Amazing Race Blog: Peace For Team Madison?

by Jeff Robbins Channel 3000 Staff Writer

It?s March, but sometimes there?s a limit to the madness.

Take Sunday?s edition of Amazing Race; after a particularly dramatic episode that featured both Team Madison?s Rachel and Dave and Team Big Brother?s Rachel and Brendon coming nearly completely unglued, this week Race viewers got by and large a kinder, gentler episode.

But that didn?t mean that everyone was playing nice as teams traveled by bus from Turin, Italy, to Bavaria, Germany: Dating divorcees Vanessa and Ralph showed more fight than the Missouri men?s basketball team showed against Norfolk State as they made a grueling uphill climb to the German palace that we were told provided the inspiration for Disneyland?s Sleeping Beauty Castle. As the two continued to make themselves more unlikable with each step, Vanessa bragged that the spat “just made YouTube.” And of course, she?s right, but again, everything?s on YouTube, even this.

If we?re to believe Sunday?s edited product, Team Madison and Team Big Brother had no such internal issues ? at least on this leg: Of course, BB?s Rachel is always very close to a breakdown of some sort, and Dave?s “smiling, laughing, joking around man” act was about as sincere as Montel Williams?s half-hearted pitches for payday lenders. But give credit to Dave ? even when he and Rachel (along with federal agents Nary and Jamie) were bamboozled into not only going to the wrong Bavarian castle but taking a painstakingly slow tour of it that cost them valuable time, he held it together.

Holding it together better than everyone else, though, were border patrol agents Art and JJ. The two once again dominated this leg, leaving nearly four hours earlier than the second-place team (Team Madison), finishing the Road Block and Detour before any other team, and winning their third leg in a row. Host Phil Keoghan even joked that the two should withdraw from the race in order to give others a chance.

Hey, Art and JJ just gave Team Kentucky a split of $10,000. How altruistic can they be?

Amazing Race viewers who may be starting to think that Art and JJ have the $1 million cash prize already won would be advised to look back to last season when snowboarders Andy and Tommy had a stretch during which they finished first in five out of six legs. Then they stumbled badly in Panama City and failed to even make the final three. It?s truly not over until Phil hands the winners that oversized check on The Talk or Let?s Make A Deal or whichever CBS daytime show has a few moments to spare.

But undoubtedly Art and JJ are running the race far smarter than everyone else: Take, for example, the tasks in this episode: When told you have to choose a gentleman from a lineup of ZZ Top-lookalikes and style his impressive facial hair, why wouldn?t you choose the guy with the shortest beard? (Listen up, Joey ?Fitness? and Danny.) And if there?s a horse-drawn carriage that will take you up a steep and winding path to a hilltop castle, why walk? (Listen up, Vanessa and Ralph.) It is not luck that has gotten Art and JJ where they are.

On the other hand, luck is exactly the reason that Bopper and Mark are still racing: Last week they survived a non-elimination leg, while this week they were fortunate enough to receive a speed bump assignment that could not have been easier (thank goodness for them they didn?t have to correctly pronounce a list of foreign cities or countries): All they had to do, after dressing up like a waiter from Bob?s Big Boy, was yodel a few notes under the guidance of a yodeler who may have been a professional but was hardly a perfectionist. I?m not saying that I know yodeling, but I don?t think the guttural warbles that emanated out of Bopper and Mark would not have made the likes of Slim Whitman proud. Nevertheless, Team Kentucky ? despite being one of the other teams that hiked to the wrong castle ? came in sixth place at the end of the leg. The best friends are having a good time ? well, expect for when Bopper nearly had a heart attack climbing to the castle — and are still very much alive.

However, Team Kentucky will have to run the rest of The Amazing Race without their favorite “badonkadonk” girls, Mississippi cousins Kerri and Stacy, who are not still very much alive after they failed to get to the pit stop ahead of seventh-place Nary and Jamie. Even though the Mississippi Queens finished the road block ahead of the not-really-kindergarten-teachers, their total inability to expertly or even competently navigate the streets of foreign countries finally caught up with them.

The loss of nice, fun, energetic, but ultimately flawed teams like Kerri and Stacy is inevitable and happens on every season of the Race. But fortunately the cousins did give us one memorable moment before being sent back to Mississippi: After completing the Detour, they got so excited that they accidentally smacked each other in the face. Unfortunately, the unbridled happiness was gone by episode?s end.

Also suffering marginal physical injury in Sunday?s episode: Brendon, who slipped and fell flat on his back at the pit stop. The minor incident highlighted Team Big Brother?s ?quietest? episode of the season, the highlight of which was definitely Rachel claiming she could not style a beard because “I don?t even know what a beard is.” Rachel also confused Bolivia with Bavaria and obviously thought the Travelocity roaming gnome — yes, this was the season?s inevitable Travelocity-themed episode — would be somehow stashed in their first clue envelope, but hey, Team Big Brother did have the sense to go the right hilltop castle the first time, which helped them finish in fifth place, just one spot lower than Team Madison.

What do you think? Can this new cooperation between Rachel and Dave last? Could Vanessa care less about Ralph? (Oops, I?m sorry, couldn?t care less.) Wouldn?t you love to have seen those Bavarian gentlemen dominate the cocky Joey ?Fitness? and Danny in a beer-drinking contest? Speaking of Joey ?Fitness,? did he really think that ugly panda hat was ?flirty?? (Hey, maybe I should loan him my ?sensual? rainbow afro wig.) And remind me, is Sleeping Beauty the princess that was told to let her hair hang down? (I always thought it was Xena: Warrior Princess.)

Remember to tune in to next Sunday?s episode, titled ?This Is Wicked Strange,? and come back Monday for my blog.

Have a good week and travel safe!