Introductory, pilot-errific shout-outs to Team WTF, the Obies, and the Golden Griddle. Oh, and Jaromir Jagr.
Previously in the life of Jerry Bruckheimer: Tom Cruise met Nicole Kidman, climbed up on a chair, gazed at her adoringly, and said, “Hey, baby, have you ever read Dianetics?” Nicolas Cage broke into Alcatraz, thus beginning his unfortunate transformation from "almost too cute to play freaks" to "almost too funny-looking to play action/romance heroes," also known as The Tragic Journey From Raising Arizona To Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Ben Affleck pushed a cookie down Liv Tyler’s pants, and the world cringed. Denzel Washington riffed on the human spirit, and some soaking-wet chicks stopped serving tequila long enough to clamber up on the bar and boogie-oogie-oogie till they just couldn’t boogie no more. Josh Hartnett became the It-Boy, then just as quickly, the Twit-Boy. The devil ate Don Simpson in one big juicy bite.
A standard zoom-drag-pan-shot flies us over New York City as the mellifluous and vaguely New Zealandian voice of Phil "Travel Channel" Keoghan informs us that he is in…well, New York City, which he refers to as "the cornerstone of the world." The world yawns, and somewhere in Paris, a woman gives Phil the finger while letting a wad of cigarette ash fall into her coffee. The camera now circles Phil like a hungry vulture as he, standing on the roof of a building Beatles'-last-stand-style, explains that 22 people have decided to "take a break from their everyday lives" and race around the world for a million dollars. And they're going to stop being polite and start getting real. Oh, no, sorry. Anyway, next we are treated to a lovely visual of The Amazing Bus, which whizzes toward us as Phil further exposits that the contestants will have to make their journey without computers or cell phones, and that they’ve given up their money and credit cards. (Speaking as someone who likes to take all my gadgets with me everywhere, even my electronic Yahtzee, I have to say this would be a heartbreaker.) He predicts that "their greatest resource will be each other." Those of us who have read even a little bit about these people take a quiet moment to shudder inwardly. But no matter -- let's meet the teams, now emerging from The Amazing Bus.
Frank and Margarita are separated, with a baby daughter. They hope to reconcile, and Frank says the race is "the crossroads of [their] relationship." That's two uses of the word "crossroads" in the first two minutes of this geography-based reality show, and I so seriously hope we don't get fifty-eight more in the next hour. I don’t know if I could take it.
Paul and Amie are recently engaged, and have just started living together. We get a quick shot of them in their apartment, where Amie pulls a melon from a paper grocery bag, all the while grinning idiotically as if she is the star of a Home Economics instructional video shot in 1952. (Miss Alli's Internal Alternative-Audio-Track Narrator: "Amie has a dinner of Tuna Noodle Casserole and Placid Melon Slices ready when Paul gets home, so that he can smoke his pipe in peace without worrying about the petty happenings of her wretched domestic existence.") Paul says that either their relationship will get stronger during the race, or they'll break up. It will soon become apparent -- and I don't think I'm giving away too much here -- that there's a sense in which that's a lose-lose proposition for Paul.