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S02: Talk

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Since some older seasons are available to view on different platforms, we are starting all episodes threads for each season.

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The funny bits I've seen so far:

 

Blake and Paige driving full speed down a Brazilian street against two lanes of traffic.

Paige: "Is this one way?"

Blake: "Uhhhhh, yes?"

 

Oswald: "I've learned that five star hotels... are worth every penny!" 

 

Gary: "Why couldn't the British have colonized [bangkok]? No one speaks English here!"

 

And Wil (who I guess got the L beat out of him once) is a good villain to laugh at, especially when he accuses Blake and Paige of "trying to obstruct the flow of the race." I guess he meant "trying to win". 

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Dark humour aside - especially the payoff to the otherwise tedious season-long cuckolding storyline - the brisk pace of the route's first half comes at the price of an anticlimactic, culturally-familiar Oceania overload in the endgame (c.f. the language/HDI barriers in Asia during Classic and Season 3).

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So the ending of this season was pretty good. Wil and the woman he yells at actually lose the clue. I had heard there was a season that ended with one team being stuck in Alaska (please don't tell me which one) so I thought this was it. Nope, Tara manages to remember bits of what the clue said, look something up, make a phone call, and confirm the TAR contestants are expected there. Brilliant! 

 

The editing of the race to the finish was brilliant. They intercut Wil and Tara who think they're going to lose with Blake and Paige who already know they are going to lose. Wil and Tara bicker about who screwed up more and whose fault it was, then they cut to Paige who is almost in tears because Blake is telling her how fantastic she was and how proud he was to be her brother. Back and forth between Wil and Tara at each other's throats and Blake and Paige quietly being happy that they made it to the end.

Edited by scowl
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I went to my first TARCon at the season finale. Halfway through, Oswald & Danny entered the restaurant, and you would've thought rock stars had arrived. I can still hear the chants of "CHA CHA CHA! CHA CHA CHA!" And then I was rewarded for watching my first season of TAR with perhaps the most thrilling finish in the show's history . . . Chris & Alex rallying past Tara & Wil to win the big prize. And they were the first team to win despite finishing the penultimate leg in last place, as Tara & Wil and Blake & Paige shared first place.

 

How good of a villain team was Tara & Wil? They were a more dysfunctional Frank & Margarita, and they refused to die in the final two legs. Like watching Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhes in action. Wil falls behind in two Roadblocks and they manage to lose a major clue, but they kept plugging away.

 

Best Roadblock? Gotta be the sheep herding in the tenth leg. Especially liked the one Boston guy looking at the instructions, and muttering, "Can't tackle 'em."

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Best Roadblock? Gotta be the sheep herding in the tenth leg. Especially liked the one Boston guy looking at the instructions, and muttering, "Can't tackle 'em."

 

Yes! The technique of corralling both whites and blacks and then releasing the whites one by one was obvious... once someone figured it out. Who figured it out? Tara of course who was always ten times smarter than crazy-eyed Wil. 

Edited by scowl
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That colour strategy ought to have been part of the unofficial Switchback 23 seasons later - if quite a few Shetlanders emigrated to NZ, then they would've passed down their pastoral ways and/or livestock to the current Kiwi generation(s), no?

Edited by Supay

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How good of a villain team was Tara & Wil? They were a more dysfunctional Frank & Margarita, and they refused to die in the final two legs. Like watching Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhes in action. Wil falls behind in two Roadblocks and they manage to lose a major clue, but they kept plugging away.

 

I can always respect a good villain team when they're apt racers and as much as I hated them at the time, Wil and Tara were fine racers who deserved their top 3 and almost win, particularly in respect to the lost clue.  If that had been Flo, well...never mind I'd rather not.   That finale is still one the greatest finishes in all the seasons.

 

Holy bejeezus.  That aired in 2002!  

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I can always respect a good villain team when they're apt racers and as much as I hated them at the time, Wil and Tara were fine racers who deserved their top 3 and almost win, particularly in respect to the lost clue.  If that had been Flo, well...never mind I'd rather not.   

 

Er, she and Zach never placed below the Top 5 just like W/T. 

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One of the all time great seasons. Absolutely brutal with the amount of driving long distances through the middle of nowhere. Great landmarks as well. And while the English-only second half of the course doesn't provide much cultural challenge, they are also the best episodes of the season. So many amazing moments: Gary and Dave trying to mine for the clue. Everyone's experience with the bungee jump was awesome. Will and Blake screwing up the RB in Sydney. The epic race to the finish. A truly great season.

Lantern7, as great as the sheep task is, watching Wil try to get that block of ice open is one of the single greatest task-related moments in the shows history in my opinion, so that gets my vote.

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Wasn't Wil the only one who tried the blowtorch on the ice and nearly set every other tool on fire with it?

If I remember yes he was the only one to nearly set everything on fire and the only one to try the torch (along with everything else).  The other two teams didn't take too long to figure out what to use and how.

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I'm still partial to Oswald and Danny shopping and still placing first.

 

Gosh, a finale wiith them, Mary & Peach, and any of the other eliminees besides Hope & Norm would've improved this season.

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Remember this is the only TAR season never travelled to Europe. Visited mostly countries in the Southern Hemisphere as occured in the Southern Hemisphere summer.

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My thoughts on this season -

I absolutely loved Team ChaCha. I thought they were SO adorable and entertaining, especially Oswald with his soft-spoken, non-nonchalant attitude. I loved how they were able to win over random strangers along the race, like when they befriended the girl in Bangkok. I also liked that when Oswald started having feelings of wanting to quit the race, he didn't go the emotional tantrum route like some people, and was able to bounce back quickly.

The Boston accents were endearing.

Gary was insufferable.

Blake was a cutie. Out of the final 3, I wanted them to win.

Edited by Roccos Brother
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Since there's still nothing on in the post-Race hour, my mother (my usual Survivor watch/discuss buddy) and I just started watching this season; her for the first time (she's a later comer to Race fandom, but still during the old-school days), and me for the second (not seen since originally aired).  And by jingo, it's good to see the Teeth, the Cha, Mary and the Fruit, and even the Grannies again.

