Nervous stringed instruments leap forth to re-introduce us to southern California (update: still smoggy; still soulless) and its idyllic beaches, which are, surprisingly, not currently on fire. We skim across the impossibly blue water and encounter a lovely boat decorated with Phil, the World's Spiciest Adventure Host. He talks about being near Santa Monica, but I am distracted by the groundbreaking normalcy of his outfit, which includes khaki pants, a white turtleneck, and a blue zip-up. Looks like Phil is no longer being dressed by a second-grade arts and crafts class, which means he is probably far less likely to show up in a bikini made of egg cartons and elbow macaroni. Sort of a relief; sort of a shame. Phil tells us that there will be eleven teams, all of whom have decided to go zinging around the world. Whoever does it the fastest will win some money. How much money? A million dollars. (Of which you will have $308.64 left after taxes, including the new federal Surveillance Assessment soon to be proposed by John Ashcroft. There's a price to be paid for security, people. Did you think subcutaneous homing devices were free?)
Phil next explains that adorable little "lifeguard transport vehicles," evidently manufactured by Fisher-Price for its Li'l Beachcomber series, are taking the teams to the starting line at the Santa Monica Pier. Indeed, look, a pier! There's even a Ferris wheel, and as you know, a Ferris wheel always says Good Family Fun, except when it says Meet Your Stomach Contents or Haven't You Always Wanted To Learn About Joint and Several Liability?
To no one's surprise, Phil explains that each team has "an existing relationship." My brain fills in the inadvertently omitted words, "For now."
Brandon and Nicole, as others have noted, really do look shockingly Blue Lagoon, because he is working the Guarini mop, while she is working the nondescript long dark hair that is worn by approximately 78 percent of the female reality show contestants who have ever been born. Phil says that these two have recently come to L.A. after a one-year long-distance relationship. It turns out that Brandon has another even longer-distance relationship, as he interviews that the rest of the teams will find that he and Nicole are "committed Christians." Behind him, pagans crackle in the fireplace. Of course, he says that he and Nicole also play hard, so don't think he won't knock you right back to Leviticus if you butt in line. Because they haven't made enough friends yet, we now learn that Nicole just got finished being Miss Texas USA. This is a title she apparently won, if the accompanying video is any guide, by getting her hair to assume the exact shape of a Bundt cake. A Bundt cake enclosed in a tiara. Uh, wrapped in an enigma, I guess. She goes on to argue that she will have an advantage as a result of this history. I totally agree. If they have a Roadblock where you have to bungee jump, she's the only one who will figure out that instead of attaching the cord with hooks, you could just glue it to your ass with spray adhesive.
Kami and Karli (no, really) are identical twins, because the people in casting still think abusing the recapper is really, really funny. The good news is that at least they're not triplets, because three people should not have those creepy smiles. Karli explains, as we watch them jauntily play soccer, that she and Kami have "nonverbal language." But she can't really describe it. Because it's just that nonverbal. She says Kami knows "every single thing about [her]," which I suspect still leaves plenty of mental real estate unoccupied. They look at their interviewer serenely and say that one thing that will happen in the race will be "doing what [they're] good at." And then they pause. And they smirk. And they tip their heads. And they say in unison, "Manipulating." Wow. I think that's the fastest a team has ever gone from zero to dead-to-me.