Season 8 Episode 1: Go Mommy, Go! We Can Beat Them!

The show kicks off with an image of an American flag billowing slowly fades away over a vista of New York City in a blatant attempt to tell the audience that matters (the Americans, that is) that so what if this show will be held nearly entirely within America, you are all supposed to be patriotic and therefore love this season come what may. To drive that home, look, there's the Statue of Liberty. All you people hating on this show for taking a leaf out of the Double Dare handbook are being unpatriotic, undemocratic, un-Republican, un-American, and therefore would be deported to Canada on the next leaky steamer. Philo Koughie, our host, stands at the foot of the Statue, looking a little too craggy and skeletal for my liking, and says that he is at "a beacon of freedom and cultural diversity". And if you don't like this show, you are an enemy of freedom and cultural diversity! Philo explains that this season will see ten Families instead of Teams racing around the world for a million dollars. The families are right now being transported to the starting point in five yellowish ferries. Oh boy, forty people for me to try and tell apart in the first episode and this episode is two hours long. This is the time for me to warn all you people that there is a high chance I miss some Very Important One-Liner Or Two here and there because really, recapping this episode is a very tough, especially for an episode that consists of mostly screaming, driving, and getting lost. Anyway, let's meet the Families, shall we?

The Gagglehams are first. There's Mr Billy Gaggleham, Mrs Tammy Gaggleham, the son Billy Gaggleham Jr, and the daughter Carissa Gaggleham. Billy and Carissa are very young kids, which would come useful, really, as Mr and Mrs Gaggleham, who are marathon runners, point out that the kids can run too. Carissa supposedly can run seven minute mile. Mrs Gaggleham says that not many adults can do that. After all, this show is all about running bazillions of miles from start to finish. Billy Gaggleham (the son) says that he and Carissa can work together as a team to spy on people. Warning: do not change while Billy Gaggleham is nearby, not without checking to see that the windows are closed tightly. Carissa says that she is not stupid because she can lie back to any adult who tries to lie to her. Dang, that girl would've been a winner on Survivor.

Next are the Lunzes. They openly revealed in their pre-show publicity package that they are recruited to be on the show and I can see why. The brothers Nick, Alex, and Tommy have universally white teeth, gym-honed physiques, and faces with features that come together in a manner that is considered handsome but at the same time are so free of any distinguishing features that they are like personality-free clones created from some Aryan-financed Abercrombie and Fitch model factory. Someone in the casting department obviously has decreed that even the die-hard "America, Freedom for People Like Us Only, and Family Values" folks this show is targetting to need some Beautiful White Guy to ogle at. The sister Megan is also pretty in a very generic manner, which is to say, she's like virtually every pretty gal on TV. They make some crack about how they're very funny, yes they are, and the icing on the cake is Alex, who at 22, considers himself much more mature than the others and Tommy tells him to shut up because Alex is still living at home. Boring beautiful people want to be remembered too and many of them believe that they have the wit to stand out among other boring beautiful people on TV. The Lunzes try, and that's all I can say, really.

Meet the Pablums. Mr Tony Pablum is an Italian immigrant who is now working as a garbage collector collecting six tons of refuse every day. He insists that this is the American dream. If only we are all so lucky! His wife is Mrs Marion Pablum and his sons are the sullen DJ Pablum and Brian Pablum. The Pablums try very hard to be the stereotypical Italian-American family as seen in the media, where the mother is "feitsy" but ultimately submissive to the men in the family and the men are all obnoxious jerks. Indeed, Mrs Pablum's pitch is that no one appreciates her, Mr Pablum is all about I Am My Own Man, Phwoar!, the kids, who are in their early twenties and late teens, mind you, are all about My Parents Are Dumb and Stupid and GOD They Never Stop Embarrasing Me. The perfect American dream family, eh?

The Blacks are next. Yes, they're African-American. I don't want to state the obvious puns that can come out of this because nearly all of them are not just politically incorrect but also overused and trite so I'll just mention that they are the latest in the too good to be true African-Americans teams to grace this show. It is as if Jerry Bonghammer is desperate to make up for CBS' pigeon-holing African-Americans on reality shows as either lazy, psychotic, or both (thanks, Mark Burnetto) as well as his own Lenny and Karyn shrew couple in Season One by coming up with contemporary Crosby types in this show. Previously we had Uchenna and Joyce, Chip and Kim, and Fat Gus and Hera and now there are the Blacks, teams who are edited to be All About The Love and what not. I have nothing against nice people but I am tired of the fan scene making these teams the central figure in their Rail Against The Evil campaigns where every week turns into a detailed but unbearably stupid nitpicking of the contestants' behavior complete with the fans' uneducated treatises on the psychological disorders someone must no doubt be suffering from because screaming at a cab driver when you're stressed is a sure sign that you beat your wife at home (if you ever visit a typical The Amazing Race forum, you'll know what I mean). Anyway, yeah, the Blacks are nice but very boring but I can see them luring forth the fan-crazies' nonsense in the forums. I have some reservations about the blue and red tie-died shirts they are all wearing though - they remind me too much of the obnoxious Hagrid from Survivor. The Blacks are Mr Reggie Black, Mrs Kim Black, and wee little sons Keith and Austin, although you don't really have to try too hard to remember their names, heh.

The Blandsens are a father and daughters team comprising Wally and his daughters Lauren, Beth, and Lindsay. I still have no idea who they are at the end of this episode.

