Let me just preface this review with this point: I am no longer bitter I didn't get picked for this show. Like an alarming number of Canadians, I submitted a video and application in the hopes of being a participant, but alas, I was not chosen. Trust me, I'll try out again, but for now, I'll just live vicariously through the teams running it this year and use this as an opportunity to study the show and hope to be better prepared. The teams for the first run of the Amazing Race in Canada run the usual gamut from a few all girl teams, dating couples, an older couple and a couple of gay cowboys, who I'm cheering for frankly because I love their sense of humour.
Families are well represented with Treena and Tennille, who are twin sisters who appear to be tough, as one of them is a cop, but it becomes clear quickly they lack some logical thinking when they make several major mistakes in the first episode. Also on the family front are Vanessa and Celina, sisters who appear to be the youngest team. Then there are the inspirational teams. First there is Tim and Tim Jr., a father and son duo who will break your heart with their story. The elder Tim has been diagnosed with Parkinson's and this is their chance to do something amazing together before the disease progresses. Then there is Jody and Cory, brothers from Kitchener who you can’t help but root for. Jody lost both of his feet when he stepped on a landmine while serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan and his brother is clearly proud of his sibling.
Other teams include Jet and Dave, who appear to be just a couple of meatheads, but they assure us they are deeper than they seem, I guess time will tell on that. Jamie and Pierre are the gay cowboys from Alberta who compete in rodeos. Kristin and Darren are dating hippies who have no problem with roughing it but appear to also be quite savvy when it comes to strategy. And rounding out the nine teams are Holly and Brett, a pair of married doctors and finally Hal and Joanne. Anyone who has watched TV in Canada in the last 30 years knows who Hal and Joanne are, as Body Break perpetually reminded us to get off the couch and get active. Not going to lie, if I was running the race with them, I'd be gunning to get them out just for annoying the crap out of me through most of my childhood.
The race kicks off in Niagara Falls with a few easy challenges of finding clues in a butterfly conservatory and then things pick up slightly with an added element of dangerous creatures guarding a second set of clues. Two teams manage to misread the instructions almost immediately and miss the second clue they are supposed to pick up. And since they are on their way to Kelowna, BC, it'll be tough to go back and get it!
Treena and Tennille are one of the teams who misread the clues, and this is only the beginning of a series of mistakes they make through the first leg of the race. The other team who messed up are the Tim’s, and it’s a sure bet both teams will pay for this mistake.
Once in Kelowna, the teams make their way to the Blue Bear downtown and find a clue leading them to Lake Okanagan, where they will have to wait until morning before they can start again. Accommodations have been provided on a houseboat in the yacht club, so it’s not too shabby of a wait, though Treena and Tennille miss that note and stay elsewhere.
Once morning calls they all suit up and head out for a road block requiring one team member to don a heavy helmet and air tank to go down to the bottom of the lake to find a statue of Ogopogo, BC's version of the Loch Ness Monster, and retrieve their clue. Most teams make it through this challenge relatively quickly and easily, while Vanessa and Celina struggle with just making the wave runner work for them. One of the sweetest moments of the night is Cory helping his brother Jody by carrying him to the wave runner, since he had to remove his artificial limbs in order to go in the water, I really do hope this team goes far, if not wins this entire thing.
When the two girls finally make it to their destination, Vanessa proceeds to have a panic attack as she is quite claustrophobic and is really not pleased with the mask she has to wear, or going underwater. She eventually makes it through and finds the clue, but I predict they are going to have a lot of trouble making it through this race if they don’t learn how to face their fears better.
Their struggle is nothing compared to what happens to the cowboys Pierre and Jamie and the twin sisters Treena and Tennille, who once again have misread the clue and are searching the surface of the water for the statue. They do eventually find it, but it puts them and the cowboys in dead last, leading to an epic battle to not get eliminated later on.
After the water challenge, teams are sent to Myra-Belleview Provincial Park to find an abandoned trestle bridge where one team member will have to climb down about half way and walk a long thin plank where their next clue is dangling from before jumping off in homage to pirates. The plank is painfully shaky and it is slow going making their way to the end, but again, most teams make it through quickly, while Celina is the one having a panic attack this time. Somehow she manages to force herself to jump but not without a great deal of screaming and tears.
Treena and Tennille along with Jamie and Pierre finally figure out the water challenge and race towards the bridge long after the other times have already headed off to the pit stop at Quail’s Gate Winery. Both teams race their way through the challenge and are in a dead heat as they head towards Jon Montgomery and the welcoming committee.
Treena and Tennille make it to the mat first, and are about to celebrate when they get the bad news. Way back when in Niagara Falls, when they first misread instructions and left a second portion of the clue behind they incurred themselves a penalty of 30 minutes, which eliminates them on the spot since the cowboys are already there. While not the only team to incur this penalty, father and son duo the Tim’s also had to wait out 30 minutes, it is far more devastating for the twins. Though if I am honest, they probably wouldn’t have lasted long anyway since they were unable to properly follow instructions.
The final standings are as follows. 1. Kristen and Darren, the loveable but tough hippies who win a trip to Australia along with the two Express Passes. 2. Married Doctors Holly and Brett 3. Body Breakers Hal and Joanne 4. Meatheads Jet and Dave 5. Scared sisters Vanessa and Celina, who only got fifth because of the penalty the father and son received 6. Father and son duo the Tim’s 7. Veteran Jody and his brother Cory 8. The cowboys Pierre and Jamie 9. Twins Treena and Tennille, eliminated With so many personalities, this is going to be an exciting race to watch!