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''The Amazing Race'': Playing by Rob's rules

On ”The Amazing Race,” the teams have to play by Rob’s rules: The Survivors are the fittest in the second leg, outwitting, outlasting, and outplaying the other teams

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The Amazing Race
Megan and Heidi: Tony Esparza

The Amazing Race

TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Phil Keoghan
Jerry Bruckheimer
Current Status:
In Season

”The Amazing Race”: Playing by Rob’s rules

Last week there was much chatter that Rob and Amber had too many unfair advantages as a result of their Survivor fame to make this game fair: Witness the American who recognized them and helped them out in Peru. But this week it seemed that no one in either Peru or Chile was a fan of the All-Stars and they still came in first. It’s time for everyone to concede that Rob is just a great player. (As for Amber, it’s time to concede that she sure looks cute as a button standing next to a great player.) Actually, their having won Survivor should be an advantage for everyone else who saw their strategies televised, not them: It was like being given game films of another team before the Super Bowl. But did anyone learn the right lessons? No.

Perhaps Rob has some kind of supernatural mind-erasure powers. The same thing happened in All Stars: No one remembered that he had broken all of his promises on Marquesas. He was one of the least trustworthy players to step onto the All-Stars island, and yet everyone trusted him, including Kathy, who had been on that previous season with him. How far does Rob’s power to cloud people’s mind extend? As an experiment, I would like to see Rob stand in a room holding a pencil; after dropping the pencil, he would ask someone to pick it up. When the person did so, he would kick them in the ass. Then he would apologize, take the pencil back, and drop it again, asking the person — still rubbing their own smarting ass — to pick it up again. I’m guessing that this would go on for about six hours straight, only stopping when Rob’s pencil-holding fingers cramped up.

And now, the Race competitors stared in disbelief when he bribed a security guard not to tell anyone about an earlier bus and then lied about it. The indignation on Debbie’s face when she said, ”It makes me nauseous,” was laughable. Remember how self-righteous everyone on the All-Stars jury was over Rob’s lying? And how many of them went home with a million dollars? Exactly. So stop complaining and start playing the game.

The ones I feel bad for are Ray and Deana and Uchenna and Joyce, whom Rob enlisted in an alliance and quickly persuaded to fund his bribe. I used to work at Lifetime Television, and my job was to watch every single one of their TV movies to make five-second promos. I painfully recognize these teams’ sad, self-defeating dedication to Rob as the story line of every abused-wife weeper in the Lifetime library. Rob will keep telling Ray and Uchenna separately, ”No, you’re the one we’re with to the end. I care about you the most.” Then each player will buy Rob a sandwich or give him a piggyback ride through Namibia, and Rob will screw them both over at the detour and easily get first place again. Then when those two exhausted and bedraggled teams finally crawl across the finish line, barely avoiding elimination, Rob will pull them both aside again individually and say to each, ”I’m so glad you’re here. I love you, and we’re in it together.” And they’ll perk up, saying, ”Gosh, Rob, you mean it? Allies forever?” Even if Phil Keoghan tries to stage an intervention — saying, ”He’s no good for you! You can make it on your own!” — they’ll reply, ”You don’t know him like I do, Phil. The way he looks at me when he’s tied my knapsack to a pygmy and stolen my cab. . . . He really cares.” I’m seeing Meredith Baxter Birney as Ray.

What it all boils down to is that Rob is a great player, mentally and physically, not to mention extremely entertaining to watch. I’m not seeing much competition for him. Ron and Kelly? Kelly’s only on the second leg and she’s already showing signs of crankiness. But I suppose that’s the only good thing about being a POW — you always have a comeback for a snippy girlfriend: ”Oh, you told me we should have taken all the books on one trip? Sorry, they never taught book stacking in the Iraqi prison.” Whaddya know, another argument won!

Lynn and Alex seem like fun guys, although I was surprised they shot their wad by using their ”bringing up the rear” double entendre this early in the show, if you’ll pardon both of our puns. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, boys. And the way Lynn was sweating during a shoeshine challenge does not bode well for any physical challenges. If they ever do a hat-blocking competition, he’s liable to keel over from a coronary.

Patrick seems to think he’s a mastermind, but why then were he and Susan shocked to be out of money to buy the fish when they had just run out of money on a challenge mere hours before? With that short-term memory problem, I’m giving them 36 hours in the Rob-drops-a-pencil game. And could someone explain Patrick’s mystery head wound to me? After the shoeshine challenge he had a bloody gauze pad above his eye, but by the time he landed in Santiago, there was no bandage, and no visible scar. Did Mommy kiss it and make it all better? Or did Mommy actually cause the wound when she kicked him in the head after he spent all their pesos on ”I Hate Rob” bumper stickers?

As for Gretchen and Meredith, good Lord. I can’t even concentrate on how good a team they might be, I’m so distracted by Gretchen’s incessant monotonic hollering. I can’t tell if Meredith is running to win the race or to get away from her. Which leaves Greg and Brian (whom I never could tell apart, so I will refer to both of them as ”Grian”), who stayed in the game only by barely outrunning the equally indistinguishable Megan and Heidi. Things don’t bode well when you’re struggling for last place against two women with their sorority letters on the butts of their sweatpants. At the end, Megan or Heidi — what’s the difference? — proudly declared, ” ‘I can’t’ never came out of our mouths.” Well, Hegan or Meidi, here it is out of mine: You can’t.

What did you think? Are Rob and Amber going to win the race in a walk? Who is most likely to give them a run for the money?