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Amazing Race Canada: History and hysterics in Newfoundland and Labrador

We’re over halfway through The Amazing Race Canada and at this juncture, any team could win. I know that seems obvious but there is usually a duo able to distance themselves from the rest of the group by this point. You could argue that siblings Adam and Andrea are that team, but the Fast Pass the week before really helped with that.

As for the weakest team? That goes to Andrea and Ebonie, who were saved from going home a second time after last week’s non-elimination Leg. This is the first time I can remember one team saved twice, and it really took some of the drama out of the Race for me. Lousy teams are supposed to be cut, not given the opportunity to stick around. Ebonie and Andrea were in tough on Tuesday, battling their way through a set of challenges in a unique and beautiful part of the country I’ve had the pleasure of visiting: Newfoundland and Labrador. I was hoping Labrador would figure into this week’s episode. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

Yes, the Race was here earlier this season but, clearly, the producers saw the area as being ripe for more tests of wits and physicality. And, would the confusion that wreaked havoc at the Double U-Turn board impact relationships between any teams? At first blush, Ebonie had nothing to say to Korey and Ivana when they explained the U-Turn move. That put a fire under Ivana’s butt to fight even harder. Meanwhile, Adam and Andrea apologized for not doing what they were supposed to, and things seemed to be OK between the squads; Ebonie and Andrea vowed to worry about themselves and not on alliances. A smart move.

Sam and Paul were first off the plane in Deer Lake, Nfld., and on the road to Corner Brook to find a—sponsor alert!—Bank of Montreal branch. Once there, producers played with the teams’ emotions by having family members and friends (and pets) deliver the next clue via video. The location? Gros Morne National Park. Kenneth and Ryan were the first to depart, followed by Sam and Paul. Sam, who had been waiting to hear whether or not he’d gotten into medical school, found out from his parents that he did, leading to a truly emotional moment for him and Paul.

The Detours hearkened back to moments in Canadian history, choosing between paddling a dory down the coastline to find a clue hidden in a lobster trap and then return to the beach, or reconstruct the tale of a Norse family tree after listening to tales told be recreators. No offense, but the recreators were horrible. Most teams chose to paddle (I would have too.) and chaos ensued … for some. Paul, who has boating experience, took charge and he and Sam were off. Kenneth and Ryan … not so much. (“Put it in the thingie … use the thingie.”) Andrea and Adam were the first to complete the family tree and departed in second place. (Call me immature, but I laughed out loud at Korey’s pee break and how Ivana handled it.)

Andrea and Ebonie, meanwhile, had to contend with a Speed Bump after their last-place finish last week. Their test, to score 25 points hitting an archery target, was difficult for Ebonie at first but Andrea was a natural. It didn’t take long for them to accumulate the points and depart the archery area.

The Face-Off made its first appearance of this season, pitting teams against one another head-to-head. In Newfoundland that meant five-pin bowling—a Canadian invention—with the winning team departing and the losers waiting to challenge the next pair to arrive. The Face-Off is brilliant, dramatic and a potential soul-crusher. It’s also very much a game of patience, as teams wait for others to arrive. It was Sam and Paul vs. Adam and Andrea in Game 1: Sam and Paul won and moved on. Game 2 was Adam and Andrea vs. Team Give’r: Andrea and Adam won. Game 3 put Team Give’r vs. Karen and Bert: Team Give’r triumphed after Bert guttered his final three balls. Game 4 saw Bert and Karen take on Korey and Ivana: Bert and Karen won. In Game 5, Korey and Ivana faced off against Ebonie and Andrea: Korey and Ivana won, leaving Ebonie and Andrea to stew and wait out a timer before they could advance.

At this Leg’s Road Block, one team member had to do perhaps the most difficult thing of all: perform pre-written jokes on-stage in front of an audience at Swirsky’s. (I would have taken the penalty.) Sam totally killed it in his first try and the dating couple departed in first place. Memorization proved to be difficult for the remaining teams, though Kenneth pulled it off and leapfrogged over Adam and Andrea into second place; the brother and sister placed third.

Sam and Paul were the first to arrive at the Pit Stop at the Bay of Islands lookout and landed a trip to Rio de Janeiro in addition to their top spot for the Leg. It went down to the wire for Korey and Ivana and Ebonie and Andrea, but the luck ran out for the business partners and they were eliminated from the Race.

