Meet this season's teams: "dating models" Brent and Caite, the latter of whom you recall making a rhetorical faceplant at the Miss Teen USA pageant a couple of years ago; cowboy brothers Jet and Cord; father/daughter team Steve and Allie; the brother team of Dan and Jordan (only one of whom is gay); married couple Dana and Adrian; long-distance couple Jordan and Jeff from Big Brother 11; Jody and Shannon, a triathlete and her triathlete granddaughter (!); undercover detectives Louie and Michael, who better win the million because it's going to be hard to go back undercover after this; "mom-preneurs" (their word) Monique and Shawne; married parents Joe and Heidi; and lesbian couple Carol and Brandy.
The race starts by making the racers take public transportation from a park in Los Angeles to LAX, which is less mean than eliminating a team at the starting line, but not by much. Team BB11, Monique and Shawne, and Dana and Adrian make it onto the first flight to Santiago, Chile via Dallas, while everyone else ends up going through Miami an hour later -- in theory, that is, until mechanical problems level the playing field. Then there's a bus ride to Valpariaso (which the cowboys have trouble catching, having loaded up in Brazilian currency) for a Road Block where they walk along high cables over the city. With all the cables and harnesses, it's not as dangerous as it sounds, and both Dan and Adrian survive falling off, at least in the strictest sense. Then they all have to do a little house-painting, which people succeed at in varying degrees. Dan and Jordan lose a paintbrush, earning themselves a fifteen-minute penalty; while Steve and Allie actually paint someone's living room. Jordan and Jeff make it to the Pit Stop first, so she's on her way to her second half-million from CBS. Miss Team USA scores a thirty-minute penalty for not reading the clue, so they rank seventh instead of second. And Adrian never makes it across the cable, even in two attempts, so that'll be it for him and…what was her name again?
Starting in Los Angeles again? Come on, Amazing Race. As Phil tells us, it's dawn, and "the 25 freeways cutting through town are already jammed with workday traffic." We can see that, thanks. Gosh, I hope they don't plan to make anyone race through that. From the roof of a building I think I once saw CTU raiding, Phil tells us that eleven teams are about to begin a race around the world for one million dollars. As happens with a fair degree of regularity these days.
Three giant coach-style buses, resplendent in Amazing Race-themed versions of those giant advertising condoms you see on vehicles sometimes, are en route to the startling line at the edge of downtown. The teams are inside, of course, and we're about to meet them.
First to get off a bus, in black, are Brent and Caite, "Dating models from South Carolina." Dating models? That's a departure. Plus now I get to look forward to a season of typing the name "Katie" that way. And I thought "Cheyne" was bad. Caite comes right out and tells us that yes, she was that Miss Teen South Carolina. And in case that doesn't ring a bell, the show plays a clip from her moment of glory, when she was asked why so many Americans can't find the U.S. on a world map. "Some...people out there in our nation don't have maps." And that's how Caite earns the first "fail" percussive sound effect of the season before the race has even begun. She says she started talking before there was even a sentence in her head, and the clip continues, "Like such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like, such as..." And then she gets another one! Brent gallantly comes to her defense, saying she doesn't deserve all the abuse that's been heaped on her. Well, no one does, but her debacle is the only reason a lot of people have ever heard of her. She promises that we'll change our minds about her being ignorant. Well, now I hope so. I'd hate for her to turn out ignorant and a liar.
Here come Jet and Cord, dressed for the rodeo in cowboy hats, button-down shirts, boots, and jeans with big belt buckles. Phil says they're brothers from Oklahoma. They say they've won five world rodeo titles apiece, but when we see clips of their screw-ups -- namely being hurled from the backs of large, bucking animals -- the accompanying music is all sweeping and majestic instead of gongy. Seriously, Jet and Cord have been given their own theme music, with swelling strings and French horns that evoke rugged heroism and the open prairie, and you're going to hear it more tonight than you heard "Sweet Georgia Brown" all last season. Anyway, Jet (the one in the black hat, and I'd like to thank him for his choice of millinery that makes his name so easy to remember) tells us that as unnerving as some of the stuff in the race might be, grabbing onto an 1800-pound bull is as well. Depends on what part you're grabbing.