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"Amazing Race": How To Dismantle a Commanding Lead

By admin Published: March 1, 2009
(l-r); Harvard Lawyer Siblings, Tammy Jih, 26-years old, & Victor Jih, 35-years old of Los Angeles, CA compete in THE AMAZING RACE 14, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS �2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There are a couple of different ways you can wreck yourself on "The Amazing Race." One is the calculated risk that does not pan out. The other is the stupid move, especially when it is compounded by stubbornness. ...

Last week, Steve and Linda basically fell prey to the stupid move -- in fact, Linda's stupid move. I was very impressed by Steve's handling of the situation. He must love her a lot.

Tonight, Tammy and Victor managed to make an unforeseen mistake and a stupid move, and were saved only by Brad and Victoria taking a calculated risk that proved even more disastrous than T&V's -- actually just V's -- stupid move.

Tammy and Victor appeared at first to be dominating: first out of the gate and playing the pick-a-plane game very well, reserving one flight but double-checking whether something earlier was available when they got to the airport. They appeared to be on track to a runaway when their plan had to return, costing them time and putting them back in the middle of the pack. But that would not have been a terrible error were it not for Victor's massive, stubborn misplaying of a later detour, following a series of markers that were ever more obviously not the arrows he should have been looking for (and Tammy knew it, and argued about it). That's a case where character comes into play; like a driver refusing to ask for directions, instead going ever farther off course because he's convinced it will work out, Victor kept pushing ever deeper into error. While they eventually sorted things out, it took them from a first-place finish on the last leg to eighth place this time.

Which was still only next to last, because Brad and Victoria gambled on airline flights and lost. Again, they were playing intelligently; they opted not for a direct flight but for a pair of connecting flights which, if on time, would have given them a competitive edge on some teams. But when the first flight ran late, they missed the connection -- and so lost so many hours on the rest of the teams that there was no catching up. They kept pushing, and the show was edited to make it look as if they had a slight chance of getting back in contention (not least because Tammy and Victor fouled up so badly). But they were too far behind -- laboring in the dark on the detour when the other teams had made it to the pit stop in daylight.

Mike and Mel, meanwhile, managed to finish first, and that's fine. In fact, most of the teams finishing first would have been fine. I don't think there was anyone in tonight's episode that made me think they didn't deserve to win. Which is considerably different from the way I think of the people on "Survivor."

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