What did you think? Which challenges would you have picked? Did you wish Labrador had been visited too? Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Sam and Paul (trip to Rio)
  2. Team Give’r
  3. Adam and Andrea
  4. Karen and Bert
  5. Ivana and Korey
  6. Ebonie and Andrea (eliminated)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.




Amazing Race Canada: The Double U-Turn wreaks havoc in Ottawa

With The Amazing Race Canada stopping in Ottawa this week, I half-expected the Prime Minister to be involved in some sort of challenge. That didn’t happen, but it did embrace the capital of Canada and everything that goes along with it.

This Leg featured the dreaded Double U-Turn, the ultimate in game play on The Amazing Race Canada and a real opportunity for folks to lay the groundwork for friction between squads. Would Andrea and Adam use last week’s first-place finish to gain momentum and take out other teams? Would Ivana’s bad back derail she and Korey for good? Sam and Paul stated from their cab ride to the airport that they were ready to use the Double U-Turn to their advantage, but would they really do it, or would another duo make a move on them?

Adam and Andrea sought teamwork from past buddies Ebonie and Andrea and Sam and Paul, hoping the trio of teams could work together but—more importantly—not U-Turn each other. It was a smart move, but would it work out?

All of the teams arrived in Ottawa on the same flight, negating any attempt at a head-start. Korey and Ivana sprinted into the lead, arriving at City Hall and then departing for Hog’s Back Falls to use a series of sponsorship vehicles to spell one letter in the word “Canada.” Listen, I get having to celebrate a sponsor—it helps pay the bills—but parking cars to spell a word is lame. Still, the challenge was enough to see some teams shift position, as Kenneth and Ryan completed it first, followed by Ebonie and Andrea and Korey and Ivans. Sam and Paul forgot to use their in-car cameras, which slowed them down.

Ryan, Andrea, Korey, Adam, Karen and Paul opted to do the Road Block, a patriotic test involving grooming an RCMP horse, dressing it up and then riding it alongside two officers. Yes, that involved some horse bum-wiping, and a lot was made of that task. It seems like Kenneth and Ryan and Ebonie and Andrea are always going head-to-head and that was the case here too, as the pairs completed the task No. 1 and 2.

The week’s Detours had squads either building a flower cart and filling it with tulips of certain colours in a specific order or seek out 20 pieces of art from a cavernous warehouse. Not surprisingly, all of the teams chose the tulips (as would I, if anyone is asking). That meant a log jam of teams at the same location and the chance for folks like Karen and Bert or Sam and Paul to move up the ranks. That’s exactly what happened to Sam and Paul, who took the time to ask for directions before leaving for Commissioner’s Park. The result? The last-place team coming out of the horse test arrived at the park first, followed by Bert and Karen. (I can confirm from personal experience that Ottawa is a tricky city to drive in.) Ivana and Korey parked last.

Bert and Karen departed the tulips first and headed for the famous ByWard Market in search of the equally famous BeaverTails stand and the dreaded Double U-Turn board. Karen and Bert, who haven’t been much of a threat so far this season, opted not to U-Turn anyone and drove to the Canadian Museum of History. Sam and Paul arrived at the U-Turn board next and stuck with their alliance, protecting Adam and Andrea and Andrea and Ebonie and forcing Team Give’r to embrace their arty side. Adam and Andrea arrived at the U-Turn board next and—thinking Andrea and Ebonie must have already come by and not U-Turned anyone—opted to leave without putting anyone’s picture up. First rule of The Amazing Race Canada? Never assume anything. That opened up the chance for Korey and Ivana to make a power move and they took full advantage by U-Turning Ebonie and Andrea. (Also, what are the chances that Ryan would see his brother, Johnny, in downtown Ottawa?) Kenneth and Ryan didn’t let being U-Turned get them down; the best buds zipped over to the art storage facility and blew through the 20 images and were leaving for the museum as Ebonie and Andrea arrived.

