In Hindsight – Previewing 'The Amazing Race 9'
by Kevin Wong on February 8, 2006

So here we are, on the verge of yet another season of ‘The Amazing Race’. And we’re back to the familiar format of eleven teams of two racing around the world (for real this time) to win a million dollars. What follows is my analysis of the teams, based on their profiles on CBS.com. And also note that I am not factoring in “Family Edition” into my predictions. That season was, for all intents and purposes, an anomaly in terms of how this show operates, so I will be concentrating on the past history of Races 1 through 7.

Here are the teams:

Names: BJ Averell (26, Online Tutor, Los Angeles, CA) and Tyler MacNiven (25, Filmmaker, San Francisco, CA)
Relationship: Best friends
Dude, like, these guys are like, hippies. They, like, NEVER do well in this kind of competition. Remember the blonde chicks from two seasons ago? They, like, never made it out of South America and… what am I doing again? Destined for a mid-high placement.


Names: Scott Braginton-Smith (41, Sales, West Harwich, MA) and John Lowe (38, Wealth Manager, Dorchester, MA)
Relationship: Life-long friends
My first reaction upon seeing their picture was that the TAR casting crew had done it again – they’d signed George Lopez and William Mapother to team up for the Race. I think that, if not for Eric and Jeremy, I’d be picking these two guys to win. But my guess is that they’ll get derailed at some point – possibly by a Yield – and won’t get to race the final leg.


Names: Yolanda Brown-Moore (27, Science Teacher, Chicago, IL) and Ray Whitty (31, Attorney, Chicago, IL)
Relationship: Dating
Ray’s obviously a focused kind of guy, and they seem like a nice couple, but I don’t see them getting far. The problem, as I see it, is that Ray looks scary. Check out the intensity in his eyes in the group shot and tell me that that doesn’t frighten you. I mean, sure, he’s probably a nice guy one you get to know him (and the mini-bio shot would seem to indicate this), but if they go to China or Southeast Asia, I get the feeling that the locals will freak out when they see him. As for Yolanda… well, as a Leafs fan, I can’t in good conscience root for someone named Yolanda. Those that suffered through the 80′s will know what I’m talking about.


Names: Monica Cayce (23, Student, Fayetteville, AK) and Joseph Meadows (23, Homebuilder, Fort Smith, AK)
Relationship: Dating
I’m pegging this couple to finish third, but that doesn’t mean that I think they’ll be good racers. Similar to Uchenna and Joyce, I see them overcoming some tough breaks at the beginning and getting some lucky breaks towards the end, leading to them being one of the Final Three. Unlike Uchenna and Joyce though, I don’t see them as having that breakaway ability that led to the Houston couple winning.


Michelle (36, Homemaker) and Lake (37, Dentist) Garner (Hattiesburg, MS)
Relationship: Married Parents
If this were ‘Survivor’, I’d say that this couple would be the ideal age to win. Unfortunately, this isn’t Survivor – this is the three-time, three-time, three-time Emmy Award winning ‘Amazing Race’! This duo us obviously in good shape, so endurance shouldn’t be an issue here. But there’s talk of personality differences in their profile, which would seem to be the main obstacle they need to overcome if they want to reach the Finish Line.


Names: Joni Glaze (44, Children’s Minister, Katy, TX) and Lisa Hinds (48, Realtor/Artist, Santa Rosa Beach, FL)
Relationship: Sisters
Middle-aged women on this show are often the wild cards in terms of placement. We’ve seen them eliminated first, and we’ve seen them finish as high as fourth. Often, you have to see them in action before you can make a judgement on how they’ll do. Which is why I’m thinking that they’ll finish in the middle of the pack.


Names: Fran (61, Retired Accountant) and Barry (63, Retired Physician) Lazarus (Silverthorne, CO)
Relationship: Married 40 years
With a name like Lazarus, I guess you had to either become a doctor or a priest. Either way, it’s a great last name. These two seem to have a pretty good fitness level, so I think that they’ll surprise some teams. Still, endurance will play a factor with this couple, so getting rest whenever and wherever they can will be paramount if they expect to keep up in the later legs.