The Whining Weevils is a Family comprising a widow, Linda Weevil, and her children Rachel, Rebecca, and Rolly. I am nearly certain that Rolly is a teenaged boy at the end of this episode. If you have a drinking game where you drink every time the Whining Weevils bring up their dead father who died in an auto-racing accident, good luck surviving the alcohol poisoning. The gist here is that the Whining Weevils are still unable to get over their dead daddy's accident years after it has happened, understandable enough, but they apparently have no problems going on TV and chasing after a million dollars while reminding everyone that they happen to meet that they are now Very God-Fearing People So Really, Give Them The Money Because Their Daddy Died, Mommy Worked Hard To Keep Things Together, So They Really Deserve It Even When They Still Drive While Putting One Leg On The Seat. Idiots.

The Aiyoyos are an Italian-American daddy, Tony Aiyoyo, and his sons-in-law Matt, Kevin, and David. This seems like a pretty functional team without the Lunzes' obnoxious blandness, although I'm struck by how the three sons-in-law manage to look like they're related by blood. It must be the same noses and facial structure, I think. Matt is hoping to know the guys on an "intimate level". Tony says, "Not that intimate". Matt jokes that he won't be spooning Tony after all. Aww, that ruins all chances of manlove in this season! There is still hope for two of Lunz brothers making out with each other on TV though!

The Shroepers are a family of the dad, Mr Mark Shroeper, his wife Mrs Char Shroeper, and the teenaged kids Starsi and Hunter. Mrs Shroeper is actually the stepmother to Starsi and Hunter. They try to make it sound as if they are very decisive and intelligent people, with Mrs Shroeper saying that everyone is always wrong while they are right and Mr Shroeper saying that his "boisterous" personality always intimidate people because he is a "hungry" bear, although he wants people to remember that he is a "fuzzy" bear as well. They are all over the place trying to be cunning and memorable and so far they are abysmally failing.

The very pink-clad Godawfulshrieky Sisters are Michelle, Christine, Shannon, and Tricia. They are happy and easy-going sisters within the late thirties and early forties age bracket. They are, barring some miracle, prime candidates for an early boot. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters talk about being underestimated (oops, who told?) while promising never to be too concerned about their hair. Or something.

The Dodgers are from the South and they will milk that angle dry, with dad Mr Denny Dodger saying that he'll be in charge and Mrs Renee Dodger saying that it's because the Bible says so. Dad is always in charge if our family ends up on TV, so sayeth God.. "We believe that the man is the authority of the house," says Mr Dodger and he is so, so obnoxious already. The teenaged son Brock says that he often has disagreements with his father about curfew - wait until Mr Dodger discover the stash of porn under Brock's bed, heh - and he tries very hard to come off as some tough-edged rebel on TV. Brittney (not to be confused with Britney) the teenaged daughter says that the Dodgers will be underestimated because they are from the South. No, Mr Dodger says that they will be underestimated because they have plenty of "charm", apparently Southern one. And here I am thinking it's because of their thick accent.

The starting line is right near the Brooklyn Bridge. Philo is really overdoing his eyebrow arch as he gives the usual babble about going around and getting clues, et cetera. Oh, and it turns out that this time around the show will be footing for the gas as well, being that the Families will be traveling in black GMC Yukon SUVs (buy, buy, buy!), along with the usual footing of the airplane fare thanks to whatever credit card company that is sponsoring the show. With that, go! Some of the men are the first to reach the bags that come along with their first clue and there are plenty of ripping, screaming, and in the case of some people, stumbling after the shoe accidentally comes off. Families have to now drive themselves to SoHo and get some camping gear and supplies from the Eastern Mountain Sports store there. Among other frantic happenings, I also learn that Families are given $150 for this leg of the Race and Mrs Pablum saying that she "pulled something". I don't want to know. The Gagglehams are the first to leave the parking lot in their SUV. Billy says to the camera that SoHo is a nice place. "I think," he adds, precisely the camera ho in the making that he is. The Whining Weevils, all screaming and shouting, also pack into their SUV and take off. And with that, credits. While there are previously two people in a Team acting like weirdos in the credits, now there are four of them doing the same. Double the weirdness for everybody!

The Shroepers leave next, with Mr Shroeper telling Mrs Shroeper, who is driving, to go over the Brooklyn Bridge. They are followed by the Aiyoyos and the Lunzes. Back to the Gagglehams, the parents are talking about some great job the kids did back at the park. Something about running fast and overtaking the rest, I think. Carissa is happy that they are in first place (such a competitive brat, really) and she is happier when the Gagglehams manage to beat a red light while the Whining Weevils close on their tail can't. The Dodgers are discussing about the accidents they had while dashing to their SUV (Mrs Dodger fell and so did Brock). The Blandsens are also on the road, with high hopes because one of the daughters had shopped in SoHo before. The Blacks are also on the road with the Pablums right behind them. Poor Tony. Everyone in his family is not happy with his driving or running. Oh well, the price one has to pay to live the American dream. And finally, right at the back are the Godawfulshrieky Sisters who are already getting all shrieky and loud because woo-hoo omigosh they are really starting the Race woohoo OH MY GOSH EEEEE.

The Whining Weevils take a wrong turn once the light turns green and the Shroepers, who are behind the Whining Weevils, are amused and cheered by the fact. They zoom in what they and I hope is the right direction. Meanwhile, the Aiyoyos and the Lunzes are hot on the Shroepers' tail. Sorry, people, but I really don't know how to make all these driving more exciting when it actually isn't. Mrs Dodger is telling the rest of the Family about how her ear may be damaged by her fall. Make your own joke about her effect on the rest of her Family's ears. The Blandsens spot the "Brooklyn Br" sign and one of the daughters (I can't tell them apart yet) points out that "Br" stands for "Bridge". And here silly old me is thinking that "Br" stands for "Broom". Thanks! DJ Pablum is telling Mr Pablum to go faster in his most annoying teenaged voice. The problem is, he's no longer a teenager.

