'Amazing Race All-Stars' ends with two firsts

Dave Bartlett talkingtelevision@gmail.com
Published on May 21, 2014
58-year-old Dave O’Leary (left) and his son, Connor, won “The Amazing Race All-Stars” on Sunday. — Submitted photos

I’m not sure if I believe in Karma as such, but I do believe that what comes around, goes around. Maybe there’s really no difference.

Sunday’s finale of “The Amazing Race All-Stars” proves again that those who enjoy and engage in friendly competition, persevere and even help a struggling colleague will typically come out ahead of those who believe winning at all costs is paramount.

It also added some new statistical history to the race, but more on that later.

I must admit when the latest “race around the world” began in late February, I questioned the choice of a number of the teams that returned to run “The Amazing Race” for a second or third time.

Very few were favourites of mine the first time around — in fact it was more like the show’s most-annoying than its best and brightest, and I know I am not the only one who felt this way after a 30-second browsing of Internet comments around the time of the announcement of the lineup.

There were exceptions. I was cheering for The Cowboys, Jet and Cord — brothers who ran the race twice before, placed second during the 16th race and then sixth two seasons later — from the beginning and was so angry when they were U-turned, and ultimately eliminated, a couple of legs ago. For those not familiar with the show, a U-turn is when a team is forced by another to complete both sides of an either-or task called a detour.

The two never take anything for granted, never play dirty and rarely get frustrated, though they are often far outside their comfort zones. The Cowboys also hold a record in “The Amazing Race” history as the only team to survive a non-elimination leg and then win the following leg despite having to perform an extra challenge that no other team has to face called a speedbump.

By the point in the race where Jet and Cord were eliminated, I was completely on board with most fans of the show — and seemingly the producers — that it was any team but the Brenchels. The anti-fan favourite is made up of grad student Brendan and his TV personality wife Rachel. She won “Big Brother” and is one of more than enough people who has managed to use her success on one reality show to make a career of it.

As I’ve stated many times before, except for The Race, I tend to avoid most reality TV, so I was surprised to learn when researching this column that both Brendan and Rachel had been on “Big Brother” twice before. Please retire now.

The duo managed to push, misdirect and piss-off every other team still in the race by the halfway point, and I think the audience wanted to see them crash and burn, which of course they did in the final leg, placing third.

I think a number of viewers were surprised to see The Country Singers back as well, though largely because in their previous race Jennifer and Caroline lived in the shadow of hockey pros Bates and Anthony Battaglia. The Singers placed fourth during the 22nd race; their “race boyfriends” won it all.

This time, they seemed to be a weaker team at the beginning and some will say they largely got by through flirting with the male racers to get help when they needed it most.

And while they did receive help from other teams, they never said “never” when facing adversity, got angry with each other or let minor injuries get in the way of their sunny disposition or competitive drive.

In this race, they survived two legs by coming in last on non-elimination rounds to come in a close second, leaving the race with far more friends than enemies.

But I was very glad father and son Dave and Connor skydived into the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to win “The Amazing Race All-Stars,” and became the first parent and child to win the race in its 24th incarnation.

At 58, Dave also became the oldest person to win the race. On top of that, both are cancer survivors and self-eliminated themselves from Race 22 after Dave blew out his Achilles’ tendon in Leg 2 — yet they ran, and won two more legs of the race before bowing out in the fifth round.

This time, the father and son won half of the 12 legs, and though they faced some adversity and had one blow up at each other, the two played fair and made allies, despite or maybe because they were the Brenchels’ target of choice more often than not.

With all the skulduggery in the world, it’s nice to know that fair play and friendly competition is the best road to take.

Now that this race is over, I’m looking forward to the second running of “The Amazing Race Canada,” which will air its second season beginning July 8 on CTV.


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