Meanwhile, Sam and Paul were the first to get a taste of what it takes to become a Canadian citizen when they had to complete a citizenship test packed with multiple-choice questions. Sam passed, but Paul failed. Karen passed, but Bert failed. Adam and Andrea both passed and they departed for the museum’s upper terrace to meet Jon at the Pit Stop, landing a cross-country trip for two in the process. They have quickly become the team to beat this season after winning back-to-back Legs. Thank goodness I’m a Canadian citizen from birth because the test was clearly too much for the teams. After eight tries Paul finally passed; Korey and Ivana were next, and Bert (after 14 attempts) and Karen followed. After Team Give’r nailed their tests, it was over for Ebonie and Andrea … until Jon informed them it was a non-elimination Leg. Clearly, the gals have luck on their side because they were saved a second time.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Adam and Andrea (won a five-stop cross Canada trip)
  2. Sam and Paul
  3. Korey and Ivana
  4. Karen and Bert
  5. Kenneth and Ryan
  6. Ebonie and Andrea (non-elimination Leg)

What did you think of this Leg of The Amazing Race Canada? How would you have done with the citizenship test? Let me know in the comments below.

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.



Amazing Race Canada hangs ten—and delivers a Fast Forward—in Bangkok

It’s been a little hard for me to connect with the teams during this season of The Amazing Race Canada. I’m not sure what it is. No one is particularly annoying or deserves my scorn. Everyone seems to get along not only within their own duos but with each other too. Perhaps that’s it; I’m used to villains and heroes distinguishing themselves by now and it hasn’t happened. These folks are just so nice.

And while I haven’t been outright cheering for a pair yet, I was sad to see Zed and Shabbir eliminated. The father-son duo have a great story—Shabbir battled cancer and won, and Zed looks like José Bautista—and they’ve been strong performers so far both physically and in the mental game. Unfortunately, they stumbled in Bangkok, Thailand.

Sam and Paul, who began the Leg in first place, made a costly blunder at the top of the hour, dropping their instructions and train tickets to Shanghai in the street as they walked away. Incredibly, no one had sauntered along and picked them up and the boys reclaimed the ducats when they retraced their steps. And credit to the pair for keeping cool heads and looking for the tickets rather than wasting time blaming each other. They did, however, lose their clue instructions. But even then, Adam and Andrea gave them help without a blink of the eye. Yes, they want help in return, but this being a competition, I’m still surprised everyone is willing to help.

A quick stop at a Montreal-themed restaurant in Shanghai for some Sinorama product placement and teams were on a plane to Bangkok and a cat café in search of their next clue. It also introduced the first Fast Forward of the season, a special challenge that would score the first team to complete it a straight shot to the Pit Stop. The catch is always that you could waste time going there when another team had already completed the task, and many teams choose to skip it altogether. Ivana and Korey and Adam and Andrea both picked the Hoop Takraw. (The others all elected to stick with the Route Info and took a river cruise to their next clue.) I’m not sure how long it took them—and it appeared to be a total fluke—but Adam’s kick landed the ball in that small net, vaulting them to a temple Pit Stop in top spot and a return trip to Bangkok. Ivana and Korey were forced to return to the Route Info.

An intricate, word-free puppet show was the test for everyone but Adam and Andrea, a mixture of body movement, puppet coordination and silence that all members struggled with. Shabbir kept talking, resulting in failure. Sam and Paul and community theatre actors Bert and Karen nailed the performance on their first try and zipped off to the Detour: Bling It involved decorating a tuk tuk in a specific way while Shred It tested the ability to surf and snag flags for a clue. After eight tries, Zed and Shabbir re-read the clue and realized they were supposed to be silent during the puppet show. By the time they did, they were in last place.

After a few practice tries surfing, Sam and Paul nabbed a flag each and quickly departed for the Pit Stop. Andrea and Ebonie completed the surfing next, followed by Kenneth and Ryan. Clearly, the surfing was the easiest of the two Detours, but how could you know until you were there? Still, Shabbir had troubles surfing and after a particularly bad fall, they decided to switch challenges. That put them far behind everyone else and the only thing that could save them from being sent home was if this Leg was a non-elimination. It wasn’t.

Here’s how the teams placed at the end of this Leg:

  1. Adam and Andrea (won trip to Bangkok)
  2. Andrea and Ebonie
  3. Sam and Paul
  4. Kenneth and Ryan
  5. Karen and Bert
  6. Korey and Ivana
  7. Zed and Shabbir (eliminated)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.