Rebecca Weevil, the driver for the Whining Weevils, is still on the wrong road and not only that, she has her left leg resting on the seat. Really, she folds that leg and places the foot on the seat, leaving the other leg to tackle the driving. Maybe a part of her that misses her father so much wants to be reunited with him as soon as possible, I suspect. That's quite touching and also very, very stupid, especially for a family who gets off on airing their Dead Daddy story so much on TV. Something should have told the Whining Weevils that they have taken some longer route when they finally catch up with the Godawfulshrieky Sisters on the Brooklyn Bridge - if you remember, the Godawfulshrieky Sisters were trailing in last place while the Whining Weevils were the second Family to leave the car park. The Whining Weevils, however, are more focused on calling the other Family the "desperate housewives", which puzzles me because the Godawfulshrieky Sisters aren't the ones desperate enough to let every stranger know that Mr Whining Weevil was dead and we should all give them as much attention as possible as a result. Rolly Weevil - the transgendered kid - asks his sister to drive faster so as to not to let the "old farts" beat them. Mrs Weevil hushes him because they are supposed to be polite and what-not. In their SUV, the Godawfulshrieky Sisters are still going OMIGOSH WOO-WOO HOO-HOO AHHHHH. I wonder whether they can actually speak in English.

As the Gagglehams try to figure out how to get to SoHo, Mrs Gaggleham tells the camera that because the Gagglehams had traveled abroad while many of the other Families are on their first trip "abroad" for the first time, she figures that the Gagglehams have an advantage over the others. The joke's on her because this time around the Families aren't going anywhere outside the USA for nearly the entire duration of the Race if the spoilers are right. There's no use knowing all the street names of Abu Dhabi if the clue wants you to go to SoHo. Indeed, here are the Lunzes. Mr Gaggleham rolls down the window and asks the Lunzes whether they know the way to SoHo. Both Families laugh as the Lunzes simply says that SoHo is "on the corner up here". I bet that's one line he tries to use often on the ladies he tries to pick up at the bars. Both Families decide to just follow each other with the Lunzes showing the way. Meanwhile, somewhere else, the Godawfulshrieky Sisters are asking for directions from a helpful guy when the Shroepers bump into them. Mr Shroeper makes a crack about the fake breast implants that those blonde Godawfulshrieky Sisters may or may not have. I don't understand men like this, honestly. They like women with extremely huge dinner plates, so to speak, but they want these dinner plates to be real ones. And then they complain that it isn't fair when women want them to have big penises because apparently only then it is how you use it that counts. Hmmph! Mrs Shroeper tells the camera that Mr Shroeper is some sort of "hardcore" and "aggressive" guy (read: trying too hard to be a villain on camera). Whatever. She's married to him, not me, so really, whatever.

The Whining Weevils are going who knows where with Mrs Weevil telling the Daredevil Driving Daughter that she's doing great. The daughter, Rebecca, tells the camera that losing her father teaches her to appreciate her family better. You'd think she's the only one in this world who has had a death of a loved one in the family, the way she and the rest of the Whining Weevils are milking the sob story dry - and we're only in the first episode. The Blandsens are having a good time too. They are people-watching, according to one of the daughters. Meanwhile, it's Brock Dodger's first time in New York, apparently, and he doesn't find the experience too nice. Well, that's because he's stuck with his sisters and parents. Let him come to New York alone and he'd be a debauched bisexual SoHo-living bohemian junkie artist in no time. What, you mean the musical Rent isn't real? Mr Black is telling his sons to be his eyes because he is driving and his wife is, er, reading the map. He then tells the camera about what smart kids he has. The Pablums are arguing in a Kids Against The Parents style, apparently because Mr Pablum can't listen to his kids' directions as the window on his side is open and he keeps getting them lost as a result. Mrs Pablum says that the Pablums fight all the time. Wait, is that supposed to be reassuring? Back in the SUV, she asks Mr Pablum to turn up the air conditioner, which cause the Mini-Pablums to turn on her. Yup, it's going to be a fun next few weeks watching these folks. Sometimes, some families really shouldn't travel together ever.

By the way, isn't this episode exciting? Half an hour into the show and so far it's all driving, driving, and driving.

The Lunzes finally spot the Eastern Mountain Sports store and their SUV park into the Magical Parking Slot That You Know Won't Be There On A Normal Day If You Live In That Place. The Gagglehams pull up in another nearby Magical Parking Slot shortly after. Both Families run into the store where I learn that they don't even have to pay for the camping supplies - the three dweeby-looking staff behind the counter just hand them over to the Lunzes and the Gagglehams. They are also given a clue: they must now look for a hot dog stand on the 91st Street between Park and Lexington, some 90 blocks away. Oh, that hot dog stand is manned by the Frat Bastards, Kevin and Drew, from the first season! Hi, guys! After the first two Families have left, the Godawfulshrieky Sisters pull up, followed by the Shroepers. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters go OHMIGOSH EEEEE AAAAAH HEEHEE OOOOH when they walk into the wrong store at first but after that minor if loud drama, both Families quickly depart the store with their camping gear and their clue.

The Pablums are still at it. One of the kids, DJ, I think, is telling Mr Pablum that he should have just followed someone. Mrs Pablum tells him to cram it because he's been complaining about that a few times already. She suggests that they stop and look in the phone book for direction. The two kids look at their parents as if they really cannot believe how they can be related to those old folks. It's the look that many of us have probably given our parents during our teenaged years of rebellion, when we can't believe how our parents can be so dumb as in our minds we know best about everything. I'm not saying that it's wrong to feel this way - it's probably a normal phase in growing-up - but I must say I feel a little embarrassed for the Pablums to have their family spats taking place on TV before an audience.