Names: Wanda Lopez-Rochford (44, Corporate Trainer, Smyrna, GA) and Desiree Cifre (24, Writer, New York, NY)
Relationship: Mother and Daughter
Heh, Smyrna. Anyways, parent/child combinations have never done well in the Race. This may be because the duos are generally more about “sharing an adventure together” or “learning about one another” than “winning a million dollars”. To win, there has to be cohesion in the pairing, and we never really get that from the parent/child team. And I see that trend continuing here.


Names: Jeremy Ryan (26, Valet, Fort Lauderdale, FL) and Eric Sanchez (27, Waiter, Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Relationship: Friends
Every season, I look at the previews and see if there is an Alpha Male team that, based on their athleticism and a little luck, should come through and win this competition. And here they are. In terms of athleticism and stamina, these two should be among the top teams. What they need, though is some savvy and a little luck to carry them to the Finish Line.


Names: Dani Torchio and Danielle Turner (22, Recent College Graduates, Staten Island, NY)
Relationship: Childhood Friends
This would be your token “hot chick” team that all the guys will be rooting for to go far in the Race. Or at least get wet. But will they go far? History says “no”. No all-female team has made it to the Finish Line, and the last all-female team from NYC were eliminated second in their shot at a million. So enjoy the pink tank tops while you can, because you won’t be seeing them for very long.


Names: Lori Willems (25, Pizza Hut Assistant Manager, Manhattan, KS) and David Spiker (30, Musician, Manhattan, KS)
Relationship: Dating
OK, so the intolerable Weavers mentioned Pizza Hut last season, and now we get a Pizza Hut employee this time around. Is the Hut a subliminal sponsor, as Under Armor seems to be? I don’t think I’ll dwell on this too long though, as they’ll be one of the first teams gone.

Predicted Finish:
11. Lori and David
10. Dani and Danielle
09. Wanda and Desiree
08. Yolanda and Ray
07. Joni and Lisa
06. Fran and Barry
05. B.J. and Tyler
04. Scott and John
03. Monica and Joseph
02. Michelle and Lake
01. Jeremy and Eric

And there you have it. If you’ve got your own predictions, you can email me or simply post your thoughts in the IP Forums.

IP Linkage
- Mike Sage likes the new season of ‘Survivor’.

- Farah Syed plays the name game. And messes up the name ‘Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place’, which kinda proves her point. But hey, whatever happened to that guy Berg anyways?

- I missed this last week, but Mike Kaye let’s us know what the next few Transformers Binaltech/Alternators will be. And sadly, one of them will be based on the aesthetically awful 2006 Honda Civic.

What I Watched:
Thursday:
‘Survivor: Panama’ (CBS, Global) – Nice start to the season. I like the idea of Exile Island, and the tweaked rules for the individual Immunity Idol are very welcome.

Interesting note about the game. I was looking at Survivor Maps, and if you look at the maps, they’re reusing the islands of Mogo Mogo and Chapera (Survivor All-Stars a.k.a. ASS) for challenges, and it would appear that Mogo Mogo is the Exile Island. Nothing groundbreaking there, just interesting.

Now, let’s get to the castaways:

Bayoneta
Courtney – Well, my first impression is that you’re a nutter. That’s not a good thing – just ask Wanda, Peter and Gabe how quickly they got turfed when their tribemates were given the opportunity.

Danielle – Danielle may win the award for the most impractical bikini for Survivor, ever. Or maybe not, as I’m sure it caught the eyes of the Viveros tribe. Still, the chances of Danielle “busting out” at some point are pretty high.

Misty – Good on you for being so gracious on being the first Exile. And remind me to play poker with you, because you didn’t just give off a tell concerning possession of the Individual Immunity Idol, you all but made the official announcement that you didn’t have it.

Sally – Nothing to say about you as of yet.