Before we started, I had to remind her of the historical context of TAR1 filming in late spring/summer of 2001, but starting airing in September of that year, and being off the air for a week or two for obvious reasons.  So TAR2 was the first post 9-11 Race.  And that shows right away at the airport, with multiple teams getting stopped in the parking lot by security. 

I also mentioned for context that this was the first season that Phil was at the Mat for everyone, since he only appeared for the team in last during the first Race.  And looking back, it's really obvious that this is a new format for him.  He doesn't have the smooth patter of "(name) and (name), you are team #X" down yet, with him defaulting to tell each team they are "the Xth team to arrive."  Same message, but a lot clunkier in the wording.

Shortly after the intro to the teams, my mother predicted that neither the Grannies nor Deidre and Hillary were going to win, and by the end, she said she hated Wil.  So she's pretty well calibrated here at the start.

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On 9/24/2017 at 10:45 PM, Roccos Brother said:

My thoughts on this season -

I absolutely loved Team ChaCha. I thought they were SO adorable and entertaining, especially Oswald with his soft-spoken, non-nonchalant attitude. I loved how they were able to win over random strangers along the race, like when they befriended the girl in Bangkok. I also liked that when Oswald started having feelings of wanting to quit the race, he didn't go the emotional tantrum route like some people, and was able to bounce back quickly.

The Boston accents were endearing.

Gary was insufferable.

Blake was a cutie. Out of the final 3, I wanted them to win.

 

Well Blake did win in the end in that the race inspired him to go back and travel more in South America and it was there in Argentina he got the inspiration that turned into Toms Shoes.  In the end TAR can change your life in ways better than just winning said race.

BTW the school girl Oswald & Danny befriended in Bangkok was named Fern.  Her name became the shortcut term down the years among fans posting online for a local person helping a team a lot as in "Jack & Jill found themselves a Fern and so managed to find a shortcut to the mat to beat out Frick & Frack."

You can tell I'm really into Season 2.  It was my favorite ever though Seasons 1, 3 and 5 are all close to it for me.  Season 2 also had one of my most favorite single episodes ever in the Oswald & Danny go shopping leg with the icing on the cake being they actually won that leg as well.

Edited by green
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9 hours ago, green said:

Season 2 also had one of my most favorite single episodes ever in the Oswald & Danny go shopping leg with the icing on the cake being they actually won that leg as well.

I'm so looking forward to my mother's reaction to that episode.  I think that'll be the time I bring up the Zen path that is "The Way of the Cha."  And I know I'll have the Fern discussion with her too when she appears, even though there was a proto-Fern in the first episode with Russel and Cyndi asking a local girl for help finding Fat Maria.  (And of course any proto-Ferns in TAR1 and other episodes of this season before we meet the Fern.)

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1 hour ago, SVNBob said:

I'm so looking forward to my mother's reaction to that episode.  I think that'll be the time I bring up the Zen path that is "The Way of the Cha."  And I know I'll have the Fern discussion with her too when she appears, even though there was a proto-Fern in the first episode with Russel and Cyndi asking a local girl for help finding Fat Maria.  (And of course any proto-Ferns in TAR1 and other episodes of this season before we meet the Fern.)

Cool.  I hope you keep sharing your mother's journey through Season 2 with us here.

Also you can tell her it isn't as smarmy as it may look when Alex and Tara become a bit of an item.  Tara posted some years back that she and Wil only told all the other teams including Chris & Alex that they were divorced period.  And that they hadn't lived together for nearly 2 year I think it was.  But their divorce was actually still in the pipeline and just missed being ready to be finalized before they started off on the Race.  And the devil is in the details (and technicalities) and TAR, having milked the will they or won't they get back together storyline with Frank & Margarita successfully in Season 1, decided to run with the same in Season 2. 

Now they waited this long to get divorced btw because they thought they hadn't actually got married ... uh ... technically.  Again all this comes from a very long post I read over on Survivor Sucks from Tara at the time.  She said she and Wil were indeed married in a kind of spare-of-the moment "why not" mood by "a monk" (no explanation if Buddhist or Catholic, I'd personally guess Buddhist given their Thailand connections) and the monk was to send copies of their official marriage certificate to them as well to the proper authorities in California to be officially registered.

Now Wil & Tara never ever got their marriage certificate and so assumed neither did the state of California.  Which again points to maybe a monk in Thailand because how else would there be a screw up like that unless it involved international mails etc.  But who knows. 

Anyway they took it as something positive because it seems they, while friends, were never meant to be married to each other and they split up after just 2 weeks of this "marriage" and Tara claims never to have slept under the same roof as Wil ever after until she had to bunk in the same room with him at times during the Race.  So they just figured the paperwork getting lost or not sent meant they never got married officially after all so they didn't need the time and expense of getting a divorce.  Win-win they thought.  In the next nearly two years they hung out together socially at times with friends and shared the business but it all was platonic and they both dated other people.

Flash forward those two years and they decide to apply to this brand new reality show called The Amazing Race and they get cast and a quick background check is run on them before their casting is made official.  The production assistant doing same turns up a marriage certificate officially registered with the state of California and reports same to them and the producers.  They are shocked and go through explaining the stuff above and the producers are fine that they didn't think they were lying to them intentionally given their story.

TAR2's filming was delayed because of 9/11 from October to January which gave them the time to file papers for the divorce they suddenly needed.  But, as said above, they hadn't finalized before the Race started but since in their minds it was a done deal they just went with the shortcut "divorced" explanation with the other teams. 

So the pre-race interview shown in episode 1 where Wil says he could possibly see them getting back together wasn't ever a possibility but he finally said these words after the question kept being asked of them over and over again until production got what they wanted as their set-up lines.  Tara however realized what they wanted and was really careful not to give them anything that way but Wil fell into their questioning trap.

Flash forward to the premiere of Season 2.  Alex and Tara had been dating since the filming had wrapped.  Alex had returned to his parents' home in Mass to watch the premier with his family he said later.  He said when Tara & Wil were first shown and their handle was listed as "Separated Couple" he nearly fell out of his chair.  He didn't say anything to his family but waited until immediately after the airing to call up Tara and say basically WHATTTTTT???  Tara, who still had a 2 hour wait on the west coast until she saw the episode, was stunned.  She had been given to believe they were going to be titled either Business Partners or Divorced Couple and had to fill a shocked Alex into all the details.  Alex supported her but knew he would be seen as a bad guy by many for coming on to a still "married" woman and did not look forward to having to explain it all to his family and friends.

