Nothing is going to make me dislike The Amazing Race. Not a tour of the USA, not teams of four family members, and not even the world's largest office chair! I love this show for good and bad, better or worse and all that jazz. Plus, we got a Phil promise in the previews for next week that the teams will finally leave the U.S., which I know made a lot of you jump for joy when you heard it. I, however, am enjoying the scenic route along this country's major highways and off-beat tourist attractions (like the aforementioned office chair) and even the more well traveled destinations (like the Space Center and Talladega). So, I will miss the look at Americana, but not enough to wish for the teams to stay here. Yes, I'm excited about the prospects that new countries bring. I have a feeling that our "new" country is probably going to be Canada, but new all the same. I guess we'll have to wait for the original format later this season to watch our ethno-centric selves struggle with language barriers and different paces of life. Last night's episode took us through Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Because of the path, we were greeted with a Phil-read message about Hurricane Katrina and its devastation to the region. The teams then made their way to Anniston, Alabama and the World's Largest Office Chair, which was exactly what it sounded like, but it was after the chair that things got a little dicey. Teams had to travel to Talladega Superspeedway, which left the Weavers in a bit of a bind since their father died in a racetrack accident. The kids didn't think that they would be able to get through it, but mom came to the rescue and pulled the team through. Luckily, a lap around the track was on something called a party bike and not a race car. The Weavers easily completed the task, and I couldn't help but get a little choked up over the whole thing.
This was not a good leg for the Schroeder family. They had a difficult time with directions and daughter Stassi had a breakdown at the Southern Colonel (pronounced "colonial" if you're the Godlewskis) mobile home retail lot (where teams spent the night) because her team decided just to take the 8 a.m. departure time (the latest of the three) instead of looking around for a better time. She kept insisting that every minute counts on the Race, and boy did she end up being correct! After a stop at a BP Station for a their next clue (yeah I know, but somebody had to pay for the Bransen's free gas for life prize last week and the umpteen BP ads during the commercial breaks obviously wasn't quite covering it), the teams headed to the Pelican State (that's Louisiana for the state nickname challenged out there) and a park where they found a Detour called "Work or Play." As usual, this Detour was a trick because "Play" seemed a lot easier with teams having to beat a dealer at Blackjack three times to receive a clue, but in reality, "Work" was easier because teams just had to saw off four chunks of wood from a log 12 inches in diameter. The Paolos easily completed the task and raced off to the next Pit Stop in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In their usual fashion, they ended up lost and finished second to the Bransens, who won a trip to Orlando to go with their free gas from last week. Other teams struggled with "Play," and some even switched halfway through. In the end bitter irony reared its ugly head as the New Orleans based Schroeder family got lost finding the park, never recovered, and were eliminated from the race in their hometown.
An intriguing hour of television last night on Law & Order: SVU as the detectives worked to find a killer based on a new, more aggressive strain of AIDS. The central question of the episode was whether Gabriel was justified in his killing of two members of the gay community who were haphazardly spreading the new strain through aggressive partying and methamphetamine usage (which affected everyone's judgment according to Gabriel and made them more likely to have unprotected sex). Gabriel's point was valid, but I just couldn't see a jury finding him not guilty of a double homicide. If we start justifying murder, then we begin a slide on a very slippery slope. Self defense is one thing, but like Casey, I found it difficult to connect Gabriel's actions to self defense. I thought her closing argument using the tobacco companies as an example illustrated the point well. In the end, the jury convicted him on both murders and the judge gave him the minimum sentence thanks to one of the victims' fathers. In a related storyline, we met Fin's son and learned (along with him) that he is gay. I thought Fin's final moment in the episode where he called his son was a nice ending.
About Last Night... CBS started off the night with a win with NCIS, which had a record setting number of viewers, followed by The Biggest Loser on NBC and ABC's comedy block of According to Jim and Rodney. At 9, ABC claimed first with Commander In Chief, followed by The Amazing Race on CBS and NBC's comedy block of My Name is Earl and The Office. The final hour of the night went to NBC's Law & Order: SVU, followed by Boston Legal on ABC and CBS's Close to Home. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.
@8 p.m. - Two U.S. Marines face a lynch mob amid allegations that they raped a young woman in Surinam on NBC's E-Ring.
@9 p.m. - Veronica poses as a sexy available coed to help a client while also dealing with her own relationship issues on Veronica Mars on UPN. Michael searches the jungle for Walt and finds that he's not alone, Sawyer and Jin are ordered to take their captors to their camp and Sun discovers that her wedding ring is missing on ABC's Lost.
@10 p.m. - A man collapses from a fatal wound to the heart during the San Gennaro Festival on CBS's CSI: NY. Russell questions the mysterious circumstances surrounding a fellow worker's death at Underlay's hands on ABC's Invasion.
*The WB is shuffling its schedule around, and no unfortunately, it's not moving Everwood back to Mondays. The network is putting Blue Collar TV and Living With Fran on hiatus. Blue Collar TV's Sunday night slot will be filled with Supernatural repeats. Friday nights will change more dramatically as the network starts the night with back-to-back episodes of What I Like About You, followed by Reba and Twins. New show Related will move to Mondays, with encore showings on Wednesday in its current slot. Some of the changes start as early as this week. For more information on the shuffling, visit The Futon Critic.
*CBS is releasing details on the upcoming CSI: Miami/CSI: NY crossover. Mac (Gary Sinise) from New York travels to Miami to track an escaped serial killer before he murders again on Miami. Two nights later, Horatio (David Caruso) will travel to New York to continue the search on CSI: NY. The crossover starts on November 7th and concludes on November 9th on CBS.
*Two shows are getting new episodes. First, Fox is ordering a second season of So You Think You Can Dance. The reality dance competition show will resume next summer. Second, ABC Family is picking up eight new episodes of Beautiful People. The summer drama's new episodes will be part of its first season and will debut sometime in 2006. Production begins this Fall.
*And finally, it's Nielsen Wednesday! Once again, CBS captured the most viewers last week and, for the first time this season, it also captured the most in the coveted 18-49 year olds group. ABC landed in second in total viewers. CBS was led by CSI (#1), Without A Trace (#4), CSI: Miami (#5), Survivor (#7), and NCIS (#8). ABC was led by usual powerhouse Desperate Housewives (#2), Lost (#3), Grey's Anatomy (#6), Commander In Chief (#9), and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (#10). NBC's highest ranked show was Law & Order: SVU (#15). For more on last week's ratings, visit USA Today.
That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for Lost and my thoughts on my Veronica Mars season one marathon (HINT: I'm almost done, and I can't wait to start season 2 that I've been saving on TiVo!!). Plus, all the latest television news!