Now, before we start talking about the insanity that is Take the Money and Run, let’s discuss The Amazing Race for a minute. First, we have the host. Phil Keoghan. Phil is adorable, and from New Zealand so he has a luscious accent, and he does that sexy skeptical eyebrow quirk thing that I adore. He is also polite, and does not treat the contestants like they are there to take money out of his pocket, Jeff Probst. (Jeff Probst lost the little respect I had for him the year on Survivor when they had him take the jar of final votes and pretend to travel through the jungle to bring them to the final vote tally in L.A., and he had a machete and chopped through the forest and it was night when he started and day when he got out, then he stood on the landing gear of the helicopter that was waiting for him and it took off as if it was going to carry him across the ocean on the landing gear – um, really, Survivor? How stupid do you think we are? I still sometimes mention in conversation “The time Probst chopped through the jungle all night” as an example of reality-show weirdness. Although the time Johnny Fairplay pretended his grandmother was dead was one of my favorite things EVER. “How’s Gramma?” “Dude, she died.” LOVE IT.)
So, The Amazing Race. I love this show. I love most of the people. I love that they get to travel to amazing places and do fun tasks there. I love that I get to see these places, because I don’t have the money to travel, so it’s like a game show and a travel show all in one. I love deciding which task I would pick if I were a contestant. (Easy: neither. I could never be a contestant. You have to run a lot and I am not good at that. Also sometimes they have to bungee jump. Nope. I’m out.)
Things I do not like: contestants that fight too much and are obviously there just to stir up trouble and give the audience people to hate; people that complain about things not being “fair” like someone running faster than them to the mat or not giving them the answer to a task (IT IS A COMPETITION YOU DUMBASS); people who think speaking LOUDER ENGLISH to non-English speakers will make them understand you better (“LEFT! LEFT! Why isn’t he understanding me? God, I HATE Russia!”); couples who go on the show to get to know each other better (a reality show is NOT going to make you grow closer together – quite the opposite, actually, it usually makes you never want to see each other again); people who go on the show not knowing how to do a basic skill that you need to be able to do in order to play the game (swim or drive stick are the two biggest offenders here.)
OK, so that was a tangent and a half. Take the Money and Run. Premise: a team of two people are given a briefcase with $100,000 in it. They have an hour to hide it somewhere in the city in which they live. After the hour is up, they are taken into “custody” by two police officers and two police interrogators, who attempt to find out where they hid the case. (The police officers have access to the GPS of the car they used and their cell phone records.) The police have 48 hours to find the case; if they don’t, the team gets to keep it.
Questions I had going into this:
Can the team just refuse to answer any of the questions? Apparently not. That was never explained, but it seems they couldn’t just sit there and plead the 5th, because the team on the premiere that I watched squawked like a couple of monkeys for the entire 48 hours. So apparently you have to answer whatever’s asked of you. You can lie, but you seem to have to answer.
If the police can just follow the GPS, this seems a little too easy. Yes. That is a problem. However, you don’t have to use the car all that much. You can park and go on foot, which they did in places.
Again, if the police have access to your cell phone, they seem to have the upper hand. Yep. Again, this all seems to be in the police’s favor. See, I would have just not USED the phone? But they used it in what they thought was a tricky way.
Does the team know about the police using the GPS and cell phone records? Yes.
What is the point of this show? Well, different people will have different theories on this. But my theories are: to show you that if you attempt a crime, YOU WILL GET CAUGHT NO MATTER HOW STUPID THE POLICE ARE. And YOU AREN’T A GOOD LIAR EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU ARE. At first, I thought it might be to show you how the police work a crime, which would be interesting. But I decided that probably it was to make you scared to COMMIT a crime because even bumblers like the cops and interrogators on this team could (spoiler alert) find and keep your briefcase.
OK, so here’s what happened:
The team got the briefcase. The team consisted of a super-hot jock type twenty-something and his chubby, out-of-shape losery brother who lived with their mom. And they lived in San Francisco. Which I visited once and it wasn’t as exciting as I’d always thought it would be, and it was SO COLD and I was underdressed for the occasion. But in places? There was poetry on the streets. Like, pavers with poetry written on it on the street. So I loved that. They got in the car and drove to where they wanted to drop it – a restaurant where no one knew the hot brother ate a lot. It was closed. So then they drove around kind of aimlessly calling a bunch of people and setting up false alibis like “if the cops call you tell them you saw me and my brother at 9:30 with the briefcase” and “can I hide a briefcase with you but not really ok cool” (this confused me and still does) and then ran out of options so they did a weird U-turn and buried it in a park under some bushes. This is where I decided the best possible outcome for this show would be for a homeless person to find the briefcase, because how awesome would it be if the police found the spot but IT WASN’T THERE and then the team went back all cocky and were all “Whaaa?” and then the cameras found a homeless guy strutting down the street in a fancy suit drinking Courvoisier and smoking a fancy Cuban cigar or something? Totally awesome, that’s how awesome. Anyway, they buried it, then went to a gas station and washed their hands really well so it didn’t look like they’d been digging in the dirt, then the hour was up so they got taken into fake custody by the cops.
