Commentary

Episode Six

The Aussie Review

This is one of the most-remembered episodes in the show’s history – unfortunately, in my opinion it’s remembered primarily for all the wrong reasons! The infamous incident at Tunis Airport casts an even bigger shadow in the memory of TARflies about TAR1 than it does during the actual show, which is itself bad in the first place. There’s so much more to this leg than Team Guido blocking a gate, and I hope this week’s viewing has given us a chance to look past the obvious and appreciate this episode’s very real delights.
We start with an unusual sequence, anyway – the only time a pitstop has had to be evacuated.
We start with an unusual sequence, anyway – the only time a pitstop has had to be evacuated. Mind you, I have no idea at all how this leg would have started had the teams remained at the oasis. Gabes isn’t that near to where they were, and how were they supposed to get started? Camels again, perhaps? Then there’s a weird bit on the way to Tunis where the famous “taxi music” is introduced, and the teams turn into players in a silent movie (well Nancy looks like a movie star in that scarf/sunglasses combo!) as the footage is sped up for no apparent reason. And only TAR1 would have an entire day edited out of the middle of a leg – it’s skilfully done though, with only some incongruous interview footage of Kevin and Drew and a costume change by the Guidos to tip people off.

Far too much has been written about TunisGate for me to rehash it here, so I’ll talk about the rest of the airport sequence instead. The strike situation makes what should be a simple hop across the Mediterranean into a huge drama, and it’s a pity that we don’t see this kind of mad scramble for different flights more often in the show. Drew’s gift of his girlfriend’s present to the ticketing lady is very sweet, although we also have his ridiculous assertion that he and Kevin have suddenly learned how to speak French (watch his face at one point – he clearly has no idea what Bill is saying at all!). The tension is palpable and it’s little wonder the whole thing ends in a bust-up – the sad thing for us is that the whingeing and whining never lets up for the rest of the episode!

Which is sad, because once they finally get to Italy this turns into quite a fun and enjoyable episode. As with the move to Paris earlier on, the contrast between the wild desert setting and the ancient monuments of Rome works very well indeed. In fact, you end up thinking that more could have been made of the Eternal City than what we see…they don’t spend much time there, and much of that time is taken up with the aftermath of TunisGate anyway. I suppose it means that there’s plenty of scope for a return to Rome in future races, which can only be a good thing.

But the real highlight of this episode is the Roadblock involving the Smart cars, which I have to say remains probably my favourite Roadblock to this day. What makes it special is not only the enjoyment we get out of watching our intrepid racers having to navigate all by themselves, but the expressions of the people in the sportscar (Emily’s actually rather endearing here) and the quaint little village where it all ends. In addition, it’s a unique task in that one team member is actually “on the mat” and has to wait for the other one to arrive before they can check in. Admittedly it doesn’t create much suspense here, but I’d love to see the producers try a similar trick in the future, putting the Roadblock last in a leg and watching what happens.
Endless blathering about cheating and rule-breaking makes it difficult to root for anyone this week.
Endless blathering about cheating and rule-breaking makes it difficult to root for anyone this week. If anyone comes out as the stars of this leg, it’s – amazingly – Lenny and Karyn. Watching them here, it’s difficult to believe they were close to disintegration last week. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the fact that Karyn seizes her moment in the spotlight this week and quite literally does everything for them while Lenny acts as a brake yet again. Her clever thinking puts them into the lead for the only time, and it’s actually a pity that circumstance rips this opportunity away from them before they really make the most of it. Certainly it’s the most relaxed we ever see of them, with Karyn employing the services of her very own Fabio and Lenny cracking jokes on the mat. For once, it’s something of a relief that nobody is eliminated.

Other notables include the extinguishing of Nancy and Emily’s chances (they’re really never the same after TunisGate), Frank and Margarita emerging as even more of a threat to win than at the start, Rob continuing to be seemingly unable to say anything without whingeing, and the Guidos discovering something of a second wind and reaching levels of condescension rarely seen since Paris.

This episode deserves to be remembered for something other than TunisGate – it’s got great locations and a superb Roadblock. Unfortunately so much time is taken up within the leg itself talking about what happened that it will never escape the shadow of the show’s most overblown moment. In a moment of frustration and fatigue, Joe and Bill made a decision they would regret, and the other teams made the situation even worse. The editors never really presented us with any evidence of anything, but proceeded to devote large swathes of air time to people talking about it. For me, it’s high time the hype and discussion was ended.