The Aiyoyos and the Whining Weevils pull up, take whatever they have to take, and leave. The Dodgers and the Blandsens then pull up, do the do, and leave. I tell you, I'm at my edge of the seat watching this drama unfurl, I scream in excitement and nearly faint when someone knocks over a display stand in their haste to reach the counter. So exciting! One of the Blandsen daughters complains as they leave in their SUV about one of the Whining Weevils toppling the display stand and leaving without a care. Ah, but their father died so how can the Blandsens be so heartless as to complain? Shame on them! The Whining Weevils' old man died! Some time later, the Blacks show up, take their stuff, and leave. And finally, the Pablums show up.

Megan Lunz asks the driving brother, whatever his name is, to follow someone since Lughead #1 doesn't seem to know where he is going. Lughead #2 pipes up that Megan shouldn't speak unless she is asked. I think this rule should apply to all four of them. Mr Gaggleham in the meantime is telling everyone that they must look for a street with "9A" on it. Carissa spots a sign telling them that they are on 9A and everyone is happy. She notices that there are many graffitis on the wall. Mr Gaggleham says that it's because "spray painting" is a popular sport. She asks him whether they can bring any spray paint with them. "I think they highly discourage it," he tells Carissa wryly. Hey, Mr Shroeper, this is how you come off as funny on TV! The Godawfulshrieky Sisters learn that they are on the correct road. EEEE AAAAH OMIGOSH EEEEEE! Mr and Mrs Shroeper wish that they have handicapped children that they can push into traffic so that they can go ahead. Okay, that's pretty funny. Mr Aiyoyo tells his sons-in-law that he has never camped before, being that he has three daughters and no sons to share the experience with, and one of the sons-in-law, Matt (I think) tells him that they will have a great time together in teaching Mr Aiyoyo how to be a boy. Awww, that's so sweet and so homoerotic at the same time. Everyone else drives, bickers, drives some more, bickers, and drives some more. You have one guess as to which Family is doing all that bickering.

My heart can't take any more of the exciting driving all the Families are doing that I am so relieved that I could cry when the Lunzes pull up by the hot dog stand first. Megan grabs the hot dog. She doesn't recognize the Frat Bastards, by the way. I don't blame her, not just because she is recruited onto the show so she's probably never seen the show before, but also because the first season of this show isn't exactly a ratings darling. Anyway, the Families must now cross the George Washington Bridge and head on over to the Washington Crossing, while Philo explains is a Pennsylvanian park that commemorates George Washington's crossing of the Delaware. From the show's montage, it seems like everyone in Pennsylvania is an Amish, heh. The Lunzes get directions and head off towards the Park. Carissa hops out of the Gaggleham SUV next and gets the hot dog for her Family. They too then hit the road. After the Gagglehams, the Shroepers show up. After that, the Godawfulshrieky Sisters. Drew throws one of the shrieky sisters over his shoulder and spanks her backside. Wait, that never happened. The Aiyoyos are next. So exciting! Someone slow down because I'm going to hyperventilate! The Blandsens. The Dodgers. The Whining Weevils. Some excitement is finally found in Mrs Weevil's befuddled "I don't know if that means, like, the state of Pennsylvania?" after reading the clue.

The Lunzes ask for directions. The Gagglehams ask for directions. Carissa and Billy stop being so scary in a The Omen way and fall asleep. The Blacks show up for their hotdog. That last sentence feels vaguely politically incorrect for some reason. And finally, the Pablums show up and they are the only ones to recognize the Frat Bastards. I'm sure the Frat Bastards aren't too pleased about that. The Shroepers mock the Godawfulshrieky Sisters in an unimaginative manner; I don't know what started them on the bizarre name-calling but they aren't being funny while they're are it. They're just annoying. The funny thing is, they are following the Godawfulshrieky Sisters, whom they disparage, hoping that the Sisters will know where they are going. The Aiyoyos pass the Yankee Stadium, prompting them to launch into boos and thumbs down because, as one of them tells the camera, they are Red Sox fans. Families ask for directions. Mrs Weevil announces that Pennsylvania may be a state after all. Since she is an American, I hope she has a good excuse for that. The Whining Weevils get directions from some guy they meet, which leads to a bizarre exchange where Mrs Weevil tells him to stick to the Lord and when he says that he will, she tells him that they will be spending eternity together. Um... hello? Boy, it's a good thing that she doesn't bump into someone like me, let's just say, who will tell her where in her state of Pennsylvania can she stick her intrusive proselytizing up into.

The Blacks, who are on the road, talk about the love and the joy of being on the show. Someone has to be nice and dully goody-goody, after all, so it may as well be the token minority contestants. Mr Pablum cackles that they may be last but they can look at the bright side: those Families with kids will need to stop for potty breaks. That still leaves the Pablums with eight Families to worry about, but yeah, it's reassuring. Mr Pablum's mentioning potty breaks leads Mrs Pablum to announce that they should stop to get some food. I wonder whether she's trying to be funny. As it is, the men shout her down and I can't say she doesn't deserve it. The Lunzes show up at the wrong place. Oops. The Gagglehams seem to be lost.

Such is the luck of the road that it is the Aiyoyos who reach Washington Crossing first. They learn that they will have to reenact George Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware: they have to paddle a boat across the river and collect the version of American flag of George's time before paddling back across the river. Then, they have to hand over the flag to two people dressed up accordingly and watch a flag-folding ceremony. Only then will they receive their next clue. Since we are talking about four able-bodied men here, they have no problems with this task. The Blandsens are hot on their tail but really, come on. One of the sons-in-law, David, says that his former Marine experience contributed a lot to their successful rowing and... oh come on, David, please. The other Aiyoyos ask him to be respectful of the flag but they don't have to, really.

