May 13, 2012

Reality Rundown: WTF is a Ploughman's Sandwich??

Finale! The Amazing RaceSurvivor: One WorldNew! Around the World in 80 Plates

Finale! The Amazing Race - This truly awful season (sans Mark/Bopper, an All Stars shoo-in) is wrapping up and I can't wait.  I'm not even just disliking the season for casting the abysmal Brenchel.  When I get to a final episode and I can barely choosing a team to back, you did poor casting.  That said, I'm going for Border Patrol agents Art and JJ because they've been good racers, hate Brenchel, and make fun of the other teams too.

All teams hop on the same flight to Hiroshimo, Japan (shocker) where there will be one more elimination before the final leg.  Teams purchase tickets for a bus from an electronic kiosk but Brenchel have issues getting tickets and miss the bus, giving the first Rachel bitchfest of the evening.  After all the bus ticket buying nonsense we then get treated to train tickets buying nonsense. YAWN.  Thank god the ticket stuff is over, OH WAIT IT ISN'T.  They buy a third set of tickets for a ferry and Dave/Rachel get left behind again, hours behind.  No one must watch this show because everybody knows that if you catch a late night ferry the clue is behind locked gates that won't be open until the wee hours.

After a day of dumb fucking ticket chasing, the teams get their clue when the sun rises and I really expected it to be instructions to buy another ticket for like Cirque du Soleil or something.  It tells them to go to Hiroshima Peace Memorial for some American guilt for the atomic bomb.  After being respectful for once and not screaming, teams get on a bullet train to Osaka.  Thankfully we didn't have to watch them buy tickets.  The clue in Osaka is a Road Block for one teammate to appear on wacky fake Japanese game show, Bring That Chicken Home Game.  You can to run on a running track and jump up to retrieve rubber chickens and this is such a Big Brother-esque task it's like you think something is rigged in favor of the devil's favorite team.  Vanessa does the Road Block and it's the worst decision ever for someone with a sprained ankle.  Ralph sees Vanessa struggling and wants her to stop, finish the leg, and take the time penalty.  Vanessa is insistent that she finishes the task and eventually catches the chickens, but whatever because she needs her fake lashes to look good.

The next clue is the Umeda Sky Building with a product placement computer Detour clue.  Teams can either become pick up sushi off a conveyor belt and place on a BINGO board (BINGO? Count me in) or become street photographers for cardboard cutouts of sumo wrestlers.  Dave/Rachel are the only team that choose the picture task, after having one of their bitching session at each other; they seem to complete it really fast but not without Rachel scaring locals with her annoying enthusiasm.  The other three teams pick the sushi probably for the free sushi they get to consume after the BINGO card is covered.  I think the strategy all teams should've taken is not diagonal or across, but a straight down because then you could just grab all the sushi with the letter marker and try to figure out the right answer.

Rachel/Dave check in at Osaka Castle as team #1 for the 7th time, tie the record for most leg wins, getting into the final leg, and win a trip to New Zealand.  Art/JJ finish the sushi before the other teams, but get lost at the grounds of the Pit Stop, as do Brenchel.  Vanessa/Ralph almost catch up, but not fast enough and are eliminated from the Race.

Ending this race around the world, the teams buy tickets (!!) and fly to Hawaii to find their next clue at the Twin Towers.  The teams have to ascend and rappel the Tower, finding their clue when looking down from high above.  Art/JJ cannot make sense of the clue and end up driving all over to wrong locales before finding it.  Dave/Rachel finish first and it seems his advantage of knowing Hawaii (likely from his military days) helps them get around the island easier to the park with the clue.

The big clue they found leads them to a Roadblock to shave ice for snowcones and then give it to some fat Hawaiian actor.  Another truly exhilarating challenge this season.  Good news is, this boring leg is given a jolt of amazing in the form of HELICOPTERS!! H.R.E.A.M!  Somehow Brenchel misinterpret the clue that says "make your way on foot to the helicopters in the outfield" and take a cab to a stadium.  First off, it said on foot you idiots.  Second, who cares, now they'll lose.  The realization that they fucked up is glorious and leads to a great screaming meltdown.

