CBS highlights strong, obnoxious personalities in a show that's all over the map, says Bruce Fretts

By Bruce Fretts
Updated September 06, 2001 at 12:00 PM EDT
The Amazing Race
Credit: The Amazing Race: Tony Esparza

Meet the characters behind ”Amazing Race”

And then there were…20? Tie-dyed hippie Matt and his ball-busting wife Ana were the first of the 11 two-person teams to be eliminated on CBS’ realitypalooza ”The Amazing Race” (Wednesdays, 9 p.m.) But the most amazing thing about ”Race” was how quickly it delineated so many individuals. (Of course, CBS’ incessant promos spotlighting several teams didn’t hurt.) Only one pair got lost in the shuffle — the couple pondering marriage, Lenny and Karyn (and judging from the teaser, they’ll be prominently featured next week). Here are the duos whose dynamic personalities broke out of the pack in the first episode:

DREW AND KEVIN The cueball ex-frat brothers and self-described ”village idiots” are a veritable fountain of catchphrases. Beyond the ones featured in the TV spots (”We are the ugly Americans — there’s definitely the potential for an international incident” and ”You’ve got to approach people in an affable, friendly way. You don’t do it like you’re in Noo Yawk!”), the pilot featured these unforgettable bon mots: ”That’s Namibia, jackass!” ”These flies are like lobsters!” and ”Swing, you fat bastard, swing!” Soon to be seen on t-shirts and bumper stickers nationwide.

FRANK AND MARGARITA If the separated couple with the baby daughter initially seemed like a rerun of Ytossie and Taheed from ”Temptation Island,” their immediate likability soon set them apart. Although Frank’s win-at-all-costs attitude (”anything but first is a loss”) could grate over time, it certainly seemed to spur Margarita to make the big leap off that bungee platform.

DAVE AND MARGARETTA He’s a crusty yet cuddly military vet; she’s his eternally youthful, game-for-anything wife (”That was way cool!” she said after sliding above an African canyon on a wire). Together, they’re like a ”Survivor” all-star team — Rudy married to Mad Dog Maralyn.

JOE AND BILL Proof that the couple that dresses together stays together, the 14-years-and-counting life partners with the matching outfits showed off an impressive knowledge of the travel industry that could come in handy down the road. But what we want to know is: Who’s at home feeding Guido, the pet dog that provided their team’s name?

NANCY AND EMILY Move over, Elisabeth and Colleen. There’s a new ”America’s Sweetheart” in reality-show town: The button-cute Emily, who’s travelling with her God-fearing mama, Nancy. But hands off, boys. On CBS’ ”Amazing Race” website, Emily mentions THREE times that she has a boyfriend named Trey (she even lists him along with her down comforter as the items from home she’ll miss the most).

ROBERT AND BRENNAN The resident hunks — roomies and attorneys at the same firm — high-fived their way into first place in the race and won over the local kids in Zambia by handing out American flags and money. Yet they still didn’t tip their cabbie on the way to the airport in New York. Typical lawyers.

Who’s your favorite ”Amazing Race” team?

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The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.

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