Commentary

Episode Three

Ironically for someone who praised the giant locations shifts of the first two episodes, I find this leg hugely enjoyable precisely because 90% of it all takes place in the one location.
The Aussie Review

In some ways you could say that Episode 3 of The Amazing Race is the first real edition of the show - at least, as we have come to know it. Gone is the editorial confusion and hazy rule explanations of the first two legs, and in its place is a focused, sparkling and entertaining adventure in Paris that is easily the best episode yet.

Ironically for someone who praised the giant locations shifts of the first two episodes, I find this leg hugely enjoyable precisely because 90% of it all takes place in the one location. In fact I believe it's the only time in the show's history where this happens. But why not, with the glimpses of Paris we are afforded here? Few cities of the world could have hosted a leg almost exclusively without being boring, but the French capital certainly can - indeed, it could probably have done with an even more thorough examination.

Part of the reason this episode works so well is because of the tasks. These were still the days where the clues were just that - clues, rather than instructions! The locations of the route markers are given, sure, but there's still some thinking to be done even with this information. The teams quite clearly have no idea what "La Grande Roue", "Foucault's Pendulum", "Mariage Freres" or "Chateau Les-Baux-de-Provence" actually are, and more importantly there's nothing to help tell them! This makes the whole thing far more interesting to watch than some later editions, really. No specific instructions. Or directions. With maps. And spoon-fed transportat...zzz...

After the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe last week, it's good to see Notre Dame, the Pantheon, Place de la Concorde, the Rive Gauche, the Hotel de Ville, the sewers and the Gare de Lyon all get a look-in here. The Detour really is a tough choice for the first time, the Roadblock is visually interesting (even if you wouldn't recommend watching it while eating!), and Kevin and Drew's Fast Forward is charming. That said, the latter is the first of the "just turn up" FFs where you really don't have to do very much to claim it, which is not so good.
But the tasks are only half the charm of the Paris we see here.
But the tasks are only half the charm of the Paris we see here. It's the overnight downtime that really makes this episode, with the "City of Lights" looking a treat in all sorts of situations as the teams make their way to their various objectives.

Completing the overall package of this episode are the teams. Rather sadly, it is with this leg that you basically find out who the top four teams are going to be, this far out. Why? Because for the only time in the entire season, the "underdog" teams actually steal a march on the likes of Rob and Brennan, the Guidos and Frank and Margarita and are first out of the Roadblock. Unfortunately Paul's comment "Castle, no? Castle? Or is that the Louvre? Looks like a castle to me, man!" perfectly sums up their utter ineptitude from this point! They've already fallen behind again at the train station, and then proceed to just sit there and fret as the top teams surge into the lead again in Avignon. One thing I am grateful to the later seasons for is that at least there was a fair amount of uncertainty as to the placings, which you have to admit is totally absent from this one!

Other highlights include the "sleeping in the rain" sequence (which demonstrates a greater cameraderie between the teams than any similar scene yet!), Dave and Margaretta's finest hour as they pinch fifth place despite leaving Paris later, and Karyn's bizarrely endearing "We were last, but we're still in the game!" to a bemused Lenny on the train. Pat and Brenda make the first major stuff-up in TAR history and you do feel sorry for them at the end - though I think we'd like to have seen a bit more of them beforehand so we can feel truly sad rather than sympathetic. The editors just never allowed us to get interested in them, really.

But the stars of this leg, for better or for worse, are Team Guido. Sadly, they are lumbered for much of this show with a gob-smacking amount of hubris - in particular, Joe sounds almost intoxicated for half the thing and is never more irritating than in his waspish behaviour here. Cackling, sniping, panicking, and worse of all pre-empting the poor greeter at the end. Ick. Bill's Muttley impersonation in the cab does him no favours either. Mind you, there's no substance whatsoever to the "cheating" and "dirty tricks" claims made against them...just because you're so dumb you can't see a woman standing next to a gate or (even worse) can't buy or even bother to read a simple train ticket is no excuse to blame Joe and Bill! The Guidos may have big heads, but they are also by far the smartest team at this point.

It's quite wonderful to see the Detour explanation in place at last, the Amazing World Map take on its familiar form and the whole narrative cohere for the first time. Unfortunately Phil looks very under the weather throughout - it's about as sick as he will look at any time, apart from perhaps the start of TAR3. And there's a very atmospheric location switch at the end to Les Baux, which rounds the whole thing off nicely.

I think that it's about this point that people decided they were going to stick with The Amazing Race all the way through, because it's this leg where the hooks really dug in and you become obsessed with what is going to happen to the teams next - where will they go, who will they meet, what will they have to do, and how will they react to each other? At least that's what happened to me! It's a sparkling French exhibit, 2001 vintage that remains one of the most consistently enjoyable episodes of its season.

