Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Racial controversy...

I continue to fall deeper in love every week with ex-Survivor contestants/winners Boston Rob and Ambah on the latest edition of the Amazing Race. Certainly they have an important psychological edge, in that winning doesn't mean quite as much to them. Amber won a million bucks in Survivor: All Stars, Rob came in second, which I think means he got a hundred grand. Plus, he got Amber, proposing to her on the All Star reunion show. Moreover, I suspect they are cashing in on their celebrity in different ways, so that just being on The Amazing Race earns them money by keeping them in the public eye.

That said, there are several factors that are making them perhaps my favorite Amazing Race couple ever. First, they are smart and exhibit unexpected competence. Once there was a challenge involving carrying about 200 books on a dolly to a location some blocks off. Rob noted he had construction experience, and stacked the books in such an efficient and stable way that he and Amber were able to do the whole thing in one go, whereas most of the other teams had to go twice.

Then, last night, Rob had to ran a horse through some paces on an obstacle course, and did so in quick order. "I'm a mastah horseman!" he laughed. Rob also showed why he's a master gamesman by opting out of an epically obnoxious challenge last week and taking a four hour time penalty. He then brilliantly mitigated the disadvantage by talking some of the other teams into doing the same thing. In this manner he made sure that despite the penalty, he and Amber didn't leave in last place.

The most important reasons I like them the most are that they seem to actually be enjoying the race, and that they really, actually seem to like each other. Not once up to now, even when they fall behind (at one point last night they got lost driving around) do they point the finger at each other or start freaking out. This is extremely rare, and in fact I can't remember another duo in which at least one member didn't occasionally rag out the other. Then there's the fact that while they generally go pretty well on things, they don't grouse when things go bad. And when they just luck out, Rob will generally laugh and acknowledge, "We are so lucky!" If he were as arrogant as some seem to find him, he wouldn't be making that admission so easily.

Finally, a bunch of the other teams I don't like are getting extremely pissy about competing against Rob and Amber. Rather than resenting it, the two find it funny. Last night there was an early flight to catch and a later one. Four teams got on the early one and then sat in their seats and gloated endlessly about Rob and Amber missing the flight. "Survive that!" one japed. However, we viewers knew that Rob and Amber were going to make the plane by the last second. As they approached the plane, Amber laughed about wanting to see their faces when she and Rob walked on, and they were indeed hilariously doleful and angry.

The funniest thing about this is that both Rob and Amber realize that it works to their benefit. Except for being caught by a game mechanism that allows one team to pick another couple to lose an hour on the race (this will happen twice more), there's really not much one team can do to directly effect another team. Therefore, the other teams' fixation on screwing Rob and Amber over is just taking their minds off of the game. That alone could net the couple another championship.


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