I just had to post this because as much as I like TAR they are going to do what they are going to do to get a storyline to sell.  TAR used this a comedy of confused errors and assumptions to in turn use Tara & Wil to fit their narrative.   And I think Alex deserves better and not to get cast as sketchy with his actions in the show. 

And I do think both he especially as well as Tara showed great restraint to not come out and defend themselves from that edit but to realize in the end that a show can do what a show can do and let it go.  It was some time after the show had aired when Tara somehow got talked into posting on Survivor Sucks about it all and she never showed any anger or resentment at TAR for what they did in the post.  She had been asked on the board for why things happened like we were shown and she seemed to just want to explain what happened in reality because people were speculating on several different rumors etc about it all for awhile there.

I know it all sounds weird that Wil & Tara just assumed their marriage never happened legally because they never got their marriage certificate.  But hey they seem the quintessential laid back California stereotypes so I can accept that being true.

Edited by green
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22 hours ago, green said:

Cool.  I hope you keep sharing your mother's journey through Season 2 with us here.

Oh I will.  I did the same when we recently re-watched Survivor seasons 12 and 13 during the most recent Survivor seasons.  Going back in TAR history will be just as much fun, except for having to deal with the Weasel again (and the J-hole come TAR6).

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We watched the second episode last night before the new episode(s) aired.  Most of what we discussed was the Detour and the Fast Forward. 

I pointed out that at in this time in TAR history, Detours were mainly of two types; Tortoise/Hare and Reckless/Chicken.  Since there haven't been any of the former in these first 2 episodes, we focused on the latter type.  And since the format is "do a scary thing but get the next clue quick" (Reckless) or "do a safe thing that may take forever" (Chicken), the obvious choice is to go Reckless every time.  We both agreed during both this episode and last week that the Reckless option would have been our choice.  Although last week, I pointed out that with the enforced staggering of the teams before the Detour, the teams closer to the front could have taken the slower Chicken option, since they knew with absolute certainty that there were teams behind them.  The last group would not really have that choice and needed to go Reckless.  Even if the Grannies going Chicken did work out for them.

But here, there was HoO bunching at the Detour.  Which made the Third Option of taking the FF (beach volleyball against pros) even more palatable.  (Moreseo for Xerox, since the one got injured getting out of the car at the Detour cluebox.)  3 teams took off for it; Xerox, Grannies, and THUNK.  But when the Grannies saw that the young and athletic twins got there first, they doubled back to the Detour since they knew they had no chance.  Good call.

But THUNK stayed, and that made sense.  The FF started at 6:30 am, but both sides of the Detour opened at 8 am.  There was time for them to at least try, and even if they lost (which they did), they didn't really waste the time.  Also a good call.  Their second good call was deciding to try the Chicken side of the Detour after losing the FF.  That side of the Detour was on the beach that they were already on for the FF, so it makes a ton of sense to at least try the task nearby.  No matter when they decided to go back to the hang-gliding, they'd still be at the back of the bunch.  And they might have gotten lucky and finished quickly.  They didn't and bailed shortly to go Reckless after seeing the first team finish that side, but the entire thought process behind the chain of events was reasonable.

And speaking of the Reckless side, time to talk about the Grannies again.  In particular, the Not-so-Gutsy one.  First off, it was nice that all the teams waiting at the HoO bunch talked them into staying and doing that side, ribbing them about having to turn in their nickname about being "Gutsy" if they Chicken-ed out.  You could see that the teams liked the Grannies and wanted to see them do well.

But after the teams got started on the Detour proper, the Not-so-Gutsy one started psyching herself out.  Normally, seeing multiple people do a scary task before you helps, but not here.  Because the takeoff needed a running start.  And one of her issues was an old knee injury that slowed her down.  She was afraid that she wouldn't be able to get enough of a run in her start to avoid an accident.  To her credit, she asked her trainer for a practice run while other teams were going, to see if she could handle it, but the practice didn't go too great.  (We pointed out that the trial run was two people running side-by-side...ish, but the real deal would involve them strapped together, so she'd wouldn't be able to fall behind as much.)  In the end, she realized that if she didn't do it, neither could the other Granny, so she sucked it up.  And in the end, they had one of the better takeoffs.

But after all the Detour drama, we got to the human drama when the Teeth lost their money.  Well, left it in the cab that took them to the bus station.  Seeing (relatively) prosperous Americans having to beg for money in a foreign country because of a contrived situation like a reality show is always uncomfortable, and I'm glad that they made rules against it in future editions.

The other Racers' affection for the Grannies showed up one more time at the jungle camp Pit Stop.  The teams that were there stood quietly by their tents and watched the Grannies, thinking they were surely in last place, stroll up to the mat.  And when Phil announced they were team #8 and still in the Race, they all cheered for them.  One last little bit of sweetness before the events of the next leg.

Edited by SVNBob
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We had some family crises shortly after the last time we watched TAR2 (and TAR30).  And while they're not fully over, we were able to get together and watch another episode. 

Episode 3: aka The Reason Plane-Bunching Now Happens.

This is the episode that starts with the Grannies not hearing their alarm, oversleeping, and missing their scheduled leg start time.  Blake of Teeth (the only team behind the Grannies at the time) felt somewhat bad about not waking them up, but he decided it was their fault and his team needed any help they could get since they were in last. 

And I agree.  It goes back to the TAR maxim I "live" by: Run Your Own Race.  Ignore the other teams if/when you can and just go about your own business.  And since this was a skirmish to get out of last place, I also agree.  It's the Grannies' fault; they had to deal with the consequences.  That said, if this were to happen at the front of the pack, I'd probably have tried to waken the other team.  Two reasons.  First, there'd be more teams there, so you'd be seen not "playing fair", and thus the other teams would enforce karma on you.  Second, the only reason not to wake a team up is to try to ensure there's someone behind you.  If there's already someone behind you, since you're in the front of the pack, it doesn't hurt you to be kind.

