I don't claim to have watched every episode or even every season of this show, but during the vast majority of the episodes I did see, Miss Alli was on the couch next to mine. Little did I know, when she used to come over every week and kick off her shoes at our front door, that I would someday be attempting to fill them. I guess my point is that as much as you're feeling her absence right now, I might just be feeling it more.
From the top of a skyscraper, a leaner-than-ever Phil welcomes us to this season's host city for the starting line, Los Angeles, California, calling it a "global entertainment capital." I think it was that even before Phil and the racers showed up there. "Eleven teams will embark on a race around the world for one million dollars," he says. I can't think of a more succinct way to put it. The racers are riding in "classic cars" (as in a whole fleet of shiny, classy 1930s models, as opposed to the waxed-up doorstop Memphis won on Big Brother this summer) to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which Phil calls "the only stadium on Earth to host the Olympic Games twice." Already, we're learning more about the world!
So let's meet the racers, shall we? I'd like to tell you that I've researched them all in advance, or that I deliberately refrained from same as a way to preserve the purity of my viewing experience, but it's a little early to be turning my new digs here into a house of lies. I just never got around to it, is all. So now, let's enjoy my unspoiled experience as we meet the racers, jogging through the coliseum's tunnel and out onto the field two by two:
Toni and Dallas have apparently chosen red for their team color. They're a mother and a son from Northern California. He's quite large and beefy and gelled, and it's kind of a challenge to imagine him ever having come out of this tiny little woman. In their as always completely-unstaged-and-totally-spontaneous glimpse into the racers' daily lives, we see them playing one-on-one basketball, making PB&J sandwiches, and hiking through the countryside. Toni says she's been a single mom for Dallas's whole life, and is proud of how he turned out. He vindicates her remark by saying that in return for all of the sacrifices his mom has made for him, he's going to go all out on the race. We'll take him at his word for now, at least until he drops into a desultory jog for a train as retribution for an R-rated movie he wasn't allowed to see when he was 15.