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Pasadena to Shanghai

WARNING: THE AMAZING RACE SPOILERS AHEAD>> There is so much rich material among the teams in the new season of The Amazing Race that it was a shame someone had to be eliminated on the first leg. We have goat farmers, monster truckers, a lumberjack , an Eighties rock star and a pair of Chippendale performers. Natalie and Nadiya, twins from Queens by way of Sri Lanka, took each other's tests in middle school. And, of course, we have the blonde best friends, and the football star and his cheerleader fiancee.

With the incentive of having a chance to win two million dollars by winning the first and last legs, it's surprising the first leg wasn't more competitive. Mostly, teams that got off to a good start stayed ahead of the pack, and those who struggled stayed at the back the whole way. The exception: James and Jaymes, the Chippendales. They were strong from the start, until they were at the Bund in Shanghai looking for the last clue, which would be handed to them by a woman with an abacus. They got to the square in third place and left it in last.

Only by passing lumberjack Rob and his fiancee Sheila on foot on their way to the Pit Stop did the Chips stay in the race. It's sad to see Rob and Sheila go, though, because they were the source endless entertainment on this first leg of the race. When they finally finished the second part of the Double Road Block, which involved eating frog fallopian tubes out of a hollowed-out papaya, they got the Clue that told them to look for a woman using an abacus.

They read the clue and were sure they were supposed to be looking for a woman using a basket. Then they realized it had something to do with counting and were directed to the Bank of China. When they finally made it to the Bund, Sheila asked a random person to point out "the lady with an albacore," and somehow the local person knew she meant abacus. Maybe she realized there were no fish being used in the square, for counting or anything else.

Rob and Sheila found the woman with the abacus before James and Jaymes, but they couldn't beat them to the Pit Stop and were the first team eliminated.

Not that they were the only comic relief among the new teams, of course. Rob (the other Rob, of Rob and Kelley the married monster truckers), failed to read the clue that instructed him not to use his hands when eating the Chinese delicacy. (I'm not going to say "frog fallopian tubes" again if I can help it). So he had to eat twice as much as the other teams, and yet they still moved from seventh to fifth place by the time they made it to Phil at the mat.

Lexi, the cheerleader, told someone at the Bund that they were looking for "a lady with an octopus." She and Trey finished ninth of eleven.

At the other end of the race, where the potential winners were sailing through the various tasks, Amy and Daniel were the first to find the woman with the abacus and were well on their way to the Pit Stop when Abbie and Ryan, the dating divorcees from San Diego, asked them where to find the clue. For some reason they told them the truth (unlike other teams, who went out of their way to throw other teams out of their way).

Amy, who has prosthetic legs, and her partner Daniel have been dating on and off for ten years. It would have been heartwarming for them to have won this leg and had a chance to go for the $2 million, but this show doesn't force the heartwarming stuff. If it's there, they'll play it up, but on the way to the Pit Stop Abbie and Ryan passed the team that had pointed them toward the clue and claimed first place on the first leg, and the shot at doubling their money. I have no problem with how they played it. "It's a race," remember? For a million bucks or two? That's what they would like you to remember.

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