But the alarm issue didn't matter, since the Grannies still left before the Teeth, and the whole matter was rendered moot by the airports.  Everyone had to fly from Sao Paolo (required in the clue) to Cape Town.  And the next couple acts revolve around only that.  The Amazing Yellow Line does overtime work, as the 9 teams end up on 7 different routes, 5 of which go through London (meaning teams travel very nearly from Pole to Pole and back.)  Some teams are on stand-by on connecting flights; some aren't.  And the Grannies end up on the longest route, having 3 stopovers before the final destination of Cape Town. 

So yeah, the inevitability of the result hit early.  And it was Boston that kind of gave a reason why.  Their route was a one-stop in Frankfurt.  While there, they could have got a flight to Johannesburg then to Cape Town that could have got them in earlier.  But they didn't want to risk it.  More flights = more chances for things to go wrong.  Like delays meaning missing connections, or being on standby and not getting tickets.  Things that happened to other teams on this leg...mainly the Grannies having a delay out of JFK to Heathrow, and missing their connection there because they didn't go through security.

The leg itself was fairly standard, with the flights doing most of the mixing.  Only 2 real things stood out to me.  One that I commented to my mother about was the teams of Cha, THUNK, and TaraWeasel while in Langa Township.  Yes, they were in a race.  But those 3 teams were really respectful; not running around like headless chickens (or sheep which was more appropriate here).  They took their time and walked around to complete the Roadblock, behaving like normal people instead of racing idiots.  Well done all.

The other thing I noticed but set aside for myself was the first demonstration of the Zen of Cha...but not from the Cha.  It was from the Fruit!  After she and Mary got their tickets taken care of in Sao Paolo, the Fruit told Mary that she should get a beer and that she (Peach) would get her nails done while they waited for their flight.  That's absolutely part of the Zen of Cha!  Taking a moment to relax and recharge after one set of stressful events, so you can be mentally ready for the next set.  Considering how well they fared in the rest of the leg, it looks like this helped them as well as future moments of Zen from the actual Cha.

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The ongoing family situation plus a new crisis put another hold on Race-watching.  But one is nearly over, and the other is at a holding point, so we were able to finally get in another episode.

Episode 4:

There were a couple of things to comment on at the start of the episode.  I reminded my mother that Pit Stops are for 12 hours...unless they're for 36 or 60.  I brought that up based on the amount of activity shown at the Eat Sleep Mingle.  It seemed like way too much for just one 12-hour period.  Drunken shenanigans (they were at a winery) from Boston and the Weasel, canoodling between Alex and Tara, and lots of Racers laying out in the sun on the grass; that had to be a 36-hour stop at minimum.

The next thing I commented on was the first 3 teams all listed at a departure time of 2:52 am, even though those teams didn't tie on the mat at the end of the previous leg.  Nor was it indicated that they tied like Teeth and Xerox when they started later.  I brought up the rule of small time credits and penalties, and opined that there must have been some of those added.  But since they didn't really affect the standings, Phil didn't mention them.

This was the leg with the Matterhorn sand dune.  And on seeing it again, that name is appropriate.  After hiking up it, there was a Detour of hiking around and down, or sledding down the side on a sheet of cardboard.  Another classic Reckless/Chicken Detour, and naturally the obvious decision was the sledding.  We both commented that it looked like a lot of fun to do.

Not much other discussion until the Cha go for and get the FF.  We then talk about how they are not average people.  (Kinda obvious; they're The Cha after all.  But I have not yet referred to them as such, since that nickname comes from a comment that THUNK make in a future episode.)  Their politeness and calm demeanor with everyone is a thing to behold and why they're such fan favorites.  And I love that the way Oswald described the FF sounded like they just decided to go to a hotel to ask for help in finding the the old rail station (that used to be that very hotel) and just happened to see the FF floating in the pool there.  Very Zen of Cha.

Later, when Mary and the Fruit went for the FF but missed, they were upset that they wasted time doing it.  I pointed out that since this was one of the easiest and quickest FFs to date, they really weren't out that much time.  And I do agree with both teams going for the FF.  Danny had a bum foot, and trying to hike up a mountainous sand dune probably would not have been good for him.  And the Fruit was feeling sick and weak, so the hike probably wasn't the best thing for her either.  Still, better her than Danny in making the attempt.  He most likely would have aggravated his ankle on the dune; either on the hike up, or on the slide down by not keeping his leg up high enough.  And that could have ended their run.  The Fruit was uninjured; just weak.  A slow climb and a fast descent would still be taxing on her, but not as Race threatening for her as it could have been for Danny.

At the end of the episode, I pointed out there was a tie in the first leg of this Race, and that one of the two teams in that tie was eliminated in the next leg.  I then pointed out the Xerox and the Teeth had tied in the previous leg, and now Xerox was out.  I then said that the team in the tie in the first leg that survived was the Teeth.  Since we're watching this after currently airing episodes of Survivor: Ghost Island (aka the season with all the "curses"), it's a funny coincidence that there seems to be a curse surrounding the Teeth and ties here.

The final thought.  The giraffe statue that the teams had to take from the end of the Roadblock to the Pit Stop was the precursor of the Travelocity Gnome.

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On 2/3/2018 at 1:16 AM, green said:

Tara posted some years back that she and Wil only told all the other teams including Chris & Alex that they were divorced period.  And that they hadn't lived together for nearly 2 year I think it was.  But their divorce was actually still in the pipeline and just missed being ready to be finalized before they started off on the Race.  [snip]

Now they waited this long to get divorced btw because they thought they hadn't actually got married ... uh ... technically.  Again all this comes from a very long post I read over on Survivor Sucks from Tara at the time.  She said she and Wil were indeed married in a kind of spare-of-the moment "why not" mood by "a monk" (no explanation if Buddhist or Catholic, I'd personally guess Buddhist given their Thailand connections) and the monk was to send copies of their official marriage certificate to them as well to the proper authorities in California to be officially registered.

Since we watched the Thailand episode this week, I finally told my mother this story.  I did preface it by telling her I only recently learned it myself and summarized a bit.  But it fit well enough.