So the cops were the two investigators, who went around town checking out leads, like the people who were called on the cell phone and the different places along the GPS route, and the interrogators, who were a nice-seeming woman and a shady-seeming man who wore too many rings. This made me distrust him. I don’t know what it is, but if a man is wearing too many rings, I find him untrustworthy, like flashy-mobstery or something. Also his hair was too long and his face was a little rodenty. So they decided that the chubby brother was going to be the weak link and the hot brother was going to be hard to crack.
Without going into too much detail, they grilled these two dummies for almost the entire time. The hot brother was a cocky son of a bitch. Like, he was that guy in Law and Order that you wanted to kick because you knew he was probably the serial rapist. “Oh! Yeah! Bring! It! On!” he told the interrogators. Apparently, this was a dream of his, outsmarting the cops. The dumb brother? He BROKE DOWN. He could NOT handle this. Like, he was the WORST liar ever. “Why did you call Pedro?” “Um. Because. Um. The case? To. Hide? Driving. Money?” “ARE YOU LYING TO US?” *weeping* WORST CRIMINAL EVER, this guy. This isn’t even a REAL INTERROGATION, fella. Like, you’re not going to jail for this, you know. He was so scared. And the hot brother kept saying how slow and fat the other brother was! And the interrogators would come back and tell the chubby brother this! And he’d get all quiet and sad and his eyes would go all wide like he was imagining his life in the big house!
Things that happened that bear mentioning:
- The cops had a list of the people that were called on the cell phone. The people that were called lied to them. They then crossed them off the list as potential suspects, based on the lie. So, if I’m figuring this correctly, the briefcase could have been with one of the accomplices and the cops, who blindly accepted “I’m too busy for you to search my apartment right now” as an answer to one of their questions, would never have found it. This does not instill confidence.
- Good cop, bad cop IS REALLY A THING. The interrogators kept using it. It did not fool hot brother. It did fool chubby brother.
- At one point, the investigators called the brother’s mom to get an address from her. They flat-out lied to her. “We’re friends with your sons and they need your other son’s address because they’re both unable to come to the phone right now to ask you for it themselves and they want to go to his house.” AND SHE GAVE IT TO THEM. Um. Mom? If you’re reading this? DO NOT FALL FOR THIS CLEVER RUSE IF IT HAPPENS TO YOU. Because it is how KILLERS find out PERSONAL INFO ABOUT YOU. The mom FELL for this? How were BOTH sons not able to come to the phone? How did both of her sons not know her third son’s address? Why didn’t her son’s friend give his name? And at the end of the call, she said, “Call anytime if you need anything else!” and the cops chuckled and said “Oh, we will. WE WILL.” Nefarious! So I’m pretty sure identity thieves would have a field day with this woman. “We need your social security number? For your son? We are his friend? He is in Africa? On safari? Also your date of birth?” “Of course, darlin’! Anytime! It’s 001-…”
- The cops went door to door asking if anyone had seen one of the cell phone people. One of the people they asked was my favorite person on the show. When he saw the photo, he said in an exhausted voice, “That looks like any of the frat boys I see EVERY DAY.” Ha! Way to be world-weary, San Franciscan. And way to have a generic photo, cops.
- The interrogators kept saying things like “There’s SOMETHING about this RESTAURANT” or “There’s SOMETHING about the guy they called at 9:53” when there WASN’T.
I know you’re wondering, because I rudely spoiled you, how did the cops find the briefcase?
Chubby brother cracked!
He got all stir-crazy, because apparently he was misinformed and thought that 48 hours = 48 years? Or was in video game withdrawal and wanted to go home because they showed what he did for a living and it seemed to be working at McDonalds and playing video games? I don’t know. The weird U-turn led them to think something had happened in the park where they buried the case. So they were interrogating him under hot lights and they said something about “So was that BEFORE or AFTER you buried the case in the park” and he said “After” and then you could see “OH SHIT” cross his face, poor chubby going-nowhere brother, and then he started crying again, and they were all, “You want to go home, don’t you,” and he was all, “Uh huh,” and they left very gleeful. And the cops found the case, and the best moment was the interrogators telling the cocky brother they found the case in the park and him pretending that was false, and saying, “Huh, how did they find it there?” and BAM, the cops came in and bashed it on the table in front of him. And at the end of the show the chubby brother couldn’t even look his brother in the eye, and the cocky brother said something in his exit interview like “And even though my brother cracked I still love him” but in a way that you knew it really meant “I’d like him to be eaten by a wolverine.”
So what did we learn, here?
- Well, in real life, don’t answer police questions without your lawyer present. Seriously. Bad, bad idea.
- Don’t bury $100,000 in the park. Where is a better choice? I don’t know. I’m not a contestant. And I’d have no idea where to hide the money if I was, because honestly, I’d panic and crash the car in the first 2 minutes and spend the next 58 dealing with Geico.
- This is really kind of perfect summer TV. It doesn’t make you think too hard; you can do other things while it’s on; it’s not very intelligent; and it’s a little weird.
However, their host is someone named “The Mystery Man” which is just stupid.
PHIL KEOGHAN SHOULD HOST EVERYTHING.