The premiere opened with the teams in a Hippie Bus on a highwayalready weirdand saw them starting off with an immediate challenge: rappelling off a bridge in California. Upon reaching their backpacks and the first clue ("Go to Shanghai"), the teams discovered they had two direct flights to chose from, and the race was on.
The options? China Air or EVA Air, with the China Air flight arriving earlier and giving the time advantage. Being #avgeeks, this gave us the only real thrill of the program, anticipating which teams would get the nicer in-flight product and how much of the flight the cameras would show. The answers? EVA and not enough. Still, it got us thinking: will Amazing Race ever jazz things up by doing a Business/First Class season and what do they do about racers with status on airlines? Do racers earn frequent flyer miles? We think we know the answers to all these questions, but they're not the right ones. We'd watch an Amazing Race where racers not only have to do their usual challenges and sprinting for flights, but also wrestle with their airline allegiances and earn long-haul flight upgrades as rewards.
AND WHAT WAS UP WITH THE ROLLING LUGGAGE?! Tell us you noticed this too. Some teams on the premiere were running with wheeled bags versus the over-stuffed backpacks Amazing Racers usually tote. They've already made for awkward tripping scenes at the airline ticketing counters.
AND HOW DO THE RACERS GET CHINESE VISAS WITHOUT KNOWING WHERE THEY'RE GOING?! If the first stop is China, then the racer's passports would have to have the applied-for, paid-for, signed-for visitor visas inside, which they would have to know they were getting and, therefore, already know that China was on the itinerary. So much for surprises.
So blah blah blah the teams made it to Shanghai, had to play Ping Pong against a junior champion, eat some frog fallopian tubes (note: we totally ate the same thing in Singapore and the dish actually tastes nice and sweet), and find a woman using an abacus on the Bund. Pretty sure the average traveler to Shanghai finds more excitement within a few blocks of their hotel than these guys did, running across the city.
There was one tiny jolt thrown into the show to spice things up a bit, however; the introduction of a double-your-money prize if the first team to win a challenge also wins the entire race. Instead of claiming $1 million (before taxes), that team would instead be showered with $2 million (before taxes). Again, boring. Sure, it motivated the teams for one challenge, but $2 million is still pretty meh considering how long the show has been on, how much taxes will be taken out, and that the prize money pales in comparison to what other reality shows tempt with these days (helloExtreme Makeover builds homes worth tens of millions of dollars then plops scholarships and vacations and all sorts of extra cash on top of it).
Whatever. Let this serve as both our first and last story on the 21st season of Amazing Race.