"It's morning in Gloucester, Massachusetts," Phil announces over sweeping helicopter shots of the town. The views are breathtaking, as is the realization that this season isn't starting in Los Angeles. Phil himself is on the picturesque grounds of some sprawling seaside estate (which is actually ten miles away in Ipswich, according to reader Mary), telling us that it's from here that eleven teams will join a race around the world. "We're about to begin...The Amazing Race." And that ellipsis was my way of expressing a pause that could have accommodated all of the first sixteen seasons.
A small fleet of lobster boats is making its way across the bay, carrying the teams to the starting line. The editors make sure we see that one of the boats is christened No Excuses. Before we can wonder about whether the other craft have names like Non-Elimination or Killer Fatigue, it's time to meet the teams.
First are Brook and Claire, who Phil describes as "home shopping television hosts from Reno, Nevada." Brook, the blonde one, thinks they'll do well because they're such good communicators and manipulators. "Brook and I can sell ice to an Eskimo," Claire boasts. Well, now I know not to watch their channel.
Chad and Stephanie are "dating, from Miami, Florida." We see him bench-pressing her, so they've probably been together a while, right? That's not something you do on the third date. Actually, Stephanie says that they just met eight months ago, and just bought a home together. Yikes, I hope it's a condo. Chad says that the two of them balance each other (see, they're even riding bicycles together), and that he's going to ask her to marry him on the race. I assume he just means asking her on the race, not actually marrying her on the race. Although I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Phil is an ordained minister. And really, if he's not, he should become one. You never know. [Performing wedding ceremonies on the spot could certainly soften the blow of getting Philiminated. -- Angel]
Katie and Rachel are beach volleyball players who have been partners for five years. They look like beach volleyball players, and Katie (the one with the longer face) says they're strong, tough, and athletic, and the other teams had better look out for them. Is this a team of blondes that might actually make it to the halfway point?
On the opposite end of the high-school social spectrum are Jonathan and Connor, a couple of "Ivy League a capella singers." Seriously. We see them harmonizing on a version of "Amazing Grace" with the title changed to "Amazing Race," which I'm sure no one has ever thought of before. Jonathan, the one who wears glasses, says he thinks they'll sing a lot during the race, "to make the other teams like us [because that works so well for Andy on The Office] and to say thank you to our cab drivers [which, if there isn't an international blacklist of taxi passengers, that right there is a good way to get one invented]." They claim that tenors are the bad-asses of the a capella world, and I assume they're kidding. They harmonize, "We'll do anything for money." Except stop singing, presumably.