Amazing Race

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M. Giant: B+ | Grade It Now!
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The game begins, complete with the letters "Start Game" bouncing around on the screen and a guy saying them in a falsetto voice. The host gives the wheel its first spin. While it turns, Brian re-explains the rules in an interview, and Ericka says, "He doesn't eat sushi." Yeah, that would be another problem for me. As the wheel coasts to a stop, the host leads the crowd in a chant of "Taberu! Wasabi!" Which of course means "Eat Wasabi." The first two wasabi bombs land in front of Ron and Cheyne, and goofy graphics and narration clarify this further. As Cheyne starts eating, we see an interview of him saying he wasn't' scared of the wasabi bomb until he was looking down the barrel of the thing. Remember the giant doomsday weapon on that old Star Trek episode, the one shaped like a cone with a gaping maw of death? That's what a wasabi bomb looks like, though on a somewhat smaller scale. "Everybody else must eat their sushi!" the host cries as Ron and Cheyne get eating. So not only do the other racers have to wait to get their torture-snacks, they're going to have to eat them when they're not as hungry. "This Japanese wasabi very strong. Can you eat it?" the host finger-waggles at Ron. Ron responds by turning away to cough some out, accompanied by a graphic of a crocodile tearfully breathing fire. He keeps at it, though, and finishes choking it down just a second after Cheyne does. "Okay! Okay!" the host tells them with the kind of enthusiasm that only people in Asian nations use to say "Okay!" They each get a clue and a colored flag from one of the hostesses. Phil tells us what's next, which also tells us why everyone's wearing visors: "Teams must now match a colored flag with the same-colored visors of twenty Japanese tourists from the studio audience and lead them through the infamously overcrowded Shibuya Scramble crossing. A million people pass though this chaotic intersection every day." One million, two hundred and forty-two today (1,000,264 with camera and sound crew). If you've ever seen footage of the crowded streets of Tokyo choked with pedestrians, it was probably of this spot, which is basically Times Square plus Piccadilly Circus plus M.C. Escher. I'm just disappointed to learn that not all Tokyo intersections are like this. From there they have to make it to Konno Hachimangu Shrine, a Shinto shrine that is this leg's Pit Stop. Already? This is a pretty short leg for a two-hour episode.

And even though "the last team to check in here may be eliminated," there doesn't currently seem to be much danger of that for Meghan and Cheyne, as Cheyne waves his red flag to rally the red-visored audience member and lead them out of the studio in a big, cheering crowd. So we know right away that the flag-dispensing hostesses have now Marcy and Ron are right behind them with a crowd in blue visors, Marcy chanting, "We're number one!" Or "ichi-ban," if memory serves.

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Amazing Race

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