The Dodgers are... somewhere. The Shroepers are tailing the Godawfulshrieky Sisters... somewhere. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters laugh in their SUV because they know the Shroepers are following them but the funny thing is, the Sisters don't know where they are going as well! When the Godawfulshrieky Sisters finally make an U-turn only do the Shroepers realize that they have wasted their time. Both Families are lost.

The Aiyoyos are "stroking it" on their way back across the Delaware. First the spooning, then the promise to make Mr Aiyoyo a man, and now all that stroking - they better deliver the manlove they are teasing the audience with all season or I'll be very annoyed. The Blandsens are close behind. The Dodgers and the Whining Weevils show up as well. Then the Gagglehams. Meanwhile, the Aiyoyos watch as the flag-folding ceremony takes place and then they learn that they can now head over to the Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park where they will camp for the night. Some Eagle Scouts will make sure that nobody accidentally drives a nail into someone else's eye. No, that's not a reference to my eyes, by the way, even if I am hopelessly bored by this episode so far. The first three Families to pitch up their tents will be able to leave at 10:00 am the next day, with the next three being able to leave at 10:30 am, and everyone else at 11:00 am. Next to complete their tasks are the Blandsens, the Dodgers, the Whining Weevils, and the Gagglehams, in exactly the same order that they show up. The Shroepers also show up and they finish after the Gagglehams. Carissa Gaggleham gets a high-five from her father for a job in the latest effort by the Mini-Gagglehams to steal the show from everyone else. The Blacks show up, and later, the Godawfulshrieky Sisters. Meanwhile, the Lunzes are still looking for the Park. They finally decide to get a map. I don't know where the Pablums are. I don't want to know.

The Blacks are having problems paddling because the currents are becoming stronger. Some suspense comes from the wavering efforts of eight-year old Keith Black who, despite the family's apparent dabbling in martial arts, looks like a kid on the verge of some scary Lifetime-movie disease. Of course, they won't be swept away to their deaths or something equally dramatic. They just paddle harder and keep going. This Family is a Lifetime movie.

The Aiyoyos pull up at Fairmount Park and locate the Belmont Plateau easily. Under the watchful eyes of the Eagle Scouts, they pitch their tent and earn themselves a 10:00 am departure time and some extra time to spoon and stroke inside the tent before the others show up and ruin the mood. Meanwhile, the Families who have completed the task are driving. The luck of the road comes into play again as the Dodgers take a wrong turn somewhere, causing Mrs Dodger to exclaim that the "swamp water" has affected all their brains. It is too easy to agree with her. As a result, the Whining Weevils show up at the Fairmount Park second, followed by the Gagglehams. When the Blandsens show up next, one of the daughters complains that they have been beaten by the little kids. Yes, because the kids were the ones who did the driving. Some people have no sense of perspective.

The Blacks finish watching the flag-folding ceremony back at Washington Crossing and they take off. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters show up, do their thing OMIGOSH EEE AAAA EEE, and leave. And the Lunzes finally show up. Proving that there is always time to camera mug in the most obnoxiously unimaginative manner, they go "Andale! Andale! Arriba! Arriba!" as they row. Maybe it's just me: I never take too well to dumb fratboy humor. And finally, who knows how much later, the Pablums finally show up.

Over at Fairmount Park, the Families who arrive earlier are helping the others who arrive later in the pitching up of the tents. It's a nice gesture, made even nicer, of course, by the fact that there is no harm done in helping others since the departure time is already determined in the sense that it doesn't matter whose tent is pitched up first because they are all leaving at 10:30 am the next day. Noteworthy is Brittney Dodger saying that girls don't pitch tents, a clear contrast to camera-conscious Carissa, who is probably eight or nine years younger than her, pounding away at a nail earlier in the episode. So far, the following Families have showed up. Leaving at 10:00 am are the Aiyoyos, the Whining Weevils, and the Gagglehams, while leaving at 10:30 am are the Blandsens, the Dodgers, and the Shroepers.

Back at Washington Crossing, the Pablums are waiting impatiently for the flag-folding ceremony to finish. Mrs Pablum asks whether the actors carrying out the ceremony can "speed this a little up". Heh. As the Pablums leave, the clue drops from her hand. They only realize that the clue is missing when they are already on the road. This is after Mr Pablum nearly takes the wrong turn, causing the Mini-Pablums to yell at him about how "retarded" Mr Pablum is. I cringe at that scene because it is going to be really embarrassing for the Mini-Pablums when they are older and wiser and realize just how badly they are behaving right now on TV. When Mrs Pablum announces that the clue is missing and they have to turn back, the Mini-Pablums become even louder and more abrasive, with one of them saying that since they know where they are supposed to go, they don't have to waste time in going back and retrieving the clue.

The Blacks show up at Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park and they are welcomed by the Families who are right now helping others pitch up tents. The Blacks get the 11:00 am departure time. Mrs Black tells Carissa, who is hammering away at a nail in her effort to help set up the Blacks' tent, that should Mrs Black have a daughter, that daughter will be just like Carissa. Aww. The Blacks now have this confessional where they are, as usual, all about the love and hugsies for each other. The editing on them is so glowing that it's easy to predict that they will be leaving by the end of this episode. Oops, is that a spoiler? The only reason this confessional is not too sugary is the inevitable hilarity of this family cheering "Black family!" to the camera. If you can't see what's so funny about that, don't ask because I think I'm already in trouble with the police of political correctness.

