Amazing Race kicks off 13th season

Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan likes to tell the story about the kid who came up to him one day and perfectly recited the rules regarding detours.

Mini-Phil quickly rattled off “A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Teams must successfully complete one of the tasks in order to receive their next clue…” Well, you get the picture. Race fans are rabid.

TAR starts up again at 8 p.m. Aug. 28 on CBS for a 13th go-round with another diverse group of racers, including an aging hippie couple and the requisite nerd team, bimbo team, sibling team and strained relationship team(s). There’s a contestant named Starr Spangler, a former NFL cheerleader. The NFL’s getting a two-fer this time around with former NFL player Ken Greene, who played with the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers.

He also played a lot off the field too. He’s trying to mend his relationship with wife Tina after cheating on her.

The premiere episode took it a little too easy on the teams for my taste, with the most challenging obstacle requiring teams to climb down rope netting from a building Superman could take in a single bound. Let’s hope things pick up in later episodes.

No one team really stood out from the crowd, unless you count the tie-dyed, shaggy gray-haired beekeeper hippies who appeared to sweat a little too much for the amount of exercise they were getting.

While we love the gorgeous locations, the challenges and, of course, and even Phil’s predictable speeches, the heart of this show lies in the teams. We need heroes and villains, the good and the bad, the likable and the detestable. So in that sprit, we look back at our top-10 moments in TAR history.

10. Maybe it’s just because I found Jen and Nate in TAR 12 to be the two most annoying contestants in recent years, but wasn’t it sweet when they got bounced on Jen’s birthday? Perfect gift for a spoiled, whiney witch.

9. In TAR 10, first place team James and Tyler reached what they thought was the pit stop only to discover after James, who has an extreme fear of heights, reluctantly did a 232 foot, face-forward repel or “Angel Dive” down the side of Helsinki Olympic Stadium that they had only reached the midway point in the leg.

8. Poor sweet hippie B.J. almost passed out digging through no less than 117 dirt mounds trying to find some food under the sand during TAR 9. Although he and teammate Tyler arrived first at the challenge, they were the last to leave and would have been eliminated from the race except it proved to be a non-elimination round. The two went on to win the million.

7. No matter how nimble you might be, something can always take you down in a heartbeat. Like a sour little donkey. In a sweet example of karma during TAR 12, nasty Ari early on stole another teams’ cab, boasting “Karma’s a bitch, but I’m a bigger bitch.” Later, karma clamped down on his backside when he and teammate Staella got their come-uppance from a stubborn donkey who refused to cooperate no matter how many times Ari threatened its little bony body.

6. Can a reality competition show really bring out the selfless nature in others? Not usually, but in the case of the Cho brothers in TAR 10, they wrangled a way for last-place team Dave and Mary to get the fast-forward. Not only did team Kentucky coal miner win that leg, but they also won a luxury trip to Tahiti. While the Cho brothers remained in the game that time, the fact that they spent more time saving D&M’s bacon than playing their own game resulted in them being prematurely eliminated from the race.

5. Things got pretty scary when, in TAR 7, when brothers Ron and Kelly flipped their vehicle over, injuring a cameraman. Concerned racers stopped to make sure everything was OK, with Lynn and Alex refusing to leave the team until they knew medical help was on the way. All that concern allowed the unconcerned former Survivor contestants Rob and Amber to gain an advantage as they rolled on past the accident without even asking if everyone was OK.

4. There are always a few teams who take the unethical route, but none did it as blatantly as frat boys Eric and Jeremy in TAR 9. The boys actually canceled the other teams’ cabs so they could get a jump start. If that wasn’t bad enough, they let the other teams think it was MoJo – Monica and Joseph – do did the dirty deed.

3. That cheer from audience all over America came when insufferable dad Ronald got a painful hernia in TAR 12. Ronald rode his sweet daughter Christine like a pack mule, never giving her a minute’s peace. She bore it all with grace and dignity and eventually, it seemed that Ron came around a little in the end.

2. Rascally grandpa Don and his grandson Nick struggled through many trials, but when the two allowed themselves to get matching tattoos in TAR 12, they went above and beyond to get a jump on the competition. And it was a ghastly tat at that.

1. No one will ever forget the day Joyce shaved her head just so her team could get the fast-forward in TAR 7. After hearing those weepy little America’s Next Top Model girls cry over a few snipped locks, it was amazing indeed to see what lengths Joyce would go to get a shot at winning the grand prize.

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