''The Amazing Race'': All Charla, all the time
They really need to change the name of ''The Amazing Race'' to ''The Charla and Mirna Show,'' because that is what it has become. Was there anything else going on in this episode besides the cousins? I think not. Let's analyze.
Language skills: Mirna's faux Spanish accent was cute, but it couldn't beat last night's husky-Russian ''Where is taxi?'' I don't fault her for this. In fact, I understand, for I too have committed the same gaffe, most notably in the South. You want to fit in and get people to help you. You've just got to be careful not to alienate them. But as one member of the brothers team pointed out, ''The Russians might be the most miserable-looking people on the planet,'' so maybe they can't be alienated.
Traveling: With their penchant for globe-trotting, it's no wonder Charla and Mirna skirted past four of the teams on the way from St. Petersburg to Cairo. Sneaky as it was to switch flights at the last minute, it was the best move. You can't get complacent in this game and assume that the ticket agents are always right.
Roadblocks: This week's Roadblock, a task that can be completed by only one team member, was once again (surprise, surprise!), done by Charla. First Mirna didn't have a sweet tooth (so she couldn't bite into the hundreds of chocolates), then she didn't have a taste for the good life (so she couldn't eat the kilo of caviar), and now she is claustrophobic (so she couldn't climb into the burial chamber at the Pyramids). Classic. This makes you wonder: Just what does Mirna like? Lucky for us, Mirna's caution means we get to see Charla in another cute outfit. (The hockey uniform from last week was my favorite.) And on this Roadblock, pop-music fans were reminded of poor old Tommy, when Mirna yelled, ''Charla, can you hear me?'' Followed by fond memories of Nelly, when Charla said, ''It is hot in here.''
Banter: ''Charla! Do a dance for us. Entertain us while we wait!'' Need I say more?
Not only does Mirna grate on the brothers; she either bosses Charla around or expects her to know everything. To wit: ''Charla, where are the yellow rocks?'' (Is Charla a seer? Was she on the yellow brick road? Does she know the way to Oz?)
''Charla, can you hurry?'' And, after Charla complained that she was having trouble running in the sand, ''Do a little bit better, please!''
But the classic Mirna-ism came after she decided to head for the camels and horses in the Detour, in which the teams could choose either to lead a minicaravan or drag pyramid stones. When Charla reasonably said, ''We can't make it over there in three minutes!'' the evil Mirna responded, ''Charla, they're leaving! Charla, run!'' Forrest Gump, anyone?
So besides the dynamic duo, what else happened last night?
Um, not much of importance. Brother Marshall's knee was killing him, the dating Christian models couldn't decide between themselves which one was ''sweeter,'' and the wonder twins (whose power wasn't activating) led the bowling moms on a wild-goose chase in the desert. Married dad Chip, because he's such a nice guy, helped not only the struggling Christians move their stones in the Detour but also showed the twins where their last clue was. And once again, no one used the Yield, which one team can use to stop another for a finite amount of time.
Since we learned at the last minute that this wasn't an elimination round, anything can happen next week. Sure this week's losers, the bowling moms, will have to survive with no money (is that really a twist?), but Blake and Paige (from season 2) did just fine begging for money in Brazil. And let's not forget those folks from the short-lived ''Lost,'' who had barely any money and got themselves from Mongolia to New York.
Unfortunately for Colin and Christie, they stupidly used the Fast Forward when they had a massive lead. After moving what appeared to be a weightless sarcophagus, they got to bypass all other tasks for that leg and arrived at the pit stop at 11:27 a.m., hours before everyone else. But that also means they will leave Cairo at 11.27 p.m. for the next leg of the race.
My guess? The life-size Ken and Barbie wanted to get out of the heat and primp themselves for the next leg. More than likely their first task will involve a bus station, train station, or airport, and few of those places will be open at midnight. I'm betting that their lead will dwindle away to nothing as they wait for a ticket agent to open, allowing for another Argentinian bus-station fiasco. As Forrest Gump could have told them -- and as all the teams should know by now -- this game is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you're gonna get.
What do you think? Does a little Charla go a long way?