The Godawfulshrieky Sisters show up after the Blacks and they are so happy to have all these people helping them set up their tent that they offer cookies to everyone. Seriously, they do. I don't know why they bring cookies along with them but hey, it's cookies for everyone and that's alright, I suppose. The Lunzes show up and they too get the 11:00 am departure time. They say that it's demoralizing to come in second-to-last. I wish I can muster up some sympathy for them. And finally, the Pablums show up when it's already starting to get dark and as the Families that help go ahead and help the Pablums, Mrs Pablum spots the Eagle Scouts and announces that her Mini-Pablums were Eagle Scouts too. Oh, Eagle Scouts, I'm so sorry. I understand, I do.

Every Family now settle down to sleep. Hey, is the Aiyoyo tent shaking from vigorous movements taking place inside it? Nah, probably they're just trying to keep each other warm. On a more serious note, can you believe that I've just spent so many words recapping an hour's worth of mostly driving?

The next morning at 10:00 am, the Aiyoyos, the Whining Weevils, and the Gagglehams get ready to leave. They realize that they can now head over to Tony Brubaker's Farm in Mount Joy. Since I'm not American and Tony Brubaker is something completely alien to me, I looked up that name on Google and realize that Tony Brubaker was an actor in Rocky IV. Huh? Only when I realize that it's another Tony Brubaker we're talking about does everything make sense. The Brubaker Farms in Lancester County have been in business for a long time now. I'm not so embarrassed when Matt Aiyoyo announces that, wow, Tony Brubaker has a farm. Honest mistakes happen, alright? Because fifteen or so minutes have passed without Mrs Whining Weevil telling me about how God loves her because her husband died in some accident, she now prays for everyone to be safe while driving, which is a fine act in itself if she doesn't follow that up by telling the camera about how she discovered God after her husband you-know-what and - my favorite - God wanted her family to be on this Race. Can someone just shut this woman up, please? She's obnoxious like that Jehovah Witness that just won't leave even if you try to drag her out the door. All three Families get this (correct) impression that they need to go on 76 West.

The Shroepers, the Blandsens, and the Dodgers leave at 10:30 am. The Dodgers and the Shroepers have apparently bonded over their Southern pride because they agree to cooperate. As Mrs Dodger says, to think that people always believe that Southerners aren't too smart! I... no comment, really. At 11:00 am, the remaining four Families depart. Lughead Lunz #3 talks about how he always go for older women so he'd hit on one of the Godawfulshrieky Sisters. I really don't understand the appeal of fratboy humor and this lughead only drives home that fact. Won't it be really funny - and romantic - though if he and one of the Godawfulshrieky Sisters actually end up getting married after the show? Lughead Lunz #2 says that Lughead #3 is "so out of" his "league" right now. Meanwhile, the Blacks don't know where to go and decide to just follow the others. The Pablums are, as usual, squabbling. Ahead, one of the Weevil daughters announce that Amish are "cute". Honey, it isn't like that movie Witness, especially when we remember that the character Harrison Ford played isn't Amish and there is no happy romantic ending to that movie.

The Whining Weevils are the first to arrive at the Farm where they learn that it's time for a Detour. Philo explains that Families can either "Build" a working watermill or move a "Buggy" for a mile and a half up and down a hill. The latter requires two people to pull or push the Amish buggy while two others sit inside, a Detour obviously tailored to Families with two young children. Philo says that the "Build" Detour can be slow while the "Buggy" Detour is physically demanding. What will it be? Common sense will tell you that Families who aren't fit should tackle the "Build" Detour while Families who are fit should tackle "Build" unless they have very light small kids because carrying two grown-up folks isn't the easiest thing to do. But while the Gagglehams wisely decide to "Buggy" (although we shall see that it's not the fastest Detour around), the Whining Weevils and the Aiyoyos decide to do so as well. Mrs Weevil, as she gets into the buggy, asks where the brake is. On sale in shops across the state of Pennsylvania, no doubt. Carissa Gaggleham announces that the buggy ride will be so fun as she and Billy Gaggleham climb into the buggy. For their parents, I doubt it'll be as fun, heh.

Meanwhile, the Weevils are really annoying me with Mrs Weevil's constant yammering that I actually wish that something will happen. Oops, should I feel guilty when, as the buggy starts speeding up as they move downhill, the transgendered kid pushing the buggy smashes against some wall and lets go of the buggy, causing the buggy to pretty much fly (Mrs Weevil: "AAAAAAHHHH!") and nearly run over Mrs Weevil? I think I'm going to hell because I am in stitches laughing at the scene. Of course, nobody is injured, which allows to me sleep easier at night. This event leads to the Whining Weevils once more bring up their dead you-know-who to the camera, although this is one time where such confessional is not inappropriate. Mrs Weevil tells the others not to worry because she's okay. Deciding that their buggy is not the safest thing to get into, they opt to head back and try the other Detour, "Build". As they pass the Gagglehams, they warn the Gagglehams to check the brakes when going down the hill. For all their annoying yammering about the dead stiff, that's a nice thing to do so good for them, really. The Aiyoyos are making steady progress although the two sons-in-law doing the pushing and pulling are starting to feel the strain of moving a buggy, a heavy father-in-law, and a not-so-light brother-in-law combined. On the other hand, the Gaggleham Parents are making better progress - it's not easy for them either, but they have lighter passengers to move along with the buggy. Billy, by the way, is enjoying himself very immensely giving orders to his parents. I suspect that such an opportunity doesn't come too often to him.

The Whining Weevils start to assemble the watermill. All they have to do is to put and hammer every piece in the correct manner so this task isn't as intimidating as it seems to be at first.

