Scene & Heard

Pat Clark: Race interrupted, but local makes it through again

pclark@modbee.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Another season of “The Amazing Race,” another local contestant spanning the globe.

Actually, it’s the same local contestant who ran the reality/competition TV show course during the season before last – Meghan Camarena, along with her YouTube show partner, Joey Graceffa. They’re back in the race for a second chance at $1 million, part of an “all-star”-type cast for season 24 of the hugely popular show. Camarena and Graceffa join a group of other returnees vying for the prize that eluded them all before.

Camarena, a Davis High graduate who now lives in Los Angeles, and Graceffa came in fifth in season 22. Last season, former Turlock resident Ally Mello and her partner also came in fifth.

Those are the only two seasons I’ve fully watched “The Amazing Race,” so this time around, I was expecting to see a lot of teams I’d never seen before. But I assume they’ve done this kind of “all-star” thing before, because of the 11 teams, five were from those last two seasons. It actually is kind of nice to see all those familiar faces back in the hunt.

Which brings us to Sunday’s season-opening episode. I’m all about rooting for the hometown folk, so I was happy enough to return for a third season. Honestly, I likely wouldn’t have watched without the local connection. But I DVR’d it because, really, the only way to watch this stuff is with fast-forward as an option.

Still, once you’re in for one of these sorts of competition/reality bouts, you’re all in. The teams set off from UCLA to China, where they had to scour a multitude of wedding shops for clues to their next destination. Some quickly made their way to a giant Ferris wheel on top of Canton Tower. Then, about halfway through the show, the screen went black.

Oh, what?! DVR problems? Seriously, now?

Luckily, the blackout lasted only a couple of minutes and the action popped back up. There were contestants high above the ground, performing flips on wires to finish off the day’s challenge. And Meghan and Joey were near the back of the pack. So were completely annoying twins Natalie and Nadiya Anderson, returnees from season 21.

OMGosh. These sisters could not possibly have been more grating as they argued and whined their way through China. They were at the tail end of the race with Meghan and Joey.

And then, that aforementioned luck ran out. The screen went black again with about 15 minutes of the show left.

Oh, what?!

Reception never came back this time. Ye olde satellite provider did offer up an on-screen apology for the interruption. Gee, thanks.

I had Google to find out if Meghan and Joey were the first to get kicked off the globe, or if – please, heavens – it was Natalie and Nadiya.

It is a just world – the twins went home and the local gal will compete another day. Not sure I could have withstood the season even if Meghan had stayed in it along with those screeching twins.

At least the satellite reception didn’t mess with the season finale of “Downton Abbey.” If I’d have missed that, well ... let’s not even think about it.

Because “Downton Abbey” was really all I was waiting for Sunday night. There’s been a lot of press about the lollygagging action on this favorite “Masterpiece Classic” all season. Me, I didn’t mind. I just love losing myself in the period of 1920s Britain, the wealthy-class Granthams and those who serve them.

Maybe little happened in Season 4. But there was a brutal attack on servant Anna, the aftermath of which called into question the moral character of her husband, hereto heroic John Bates. And Lady Edith became pregnant out of wedlock. So, there was enough drama to keep things soapy.

No matter. The finale was lovely enough for my taste. And that last scene of Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes wading into the sea hand-in-hand was melting.

Fabulous Fallon

Jimmy Fallon is an overwhelming early success in his new gig on “The Tonight Show.” His first week was spot-on.

Highlights: U2, performing full-blast and high in the sky and then acoustically while sitting on the guest couch; and last Friday night’s “History of Rap” duet with Justin Timberlake. Timberlake, suffering some sort of cold or flu, was a yeoman to show up at all, but the two killed it with their famous rap antics.

Sunday is Oscar night

While Modesto native and twice-Academy Award nominated actor Jeremy Renner isn’t up for a statue at Sunday’s Oscars, his latest film is: “American Hustle.” The movie will vie for best picture, and four of its stars are up for awards, along with director David O. Russell and the screenwriter.

I enjoyed the heck out of the film. Sure, it would have been nice if Renner had one of those supporting-actor nods, but just being part of the best-picture race is pretty cool.

More rooting for the home team. Just can’t help myself.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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