''The Amazing Race'': Trains, planes, and horses: In Argentina, no matter what the teams are riding, they get outrun by Rob and Amber

By Josh Wolk
Updated June 14, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Susan and Patrick: Tony Esparza

”The Amazing Race”: Trains, planes, and horses

I’ve noticed some complaining by posters on these Amazing Race boards that I focus too much on Rob and Amber. I took that as constructive criticism and decided that I would hone in on someone else to begin with. But the first half of this episode made that very difficult. Because there seemed to be only two kinds of personality types at work here. First, we had the ”Rob and Amber” type. Those who fit the description: Rob and Amber. And second, we had the ”people who hate Rob and Amber” type. Those in that group: everyone else.

It’s a little difficult to swing the conversation over to anything else when all anyone on the show was talking about was Rob and Amber. Is there something going on at the pit stops that we’re not being shown that is earning this duo such enmity? Is Rob dunking people’s hands in warm water while they sleep, or short-sheeting their cots? It is this very blind hatred that made it so delightful when Rob caught up to the teams who had assumed they had finally pulled ahead. (By the way, from now on I’ll stop adding ”and Amber” to mentions of Rob, since even she has admitted she does little for the team. Well, she does provide one important bit of teamwork: She calls Rob ”Babe,” which is apparently a requisite for girlfriends in this game.)

Oh, the smug crowing those teams did when they thought they had left Rob behind on the second plane. Kelly proudly proclaimed that this was a life lesson that one will never win by quitting a challenge. (This statement was beauty-queen anïveté at its best: I have a feeling that she’s still pissed that no one has implemented the two-point plan for world peace that she presented back in the Miss Junior South Carolina pageant of 1999. Dammit, President Bush, if you’d just baked Saddam Hussein cookies in the shape of doves, we wouldn’t be mired in Iraq right now!) And Alex said, ”Survive this!” — a quip he’d probably been working on since Los Angeles. And then, beautifully, Rob sauntered onto the flight, and if frowns were carry-ons, everyone else would be heading to the overhead bins. And while we’re on the subject of labored metaphors, Lynn had earlier compared Rob to an STD. Well, break out the penicillin, Lynn, because I’ll bet when Rob beat you to the pit stop, it really burned when you peed. And when Rob and Amber got another free trip for coming in first after Lynn and Alex got nothing last week, that must have added insult to cold sore.

What makes it impossible for me to hate Rob is that he plays the game so calmly, which only makes everyone else look like such boobs for getting so worked up. He and Amber don’t fight, they don’t get worked up about their competition, they just — gasp! — have fun. Sometimes I have flashes of suspicion that the producers have rigged the game in Rob’s favor, just because it’s so entertaining to watch everyone else lose to him. But, more likely, he’s just good — and lucky. As he said, he was born with a horseshoe up his ass. (Wait, I thought that was Richard Gere. Never mind, I’m getting my urban legends mixed up.)

Meanwhile, at the back of the pack, the main battle was Ray and Deana against what he called ”the bottom-feeders.” Ray seems to be continually frustrated by his poor showings, but I think the problem is that he’s based his entire self-worth on how many push-ups he can do. Enormous biceps will not tell you to take a cab to the docks rather than walking, Ray: Common sense is supposed to take care of that. And how did someone so ultracompetitive end up with a girlfriend who doesn’t know the meaning of any other word but ”quit”? Two minutes on a horse and she was in tears, and yet those horses are so trained to go around those barrels that I wouldn’t be surprised if they were on a track like the motorboat rides at Disney World.

Deana and Patrick both had troubles getting their horses to giddyap. But while Deana was being browbeaten by Ray, Patrick was snapping back at his mother, who just seemed to be trying to help. ”Mom, I need you to stop before we have an embarrassing event,” he said. Too late. Did we really need these two on TV having arguments that you can see every day at the drop-off driveway at any junior high school? And when both Patrick and Deana got off their horses, they were exhausted. Wasn’t it the horses who were doing all the running? And hell, Joyce got thrown off twice and she wasn’t wheezing for an oxygen tank.

In the end, Patrick and Susan got kicked off, coming in right behind Meredith and Gretchen. (Is it just me, or does Gretchen’s voice, with all that one-note yelling, remind you of someone? It’s either a Muppet or a right-wing commentator, and I can’t place it. It’s been driving me crazy, so if anyone has any suggestions, please post away.) This team’s loss was half of a shame: Susan was spunky and will be missed, while Patrick’s negativity and immaturity were quickly wearing on me. Susan confessed that his pessimism was a problem; perhaps she’d be happier with a son who’s always upbeat and believes he can do anything. Somebody check to see if Rob is up for adoption.

What do you think? Is the show too focused on Rob? Are the other teams too focused on him too? And do you think Patrick learned anything from the experience?

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The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.

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