of programming to comment on an historical occasion. For the FIRST time in Amazing Race history (12 seasons, people), I am GUARANTEED to not hate the winning team. Prior to this season there has ALWAYS been a team I disliked in the finals, and frequently they have won. This season, the last of the evil teams was eliminated this last week, and now we're down to just people I like.
I cannot express how happy I am that Nate and Jen were eliminated this week, and how actively I disliked them. Not only were they fighting the ENTIRE race, but she suffered from such a sense of entitlement and privilege that she got UPSET when other people did better than her, and seemed to think people were out to spite her rather than, you know, running a race for a million dollars. She lost me mid-way through the race, when a team placed first two weeks in a row, and the second week they were just inches ahead of Nate and Jen. Jen was upset that the other team got first place a second time - she had never gotten first place, shouldn't she be given a chance? It made me VERY happy that they never placed first. I also like to think they got a bit of karmic justice in their final episode. Making their way to the final challenge of the leg they opted to take subway rather than cab, based on the advice of some locals who told them it would be faster due to traffic. When they got to the subway station they discovered they would have to take a bus at the other end. So they take the subway, get to the other end, question whether they should take a cab instead of a bus (the answer: most definitely yes, while a subway may be faster than a car a bus will not be), then erupt into a fight over the whole thing. While fighting at least one cab for hire drives past them (kudos to Sweetie for spotting it). I like to think if they caught that cab, rather than fighting and then getting a bus, they would have still been in the race. But they were eliminated. On Jen's Birthday. OH HAPPY DAY!
And I really do like the changes that were made in the race this season. Specifically, the "screw over the other teams" option of the race that got added in a few seasons ago used to just involve flipping over a timer and waiting. Now it's a U-Turn, and you have to go back and do the second detour. Often times you avoid one of the detours because it is evil, so this is a genius addition to the challenge. Secondly, they FINALLY figured out how to appropriately penalize teams who are saved on non-elimination legs. On the next leg they have to do a Speed Bump, a challenge made just for them. They look like pretty fun things, too, so like the one challenger said this week "If we get eliminated because of this, at least we got to do this incredible thing."
But really, with just one episode left and me liking everyone remaining I'm sort of over this season of the race. Because they've announced teams and started running promos for next season of Survivor. This time around they have one team of "fan favorites" who have competed before, and one team of fans of the game. Some of the "favorites" they brought back perplex me, in part because I cannot remember who they are. Some annoy me, because I know that people are going to want to hold onto Jonathan and Johnny Fairplay because if you face either of them in the finals you are GUARANTEED they won't get voted. But the thing that has me all ready to go is that they have assembled the perfect trifecta of Survivor Competitors:
I want these guys to form an alliance they instant they land on the island, for they will be unbeatable. Have some crazy-ass challenge for the final three, to determine if brains, brawn, or swimming are the best skill to have on Survivor. And totally rule the day. Both James and Yau Man have experience with hidden immunity idols and messing with other players heads as well, so there's really all kinds of fun to be had there.
And I cannot wait.
Simply based on the ratio of teams that are interesting to watch vs. teams that I hate, this has got to be one of the best seasons of The Amazing Race in quite a while. And the challenges aren't too bad, either. But since it's all about the teams, I think I'm going to keep the review in that format (in the order they finished this week):
Lorena & Jason: This team is the little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When they're good they're very, very good (and come in first place), and when they're bad, LOOK OUT! This week there were no problems, but in the previews for next week it looks like Lorena is going to have a nervous breakdown. Much like last week when Jason took a wrong turn.
Nathan & Jennifer: These guys just sort of quietly ran the race today, so there's not much to report on them.
Shana & Jennifer: They may not be the winners that I originally pegged them to be (at this point I think it's possible, but not probable), but they're a lot tougher than they put on.
Kynt & Vyxsin: The makeup routine has already fallen by the wayside for Vyxsin. And she looks a LOT better for it! She's tough! And now that they're getting past needing to proclaim their goth-ness to the world I actually kind of like them.
Azaria & Hendekia: Azaria referred to his sister as "Baby Girl" at one point this evening. That seemed sort of creepy and incestual to me. Not as creepy as Blake and Paige in Season 2, who are probably raising children of their own by now, but still very inappropriate.
TK & Rachel: A couple that can work through challenges in an appropriate manner. How fresh and exciting for the race! I just hope TK doesn't get distracted by the legal pot in Amsterdam, and prevent them from running any further on the race.
Marianna & Julia: Based on this evening's performance, I suspect this is the obligatory directionally challenged team of the race. Their physicality and ability to complete challenges well helps them, but if they have to drive anywhere they're toast.
Nicolas & Donald: Gramps wears a banana hammock, and it disturbs me that I now know this fact. They're running the race fairly smart, seeing what other teams are doing on the road block before committing to who will complete it, but seem to have their challenges between each other. I don't think Gramps has the physical strength requried to make it to the finish line, but as long as we don't see him strip to his skivvies anymore I'm happy to have him in the race.