Meanwhile, the 10:30 am Families are lost. The self-professed Smart Southern People that are the Dodgers and Shroepers combined can't get their act together to find the correct route to Tony Brubaker's Farm. How embarrassing for Southerners everywhere if these are the people going to Prove The World Wrong about Southern stereotypes! The 11:00 am Families are also going about in their own bumbling ways. In the boring but confusing chaos of Families after Families babbling about how lost they are, Mrs Pablum calls herself "feitsy" because she kills some insect that is bothering her. Call me again when she smacks her rude sons and then we'll talk about "feitsy".

Finally, the Lunzes, the Blandsens, and the Godawfulshrieky Sisters reach the Farm about the same time. The Lunzes want to play with the buggy while the other two choose to build a watermill. As the Lunzes and the Godawfulshrieky Sisters head off in seperate directions, they high-five each other. Eeeuw, please tell me I'm not going to see some Mrs Pink Robinson and the Himbo Fratboy drama unfolding on this show. "It's all about the bis and the tris for the ladies!" one of the Himbo Lugheads announces in the process. Fratboy humor? Die, please. ("Wait, I think that's more like jock humor - he's talking about biceps and triceps, right?" points out hubby.)

Proving that Build is the better Detour, the Whining Weevils are close to completing the assembly of their watermill.

Back to the Lunzes - with so much camera time on them, I guess that I'm supposed to find them Very Hot, Very Funny, and Very "I Want To Marry Them And Have Babies With Them" - where Megan and one of the Himbo Lugheads are getting in the cart while the other two Lugheads, virtually indistinguishable from the Lughead in the buggy, pull and push the buggy. The Lughead In The Buggy lets out some gas, prompting Megan to make a fuss about it that I am supposed to find very funny. I think I will be more amused if they get the same buggy as the Whining Weevils and this time they fly off some cliff and straight into a cesspit. Ahead, the Gagglehams are catching up with the Aiyoyos, much to the delight of the Mini-Gagglehams. They start to sing, "She'll be coming down the mountain when she comes." I hope they don't understand what they are singing, really, or maybe it's just me having a dirty mind. As the Gagglehams overtake the Aiyoyos with the Mini-Gagglehams singing at the top of their voices, I have to laugh when one of the Aiyoyos remarks that it is so embarrassing to be beaten by those kiddies.

Again, proving that the Build is definitely the better Detour, the Whining Weevils are putting finishing touches to their watermill, the Godawfulshrieky Sisters are nearly done, and the Blandsens are making progress. Meanwhile, the Families who arrived earlier and doing the Buggy are still not even halfway done with the Detour! The Blacks arrive at this time at the Farm and they choose Build. Back to the Hill That Goes Round And Round, Mr Gaggleham cracks to the camera that he is so glad that he's not a horse. I'm pleased that I have the restraint not to make any "But he'll have a bigger penis if he's a horse" jokes. Oops. Billy, knowing that this is one time he can get away with being a wisecrack, says sweetly, "Mom, Dad, I'm wicked proud of you. I'm sorry I couldn't contribute!" Carissa, proving that she and her brother are probably related somehow to the Robfather, tells Billy, "Get used to it, dork!" I love the fact she is aware of their limitations as children on this Race and even better, I love this great timing she has with her brother to put on such a precocious show to the camera. I normally dislike Dakota Fannings of TV and the big screen because they come off as unnaturally self-conscious, but these kids somehow strike a perfect balance between being precious and being obnoxious to me. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind as the season progresses.

The Shroepers, the Dodgers, and the Pablums finally show up at the Farm. They choose to Build. Meanwhile, the Lunzes are having a hard time because apparently all those muscles on the Lugheads are gym-honed and not tried and tested on actual physical work. ("Steroids," says hubby, "don't do it, kiddies.") They think they should've just built that darned watermill. Elsewhere, the Whining Weevils come up with a fine and functional watermill so they receive the clue telling them to head straight to the Pit Stop for this leg of the Race: a farm with two blue silos. You can't get more descriptive than that.

Build, build, build. Even the constantly-bickering Pablums (which is starting to be a cautionary tale about calling each other retard so often - all of you will end up being retards, like the Pablums here) seem to be making good progress. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters finish next and take off, impressive indeed considering that the Families that arrived earlier and struggled with the buggy are still struggling with the buggy. The Gagglehams finish up the Detour and the sweaty parents and their Mini-Gagglehams also take off to the Pit Stop. Carissa promises to be very excited if they win this leg. The Blandsens finish their watermill assembly and they too take off. See? Build is better, much much better. The Aiyoyos finally finish their buggy course and the tired men take off, all four men having taken turns at moving the buggy. Meanwhile, the Lughead Lunz In The Buggy throws up. What a wuss. He's not the one doing the hard work, after all. Maybe he smells his own stinky gas and his stomach rebels?

Ahead, the Whining Weevils swear that they will never ever do another physical Detour. I pray really hard for the next Roadblock to involve a race car. I know, I'm going to hell. Someone stop me! The Goodawfulshrieky Sisters can't agree on directions and a loud, okay, louder screaming session looks set to erupt when the driving Sister starts snapping at the rest and the rest respond in kind. Elsewhere, Mrs Gaggleham is pleased that she has gotten a "butt workout". Mrs Weevil is asking Jesus to show them the blue silos of the Pit Stop. Sorry, Jesus is having tea with the Weevil stiff. Carissa Gaggleham mimics Philo as she announces that her Family is "team number one". I have this hunch that what she really wants Philo to say is: "Carissa Gaggleham, you're number one."

