Finally, Mark and Bill enter wearing mismatched fedoras and orange shirts, described as "best friends from San Diego. "We're the comic-book geeks," the bald one says. I'm pretty sure that's Mark. Now, I did have some awareness of the teams, mainly from zapping TAR promos during Big Brother, and somehow I kind of had the Frat Boys, Dan and Andrew, mixed up with the Geeks. Not sure how that could have happened. We see Mark and Bill hanging out in a Michael Scott condo reading graphic novels on the couch (trade paperback collections instead of single issues, which calls their comic-book-geek credibility into some question, if you ask me) and playing guitar-based videogames and chess. By the way, a glimpse at the chessboard clearly indicates that one of them is using the Corbomite maneuver. Bill says, "The Amazing Race is the ultimate game, on the biggest game board you can imagine." And that's why they got to go last.
As the 22 racers march in double-file to the starting line, Phil grills us, "Can these teams stand up to the stress of traveling together across more than 33,000 miles? And who will come up with the right strategy -- the right combination of brains, brawn, and teamwork -- to win the one million dollars? These are the questions waiting to be answered as we get ready to begin...The Amazing Race." Oh, good, because I didn't know there was going to be a quiz.
From the top of that skyscraper, Phil teleports down to the starting mat at the coliseum to address the racers. He tells them what they (and probably you) already know: there are eleven legs of the race, each with a pit stop at the end. Eight of the pit stops will be elimination points where the last to arrive will be eliminated. Their first clues are waiting on top of their luggage, which is at the top of the bleacher stairs stretching up behind Phil. They'll run up to their bags, read the clue, and drive off on in one of the fleet of Mercedeseses waiting outside. Oh, and the first team to cross the finish line will win a million dollars. Man, isn't it time to adjust that for inflation? Especially now. Time for Phil's big moment, as the runners drop into a starting crouch and Toni kisses Dallas's cheek: "The world is waiting for you. Good luck. Travel safe." And now it's time for Phil's eyebrow's big moment: "Go!" Gives me chills, every time.
The stairs scatter the teams pretty effectively, and Nick and Starr are the first -- barely -- to open the first clue, sending them to a Del Taco on Santa Monica Boulevard. No, not really; they're going to Salvador, Brazil. The rest of the teams read the clue in tandem, learning that they have a choice between two flights: American 252 or United 8043, both of which are leaving Logan Airport in FIVE MINUTES! Okay, I'm sorry, I'll stop now. The first teams are already on their way to the parking lot as the hippies reach their luggage. Nick & Starr get the first "first" ranking of the season on the screen as she gets behind the wheel and he jumps in back. Get used to them being in the lead. Terence and Sarah are in second. "Ooh, so real right now!" he crows from the driver's seat. The upsetting thing is that that was just about the least obnoxious thing we'll hear him say tonight. The Frat Boys, Andrew and Dan, pull out third, with Dallas chauffeuring his mom Toni . They're in fourth place and in a very excited mood.