Ron & Christina: Ron needs to learn to SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY. He spent a good portion of this episode being the expert on everything, generally blathering on to Christina about how she had made poor decisions and thus they were floundering. How he could have done it better. How she should be completing the road block. But when he went up to Gramps and the Grandson at the airport, to explain to the two that they were being rude to the woman at the stand-by counter, and how they needed to be polite, because that is what would get them farther in the race. Well, let's just say that I'm glad Gramps and Grandson were the two to get the standby tickets. Does Ron not understand he's running a race, and if another team is fucking up in his opinion it's best for him to just shut the hell up and let them kill themselves?
Kate & Pat: I am sorry to see them go, but they got the line of the century in at the beginning of the episode, so at least their racing wasn't for nothing. They commented, at the beginning of the leg (paraphrased),"We are Christians, but do we think God gives a crap how we do on this race? Not a chance!" Yay for the gay, Episcopal clergy! We shall miss you!
This episode was all about traveling from point A to point B, and from what I've seen so far it looks like it's going to be a fun season of The Amazing Race.
One of my favorite activities to do while watching the show is play the "what if it was ME racing" game. I think it would be fun to go on the show someday - if I could find an appropriate partner - so I'm constantly working on my strategy and game plan.
Coming out of the starting gates (at the Playboy Mansion, nary a bunny in sight) there was a line of cars in the driveway. Apparently the team in the front car was not moving quickly enough for the others, and several teams started honking their horns for folks to get a move on. I did not understand this. You are have already determined your current position in the game, based on which car you grabbed, and whether you leave the driveway now or five minutes from now will not change that position. It's all about what happens once you get moving. If I were in the lead car, and the folks behind me were honking, I'd pull out a crossword puzzle, or just sit and have a leisurely conversation with my partner. Because really, if the race starts five minutes from now it's not going to change the outcome one little bit, so why not get the mind games going now and get everyone else frazzled and pissed.
Another note for when I go on the race: Once you know what city you're starting in, you need to buy yourself a Thomas Brothers guide and do what you can to learn the lay of the land; where the airport is in relation to the major roadways and tourist attractions. Or they need to start the race in a city that NONE of the teams have experience in, because every season starts the same way. The locals go directly to the airport, and the out-of-towners get lost in the process.
The biggest lesson in this week's episode was that karma is a bitch. The big challenge involved navigating a donkey along a path. The ability to get the donkey to do your bidding almost entirely determined your fate in this challenge. Two teams (Ari and Staella and Nathan and Jennifer) had difficulty getting their donkey to move. When the donkey wouldn't move they yelled. And yelled some more. And continued with the yelling. They didn't seem to do much more than yell at the donkey as several teams passed them. Eventually it got Ari and Staella eliminated, which makes me happy... they were even more annoying than I thought possible. When another team can hear your screams from a 1/2 mile away and know it's you, you know it's bad.
After actually meeting the teams I've formed some new and different impressions of them, so let's take a look at my new first impressions of the teams:
Kynt and Vyxsin: Did you know this team is Goth? Because they are. Goth. In case you didn't know that. Although I don't know how you couldn't know that, since they have to work it into every time they speak. "Thank Goth" was the worst.
Jennifer and Nathan: Nathan is an abusive asshole. I hate him.
Ronald and Christina: At the end of this episode I stated "This may be the most well-adjusted parent child team in Amazing Race history." Then I saw scenes from next week's episode, and suspect I may need to eat my words.
Shana and Jennifer: I don't think this team is as strong as I thought they would be, but they're still in it.
Azaria and Henedekea: I like them. They are much more well-adjusted than their profile made them out to be. I may want them to go the distance now.
Lorena and Jason: They are going to be fun most of the time, with moments of sheer stupidity thrown in for good measure.
Nicolas and Donald: Gramps tripped, which scared me for a moment, but this team is doing exactly as I thought they would.
Ari and Staella: I hated them even more than I thought possible, and am thankful they are gone.
Marianna and Julia: If an all-female team will be winning the race this go-round, I suspect these will be the two, and not the blondes as I originally projected.
Rachel and TK: If TK would cut his hair I would love this team. But I can't get past the ugly dreadlocks.
Kate and Pat: They didn't show much of these two, so it's tough to form an opinion.
Season 12 of The Amazing Race starts in a week, and it looks like we have quite a few fun teams to choose from this year. Here's how I rank them, worst to first:
Azaria and Hendrekea: Siblings who still haven't gotten over their rivalry with a brother who is perceived as a bully and a sister who is "dainty." Unless Phil is willing to play Dad and quash any spats, these guys may never make it out of the starting gate.
Ari and Staella: I'm sorry, but looking at these two, and reading their biography, I can't help but think of Flo and Zach from season 2. And although Flo and Zach won, I hated Flo, and still wish Zach would have killed her at the finish line so he could keep the money for himself. I cannot live through that again, so I need this team to disappear quickly.
Marianna and Julia: Emotional, sarcastic, lacking a censor button, and relying on each other may cause some problems. That has loser written all over it. And their strategy to flirt their way through the race won't work, because blonde beats brunette in that competition, so Shana and Jennifer will be their demise.
