''The Amazing Race'': The near-finale frontier
Hi, I'm not Josh Wolk. I thought I'd throw in that disclaimer early on, because (1) I'm not quite the Amazing Race expert that he is and (2) I'll be writing at length about Phil's trousers. Just so you know.
This week, Josh is on a mandatory rest period, sort of like the one that everyone involved in producing the family edition has been taking all season. By now, it's all sort of laughable. During this episode's roadblock, Megan Linz wondered aloud, ''All we have to do is search for balls?'' Um, exactly. In a weird, defeated sort of way, I have to admire the producers for including lines like that one. It's like they've fully come to terms with how ridiculous the season is and they're finally letting the competitors themselves comment on it.
The Bransens had a similar this-race-is-bogus moment. While barreling (albeit at 25 mph) to the pit stop in Somewhere, Montana, Walter asked a perfectly friendly local for directions, and the man calmly told him to keep driving down the same road. ''So much action, so much suspense!'' snarked Mr. B. Of course, he later lost all the points he gained there by sputtering that ''Buick is a great...vehicle'' just before winning the new car. Oh, Wally, best to leave the product placement to the pros.
My personal favorite self-referential moment had to be right at the beginning of the hour. After the Godlewskis moaned to Phil that he was torturing them with the announcement that this leg was to be continued, he shot back a singsong ''I know, I'm torturing you.'' Yes, and all of us viewers, too. It's nice to know that he gets it. He was even using his trademark Phil mug that perfect cross between a good-natured grin and a sarcastic smirk. I could almost hear him follow up with ''You idiots'' under his breath.
I don't really remember much of the families' road-trip talk. I do recall appreciating the Linzes for making a Silence of the Lambs reference and hating the Weaver girls even more for completely ruining the Pizza Hut lunch buffet for me something I thought could never happen.
The only truly interesting parts were when Phil, who was possibly going commando, did his little intros to the challenges. He was in rare form tonight with those crotch-constricting khakis and the way he had to bound up the mountainsides instead of doing his usual easy stroll. Both elements contributed to a variety of powerful shots of the Phackage.
Speaking of pitching tents, the detour was kind of interesting. While the Linzes and Bransens put together covered wagons, the two sets of lame-os attempted to erect teepees under the watchful eye of a silent Indian chief. ''He's looking at me!'' whined Rolly Weaver. Shut up, kid, you were looking at him.
Then there was an incredibly pointless waste of 20 minutes during which the families posed in ''period clothing'' with a Buffalo Bill impersonator who hated them all. Like, really, really wanted to kill them. Was this even a challenge? The teams had to wait in line and watch each other pose. After which they filed out one by one and moseyed on down to a golf course for the roadblock, basically an Easter egg hunt on a larger scale. The golf ball might be hidden in the hole! Who knew? Everyone.
Dramatic climax! On the way to the pit stop, the Weavers got pulled over for speeding. The entire ordeal took about 15 seconds, and they were only issued a warning. Saved! Personally, I think God did it.
In the end, the four feuding Godlewski sisters got the boot. Finally, someone did. I'd complain that I'd rather have the Weavers go home, but the Godlewskis were really grating. From one of tonight's first scenes, when Michelle gloated to the sobbing Christine that she saw the sign for the pit stop first and it was ''bigger than daylight'' (huh?) to control-freak Sharon's loser lap around the eighth and ninth holes, I was ready to see the gals go. Only three teams left. Let's just hope all those zoom-ins on the Weavers' declining gas gauge were there for a reason.
What do you think? Which of Wally's back-talking daughters should he turn on first when he finally snaps? Will the Weavers' obnoxiously good luck ever run out? And which team deserves to win the most?