It was back to the starting line on Sunday for eleven all-star teams when "The Amazing Race" returned for its 24th season.
The teams are a mix of ones you love (welcome back, cowboys and Globetrotters!) and ones you don't (another dose of the Afghanimals, Brenchel and the Twinnies -- more on that later). But the biggest shocker of the premiere was one member of a fan-favorite team was out of the game before the race even started.That moment of joy you felt when you saw Kentucky buddies Mark and Bopper were racing again immediately turned to despair when teams were informed that Bopper has an inflamed pancreas and the show's doctor has deemed him unfit to race. Host Phil Keoghan gave Mark the option to continue racing with a new partner, which he agreed to with Bopper's blessing -- so now he's racing with Mallory, the perky former beauty queen and fellow Kentuckian who competed with her father, Gary, on seasons 17 and 18. The two are practically strangers and will have some communication issues to get over, but it looks like they'll be a great pairing.
With that settled, it was time to start racing at the UCLA football field. The first four teams to find a specific symbol on the UCLA marching band members’ hats get on the first flight to destination No. 1: Guangzhou, China. Those lucky four are cowboys Jet and Cord, father/son cancer survivors Dave and Connor, cousins Leo and Jamal and twins Natalie and Nadiya. Everyone else gets on a different flight that puts them an hour behind.
What seems like a straightforward search for specific shops on the so-called "Street of Wedding Dresses" becomes overcomplicated when the Twinnies and Afghanimals try to work together but get nothing accomplished. A few teams go into the same store to search but realize it's the wrong one. The Afghanimals eventually go off on their own and, finally, find the right store and get their clue without telling anyone else.
While they were having trouble and losing time, Jet and Cord were the first to get the clue and go to their next destination: the giant Ferris wheel on top of Canton Tower. The even-numbered "bubbles" on the Ferris wheel had the clue to their next destination, while the odd-numbered ones just said "Try Again." The teams, naturally, were not told this, so they had to just take a guess. But, if they chose a "Try Again" bubble, they had to wait a maddening 25 minutes for the ride to finish its rotation so they could get off and try again.
Those who were lucky enough to find the clue on their first (or subsequent) try were directed to the stadium on the river below, where one team member had to perform five flips on a high wire above the ground (in ridiculous costumes, of course, because it would not be "The Amazing Race" without embarrassing outfits).
Jet and Cord won the leg, getting an Express Pass for themselves and another they'll have to give to another team. Brendon and Rachel took second, followed by Dave and Connor, Margie and Luke, Leo and Jamal, Mark and Mallory, Flight Time and Big Easy, Jessica and John, Caroline and Jen and Joey and Meaghan. That means the twinnies, who lost so much time wandering around and bickering with one another, arrived last and were eliminated.
Tell us: Are you sad to see the Twinnies eliminated so quickly? What do you think of Mark racing with Mallory? And do you like this group of all-star teams?