The ATC Report

"In Control" - Vol. IX, No. 6

If ever there were a leg designed to keep teams in the same order they left the Pit Stop, this was it. The 'Hours Of Operation' at the amphitheater affected only the first two teams and again allowed them to swap positions (as they've been doing since Leg One). The only other position swap was between the last two teams (Ray/Yolanda and Dave/Lori). Outside of that, teams started and finished the leg in pretty much the same order - which would normally mean that the leg was one of the 'non-elimination' variety. This time it wasn't a NEL, but was instead one of the 'boring' variety.

I suppose we shouldn't really be surprised at the lack of movement amongst the teams. Look at the map of Sicily below:

The entire island is only a little over 100 miles wide at its widest point! No wonder teams had difficulty making up any ground on this leg. With the entire leg being confined to Sicily, we almost expected Phil to say, "Teams must now travel over 90 blocks to find..." Oh wait, that was TAR 8.

Before we move on to the team breakdowns, we'd like to point out a little something to those of you who may not have been paying attention back before the start of the Race. Those of you who were paying attention may recall that (in our column before the Race started) we made the following prediction:

Bronze Medalists (i.e. - "Welcome to Loser Lodge"): Fran & Barry, David & Lori, Lisa & Joni, Danielle & Dani, and Wanda & Desiree.

Silver Medalists (i.e. - "Also Welcome to Loser Lodge, Just A Little Later"): John & Scott, Lake & Michelle, and BJ & Tyler.

Gold Medalists (i.e. - "65,000 miles; 4 continents..."): Ray & Yolanda, Joseph & Monica, and Eric & Jeremy.

Sure, we predicted an early exit for Fran and Barry (and with their vision problems, who knows how the heck they're still in the Race) - but other than that, our predictions have been pretty close to accurate so far. In fact, our top three are all still racing. Four of the five teams we predicted would be eliminated first actually have been eliminated. And the remaining elimination came from our middle group. Pretty darn psychic if you ask us. (Or is that psychotic?) So why bring this up now? Hey, we admit it - we might not be able to continue bragging for much longer, so we've got to do it while we can. On to a recap of the Race...

Eric and Jeremy won another leg (ho-hum). So far they've made a habit of winning a leg, then finishing second in the next. It's hard to determine from the Big Eye's website exactly how many episodes there will be this season. On the main TAR 9 page, there are spots for 14 legs under ‘episode tracker', but on the leader board page there are only spots for 12 (with an additional one for 'finish'). If there truly are 14 episodes then things are looking good for E/J. Based on their history they will swap positions from second to first on the last leg and win the whole thing. If, however, there are only 13 legs (12 plus finish) then they will drop from first to second on the last leg. We suspect that the first-second-first-second pattern can be explained by "contract a social disease-get a shot of penicillin-contract another social disease-get another shot of penicillin".

In close pursuit were BJ and Tyler, the other half of the first/second place-swapping duo. Perhaps only we are conspiracy-minded enough to notice that "BJ and Tyler" is an anagram for "Dr. Jan let by". We're also pretty sure that this is a message to former Racers from the producers, since only former Racers would know that Dr. Jan is the show's head psychiatrist who just happens to have final approval over whether a team is actually allowed to start the Race or not. Of course, we weren't really sure what the message actually meant until...
He has claimed that the cost savings would be incredible, and that fans of the show would be too lazy to actually see if the locales "visited" by this pantomime Amazing Race really exist.
The third place team (Joseph and Monica) came in. Then the message became very clear. Joseph and Monica is an anagram for, "Oh Jim, no! A cad's pen!". 'Jim' could only refer to Jim "Dada" Hasselfink (pronounced "Smith"), one of the show's film editors. In the past, Dada Hasselfink has been a loud proponent of just staging the Race, using actors and studio sets. He has claimed that the cost savings would be incredible, and that fans of the show would be too lazy to actually see if the locales "visited" by this pantomime Amazing Race really exist. The 'a cad's pen' portion of the message could only indicate that the worst had finally come to pass and Mr. Hasselfink had managed to convince the higher-ups at CBS to see things his way. He must have enlisted the aid of Dr. Jan, who only allowed actors into the cast this time (in other words, "let by"). From there it was no problem to cancel the actual travel and head for some studio's lot, where filming of TAR 9 began and ended.

The fact that the Race was a sham became even more obvious as the remaining Racers crossed the finish line. Next came Fran and Barry (bar fan - ran dry). Then Lake and Michelle (he made clean kill) followed by Ray and Yolanda (only a Dada yarn), and finally David and Lori (did no valid AR).

It is obvious that actual fans of the show are being barred from appearing, meaning the list of applicants that the producers really wanted to cast has 'run dry' - in other words, Dr. Jan is preventing anyone but actors from being selected. Dada Hasselfink has made 'a clean kill' of the show and its original premise. Now the show is completely made up by Mr. Hasselfink ('only a Dada yarn'). Even the people we see racing shouldn't be considered actual members of the Amazing Race community, since they haven't really competed in a valid Amazing Race.

Fortunately for us, it was at about this time that the painkillers began wearing off. We now realize that there were two valuable lessons to be learned from this week's column. First, things that seem really funny when you're stoked on the remnants of Steve's painkiller supply don't seem nearly so when you come back down. And secondly, it's usually a good idea to have an idea for what we want to say in the column before we begin writing it. Otherwise we'll just end up typing Racer's names into the Internet Anagram Server and try to build a column around what we find.