Casaya
Cirie – Cirie is my week 1 MVP. Not because she was good in the challenges, or afraid of leaves, but she played the game well where it counts – strategizing before Tribal Council. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that her head was on the chopping block, so she did the smart thing – socialized and formed bonds with Melinda and Ruth Marie while Tina stayed off on her own. And from there, it was easy for her to manipulate the two women into voting off the strongest tribemate.

Melinda – And while Cirie played her cards perfectly, you and Ruth Marie may have hurt yourselves by keeping her. But that depends on the nature of this week’s twist.

Ruth Marie – See Melinda.

Tina – Why were you voted out? Pretty simple – you forgot that, at it’s core, ‘Survivor’ is a social game. You had the physical part of the game down pat, but when it came down to forming bonds with your tribemates, you went off on your own, giving Cirie the opening she needed to oust you. Noone likes to be the first one voted out, but you made the decision pretty easy.

La Mina
Bruce – At some point someone’s gonna pull a Sawyer and call you “Mr. Miyagi”. I’m just trying to figure out who.

Dan – You and Terry have seemingly formed an alliance, and it’s funny because it’s something that seems so natural, a former astronaut and a former Navy pilot teaming up. Will your alliance hold up for the remainder of the show? Only time will tell.

Shane – Four days without a cigarette (there was one sequester day before the show officially started) and Shane was clearly the strongest member of his tribe in the Immunity Challenge. I can’t imagine what kind of withdrawal Shane is going through, but I’m impressed with his self control so far.

Terry – If this was Palau, you’d be Tom Westman. But it isn’t, so I think your chances to win will be predicated on how this week’s twist goes down.

Viveros
Arias – See Courtney. You’d better hope that your tribe wins immunity, because I think that you’ll be vulnerable if you go to Tribal Council.

Austin – Nothing to say about you as of yet.

Bobby – That this guy looks fricking solid. Imagine Ted Rogers’ (Survivor: Thailand) size with Daniel Lue’s (Survivor: Amazon) build. As for how Bobby will do… well, we haven’t seen much of the young guys yet, so we’ll see.

Nick – Nothing to say about you as of yet.

‘My Name is Earl’ (NBC, Global) – Question – if Catalina was so good at dancing (and I doubt that there are many guys that don’t think that she danced well), why did she leave for a menial housekeeper position?

‘The Office’ (NBC, Global)

Friday:
‘Numb3rs’ (CBS, Global)
‘Sin Cities’ (Showcase)

Sunday:
‘Super Bowl XL’ (ABC, Global) – And once again, a hearty ‘f*ck you’ to Global for simulcasting over the ABC feed. And for airing their “virtual” ads before going back to the broadcast.

With that said, it was a pretty competitive game. Not the best ever, but Seattle definitely had their opportunities to win. Ben Roethlisberger was again Dilfer-like in his management of the game, not doing anything exceptional – but not screwing up either. Still, it’s telling when the best QB in the game is Antwaan Randle-El.

And for all Asians, feel a little (as in minuscule traces of) pride as Hines Ward (who is half-Korean… yes, I take note of these things) is YOUR Super Bowl MVP.

Monday:
’24′ (Fox, Global) – Next week, the return of Spawn!! Be afraid… be very afraid.

‘CSI: Miami’ (CBS, CTV)

Tuesday:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Atlanta Thrashers (TSN) – OK, I didn’t actually watch this on TV. My wife somehow ended up with 10th row seats (in the corner), and I couldn’t very well turn that down. Slow first period, but the play picked up after the first goal.

Wednesday:
‘Lost’ (ABC, CTV)

Bits and Pieces
- The new Monday Night Football crew was announced, and I have to ask: what the hell were they thinking? I’m not sure if Mike Tiroco is a competent play-by-play guy or not, but Joe Theismann and one half of the PTI idiots cannot be a good idea. On the plus side, Al Michaels and John Madden have now both jumped to NBC for Sunday Night Football, so at least NBC now has a play-by-play guy who’s got the goods to keep up with Madden’s ramblings.

That’s it for this week.



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