The ATC Report

"In Control" Vol. XIV, No. 9

Tonight we learned that this upcoming Pit Stop was going to be the most exciting one ever! It would be the "Thrilla in Manila". It would be the "Rumble in the Jungle". It would be the "You're a Bitch...no, YOU'RE a Bitch". It was going to be the best darn, knee-slapping, boy-howdy, son-of-a-gun, pit-stoppingest Pit Stop OF ALL TIME.

But before we get to that, have you ever wondered why the powers that be made the decision to give you previews of tonight's show...as part of the show?

But before we get to that, have you ever wondered why the powers that be made the decision to give you previews of tonight's show...as part of the show? You've tuned in, you're obviously planning on watching, why do they feel the need to tell you what's going to happen in the show you're about to watch? Isn't that kind of the idea behind watching the show - to find out what happens?

Maybe they are concerned that someone has accidentally tuned in, and is really planning on watching "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on ABC. Once the unsuspecting accidental tuner has seen that tonight would feature the biggest brawl ever at a Pit Stop, why, then they would HAVE to continue watching.

In any event, we find it annoying. We want to watch 60 seconds more of The Amazing Race, not 60 seconds less of the race and 60 seconds of seeing what we are going to see. Heck, you could even use those 60 seconds to show us what's happening in Loser Lodge, since we're pretty familiar with what goes on there anyhow.

So anyhow, about the Pit Stop. You saw it. It was just a continuation of what happened during the race. Lakisha and Jennifer called Luke a bitch after a shoving match at a Check Point. Luke then called them a "Myaaaumna". Sometime later he made a hand gesture, which CBS told us meant bitch. (We do appreciate the info, CBS. That's two nasty hand gestures that we now know.) Margie and Luke got into a shouting match with Lakisha and Jennifer while standing on the mat. End of report. Exciting? Not really.

Look, we aren't making fun of Luke by any stretch of imagination. Nor are we faulting Margie, Lakisha, or Jennifer for what happened. The simple fact is that the race is a pretty stressful thing. It is designed to keep the teams in contact with each other, and designed to keep them fighting for that million-dollar prize...with each other, if need be. Combine the stress, the close proximity of the racers, and the producer's quest to provide tension and drama, shake well, and poof! We have an argument at a Pit Stop.

Don't kid yourself for a second that the producers didn't know that they were sitting on a potential powder keg once the shoving and name-calling started. And don't think that they didn't keep the embers smoldering right up to the mat. All it took was Phil's "innocuous" question about heated competition to ignite the whole thing. (And do you think that maybe THAT was planned?)

We figure it this way - if you want a race, make it a race. If you want drama and fighting - well, we've got some ideas for that as well. Here, look at this:

You want exciting action? You want fast and furious checking into the boards (or through the glass)? Why not just go with "The Amazing Hockey Race"? Bumping and pushing will just be part of the action then. Racers can still get penalties, but mostly they will be of the 2-minute variety. Phil can ask the racers how many teeth they lost each leg. And the best part of all - the racers will all be on ice skates, so they will fall down a lot and we will get to laugh!

Of course, why stop with just hockey? How about something a little sterner?

In "The Amazing Boxing Race", teams would not only be encouraged to fight, they would really have to do so - all for the sake of their next clue. A standing eight count should be enough time to grab the clue and head out of the ring, but with those cumbersome gloves, they might actually need a knockout!

Of course, we could just combine the two...

Why not give the fans what the producers think they really want? We could call it "The Hockey Amazing Boxing Race" (THABR, for you acronym fiends).

Oh, and in case you somehow missed it? Michael and Mark managed to snag their Amazing Race Darwin Award, as expected. Congrats, guys. (Not sure what we're talking about? See last column.)