Sonja Flemming/CBS
Josh Wolk
February 16, 2009 AT 04:08 PM EST

Wow, who woke up Bertram Van Munster? He and his production team had gotten complacent last season, giving us lame challenges and lamer casting. But season 14 of The Amazing Race is off to an outstanding start with the best challenge in years; I haven’t been that excited by a cheese-based sport since I played a pickup game of Gouda-ball while traveling in Sweden. But before we get to that, let’s do a quick rundown of the new teams:

CHRISTIE AND JODI: two flight attendants, and the obligatory ditzy blondes who think that flirting their way through the race is a viable strategy, even though a flirty team has never ever won. Flirting may be difficult for them, however, as their expressions never seem to change. If they want to minxily raise an eyebrow, they will have to do it manually.

TAMMY AND VICTOR: upbeat, overachieving siblings. He’s the older brother who treats her like a little kid, etc. His voice is a little high-pitched, and every time he spoke it reminded me of Will Ferrell’s Harry Carey impression.

MARGIE AND LUKE: mother and deaf son. He’s out to prove that deaf people are just like everyone else, which is slightly at odds with the producers’ efforts to sanctify him and only show him when he’s talking about his deafness.

STEVEN AND LINDA: married 17 years. This Virginia couple will be seen as ”the hicks from the sticks,” says hubbie Steven, a stereotype that Van Munster and Co. are all for encouraging. All that was missing from their introductory video package was a jug band soundtrack. I get the feeling that their backpacks are entirely filled with spare blades of wheat to chew on.

KISHA AND JEN: sisters who are former college athletes, shown playing volleyball and basketball. They didn’t get much distinguishing air time this week, but if we’ve learned one thing from Race and Survivor, it’s that the people who brag about being the most athletic are usually the ones who fail the most miserably at physical tasks.

PRESTON AND JENNIFER: the ”Nate and Jen” of this year, an attractive dating couple whose idea of a perfect evening is strangling the other one until he/she feels the very last ounce of life leaving her/his body, and then and only then can he/she live a fulfilling life. Oh, and allegedly they’re in love.

NEXT: The next five teams

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