This is also the leg of the Race where we finally meet Fern.  And when we did, I told my mother about how "fern" became fan-shorthand for local assistance, and that Fern herself was the gold standard against which all future ferns were measured against.  I even mentioned that future Races eventually added anti-Fern rules (I think...)

We didn't really talk about the controversial sections of the leg; Blake's first prayer at the temple, the potential cheating by Weasel renting a "mini-bus", and Blake and the Fruit in the cave.  The main other thing we talked about was Team Jeebus; Russel and Cyndi.  The shot of them looking for the bird market and walking in the opposite direction of the sign was a definite death knell.  But the other thing I opined on was something Cyndi mentioned.  She said that Russell insisted that she not carry her bag and that he would do it for her.  And I don't think it was just a chivalrous gesture. 

Both Cyndi and Russell had said at one point or another throughout their interviews that they were "small town" people and not used to big cities, so the Race was a lot of "culture shock" for them.  That may be partly a factor, but I think it was more than that for Russell.  While not really as widely known at the time as it is now, I think Russell was actually suffering from social anxiety.  He was pretty ok in Namibia (problems with getting the roaming giraffe in their car notwithstanding, and I think the main issue there was the possibility of elimination looming at the end a very long and hot day in the desert) and all the prior legs, but those all took place in less populated areas and outskirts of major cities.  Bangkok was the largest city that they'd hit to that point, and they had to go to and through the heart of it.  I think that the usual pressures of the Race coupled with social anxiety finally caught up to Russell, and he was on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.  And he countered it in the only way he could.  He gave control over the rest of their Race to Cyndi, whom he absolutely trusted, and focused on the one thing he knew he could do; be her pack mule.  Note that outside the Bat Temple, which was outside the main city and had much fewer people around, Russell started relaxing again...well, as much as he could while Cyndi was doing that Roadblock.  And by their Philimination, Russell was more or less back to the person we'd seen in the previous legs.  Kind of a bittersweet end for them, but likely a blessing.  Killer Fatigue was creeping up on them, and probably would have hit hard in the next leg or two.

Three things to note here.  First, I think it was the size of the city that was the issue, not the country or ethnicity of the populace.  I think that Russell would have had a similar reaction in London or Berlin or New York, or any major metropolis anywhere on Earth.  Second, all these thoughts about social anxiety are a couple days removed from our actual viewing.  All I opined at the time was that he focused on the carrying of the bags because that was all he could do.  A couple more days of thought added the rest.  Third, this is all armchair psychology.  I'm not qualified in anyway to make any kind of diagnosis.  And I might be projecting a lot as well.  I almost had a panic attack during one of the family crises that I keep mentioning, and I hyper-focused on one task because it was something I could do during the situation.  So I may have seen a lot of myself in Russell in this episode.

Since the Survivor finale is next week, it'll be the week after before we get back into this Race.

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On 5/13/2018 at 2:50 AM, SVNBob said:

There were a couple of things to comment on at the start of the episode.  I reminded my mother that Pit Stops are for 12 hours...unless they're for 36 or 60.  I brought that up based on the amount of activity shown at the Eat Sleep Mingle.  It seemed like way too much for just one 12-hour period.  Drunken shenanigans (they were at a winery) from Boston and the Weasel, canoodling between Alex and Tara, and lots of Racers laying out in the sun on the grass; that had to be a 36-hour stop at minimum.

Forgot about your posts here since I haven't been in the TAR thread recently.  So I'm glad to catch up on all of this.  Thanks, as I continue to enjoy your posts if belatedly.

Just wanted to say yes it was a 36 hour pit stop here but it wasn't planned this way.  They had to stay the extra 24 hours so Phil could stay and eliminate Peggy & Claire who were that far behind by then and then still get to the next mat in time to greet teams.

The thing is that the Grannies' route would actually have worked out well for them if they hadn't encountered those headwinds across the Atlantic between NYC and London.  That prevented them from making their Heathrow connection.  Had they made their connection the Boston Boys and Cyndi & Russell would have been the last two trailing teams running several hours behind the Gutsy Grannies and so most likely the latter would have been eliminated in South Africa since Chris & Alex could have out run them to the pitstop mat.

About Russell above.  I do have to disagree and don't think he has social anxiety at all.  I just think he isn't much of a chatty type of people person and doesn't much care for big cities which I agree with and is a country boy at heart who prefers nature and outdoor activity far more none of which are the same as social anxiety.  I also don't think you can be co-pastor at your own church and give sermons and counsel people and still suffer from social anxiety.  Just my take.

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12 hours ago, green said:

About Russell above.  I do have to disagree and don't think he has social anxiety at all.  I just think he isn't much of a chatty type of people person and doesn't much care for big cities which I agree with and is a country boy at heart who prefers nature and outdoor activity far more none of which are the same as social anxiety.  I also don't think you can be co-pastor at your own church and give sermons and counsel people and still suffer from social anxiety.  Just my take.

Like I said, it could be projection on my part.  It could be as simple as Russell was in the early stages of KF and headed for a breakdown like Flo, but got Philiminated before that happened, or just the fact that they were the "old couple" and the Race just caught up with them like it did with Dave and Margaretta in the previous season.  Or possibly somewhere in the middle, like Russell just being an introvert and at his limit in dealing with other people, so more extroverted Cyndi had to take lead.

If nothing else, the analysis was at least a glimpse into my mind.  There was just something there in that moment that resonated with me on this viewing as opposed to the original airing.

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Watched a couple more episodes last week.  Mini recaps.

    Episode 6: Crossing Thailand; Train-bunching and Mingling outside of EatSleepMingle; Bamboo Rafts and Elephant Baths; NEL.
    Episode 7: On to Hong Kong; Flight follies and Fast Forwards; Tall buildings and short fuses; Stanky tea or a Wishing Tree; Shipping containers and Chinese junks; Mary makes mistakes and Fruit is flattened by fatigue.

The main crux of our discussion throughout the night was Killer Fatigue, even linking it back to the last episode we watched two weeks ago.  And given these two episodes, it is a running theme throughout both; seeing who is affected, how badly they're affected, and if they're able to overcome it.  E6 focuses on Oswald of The Cha and his bout of KF, and E7 has the Fruit contracting her fatal spell. 

