Race Around the World (The Amazing Race Commentary from Jonathan Baker and Steve Coogan)

The Magic of Gnomes

Pantheon.org’s Micha F. Lindemans describes gnomes this way:
“A race of small, misshapen, dwarf-like creatures that dwell in the earth. The name ‘gnome’ was given to them by the medieval scholar Paracelcus, in an attempt to describe the most important of the earth spirits. Gnomes live under the earth, where they guard treasures. According to Paracelcus, they move as easily through the earth as humans walk upon the ground. They cannot stand the light of the sun, for even one ray would turn them to stone.”

Travelocity has adopted the little guys with the pointy hats and long, white beards as their mascot and considering the company is pretty much the primary sponsor for The Amazing Race, they were bound to pop up in one of the legs of the race and this week’s episode was the blessed event.

After everyone solved their travel issues and made it to Turkey, the first task of the leg required the teams to find one of the special Travelocity gnomes and carry it with them through out the rest of the leg to the pit stop.

Jonathan liked the idea but wondered why they didn’t use the little guy more through out the leg instead of just making the teams carry it around.
“Gnomes are made to be funny,” he said. “Why not have it be part of the game instead of just traveling with them? It was an interesting concept. It was really a great idea. But they should have turned into a travel thing, it’s The Amazing Race!”

While he didn’t specify exactly what they should have done with the gnome besides incorporate it into the race, to Jonathan, this was just another example of the producers focusing too much on the RACE instead of the (mental) GAME that’s involved with this as well. It could have been fun to see the gnome worked into the game another way. Instead, they just carried it around and went on from task to task.

“It wasn’t part of the game. They used it as a travel companion instead of part of the game. That’s the problem I have with The Amazing Race. They are always thinking about the race and not the game.”

That’s not really the case with Rob and Amber though. Clearly, the most significant development of this week’s episode was Rob trying to play “the game” and paying the price because of it. Rob’s scheming at the beginning of the episode and trying to utilize the mental strategy to mess with Gretchen suggesting there was an earlier flight her and her partner Meredith could have taken to get to Turkey earlier.

Turns out Rob was right about that and Gretchen and Meredith and Uchenna and Joyce got on that earlier flight while Rob and Amber and Ron and Kelly got on a flight that got them into Turkey two hours later and it sealed their fate for the rest of the leg of the race.

“Rob’s back to playing the game again,” Jonathan said. “By playing the game, it cost him. He tried to throw Meredith and Gretchen off. They ended up on the earlier flights.”

Despite Rob’s obvious flub, Jonathan still loves the way Rob plays. He’s trying to employ some of that mental strategy that Jonathan thinks is so important. And after playing so well up to this point, every good player is going to have a bad day. Rob just happened to pick a good day”¦to have a bad day.

“I loved the way Rob played,” Jonathan said. “He was his worst enemy. He got too cocky and he learned from that. Every good gambler has a bad day once in a while.”

According to Wil Huygen’s books, Gnomes, Secrets of the Gnomes and The Complete Gnomes (which portions of are posted on monstrous.com) male gnomes “are the guardians of animal kind and show little preference for their animal friends.” If that was the case, Rob could have used that Travelocity gnome while he was in the airport protecting and helping him. After all, once he picked the little guy up, he was back in the game and his team flew through the rest of the leg, finishing just ahead Ron and Kelly for third place.

As stated earlier by Pantheon.org’s Micha F. Lindemans, “Gnomes live under the earth, where they guard treasures.”

In this case, those little gnomes the teams carried really were guarding an impressive treasure, basically what amounted to a $20,000 gift certificate from Travelocity, an impressive prize only rivaled by the cars Ray and Deana won in Africa.

But in this case, the gnomes were tricky and guarded their treasure very carefully because with such a vast treasure, only one team was going to be able to enjoy all it had to offer.

But Jonathan wondered aloud about the prize. He wanted to know where these great prizes were during the season that he was on.

“What’s with the $20,000 grand prize?, Jonathan asked. “If you added up all the prizes this year, that would equal more than all the prizes that we won last year.”

It just goes to show you that the gnomes used in this week’s episode really were necessary. They were protecting a treasure that the other players in other seasons weren’t chasing after”¦

And the teams”¦

The way Meredith and Gretchen continue to chug along in The Amazing Race is amazing. This week, they even finished ahead of Rob and Amber, who have been front-runners for the entire race.
While Jonathan is amazed and impressed in his own right, he still joked that they remind him a bit like an old cartoon character.

“Meredith and Gretchen are definitely like Mr. Magoo,” Jonathan said. “They’re blindly walking into the eye of the tiger and escaping every single time.”

As for Ron and Kelly, Jonathan is in the same boat as many other viewers who are shocked and dismayed that Kelly would continue to berate her partner, both in this race and in life in general the way she has. It’s been offensive and Jonathan isn’t happy with her actions.

“I think she’s a bitch and not patriotic,” he said. “Anyone who says they got their man got caught and became a POW on purpose is a lunatic.”

Besides Kelly being much too mean and spouting off with inappropriate comments, Jonathan also doesn’t think Ron and Kelly played a good game outside of the arguing either.

“They got too lax,” he said. “You let your guard for one second and this is what happens.”

As for Uchenna and Joyce, for several weeks in a row, we’ve said the same thing about them. They are running a solid race and are terrific players who deserve the best. But since Joyce shaved her head, Jonathan has looked at them a little differently. He likes them even more than he did before.

“Uchenna and Joyce are just endearing at this point. It’s almost like the angels have come down and blessed them. I think they are running a great, solid game at this point. There’s really nothing that you can say. They’ve won even if they lost.”

Finally, Jonathan believes that Rob has learned from his mistake and will take this into consideration for the last few legs of the race.

“The man is back playing the game,” he said.

That isn’t too much of a surprise. Rob himself said that he would be back and he wouldn’t let this happen again. He’ll be reenergized and focused when the next leg starts, for sure.

Jonathan also thinks Rob and Amber have just become such good reality TV show players from all of their experiences. He said they played individually on their seasons of Survivor. They came together on Survivor: All-Stars. Now that they are together on The Amazing Race, they are very close and work very well together because they know how it works.

In fact, Jonathan believes the couple’s biggest challenge isn’t The Amazing Race. They have grander things to think about, like their life together after their luxurious Caribbean wedding.

“The true test for Rob and Amber isn’t reality television, it is true life,” he said.

And we say good bye to”¦Ron and Kelly’s stuff

With only four teams left and still several episodes before the end of the season, it wasn’t too surprising to see this leg of the race be non-elimination. But watch out next week”¦We will (probably) finally find out who the final three teams racing for the one million dollars!

Stay tuned!

— Steve Coogan

— Jonathan Baker
The Amazing Race 6

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