The Australian's Rating: 9/10
by The Australian
We get a chance to see a bit of all the teams this week - no one seems completely left out as happened in the first two episodes.
Random Musings

This ep covers the smallest span of real estate so far this season. While the "big travel" shows often add a lot of intensity and emotions, I kind of like the slightly more relaxed and less hectic pace of the "small" travel shows. We get a chance to see a bit of all the teams this week - no one seems completely left out as happened in the first two episodes. Besides the short travel distance, it also helps that there are two fewer teams to cover this week.

Many story lines that will continue throughout the season are developed or enhanced this week. We learn that Paul/Amie, Emily/Nancy, Lenny/Karyn are feeling a bit of the "bond of the underdogs." Their unity reveals itself on the final train ride - they worry they might be making the wrong decision in staying on the train, but at least know there's some safety in numbers. I love how, at the end of the leg, as soon as Paul hears his teams' position, he lets Lenny/Karyn and Emily/Nancy know they are okay - taking the stress out of the last of their climb up that nasty looking hill.

Speaking of that hill - could Dave and Margaretta be tougher grandparents? They started the race with that very intense hike in the first episode. During this leg, they sleep outside during a cold rain (while maintaining excellent spirits), walk up what looks to be a hecka lot of stairs at Notre Dame, and then end up with a strong climb up that hill to the mat. These two are tough cookies who are ready for adventure.

I love the whole sequence with Dave/Marg, Paul/Amie and Lenny/Karyn sleeping outside at La Grande Roue. No cushy hotels for these first season racers. Amie rolling around in her sleeping bag and laughing is a great sight. Seeing racers enjoy the experience is something I always appreciate and look forward to. It was especially nice to see this from Paul and Amie after some of their earlier tensions. It left me liking them a bit more. (And I would just like racers from other seasons to note that in this ep most of the teams slept outside and didn't feel the need to run off and spend money on a hotel.)

Last week we saw the race's eventual winners form an alliance and then break up. Frank/Margarita and Rob/Brennan seem to be carrying forth with a tenuous alliance - there's not a lot of trust between the two teams. For some reason, Frank feels that Rob and Brennan were trying to dump him at the Arc. This will continue to be an issue throughout the rest of the season and will even rear its head on the TWoP message boards after the race.

Did you know Team Guido lived in Paris? For two years? Wow - could they be more full of themselves than in this episode? (Wait, don't answer that - this is another one of the continuing story lines that comes into clear focus this week.) These guys have proven to be wonderfully sweet on message boards and in person, so it's shocking to relive how nasty and...weird they were during the race. They are completely paranoid about what everyone else is doing and that other teams will find out their secrets. It's very peculiar to say the least. And, I think Joe was having some sort of acid flash back when talking to the hotel clerk about the pendulum. "Because it's big....and it swings" said in a awe filled voice that I don't have the capabilities to describe. And I'm not even going to mention all the weird bouncing around they do at the thought of going by their old house. (By the way, the hats they have on during this episode? Worse than the Hating Hat, IMHO.)
We also learn that wherever there is a controversy, there's a Guido.
We also learn that wherever there is a controversy, there's a Guido. They take part in the two events that led to the biggest message board uproars: TrainGates Part I and II. Were they trying to mislead the "underdog" teams or trying to help? (And either way, they are so condescendin when saying, "We're going to help you guys, you remember this.") I'm sure we'll never know their true intentions since revisionist history is all the rage.

Next up is TrainGate II. It was this event that is rumored to lead to clues written less like clues and more like directions. Guido, Rob/Brennan and Frank/Margarita (hmmm...those three teams bunched together sound familiar?) find a loop-hole in the clue and get off of a train headed to the south of France in order to finish the trip via cab. The rest of the teams take the slower train ride because the clue said they must travel by train. The Triumvirate, however, decided that as long as they took a train part of the way there, they'd met the requirements.

Lessons Learned This Week:
12:30 AM is later than 9:30 PM...and later than 10:something PM. Tough concept that AM/PM thing.

Moms are people too: "She's the one who never wanted me to ride my bike on the regular street. Now she's jumping off cliffs and letting me do it to?" - Emily

"Scratch Ass" seems to be something to say when you are disappointed about something - and haven't learned the AM/PM lesson yet.

Biggest Relief (pun intended) in Hindsight:
Kevin's carrying a bottle of water that appears to be...water. Whew!

Quotable Frat Moments of the Week:
"Why did I think it was going to be an old guy who looked like Ben Franklin." - Drew

"We have no food, no water...we'll all set." - Kevin

Hee! Moments:
Rob calling Team Guido "Bert and Ernie"

The moment where Team Guido didn't notice Rob and Brennan standing right next to them on the curb and then Rob and Brennan say "hi" with those big shit eating grins.

Team Guido being so sure they came in third - only to get the smack down by the greeter.

Brennan Speech Meter:
We get another few full sentences here - not until the forth act, but there they are.

by miri