Amazing Race Canada battles cabs and heat in Beijing

Regular reader DanAmazing said he expected last week’s Leg of The Amazing Race Canada to be a non-elimination. So was I. The timing was right for it, and it would have given Megan and Courtney the opportunity to leave the country for at least one Leg.

So, was Beijing, China, the location where the final team would be spared and able to keep Racing? With all three Express Passes being used—or in the case of Megan and Courtney, eliminated along with them—the teams were evenly matched once again. (If you want some great behind-the-scenes insight into what challenges Insight Productions faced filming in China, read Bill Brioux and Jim Slotek’s columns.)

Zed and Shabbir were the first out of the gate and headed to the Great Wall of China. The father and son team have proved to be shrewd and cunning with brain games and able to duke it out with others in the physical challenges too. That makes for a very strong duo. Teams didn’t simply hop a flight from Kootenay, B.C., to Vancouver for another jet to China, however. First, they needed to find Sinorama Travel. No one got lost or delayed during the side trip, though the gift of panda key chains gave Korey and Ivana the opportunity to reveal they called themselves Team Panda, and hoped this was a good luck charm. It didn’t start out well for Team Panda. Korey and Ivana were plagued by the first slow cab of this season and worried they’d be the last team to arrive at the Great Wall. They swapped rides and got back into the groove … in last place.

Meanwhile, at the Wall itself, first-place arrivals Andrea and Adam were confounded by their first challenge: to memorize a walking tour and deliver it to a group of tourists in English, French and Mandarin. The siblings were a step ahead of most teams because they know French. Mandarin? Not so much. Ebonie’s television presenter background meant she could memorize a script well; others, like Bert and Karen, tried rap as a way to keep the language beats organized and Sam and Paul sang. Andrea and Ebonie were the first team to complete the task—on their first try, no less—and were off to the next test. They were quickly followed by Zed and Shabbir, Sam and Paul, Adam and Andrea, Kenneth and Ryan and Karen and Bert. Ivana and Korey departed in last place.

The next test took place at the Canadian embassy, where teams were to interrupt a game of road hockey and advance. It was a short visit, but enough to inject a little Canada into the Leg.

This week’s Detour, “In Sync” or “In Line,” was tough. Squads either stripped down to do synchronized dives in “In Sync,” or dressed up to perform a dance routine. (I would have chosen the dance.) Zed and Shabbir opted to just go for it rather than practice and that decision paid off; they departed the dive in first. Ebonie and Andrea, meanwhile, go worse the more they practiced and switched to dancing. Karen and Bert were the first to nail the dancing—and looked fab doing it—and were off. Ivana’s tweaky back meant she and Korey had to abandon the diving in favour of the dance.

The Road Block delved into China’s history of medicine, challenging a team member to fill a prescription using herbal medicines written out in Chinese. Sam’s attention to detail and studying to become a doctor came into play and he leapt past Shabbir and Kenneth to give he and Paul the lead. Zed and Shabbir were close behind,

This week’s Pit Stop was located at Beijing’s drum tower, where Sam and Paul scored their first first-place finish this season; the dating couple landed a trip back to China. Zed and Shabbir were right there, in second place.

Korey and Ivana, who had been playing catch-up all Leg long, vaulted past Ebonie and Andrea to take the last spot on the mat. Luckily for them, and as I suspected, this was a non-eliminaton Leg, so the business partners are around for at least one more jaunt.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Sam and Paul (trip to China)
  2. Zed and Shabbir
  3. Adam and Andrea
  4. Kenneth and Ryan
  5. Karen and Bert
  6. Ivana and Korey
  7. Andrea and Ebonie (non-elimination Leg)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


Link: The Amazing Race Canada’: Beijing leg leaves racers wanting more

From Jim Slotek of Postmedia Network:

Link: The Amazing Race Canada’: Beijing leg leaves racers wanting more
It’s just past 5 p.m., closing time at the hilly Juyong Pass access point of The Great Wall of China. A world tourist attraction is eerily deserted – save for a handful of concerned producers from The Amazing Race Canada. Continue reading. 

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: China bound with The Amazing Race Canada
For the past ten years, my life has gone like this: be a freelance TV beat writer; see the world.

The most spectacular trip so far may have been to China in May with the teams participating in The Amazing Race Canada. Thanks to Jim Quan and the folks at CTV PR, I was invited to tag along as teams from across Canada raced around the massive capital city of Beijing. Continue reading.