The Australian’s Rating: 8/10
–– by The Australian


Random Musings
The whole theme of this ep seems to be The Guidos vs. Everyone Else.
Last week the Guidos weren't getting along fabulously with each other, this time they expand that scope and manage to make enemies with most of the other teams. The whole theme of this ep seems to be The Guidos vs. Everyone Else. This is established right from the start with the Frats and the Guidos kvetching about each other. Including the always-funny statement by the Guidos that the other teams are concerned about what the Guidos are doing, not focusing on the race like they are. In the history of the race, has there ever been a team that was more concerned about what other teams were doing than Team Guido? Especially in this ep - the editing leads us to believe that they spend hours and hours just watching the other teams working the airport.

In the Tunisian airport, Bill and Joe clearly state that they are trying to hold up the other teams so that they don't make their flight. This is, in my opinion, horrid behavior from grown men. This is not supposed to be a backstabbing kind of game. If the other teams had missed their flight, I firmly believe that Joe and Bill should have been assessed a time penalty equal to the amount of time the other teams lost in missing the flight. The ego of Team Guido got so bruised by the fact that these "inferior teams" ended up with a better flight that they let their emotions take over. Bad, bad form guys. It's made even worse by their retelling of the story to Lenny and Karyn - they are obviously re-writing the history of the event in their minds. They even admit their version isn't truthful by saying, "They have to know the truth is somewhere in the middle there." (And again, it's very weird watching these episodes and disliking Team Guido's actions so much, because now? Love them. Even if they continue to deny what they were trying to do during GuidoGate.)

And, as if GuidoGate wasn't enough of a Guidoversy for one week, we later get another train/cab controversy. This is one, however, were I can see both sides of the issue.

Things that Really Make Your Head Hurt:
Hearing Phil say, "Lenny and Karyn are in the lead." Waaaa? And then, of course, when they come in last and didn't get eliminated. I admit, when I first watched this, I had no idea there was such a thing as a non-elimination leg.

Very Random Note:
Just noticed, the race is being brought to me by Fuji Films. Take that Kodak Easy Share cameras!

Lessons Learned This Week:
Connecting flights are allowed...or so says Drew twice when reading the clue to go to Rome. Perhaps they aren't always?

Gotta Love Those Editors Moment of the Week:
Nancy: "I'm embarrassed to be associated with that incident at the airport yesterday." Cut to Bill saying, "We're excited, we love it."

Quotable Frat Moment of the Week:
Kevin: "I came over in a sports car." (This is followed by him making a "sports car" sound)
Drew: "Aahhh! Every, every one I get screwed!"

Fashion Notes:
Oh no...those blue Muppet [tm Miss Alli] glasses on Rob.
If you ever needed any proof that the Guidos’ actions at the airport were nasty, just look at how much they deflated Nancy's enthusiasm for the race.
Heart-tugging Moment of the Week:
Nancy admitting that a little bit of the fight is gone from her. If you ever needed any proof that the Guidos’ actions at the airport were nasty, just look at how much they deflated Nancy's enthusiasm for the race. (She does seem to bounce back a bit at the end. I think she was proud of herself for finding the way to the pit stop in the Swatch car.)

Hee! Moments:
"This little good luck fairy follows them wherever they go." - Nancy commenting on Team Guido in the airport.

Emily cackling over passing Guido on the way to the hoof monument.

Frank calling Guido "Siegfreid and Roy"!

The look on Emily's face when her race car driver floors it.

Kevin pulling up in the race car and starting to chat with Rob...then they both turn to take a look at the lovely greeter. (Or, as Miss Alli said in her recap: "Actually, if you watch carefully, you can see their big cartoon tongues unfurl and land on the pavement. Listen for the 'thwap.'")

Rob introducing Brennan to said greeter.

Huh?:
Bill equating Drew's joke about breaking his legs with “sequence of violence” that “women experience all the time.” I don't get that at all.

Moment that Changed the Race:
Frank hiring a cab to drive to the pit stop so that he could follow it. When I first watched the ep, I thought this was a brilliant move. It seems like racers in subsequent seasons felt the same way, too, as this strategy has been used numerous times. So frequently, in fact, it has been specifically forbidden in some clues. (Also? Frank cheering as Margarita went by in the racecar made me hate him a little less.)

Brennan Speech Meter:
Ahh...an episode that lives up to the legend of Rainman. Not much going on for Brennan talking-wise this week. When we do hear him speak? It's one-word items like, "traino." (Well, except for a few direction-asking scenes.)
–– by miri