Dave/Rachel are lightyears ahead, starting the next task of rescuing a swimmer using a jetski towing a sled like Mitch Buchanan would do (well he's based in LA, but you get the reference).  After completing this task, the next clue is at the Coral Kingdom Gate and it's another leave-everything-up-to-a-cabbie finale.  Per usual.  Art/JJ find the right clue which is a Roadblock a Hawaiian games of Hawaiian land sledding and rolling a lava rock to make a goal.  Dave/Rachel find the wrong clue at a dock that tells them to board across the water, but that's not the right clue. So they get to the finish line of clapping hands and cheers, so ecstatic.  While they are the first team to arrive, they haven't even done the Roadblock so they have to paddleboard back and do the Roadblock.  Cue producer-cued reaction shots from racers we've forgotten.
When Dave/Rachel show back up at the Roadblock, Art/JJ realize they have a chance but first Art needs to stop being shitty at sledding.  It's a battle of two strong teams and it's real close now.  Rachel nails the sled far easier than Art, and it's painful to watch him fail so miserably and give Rachel the chance to get ahead and beat them.  Not just blonde Rachel, red demon Rachel beats Art on the sled too; he beats her on the lava rocks.  Dave and Rachel get the clue, take the ATV as instructed, re-paddle across the water, and win The Amazing Race along with the most leg victories in the history of the show.  Art/JJ are second, Brenchel third.  Peace out another snooze of a season.

Survivor: One World - Last man standing Tarzan isn't as dumb as he's been playing and starts some gaming to make it into the four, and possibly final three.  He approaches Kim with an idea of bringing Alicia and Christina along to the end because they are easy to beat; Chelsea and Sabrina need to go.  Tarzan has a plan which is to tell each woman he'll hype them up in the final three to help them win, like he'll still be happy with third.  Chelsea and Christina talk end game and big mouth Christina relays all this back to Kim, Alicia, and Tarzan.  The tribe is dividing and things are gonna get weeeeeird for Kim, who is straddling the middle.

The Reward Challenge this week is to run around spinning discs to form a decoder that unlocks a combination box and releases a flag.  The winner gets to booze, shower, sleep and eat on a yacht.  I can't decide if I'd vomit more spinning around in the challenge or from yacht seasickness.  Chelsea wins reward and brings Sabrina and Kim along.  Maybe if Christina didn't run her mouth she'd be getting fresh and clean on that boat. HAHA sucker.  Kim, Chelsea, and Sabrina scour the layers of dirt from their skin, throw on some cult robes, and bask in the sun and breeze.  Back at camp, Chelsea's choice of saying she'd pick "fair" for the reward and taking Kim boggles their minds.  They decide to vote off Chelsea if given the chance and want to test Kim's loyalty.  God forbid they consider voting off the universally loved Kim. THAT is why Kim will win this game.

When the women return from the reward, Alicia tells Kim immediately about Tarzan's loyalty test plan.  They cross-reference stories and realize Tarzan is using the same play with everyone, trying to take out Kim and/or Alicia.  Good news for Alicia is she isn't going home this week after winning the fishbone puzzle or as I know it as, yet another recycled challenge.

Tarzan is a weirdo at camp, per usual.  Alicia has to decide whether to give up her power and dump Tarzan or take out Chelsea.  Kim lets Sabrina know that she has planted seeds with Alicia to get Tarzan eliminated based on his attempt to play everyone.  Kim is aware that Chelsea is this week's target on the other side and she's worried that they potentially switch and vote for her.  Chelsea brings up the idol and Kim passes off that idea, showing her true colors in that she wouldn't try to save her ally.  Kim thinks getting into the final four with an idol isn't wise.  Ummm yes it is, that's why you have it.  Tarzan makes one last plea to Alicia to take out Kim, pointing out how she fooled the guys before.  Then he wears a teeny girls tanktop. Awk-waaaard.

Tribal Council!  Tarzan admits to the jury he helped the ladies take the men out to last in the game and doesn't think he'll win because he's already rich.  The risk, however, is that the men might pick Tarzan just because he's a man.  Sabrina is worried that panty-headpiece wearing Tarzan could be playing them all and that would be the saddest ending.  The reward is discussed and Christina feels trust was broken with Chelsea when she didn't take her on the reward, but Chelsea reminds Christina that she broke her word after blabbing secrets.  The votes are read and the tribe votes off Tarzan who leaves with a bit of class and not sobbing like a baby like someone else last week.