Oswald's recovery during the train ride is rather impressive.  All the Racers had 3rd-class accommodations on the train, which was sitting room only (no sleeper cars), the temperature was in the 80-100 degree range, humidity was high, and there was no A/C on the train.  (Really, only two or three teams would be used to that kind of weather; TaraWeasel, because of past experience; Teeth, because Texas; and The Cha, because Miami.)  Yes there were rotary fans, and the windows were fully functional.  But still, not the most comfortable of circumstances, especially for someone that in this episode professed his usual usage of 5-star hotels and the fact that the Race proved that they were worth the cost.  But recover Oswald did.  And while the rest on the train helped a lot, Danny's attitude played a factor too.  He recognized his friend was no longer enjoying the experience, so he said that if Oswald wanted to quit, then they would; no questions asked, and no hard feelings about stopping.  Between the rest, that respect and teamwork, and the chance to make up for a past regret with the elephant washing, Oswald had a really good leg after getting bummed out in the previous one.

There were a couple other things we talked a bit about in Episode 6.  There was the unusual pre-bunching narration from THUNK, talking about the "weaknesses" of all the other teams.  It's been a while since I've seen some seasons (and there's several more that I've missed), so I don't know/remember if one team commenting on all the others is a recurring thing or not.  But if it isn't, it ought to be.  It's an interesting insight into all the teams from a fellow Racer's perspective, and insight into the team doing the talking based on their perceptions.  It'd also be nice to see a team do this in a positive manner as opposed to what THUNK was doing, but given the structure of what they were saying: "this is why this other team will fail and thus we'll beat them" it's ok.  It's a bit more psyching themselves up than anything.

The other thing we talked about was the end of the leg and the NEL.  I did comment at the start of the episode that Phil's opening recap ended with him saying "who will be eliminated...next?" instead of "...tonight?" like all the previous legs.  And that this was still before TPTB figured out that that was a spoiler, so it was an indicator of a NEL.  Then in the final stretch, Tara says in a VO that the final clue to the Pit Stop didn't have the usual final "Warning: Last team..." line, so they were pretty sure it was a NEL too.  But that led to the usual TaraWeasel conflict.  Since they'd been travelling with Boston since de-training and Boston had been finishing each subsequent task first, she thought it only fair to let them finish first at the Pit Stop.  But as all 4 of them sauntered up to the line, Wil got in front and stepped on the mat first, leading to the episode title "I'm gonna take his girl."  (Sidenote: it's not taking if she's giving herself to you...)  Much as I dislike him, I'm with Wil on this one.  Yes, there were lots of indicators that this was a NEL, so it didn't matter who finished ahead of whom.  But it's still a Race.  If another team is dumb enough to give you the opportunity to get in front of them, you take it.  Besides, it could have been a NEL fake-out, so better safe than Philiminated.  (Also, while I didn't say it at the time...this particular leg finish smacks of Foreshadowing if you know the final results.)

Episode 7 started with all the teams, except TaraWeasel and Boston, espousing that they were going their own way...or Running Their Own Races.  The TAR Maxim.  Well done.  Weasel has been trying to do this for a while, but Tara keeps connecting them to Boston (I wonder why...), so those two teams aren't fully running their own races yet.  After that, there's a little airport drama with the flight from Chiang Mai to Hong Kong via Bangkok.  The flight to Bangkok lands shortly after 8, and the first connecting flight to Hong Kong leaves at 8:40 (with a second at 10:30 that THUNK finds first, but manages to switch over to the earlier flight).  So there's a slim connection window at a major airport with a dozen (two dozen really... don't forget the Amazing Camera Crews) running and shouting Americans...in a just post 9-11 world.  It's almost a miracle any of them made the flight...let alone all of them.

But from there, Mary starts making her mistakes.  First, they had difficulties buying their tram passes on the way out of the airport.  Then she and the Fruit lost their map and probably the clue telling them to get to Central Plaza, the tallest building in Hong Kong.  After finding a cab, Mary tells him to take them to the "Center" building.  The cabbie tries to take them to Central Plaza, but she insists on "Center".  So they go there.  And while a decently tall building, it's not the right one.  They get redirected to the proper location, and en route Mary says in the cab that they deserve this time loss for their mistake.  Which is both true and remarkably self-aware for a reality show contestant.  On the way, she and the Fruit decide that they probably need to go for the Fast Forward as soon as they get that clue, since they're so far behind.  Which is wise in general, but ultimately a bad call since first-place THUNK (having found a Fern themselves (of all teams to do so) to get to Central Plaza) decided to go for it too and succeeding.  So that ended up burning more time for the ladies. 

On top of that, after returning to Central Plaza, they didn't go back up to look for the "green star" clue as directed.  Here's where I pause in this comedy of errors.  I get not wanting to go back to the top of the building.  I can also buy the argument of them not needing to, since they already did once to get the clue for their failed Fast Forward attempt.  But asking around for the green star was risky.  It could have been Race-planted (although I suppose the counter-argument for that is that the Race colors are yellow and red, so anything they plant would more likely be those colors than green), or no one could have any idea what they were talking about.  But after a while, Mary does find a lead on the ferry, which is the correct answer, and they take off after the main group.

Switching back to that earlier group and the ferry, I made a note here.  The dock and gantry that the Racers walked on to board the ferry was red with a yellow stripe, same as the Race colors.  I mentioned to my mother here that the yellow and red stripe combination is rather ubiquitous throughout Asia, so the Race flags changed to solid red or yellow squares, with small triangles of the other color on them.  These "triangle flags" were the ones that we saw throughout both of these episodes, including marking the tea shop for the Detour, and that dock was a good reason as to why the change.

Back to the drooping Fruit, they decide to do the tea Detour and get lost in the market for "hours".  I didn't think of this as we watched, but...why didn't they Bald Snark this Detour?  After the first half-hour, I would have suggested it, saying that the cab ride to the other location would have taken about as long, and there's no guarantee that we'd find the location within another half-hour.  I guess that most Racers hadn't thought about switching mid-stream...or was there an early rule against it that was revoked for Season 3 and beyond because of this event?

