Amazing Race

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M. Giant: A- | Grade It Now!
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Eisenstein, Tchaikovsky, and Babushkas

The Amazing Red Line zooms across the Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg, but never mind all the historical magnificence that the b-roll wants to show us; we've got seven teams scrambling out of the airport in another mad dash for taxis. Brook and Claire get an early lead, Brook singing, "We're in Russia, and we're Russian through traffic!" Which makes her the first person in history to make a variation on that joke. Michael lectures Kevin, "This is a city full of history and culture." Kevin rolls his eyes, admitting, "I'm worried about the next clue box." Yes, because it might point them toward some history and culture. Chad and Stephanie are far enough in front now for Chad to enjoy the architecture rather than act like a big ragewad. Gary compares it to a postcard, and Thomas professes to Jill, "They call this the Venice of the North." Since there's no "fail" sound effect dropped in here, I'll have to assume that's correct. Better yet, he doesn't get patronizing enough to explain to Jill what Venice is. In Nick and Vicki's cab, he makes a succinct comparison between St. Petersburg and their Vegas hometown: "I like how they keep all their buildings instead of blowing them up." Well, why do you think there's no St. Petersburg Hotel and Casino on the Strip? They'd have to keep it. Also getting into the atmosphere of the city, Nat and Kat have temporarily rechristened themselves "Natasha" and "Katya." Which is certainly more fun than watching them stress out about being in last place.

Brook and Claire are the first team to find the clue box in the park around the Rostral Columns, and they jump over the chain and onto the grass to run for it without winding up in a gulag. It's a Detour, the choice being "Classical Music" or "Classical Cinema." Phil says that some of Russia's greatest composers and filmmakers lived in St. Petersburg, hence this Detour that actually makes sense. For Classical Music, the teams will go to a "historic palace" (just sitting there in the middle of the city, because it's St. Petersburg and they don't blow their buildings up), and find a room where three gramophones are playing three different piano pieces by three different Russian composers. That's the easy part. Then they'll have to go into a cavernous ballroom where a small army of pianists are all playing something different, and find the three musicians playing the same pieces heard on the gramophones. Those pieces being Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade," and Tchaikovsky's "Troika," which I think we can all agree are three of our favorites. The racers will then have to swipe a piece of sheet music from the stacks on each of the correct pianos (lest you think this is too easy, the wrong pianos also have sheet music on them) and stick it in a folder -- in the right order, no less. The "maestro" standing over the gramophones (who looks about 28) will give them their next clue if they get it right. Let's hope he's a patient man.

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Amazing Race

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