On ''The Amazing Race,'' Dani and Danielle have a hard time reassembling a Greek sculpture, thus ending their romance with the frat boys; plus, Lake perfects his PG cursing

By Josh Wolk
Updated June 14, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: The Amazing Race 9: Robert Voets
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”The Amazing Race”: No more fooling around

Every week when I watch The Amazing Race, there comes a time when I have to double-check my channel guide to make sure I’m not watching the Cartoon Network. That moment is when Lake comes on and yells, ”Dadgum it!” or ”sumbitches!” — because for a moment I think I’m watching an old Yosemite Sam ‘toon. I can only imagine what this dentist is like in his workplace. I picture him walking in to see a patient, stomping from foot to foot in a cloud of dust while waving two spinning drills. ”Dadblasted humdingered hornswogglin’ impacted wisdom teeth, you git out of those dangflabbered flapjackered gums or I’m-a gonna yank ya to smithereens!”

This is a man who — after Fran told him to back away from her plane-ticket negotiation — said disapprovingly, ”She’s a doctor’s wife. She shouldn’t be acting like that.” (Perhaps Lake was extra disappointed because of his great reverence for Barry, whose giant teeth make him a god to the dentist.) I do have a hard time buying Lake as an etiquette expert, considering he later referred to the male nerd as ”Fat Dave.” Although he didn’t mean it rudely: When chastised by his wife, he explained he only meant it as a description, as Dave was in fact heavier than him. Okay, by that logic perhaps he should be called ”Non-Irritating Dave.”

What I found interesting this week is that you don’t need to have English as your first language to sense that Lake is annoying. At the Munich airport, after being boxed out of the hippies’ flight, Lake was able to get a Lufthansa flight to Italy. Then Fran and Barry finagled a connecting flight via Alitalia that would get them in a half hour earlier. This seemed like a shrewd little secret, until the ticket agent gave the next teams the same exact flights without being asked. One more ”dadgum it” and Lake and Michelle would have been walking to Italy. (People aren’t the only ones to be wary of Lake. When he reached the pit stop while carrying Michelle in his arms, Browsie did something unprecedented: He went down. Browsie never goes down! ”Furrow” is not in his vocabulary. Which can mean only one thing: Browsie was pissed.)

I’ll say this for the couple, though: Michelle is the cheeriest browbeaten wife we’ve seen on the race so far. At least when Colin berated Christy (I know, they weren’t married), she’d occasionally burst into tears before professing her love to him again. Michelle, on the other hand, seems to accept and encourage Lake’s claim to be the Greatest Man Alive. Not only does she eagerly relinquish all responsibilities, but when he starts to get down on himself, she makes sure to remind him that he is the all-powerful Lake. Soon after he yelled at her for not being able to order tickets online (without trying himself), she cheered him up by saying, ”Someone’s gonna mess up, and it’s not gonna be us, because I’ve got you on my team, and you don’t mess up.” Considering that he has messed up on multiple occasions on this show alone, she is clearly incapable of seeing him as anything but a superman. When she walks with him — three paces back, to show the proper respect — is she always thinking, ”Look at him, going left, right, left, right, with his legs. Honestly, how does he figure that out? If it weren’t for his example, I’d probably be just using my left leg and we’d be going around in circles”?

All that said, I think it was wise of them to yield the Double Ds. When you’re third to last, it’s probably best to widen your lead to play it safe: Look what happened to the Ds, who got lapped in the last puzzle challenge by Ray and Yolanda. Dani (or Danielle, but really, does it make a difference?) so clearly had the right leg of her statue mixed up not once but twice before figuring it out. She probably would have been lapped even if the puzzle had only one piece.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: What about the laundry challenge? You would think that after the nesting-doll detour, people would be wary of the dumb-luck events. Lugging a bell around didn’t seem so hard as to scare anybody away. But no, it was off to the clotheslines to look for tiny tags. And it was, as usual, a crapshoot: It frustrated the Ds and the nerds, while — no surprise — the hippies breezed through: Those two seem to be dancing along on a lucky cloud that may or may not be medicinal.

Getting back to the nerds, they seemed to have a hard time of it this week. Lori fell apart while trying to assemble the statue; when she stood there babbling, despondently looking at the scattered pieces, I thought of the final scene of The Conversation when Gene Hackman is staring at his apartment, which he just tore up himself. I should have known things would go wrong when the show began with them talking about how much they loved each other. Nothing producer Bertram van Munster likes more than a misleading sound bite — unless it’s a nonsensically manufactured one. When they strode up a hill, Dave and Lori exchanged these catty comments:

Lori: ”It’s frickin’ ridiculous.”

Dave: ”That’s so stupid, Lor.”

Lori: ”Please stop saying that. I need some water, seriously.”

Dave: ”Please stop saying that.”

Meow! The +3 claws are coming out! Except for one thing: This crudely edited back and forth makes no sense whatsoever. It’s like a weird reality-TV Mad Lib. If you’re going to show them arguing, at least air it in the original Klingon so we can get the nuance.

All the anger was forgotten when they reached the finish line, however, and Dave wept over how he hated bickering with Lori. ”Give that man a hug,” Phil said, in his first attempt at relationship counseling since he told Jonathan to go talk to his wife after he shoved her. This was a more tender situation, though, and although he’ll deny it, I think even Browsie got a little choked up.

Phil was a lot less tolerant over another relationship on the show: the one between the frat boys and the Ds. The Keoghbot 3000 always seems as close to grimacing as his hosting chip will allow when the frat guys cockily cross the finish line. And now, when the Ds sadly arrived last, he seemed to take great glee in announcing that they had had ”the most successful connection with the opposite sex ever on The Amazing Race.” First of all, what exactly went on with those four? And how does Phil know so much? If the pit stop is rockin’, he’s not supposed to come knockin’. But second, he was definitely reveling in their departure, knowing that his precious Race was no longer going to be sullied with such wanton hookups. The Race is sacred and no place for school-age gropery. Any doctor’s wife could tell you that.

What do you think? Did you get choked up when Dave and Lori hugged? Did you care at all when Joseph and Monica bickered? And were the extra puzzle pieces in the statue a dirty trick?

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The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.
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