Someone's at the farm. Philo and this fake Amish VIP guy (I don't think a real Amish guy will allow himself to be on TV, although I may be wrong) scrunch up and pretend to notice someone coming. Which Family is it? It's - OMIGOSH EEEE AAAAAH WOOO EEEE AAAA - the Godawfulshrieky Sisters. It looks like the luck of the road strikes again. Philo announces that they're the first team to arrive - EEEEEE - and they have won - AAAAAH - $20,000 to sweeten the deal. That's five grand for each Sister, not bad at all. Philo jokingly wonders whether the Godawfulshrieky Sisters will be this, er, loud everytime he meets them at the Pit Stop (answer: maybe) and why one sister is wearing blue while the others are wearing pink. Blue Dress says that her pink dress has gotten "ripe". Ahem. And please, no jokes about that pink dress, her, and a certain Lunz Lughead please. I'm not that strong at heart.

The Whining Weevils and the Gagglehams pull up at the Blue Silo Farm, or whatever its real name is, at about the same time. Mrs Weevil, with the benevolent kindness of a person all about Jesus and the Lord, spats nastily that "they" are not going to beat the Whining Weevils. Meanwhile, the Gaggleham parents are telling the kids, especially Carissa, to do "wheels", which, as it turns out, is their codeword for running as fast as you can. Indeed, for all the Gaggleham boasts about Carissa's running abilities, that young lady sure can run. The transgendered Weevil kid hit the mat first, but as Tara and Wil learned the hard way in season two, you need to have all members of your Team on the finishing mat in order for Philo to check you in. Mr Gaggleham hits the mat next, followed by Mrs Gaggleham and Billy. And outrunning the remaining three Whining Weevils is Carissa, who is swept up in Mrs Gaggleham's arms as Philo checks the Gagglehams in as the second team to arrive. The Whining Weevils have to settle for third place.

The Blandsens are driving somewhere with one of the daughters saying that she's so excited that she's this close to soiling her pants. That's nice. Back at the Farm, those who are building are still building while the Lunzes are still buggying, with Megan changing place with one of the Lugheads because she is now seen pushing the buggy. The Dodgers finish their watermill and take off. Close behind are the Shroepers. The Pablums are bickering, the intensity in direct proportion with their progress, so perhaps all that fighting isn't so unproductive after all. They too finish up and take off after the Dodgers. In their SUV, the Mini-Pablums are now ragging on Mrs Pablum, apparently because she's annoying them just by breathing. She tries to tell them to stop but the two kids only becoming increasingly virulent to the point that I stop feeling embarrassed for them and start feeling disgusted. I mean, calling your mother a pain in the ass and an embarrassment on TV, and this is sometime after calling your father retarded? The fact that we have a twentysomething man acting like a crazy teenager denied money for his drug habits on TV is only icing on the cake. The Pablums are seriously screwed up. Mrs Pablum tells Mr Pablum that he needs to speak to the kids because she's had enough. So have I and it's only the first episode for heaven's sake.

The Blandsens think they're approaching the Pit Stop. The Aiyoyos are in the meantime stuck in traffic. Ai-yai-yai. "This is incredibly nerve-wracking for a Boston driver," one of them says. A funny! I like this Family and it's not just for the potential manlove, of course.

The luck of the road plays again as the Dodgers manage to sneak ahead of the Aiyoyos and Blandsens to come in fourth while the Shroepers also sneak ahead and come in fifth. The Pablums, still bickering, manage to come in sixth, where they all then pretend that everything is fine between them. Of course. Back at the Farm, the Lunzes are still going around the Hill That Goes Round And Round while the Blacks are struggling with their building. Okay, so maybe the Build Detour is not the best option for all Families as the Blacks seem to have a very slow time assembling the watermill. I wonder how they'd have fared if they have taken the Buggy Detour. The Blacks are almost done after a while and they need a bucket of water to test their watermill. The kid, Austin, goes off to the nearby stream to fill up a bucket but he then sort of nearly falls into the stream. He freezes with his hands in the mud and cries that he needs help. He looks so terrified by what seems like a near-trip into the dirt that I wonder whether he's suitable to be on the show. I hate to see him trying to muster up the courage to skydive from an airplane, for example. Mr Black comforts him and really, the Blacks are a nice, loving change from the ugly Pablums.

The Blandsens finally reach the Pit Stop in seventh place. The Aiyoyos finally show up as team number eight, with Mr Aiyoyo jokingly telling Philo that so far the sons-in-law are proving to be "worthy" of the family name. Back at the Farm, both the Blacks and the Lunzes finish up at about the same time and as they hop into their SUVs, they wish each other luck. That's sweet. As it is, at a fork, the Blacks go one way and the Lunzes the other. Heh. Megan thinks that they should have stayed with the Blacks but the three Lugheads don't listen to her. They are right this time though because it turns out that, despite the editing suggesting that it's a close race to the finishing mat between them, the Lunzes take the shorter way to the farm. The Lunzes come in ninth, a close call indeed.

And so, the Blacks come in last and they are, as Philo regretfully tells them, the first Family to be eliminated this season. Mr and Mrs Black reassure the kids that they are so proud of them, which is the right thing to say as both kids look like they're on the verge of tears because they are blaming themselves for their elimination. Philo tells the older kid Kenneth that he takes good care of the younger kid Austin and everyone agrees that the Race is an experience of a lifetime for them. Even if they traveled from New York to Lancester in a short time, eh? While a part of me is sorry to see the Blacks leave, I suspect that young Kenneth and Austin don't have the constitution to tough out the Race. I can see Billy and Carissa weathering long journeys and exhausting activities - although they can always prove me wrong in the long run, of course - but so far Kenneth and Austin seem to be too frail for this kind of thing.

Wow, I still can't believe I just spent so many words describing what is 90% driving and driving in this dull and unexciting episode. Usually the opening episode of the season leaves me excited for more but this time around I am bored. Please let this season improve as time goes by!