I've never been more torn on reality contestants than I am on Charla and Mirna, especially Mirna. Usually, if I can't stand a player, I want to see them gone, and ooooh, I could not stand this team. From their hypocrisy to their inability to go through a country without temporarily kidnapping a local to the insulting and patronizing accents they put on whenever they spoke to someone who didn't have English as a first language (and possibly even a couple who did) to their ridiculous hate of the Beauty Queens to calling every local "my friend" with the faint sound of panic in their voices all the way to their constant use of "This is life or death," this is a team that made every inch of my being scream, "PLEASE GET ELIMINATED!"
Yet at the same time, and this is why this season confused me so, I wanted them to stay because, damn, they were entertaining in their awfulness. I think I finally understand Lord Of The Rings fans. Anyway, they came in third, and I'm glad they made the final three. Sure, that meant they had a chance to win, but if that happened, the fact that they were an all-female team would have made that a lot easier to live with, despite how much more sanctimonious it would have made them.
As it is, we did have an all-female team finish better than any before, and come within a few short minutes of winning. Dustin and Kandice, for two seasons now you've had no bigger cheerleader than myself, and once again you showed why. A second place finish isn't the win for a million, but in The Amazing Race, it's nothing to sneeze at. You two showed why you were brought back for All-Stars by the way you ran so much of the race with smiles on your faces and just a joy for being there. You can also take pride that in your original season, you two actually managed to beat a Fast Forward. That is tough to do for anyone, but you pulled it off.
I don't know what it is about these two that raise the ire of their fellow racers so much, but for both seasons they've managed to make enemies. Are they kicking puppies when the camera isn't looking? They don't do much different and take any advantage any more than any other racers. They have no compunction about using the Yield, but damn it, that's what it's there for! You don't see teams whining in hockey because the other side is using a goalie, do you? Yes, it must be horribly frustrating to be Yielded, but it's not like the team punched your grandmother in the face. Eric overreacted to being Yielded just a tad, but that's nothing new in the Race.
What's more annoying is how the other teams get all morally outraged over the Yield being used. There are very few opportunities for outright strategy in this competition. To not use it to your advantage (or not use it to your advantage, rather than not using it out of a sense of moral superiority) is just stupid. It's a tool the Race provides, and using it makes sense. I love that no matter how freaked out everyone got, Kandice and Dustin had no problem using it, and didn't let it make them feel bad. Yes, Oswald, they used a tool the Race provides guilt-free. And they used it smartly, as Eric and Danielle were huge threats (very huge threats, it turns out).
They even had the best fight. There was none of the screaming we're used to in fights on this show. There was frustration, a temporary desire to quit, then they got over it and were back to smiles. There are times you can really tell when people racing together really are friends (I believe it was the first season I watched that one woman didn't want to stop unrolling haystacks looking for the clue because she didn't want to let down her friend), and this fight was one of those moments. Dustin told Kandice she couldn't imagine running this race without her. Throw in the time Dustin was crying out of concern for when Kandice was high, so very high up and jumping off a building, I've finally come to a very hard decision. It was very hard to choose between the two, but I have, and so I'm proud to announce...
Dustin Seltzer, you are Miss Realivision 2007!
If there was an actual crown and ceremony, I'd have Miss Realivision 2006, Melissa Witek, present it to you, but it's all happening in spirit.
Danny and Oswald were my second choice to win. They also remembered to have fun for most of the race, and it was refreshing to see a team stop for refreshments. I started to sour on them a little near the end though when they started getting more grumpy, and especially when Oswald started getting all pissy and guilty about selling the last Yield to the Beauty Queens. Look, Ozzy, you needed the money as you were broke, and the Beauty Queens didn't use it maliciously. Get over it. I'd really hate to see some of these people on Big Brother or Survivor, seeing that we'd be hearing "integrity" get yammered on about more than we already do. And voting someone off? Oh no! That's not a nice thing to do! Yes, all this self-righteous yapping about the Yield got to me. If I was in the game and I got to the Yield first, you can bet I'd use it on someone's ass to give me an advantage.
Not that it mattered either time. Eric and Danielle were very good at coming back from Yields. In fact, the second time they did so well they may well have won that leg if it weren't for the Yield, so it was a good play and got the BQs another prize.
Oh, Eric and Danielle. I so didn't want you two to win, but you just had to go ahead and do that, didn't you? It's not that I hated you, it's just that when your squabbling wasn't annoying me, you bored me. But you won anyway, and I'll especially give props to Eric who is very good at this competition, coming in second the first time, and winning the second. I just wish I never had to see your pierced nipples. Nobody wants to see that.
In case you haven't heard, Eric and Danielle broke up very soon after the race. I guess he couldn't wait to ditch the beard and get back to Jeremy, his original partner, who promised Eric spankings in a strange, pointless phone call at the finish line.
One of the biggest head-scratching decisions from the producers this season was having one non-elimination leg right after the other. When Eric and Danielle were marked for elimination on the first leg, would they have just been marked for elimination the second time as well if they ended up coming in last? It makes no sense, and really takes away from the point of being marked for elimination. Back when they players just had to give up their money and possessions, it would have worked, but with the new rules, it doesn't.
I've also never seen a season where airports and flights have played a bigger role. Obviously they're a big part of every season, but rarely have they screwed so many teams so often. Joyce and Uchenna were eliminated because they chose the wrong flight and couldn't make their connection in time. Other teams wound up so far behind that the frontrunners were starting the next leg before they even reached the mat! I felt bad for them, but it was awesome to see. I'd also like to point out that in that particular leg, Dustin and Candice had come in first so they were the first to leave before those in the back arrived. Whoo hoo!
All in all, it was a good season. There weren't a heck of a lot of great challenges this time around, so that was a bummer (really, count stairs for a fast forward? Go for a ride? Come on). On the other hand, it was the best All-Star season of any of the shows that have had one. There wasn't as much baggage going in, and alliances count for very little thanks to the nature of the game, despite what Mary from Kentucky would like. She'd do very well in The Amazing Picnic, but she's just not cut out for The Amazing Race where people actually want to be ahead of you and aren't horrible, horrible people for doing so. This is why they missed the Chos from their season, another team not made for this game. If there's ever an Amazing Stroll Through The Park, they should apply.
Not having watched every season (to my regret), it was nice to see faces who were new to me this edition. I didn't get to know all of them, as the very first elimination was a team I'd never seen before. There were teams that left me wondering how they got picked for All-Stars. The two bald guys, Kevin and Drew... Were they more entertaining or stronger racers in their original season? Now I know how people who never saw the first season of Big Brother felt upon seeing Chicken George on their All-Stars (I so wanted Brittany back for that, but upon seeing what an abomination that season turned out to be, not only am I glad she wasn't, I'm sorry any of my favourites who were there had to go through that).
There is good news and bad news from CBS about the show. The good news is the Race will be back. The bad news is, it's going to be a wait. Unless there's a big upturn in ratings, we've come to the end of two seasons a year. Luck for us though, there will still be a lot to watch. I'm particular looking forward to the premiere of Pirate Master coming up very soon. Arrrr.
Labels: CBS, commentary, partial season, The Amazing Race: All-Stars