The lesson for aspiring reality TV show directors is clear: when life hands you Canadians, make ’em go to Chinatown.
In the second episode of the Amazing Race Canada, the eight remaining teams flew from Kelowna to the “urban jungle” of Vancouver. You just know that Body Break stars Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod could have arrived on rollerblades in half the time, but when Air Canada prominently sponsors your show, you have to play by their rules.
Plane ticket procurement is always a high-stakes moment on the series, with earlier flights meaning a significant head-start. As stressed contestants scrambled to get on that first flight out of Kelowna, Ottawa sisters Vanessa and Celina hurled (well, mumbled, because this is Canada) the worst insult of the season so far. Sensitive viewers should avert their eyes.
“Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.”
Their zinger was directed at Hal after he successfully scored the last two seats on the flight — by politely asking to be put on standby.
(As we get to know the teams, it should be noted how easy CTV makes it for us to identify them in their matching outfits. Track suits for the married fitness icons and tank tops for the actress/model sisters.)
This week, the competition was much fiercer and much more interesting than the introductory episode, both in terms of team dynamics and the challenges they faced. In Chinatown, the contestants were stumped by linguistic barriers and the difficulty of completing the roadblock challenge: either learning a Chinese lion dance or drawing Chinese characters. The former proved to be much harder than the latter, meaning some of the leading teams fell to the back of the pack while trailing teams soared forward, if they had chosen wisely. Things got so heated, the dancing hippies yelled at each other. The dancing hippies!
If you’re about to rush to your PVR to watch Hal and Joanne perform a Chinese lion dance, disappointing news — they took the drawing challenge instead.
The Body Break duo climbed up into second place this week, behind Montreal doctors Brett and Holly. It’s unclear what it says about the Canadian game that the current first-place teammates say they’re unable to skate. Cowboys Jamie and Pierre were eliminated, meaning we’ll never see how Jamie had planned to toss his hat in the air at the finish line.
Like the presence of Hal and Joanne, there’s something uniquely Canadian about the second-round elimination of two gay cowboys. What for-profit American broadcaster would have waved goodbye to this duo? There would have been an intervention! It would suddenly have become a non-elimination night. But beyond sharing uplifting rodeo metaphors (“You don’t jump off a bull halfway through the ride,”) the cowboys just couldn’t compete in this race. And maybe they weren’t really creating that much buzz up here.
This week’s real winner? Air Canada. In addition to a slew of commercials, one of the clues just happened to be hidden in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at the Vancouver airport. In-flight, the doctors consulted the En Route magazine to learn their way around the terminal.
Sure it gets tiring, being reminded that “Air Canada is the official airline of The Amazing Race Canada,” but let’s not complain. Consider that if Porter takes over sponsorship, the teams will be headed for Sault Ste. Marie next week, connecting to Timmins. Via Sudbury.
Sonya Bell is a frequent contributor to Macleans.ca