thestar.com – Amazing Race Canada review
Amazing Race Canada review: Cowboys ride off into the sunset
Savvy and self-aware teams managed to one-up their more athletically gifted rivals.
A trip to the ATM proved costly for Alberta cowboys Jamie and Pierre.
Slow and steady may not always win the race, but if there’s one thing that the second episode of The Amazing Race Canada proved it’s that the old cliché still has some legs to it as the savvy, self-aware teams managed to one-up their more athletically gifted rivals.
Kicking off in Kelowna, B.C., the second leg of the race started with an airport scramble that saw the remaining eight teams jostle for the earliest possible flight to Vancouver. While doctors Brett and Holly, hippies Kristen and Darren and friends Jet and Dave’s early start times got them on the 7 a.m. flight with ease, Body Break’s Hal and Joanne managed to sneak on the earlier plane at the last minute by asking to be put on a standby list — a veteran move that left the younger teams dumbfounded waiting for the later 8:20 a.m. flights.
Proving that nothing can beat a well thought out plan, the doctors used their flight to pinpoint exactly where in the airport they would be able to find the Air Canada Lounge (the location of their next clue) in an enRoute magazine. It was a move that seemed almost too easy, yet proved to be one of the small differences in their convincing victory.
Arguably the biggest disappointment of the episode was the early “Roadblock” that saw one member of each team dress up in Spandex and speed skate two laps around the Richmond Olympic Oval in under 90 seconds. While it was a nice homage to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the task seemed too simple with most of the teams completing it within the first few tries. Even Brett, who right before taking off admitted he had never been on skates before, finished on his first try despite wiping out a few times.
However, where the “Roadblock” left much to be desired, the “Detour’s” difficulty made up for it in spades.
When it was announced that the Canadian edition of The Amazing Race would take place across Canada instead of around the world I felt that a key component of the competition was lost. Sure there would be less battles over flights and a lack of exotic scenery, but more important was the fact that contestants wouldn’t have to wrestle with any potential language barriers — an aspect that can instantly turn the tide of the race and level the most lopsided playing field. However, after watching the “Detour,” I can honestly say that what initially looked to be a major flaw in the competitive aspect of the game actually served as a nice reminder as to how multicultural our country really is because there was definitely a language barrier present during this challenge.
Taking place in Vancouver’s Chinatown, the “Detour” had teams choose between two tasks. “Draw it” involved drinking a cup of tea, memorizing a Chinese zodiac symbol at the bottom of the tea saucer and redrawing the zodiac symbols from memory with a paint brush, while “Dance it” involved deciphering a list written in Mandarin, finding all of the pieces of a traditional Chinese lion dance costume and perform the accompanying dance.
It didn’t come as a shock when most of the teams elected to draw the zodiac symbols, but what did come as a surprise were the number of teams that opted to switch tasks well into the challenge, proving that they had misjudged their perceived strengths and weaknesses. So far in the competition, the patient, self-aware teams have had way more success in the competition and it will be interesting to see of this trend keeps up throughout the course of the season.
In the end, the doctors cruised through the second leg of the race and were the first team to make it to the pit stop on the green roof of the Vancouver Convention Centre. Behind them were fan favourites Hal and Joanne and army brothers Jody and Cory.
Unfortunately for Alberta fans, the cowboys, who were behind from the start of the episode, showed up to the pit stop last. But in spite of their lackadaisical play — their decision to stop and get money from an ATM at the beginning of the leg set them back nearly three hours and proved too costly to overcome — I found myself sad to see them go.
Sure, reality television shows are best remembered for their villains as those characters whose downfall we actively cheer for are at the core of why we watch in the first place. But in true, stereotypical, Canadian fashion, The Amazing Race Canada has accomplished something that very few reality shows have pulled off: form a nine-team cast that consist of likeable, polite and courteous people who have compelling backstories.
1) Brett and Holly — They dominated the competition and proved to have the perfect combination of brain and brawn that will be hard to beat going forward.
2) Hal and Joanne — Definitely one of the smartest teams in the competition, the undisputed fan favourites look poised to make it far in the race.
3) Kristen and Darren — Despite a bit of tension during the “Roadblock” they possess the physical tools and the common sense to dominate most challenges.
4) Dave and Jet — My darkhorse pick to win it all. A few avoidable mishaps caused them to slide from third place to seventh, but if they can learn from their mistakes we’ll see them take the competition by storm.
5) Jody and Cory — For the team that finished in third, the army brothers haven’t gotten a lot of screen time so far. While they have proven to be fierce competitors we need to see more of them before they can move up in the rankings.
6) Tim Sr. and Tim Jr. — Consecutive finishes in the bottom half don’t bode well for the lone father-son team.
7) Vanessa and Celina — Despite consecutive fifth place finishes and being extremely entertaining to watch, they just don’t stack up to the rest of the competition.