Amazing Race
Tears of a Clown

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Into the Rough
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"This is California," Phil says with a surprising lack of specificity before adding, "The heart of America's wine country." We're supposedly flying over the vineyards of Santa Barbara as Phil says this is the perfect place for cycling enthusiasts "like me." Hey, who is this show about, anyway? Actually, I shouldn't mock, because with the crop of racers we're about to meet the more Phil the better. He's currently leading a flock of identically-dressed racers on bicycles as he tells us, "These racers riding the in the peloton behind me have no idea what lies ahead." Or what peloton means, most likely. But Phil says that one of them will win The Amazing Race. Except they'll have to catch Phil first.

So let's meet the teams. We start off whimsically, with Dave and Cherie, "Married clowns from Tampa, Florida" although they introduce themselves as "laugh ambassadors," which is like a real ambassador only less funny. We see them clowning for a group of kids, and their strategy for the race seems to be to rely on all the good karma they've built up over their lives. We'll see how that goes. Of course, this is not the first clown team that's ever been on the Amazing Race, but on the other hand, Jon and Al were amusing, charismatic, and cheerful.

Bopper and Mark are an interracial team of best friends from Clay County, Kentucky, which is shot to look like the poor side of town on Justified. "We never had nothin'. Never thought we'd get nothin'," one of them says. They're shown eating with their families on a picnic table in an unfinished garage as Bopper talks about how they haven't helped their families if they don't win the money. "We are going to win the money!" And then maybe they can take their meals on the inside of the house. I just have one question: "Bopper"?

Misa and Maiya are nearly identical sisters from San Diego, and professional golfers. They frolic on the beach in bikinis for the cameras as they assure us that they're nothing like people think they are. Well, thanks for going out of your way to set us straight, ladies. "There will be no crying," Maiya vows. It's always good to get these predictions on record.

Do you realize that the last time we met 22 racers who had never been on this or any other primetime CBS reality show was in September of 2010? This is my way of trying to ease into the whole Brendon and Rachel thing. You either hated them on Big Brother the last two seasons, or you don't watch Big Brother because it always has people like Brendon and Rachel on it. It was bad enough when Jeff and Jordan got cast on this show, even before Jeff turned out to be a homophobic, self-righteous bully, but now I'm going to have to spend even more time with this obnoxious, braying sore loser with bipolar disorder and her fiancée pursuing his PhD in anger issues (spoiler: he will never catch it). Naturally, in their introductory interview they've got their cliché-o-tron cranked up to eleven, as Brendon says they've proved they're "strong competitors" (Brendon's favorite phrase, and Rachel's second-favorite) by winning Big Brother. Rachel points out she won BB13, although she leaves out the part that it was solely due to the kind of producer interference that would have gotten a real game show sued. But then Brendon also leaves out the part where he was evicted from the Big Brother house three times in one year. Rachel actually -- with a straight face, in 2011 -- says they're not here to make friends... they're here to win a million dollars. I don't think there's much danger of either, but it'll be interesting to see whether being in a game where popularity is mostly immaterial can be set off by lack of rigging the game in their favor -- assuming either of those premises is correct. "Nobody comes between me and my million dollars," she says. Yeah, there's her first-favorite phrase. Oh, their Philimination cannot come soon enough. Now wouldn't be soon enough.

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Amazing Race

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