Jennifer and Nathan: They're soul mates that can't stop breaking up, and drive each other crazy. As always, doomed. What seals their fate: She used to be a dancer for the LA Clippers. The JV Cheerleader squad to Laker Girls' varsity status.
Kynt and Vyxsin: Between the proclamations of "keeping Louisville weird," the fact that Kynt looks like Pete Burns (lead singer of Dead or Alive), and the fact that his girlfriend's name is Vyxsin, I strongly suspect his name is really Cunt, but they had to edit it for television. I think they're doomed, because I've never seen a goth even willing to WATCH athletics, much less participate in them, but I really want them to survive enough to make it to a third world country, just to see the (lack of) interactions with the locals.
Kate and Pat: Gay, married, Episcopal clergy. YAY! I'm rooting for this team, but have no delusion that they will be winners. Then again, I though the Bowling Moms would be sacrificial lambs and they made it to the final three, so I'm putting these guys ahead of all the teams that I really don't think have a chance, and hoping for the best.
Ronald and Christina: I think this team is doomed, but I'm still rooting for them. Just the fact that Ronald (the father of the obligatory parent/child team) is wearing a sweatshirt that says "Who's Your Daddy?" has made me fall a little bit in love with them. They'll excel at travel and interacting with the locals. They will fail at athletic endeavors and interacting with each other.
Rachel and TK: Of the "dating, and going on the race to test the relationship" team, these two seem the most grounded. They'll probably be OK, but thus far seem so forgettable that I'll probably forget they're running the race until they get themselves eliminated.
Nicolas and Donald: This team is a bit of a wildcard at the moment. I think a grandfather/grandchild team has a better chance than a parent/child team, simply because there are usually less issues with the skipped generation. I like that the kid is a pilot, so should rock at navigation and travel challenges. And Grandpa is described as "street smart," which should give them an edge in other sorts of situations. So definitely well-rounded. The question is whether or not Gramps has the strength to last. He looks like a tank, so I'm wagering he does, but if he doesn't have the physical ability than they're doomed.
Lorena and Jason: The couple wanting to see if marriage is in the cards for them and if their relationship can last. Here's a hint, folks: if you need to go on a reality competition show to test if your relationship will last, the answer is it won't. They're athletic and traveled, which will work well for them. But he's volatile, so there's going to be some big, ugly fights along the way.
Shana and Jennifer: I want to hate this team because they are just too damn pretty, but you've got to admit they've got the total package. They've got maturity, travel experience, and diversity. And blonde hair and nice tits. The world will lay down at their feet, and they will sail through with their makeup looking just fabulous.
I admit it, I've been a fan of Dancing With the Stars since I discovered it in Season 2. Because how can you not be drawn to watching Jerry Springer do the foxtrot? My only real regret was that I missed the first show of Season 2, because I wanted to see Kenny Mayne try to dance.
But now, I fear that the show has dived to depths too deep for me, because I really don't give a crap about any of the stars they've signed for the show. I mean really, a Spice Girl, a boxer I've never heard of, and the boring half of Donnie and Marie? I suppose I could get behind Wayne Newton, but I don't even know that I can stomach watching the show until Mark Cuban is out of there.
Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Earlier this evening Sweetie and I got to see Justin Verlander no-hit the Brewers on ESPN. They interrupted their regular programming to show the top of the 9th inning. Good stuff.
On the crawl, where normally they'd be showing current scores of all the games of all sports in progress, was something that basically said, "You're watching a no-hitter here, so don't get upset that it's not what you expected it to be when you tuned in."
I know it's not the case, but I kind of wish that on all of the other ESPN stations they switched the crawl to read, "What the hell are you doing watching this? Tune in to ESPN and you could watch Justin Verlander pitch a no-hitter you shlub."
Well, we're still without an all female team winning The Amazing Race, and as much as I liked the beauty queens I can't say I'm all that upset about it.
A good episode, with some decent challenges, but it really all came down to the final challenge, and what a good final challenge it was. Team member #1 had to answer four questions about their competition, to create a code for a safe. Team member #2 had to solve the code. The questions were things like "Which team will you keep in touch with after the race" and "Who was the most humorous team." So, it required you to know your teammate, and know your competition. Eric and Danielle won the challenge and, consequently, won the race.
Neither of the other two teams actually completed that challenge. But there was a time limit of 10 minutes for them to complete it, and if it wasn't done they got the clue. I didn't like that aspect of the challenge. Perhaps, if there was some penalty imposed, or if they got a more difficult version of the clue, that required them to solve another puzzle or something, I would be more OK with it, but it simply seemed like a way for the producers to force a little suspense into the ending, and I didn't like it.
It did seem an appropriate way for Eric to exorcise his demons. Season 9 he had a sizable lead on the hippies going into the final challenge, which required teams to arrange flags of the countries they had visited in the order they had visited them, which he failed miserably at. This team he succeeded, and he has a million dollars to prove it.
Unfortunately, the race ended with one of the worst bits of product placement I have ever seen on a reality TV show. Phil gave Eric a cell phone to call his family and celebrate. He called his teammate from the first go-round, and they had a really stupid conversation.
But that doesn't take away from my love of the race, and rest assured I'll be back next season when the race starts again.