New! Around the World in 80 Plates - Twelve chefs meet hosts Curtis Stone and former Iron Chef Cat Cora in London to begin a culinary adventure around the globe.  Right of the bat, the group must split into two teams to compete.  Then they list dozens of rules that I didn't keep track of at all.  I guess we'll take it as we go?

The first task is called The Course and the two teams must partake in a pub crawl.The red team hops into cabs for their first pub and when they arrive they divvy up the dishes to get the food down fastest.  The black team opts to make a mad dash on foot to their pub but they do a shitty job reading the map, thanks to some chick Sai who has a military background but must have never read some Rand MacNally.  At the first pub, the teams must finish three plates of black pudding hash and drink one Pimm's cocktail. At the second pubs there is a choice to eat three steak and kidney pies or drink three yards of ale; both teams drink the ale in the giant glasses, spring break style.  Now kinda drunks, the teams make their way to the final pub where Curtis and Cat are having a drink.  There is one last menu item and that is for the team to finish six plates of fish and chips and one pint of scrumpy (which is cider).  Let it be known I would HOUSE that fish and chips.  The red team finishes The Course first and wins the Exceptional Ingredient (kinda rolled my eyes with this element's name).

Ok, so next we learn that the teams will each take over one of the gastropubs they visited and prepare five authentic dishes, three of those being the pub favorites that they tasted earlier and no one tried the steak and kidney pie.  The Exceptional Ingredient is potatoes, which is a key ingredient for the three main dishes; the black team can't have potatoes at all which sucks ass because errbody knows Brits love their potatoes.  The locals that frequent the restaurants will choose the winning team and then the losing team will have to eliminate someone.  
At the Duke of Cambridge, the black team serves fish (cod) with polenta chips, black pudding with poached eggs, steak and kidney pie, grilled halibut with creamed rocket (arugula), and a dessert of bread pudding.  Over at the Drapers Arms (which seems to be a far quieter pub), the red team re-names the pub British Pub, American Pride which is bad luck and disrespectful.  For food, there's bubble and squeak (no idea WTF it is, no explanation), steak and kidney pie, fish and chips (which are straw fries), Ploughman's sandwich, and finally the black pudding as a hash.

The red team is praised for their pub's service, but the diners did not like the steak and kidney pie and the black pudding hash.  The black team praises Chad's leadership in the task and the diners were happy a dessert was offered.  The black team wins the challenge, eventhough they didn't have beloved potatoes, and gets "safe passage" to the next city.  One chef from the winning team is given immunity, and that is Chad for showing leadership in the kitchen and planning the menu (Cheven is pissed because he came up with dessert).  The victory seemed to come down to the dessert, which someone on the red team did suggest but it was nixed.  The red team then convenes to discuss who should be up for elimination.  Noogie, who make the steak and kidney pie dry, tries to show his strengths like expediting and his performance in The Course.  Nookie throws out Claire, a harvest chef who pushed for vegetarian food, as a possible person to be eliminated.  One by one, the chefs name who they think should go home to Curtis/Cat, and based on execution of the dish, Claire is given three votes of the six for elimination.

So now that the episode is over, let's go over my thoughts on the show.  Overall, I like the concept.  It's Amazing Race plus Top Chef, tossing in the Survivor elimination aspect.  I found the rules of the show overwhelming and confusing at first and their buzz words (exceptional ingredient, safe passage) corny.  I called 80 Plates a recappers nightmare on Twitter because it was so nuts.  And while I love them showcasing local cuisines, I have no idea what a Ploughman's sandwich is and they never explain it.  Perhaps the show could benefit from showing explanations of local dishes so we know what it is or should be.  Having locals judge the cuisine is a good idea because they know what it should taste like and I like teams having to nominate others for elimination because it makes for drama and strategy.  Having professional judges, like guest judge Nigella Lawson, seems totally pointless when diners choose the winner and the teams make the elimination decision.  Speaking of judges/hosts, I've always found Curtis Stone and Cat Cora to be sort of lifeless and boring and there's no need for two hosts to do nothing.  Despite my nitpicking, I was far more interested in this first episode of 80 Plates than I was the last entire season of lagging Top Chef so I'm interested to see where the chefs go and what ridiculous dishes are created.