And speaking of that other side of the Detour: The Cha were the only team to take it, and on their way from it to the Roadblock, Oswald mentions that Danny has not let them stop to get something to eat.  Danny responds with " 'You have been eliminated....' I do not want to hear those words."  Which is a nice quote.  But also, Foreshadowing!

After finally finding the tea shop and barely being able to down the tea, the Fruit is done.  She's been near the breaking point in other legs, but she'd been able to push through and beyond.  But here, she had definitely had it and had nothing left in her.  It's as if Killer Fatigue said "Oh, you all managed to recover in the previous leg?  Let me get out the big hammer...one of you is going to get hit this time.  Eeney, Meaney, Miney...Fruit!"  They didn't fully quit, but Mary and the Fruit knew they were in last.  So they did the smart thing and stopped to get something to eat.  (Shadowed moment over.)  Then they continued on until directed to the Pit Stop and Philimination.

And this really shows the danger of Killer Fatigue.  Mary was hit worse than appeared, based on losing the map.  That led to the first mistake, which led to another misstep, then another...ultimately snowballing to Peach throwing up herbal tea in the corner of an alley, which made her case even worse.   And seeing this fatal case makes Oswald's recovery in the previous leg that much more impressive.  Somehow, he managed to recover mid-leg under tough conditions, while Mary and Peach got flummoxed shortly after a Pit Stop and a relatively easy leg starting flight and spiraled out of control and out of the Race.  "Killer" really is the only way to describe it.

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I never saw seasons two or three but I really want to (Those are the only two seasons I have never watched, I bought season one on DVD many years ago).  I have to find a way to watch this season.

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On 9/24/2017 at 9:45 PM, Roccos Brother said:

My thoughts on this season -

I absolutely loved Team ChaCha. I thought they were SO adorable and entertaining, especially Oswald with his soft-spoken, non-nonchalant attitude. I loved how they were able to win over random strangers along the race, like when they befriended the girl in Bangkok. I also liked that when Oswald started having feelings of wanting to quit the race, he didn't go the emotional tantrum route like some people, and was able to bounce back quickly.

The Boston accents were endearing.

Gary was insufferable.

Blake was a cutie. Out of the final 3, I wanted them to win.

Agree with all of this. Re-watching this season now. Loving the Cha's and their Zen, enjoying Peach broadening her horizons. My favorite Cha moment was the bungee jump, Oswald screaming and Danny laughing was just so perfect. A close second was the leg in Australia when Oswald re-read his clue and finished the task correctly while Wil and Blake screwed up. I was heart broken when they missed the ferry.

When Phil uses the format 'You are the __ team to arrive' I expect to hear 'however...'

When I heard that Blake had founded TOMS shoes I was so glad something so good had come out of his experiences. I had wondered if seeing the poverty in India or any of the orphanages different teams had gone to had inspired any of them to be more active in charities or something. It was good to see someone had.

Some huge backpacks on this race also.

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I forgot that TaraWil made it to the top 3 by taking the FF! so not fair, that shouldn't have been allowed on that leg.  I know they don't have FF's every leg anymore but other things also, like the Express Pass have to be used before the final legs.

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4 hours ago, dgpolo said:

I forgot that TaraWil made it to the top 3 by taking the FF! so not fair, that shouldn't have been allowed on that leg.  I know they don't have FF's every leg anymore but other things also, like the Express Pass have to be used before the final legs.

It wasn't the final leg.  That was a two episode broadcast that night and two separate legs.  Not one long one.  And kudos for them saving it for the penultimate leg.  And perfectly fair since any other team could have tried to do that too. 

And had a couple of teams tried to do that then going for the FF on that leg could have caused one team's elimination even. 

I LOVE that the FF could be used once and once only and up through the next to the last leg.  Strategy, thy name is Classic TAR.

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9 minutes ago, green said:

It wasn't the final leg.

I didn't say it was the final leg, I said that they got into the final leg by using the ff. The same leg that eliminated Oswald and Danny. I don't think it was fair to be able to be one of the final three by using a ff. Of course it was because of the rules at the time but I don't like it, the same way I don't like the placements of non-elims on some races.🤷‍♀️

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On 7/7/2019 at 11:39 PM, dgpolo said:

I didn't say it was the final leg, I said that they got into the final leg by using the ff. The same leg that eliminated Oswald and Danny. I don't think it was fair to be able to be one of the final three by using a ff. Of course it was because of the rules at the time but I don't like it, the same way I don't like the placements of non-elims on some races.🤷‍♀️

Okay.  We will agree to disagree then.  Oswald & Danny were my favorites too but Tara & Wil played a better game and saved the FF as they should.  The next to the next to the last leg isn't too late in the Race to use it.  It is the perfect time to use it and rewards the team that was able to race so well they didn't need to use it until then.

Also I was wrong in the first post since it wasn't the penultimate leg but the one before it.  The penultimate leg was nonelim and ended on the mat outside the little country church (I think it was a church) in Hawaii.

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On 2/11/2016 at 8:19 PM, kittykat said:

I'm still partial to Oswald and Danny shopping and still placing first.

That leg is maybe my favorite hour of TAR ever. Everything Oswald and Danny do turns out to be perfect. ("I'm actually window shopping." "Now, can I go back to my partner?")

On 9/24/2017 at 10:45 PM, Roccos Brother said:

The Boston accents were endearing.

And if one is into Boston accents, Chris's line (was he the one?) in Namibia about the view from the tower is pretty much perfect: "The hahdest paht was seeing that only one cah was pahked down theh."

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On 2/11/2016 at 5:19 PM, kittykat said:

I need to rewatch the early seasons.

It only took me 3 1/2 yrs from this post but here I am.  The Amazing Rewatch, Season 2 Edition: Eppies 1-5.

The Beginning: Once again the race gods knock it out of the park with Rio being the first destination with a follow up trip to the breathtaking Iguacu Falls.  I vaguely remember this route being mostly Southern Hemisphere since it was shot in its summer. And if I recall the only season besides Family to not use anywhere in Europe as a pit stop.  European airports only factored in as layovers for the Cape Town leg.  Oh, and 22 hour bus rides and routes that take three days just to get to the first route marker definitely doesn't happen in later seasons anymore.

I was surprised how many teams actually helped each other on L3.  Even if I was in Group one with Taraweasel, Cha and Thunk I'd be shitting bricks about being last.

The teams: I forgot how little screen time the Chas got in 1 and 2 so it was nice to finally get reacquainted in legs 3 and 4, I don't mind listening to them talk about being polite to everyone because YEAH do that.  And we met the one and only Fern.

I never thought the Bostons were that much eye candy the first time around (the twins OTOH mmmmhmmmn) but Chris changing that tire in L2 was working for me. I won't lie, the cable sweater he wears in the credits works well.  Although I do grit my teeth when he speaks most of the time especially when he mentions "hawt gurlls." Anyhoo, end shallow portion of the post.

Tara, Wil and his Ugly Orange Hat that's uglier than I remember: he's not even that evil he's just whiney and pathetic.  He blames Tara when things go wrong and Tara is the better racer of the two.  Overall he is just unpleasant.  I didn't mind him in L3 but he's just exasperating to watch.  Him telling Blake to run his own race was kind of right but dude run YOUR own race.

I really like Mary and Peach too.  I know I don't have much longer with them but I'm enjoying them both.  Peach bugs at times but also goes with things well and is pulling her weight (she's done 3/4 roadblocks so far).  Even Gary and Dave are fine.  Gary's jokes still don't land but I'm more "meh" than "ugh."

The Already Departed: I forgot about the anyone who shared a mat with Blake and Paige got eliminated the next leg.  Sorry Hope/Norm and Shola/Doyin.  I feel bad for the twins.  They must have been stuck in that sand for hours to miss the Detour clue.  I liked Deidre and Hillary, still not sure how they got so far behind the Grannies unless they had a hard time getting a boat to the pit stop but it was sad to see them go.

Agree with those above that culture and city shock got the better of Russell in Bangkok but Cyndi took the lead like a boss.  Despite yelling "God is on the bathtub" numerous times over five episodes I was sad to see them lose.

Confusion Now and Confusion Later are my favorite Detour names so far.  If I ran the race  I would logically get the confusion out of the way first considering that Confusion Later was the different temples.  And Blake's first prayer about the idols was a major ugggghhhhh!

Loving all of this so far and will update after Leg 9.

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I've been rewatching seasons, too, and am on season 16. In an episode one team found a local to help them find a location, then the camera shows a sign with the word "fern" embedded in a longer word.

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The Amazing Rewatch Season 2 Eppies 6-11, Showdown at Fort Baker!

Episode six should be called Gary Gives His Unsolicited Opinion About All the Teams and None of His Assessments are in Any Way Funny: the Super THUNK Edition.

I'm exhausted.  The problem with binging this season is that I had to watch 6 consecutive hours of Tara and Wil berating each other and being awful (especially by the time they get to Hawaii) that I was just ready for it to end.  Imagine how many people would have probably hated this season had they won.

Leg 8 is still my favorite.  Everyone gets so annoyed at Cha Cha Cha being so zen but then they come in first after shopping and getting an earlier flight, it's just the best.  The icing on the cake is Blake and Wil misreading the road block clue.  The right balance of incompetence and fabulousness.  Blake and Paige are reeeeeallllly lucky it was an NEL because they shit the bag that leg.

That said it was pretty obvious by New Zealand that Oswald had some bad Killer Fatigue; the writing was on the wall once Boston passed them in the cave.

The entire San Francisco sequence is still one of the most intense final 20 minutes in race history.  Scrambling for taxis, the right municipal pier, Wil trying to fake out Boston by going the wrong way (me at TV: way to give Blake and Paige the win) and the final footrace where Boston passes Taraweasel.  Good stuff!

Glad this one is done, Season Three: Flotastrophe! Awaits.

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Do you think his parents actually named him "Wil"?  I just tried to say it out loud and it kind of made me gag because I needed the extra l. The fact that he's a complete dick doesn't help.

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Just watched seasons one and two on Amazon and have been flung back into the far distant past.

Gadzooks, I think the tasks were harder and the timing designed to bring on killer fatigue!  I wonder how modern contestants would do under the same rules and challenges.

But to business - - - May Danny and Oswald long reign as the absolute best contestants ever and the funniest spot ever - let's go shopping!

Will forever love them.

While I truly understand the Wil hate - reminds me of the aging frat/surfer boy who just refuses to grow up a bit - and the damn hat - which needs to be worn ONLY by teenagers or aging hipsters - and Wil is neither.

But seriously, Tara, talk about passive/aggressive and simply hateful at all times.  Man, her yelling, blaming and plain shrieking in the last 3 episodes got so bad I contemplated tanking the rest of the season.  Their fights got WAY to much screen time and may have caused hearing loss in my right ear (just kidding).

They were both terrible.

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Season two and three are the only seasons I have never watched.  I did see the last episode of season three and I was hooked, but I just never got around to seeing either of them.  Maybe I will now that I know they are on Amazon.

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4 hours ago, BK1978 said:

Season two and three are the only seasons I have never watched.  I did see the last episode of season three and I was hooked, but I just never got around to seeing either of them.  Maybe I will now that I know they are on Amazon.

They are on Hulu, too. I did most of my rewatch on Hulu except the more recent seasons, which I bought from Amazon. I wish CBS had all the TAR seasons so they can be watched on All Access.

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15 hours ago, Lamb18 said:

They are on Hulu, too. I did most of my rewatch on Hulu except the more recent seasons, which I bought from Amazon. I wish CBS had all the TAR seasons so they can be watched on All Access.

I had the chance to buy season two years ago on DVD when I bought season one.  But I put it back at the last second, I wish I had bought it because it was on sale for like five dollars (At least I think it was season two, it might have been three.  We are talking like fifteen years ago, so my memory is a little hazy.).

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Just finished my quarantine rewatch of S2 - haven't seen this in probably over 10 years. 

I forgot how satisfying it is to watch Wil (and to a lesser extent, Tara) lose at the end.

My number one team forever and always is Danny and Oswald.  Episode 8 in Hong Kong is terrific. 😄 

 

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