The Amazing Race: All-Stars - Premiere Episode Recap
Originally aired on Sunday, 02/18/2007

Episode Rating:  *** (3 stars out of 5)

Episode Overview: It’s on!  Eleven teams return to The Amazing Race for another race around the world and a chance to win the million dollar prize.

Episode Highlights:

  • We meet the eleven teams and then start the first breakneck leg of the Race.
  • Reality television fixtures Rob and Amber are back, and claim they have a whole new bag of tricks.
  • After a breakneck leg, we have our first elimination.


It’s The Amazing Race All-Stars, and it’s the best of the best, we are reminded as we join the teams and Phil Keoghan in Miami for the start.  Eleven sets of partners from previous seasons have been brought back for a second “once in a lifetime” chance to race around the world. 

The teams are introduced:

1.Mary and David Conley – married couple from Kentucky; he is a coal miner and she is a homemaker.  They came in sixth in the tenth season of The Amazing Race.

2.John Vito Pietanza and Jill Aquilino – they were dating during their first appearance on Season Three.  They came in fifth, and since that race, have broken up.  However, they remain good friends and seem open to the possibility of renewing a relationship.  Or at least she does; I noticed they didn’t include any footage of him saying the same thing.

3.Dustin-Leigh Seltzer and Kandice Pelletier – Beauty Queens who competed in Miss America.  They competed in Season Ten and came in fourth.

4.Joe Baldassare and Bill Bartek – aka “Team Guido;” they are also self-described “two gay grandpas.”  They have been partners for twenty years, and came in third during Season Three.  In the interest of full disclosure, we have to admit that Team Guido are TVj’s here on BuddyTV, so we will of course be shamelessly rooting for them!

5.Ozwald Mendez and Danny Jimenez – they are best friends and competed on Season Two and came in fourth.

6.Kevin O’Connor and Drew Feinberg – they are frat brothers and also competed in Season One, where they came in fourth.  They are easy to spot because they both are bald as cue balls.

7.Uchenna and Joyce Agu – this married couple won Season Seven of The Amazing Race.  The two have been dealing with fertility issues and had hoped to use the winners to help with in vitro treatments.   They are stills struggling and admit that it has put a strain on the marriage.  They are hoping another chance to race around the world will get them both on track.

8.Charla Baklayan Faddoul and Mirna Hindoyan – they are cousins who competed in Season Five and came in sixth.  Charla has a form of dwarfism, and stands at four feet tall, but her determination to let nothing stand in her way inspired many who watched her and her cousin’s previous attempt.

9.Rob and Amber Mariano – they are the famous/infamous couple that owes a lot to reality television.  They each competed separately on Survivor, then met and fell in love on Survivor: All-Stars. They came in second during Season Seven, and became both hated and respected for their ruthless game play.  They have since gotten married and are back with a vengeance.

10.Teri and Ian Pollack – this married couple team is the oldest pair of partners to ever finish the Race, as they came in second during the third season.

11.Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner – this pair is the one team that hasn’t previously competed together.  He was part of the “Frat Boys” team and she was one of the “Double D’s.”  Although they were eliminated at different times (her team came in seventh and his was runner-up), they have since connected and begun dating.

The teams are all lined up across a field from their bags and clues.  At Phil’s start, they race to their bags, get their clues, and have to race to some waiting vehicles.  The clues tell them they must get to the airport and take one of two flights to Ecuador. 

Drew and Kevin start off on the wrong foot, as Drew’s inability to run quickly with his backpack means he is quickly passed by everyone else, including Charla, as she later notes with glee.

Ozwald/Danny think they have a leg up in the competition already as they have lived in Miami and know the way to the airport.  And indeed, his team is among the first to arrive at the airport, and one of the five teams to get on the second plane to depart, but first to arrive in Ecuador.  The other four teams that make this flight are: Teri/Ian, Rob/Amber, Jon Vito/Jill and Charla/Mirna.  All of the other teams are stuck on the first flight to leave, but it actually doesn’t arrive until two hours later.

Once they land in Ecuador, Ozwald/Danny get an early lead, as they are first to grab a cab and head to the target destination.  However, Rob/Amber’s cab driver knows a shortcut and gets them to the clue box first. 

The clue box directs the teams to a local restaurant where the two-hour lead some of the teams currently have will be compressed.  The teams will be staying there overnight and so will be leaving at staggered times the next day.  Rob/Amber, Ozwald/Danny, Charla/Mirna and Jon Vito/Jill are all able to get the first departure time of 7:00 AM, with the rest of the teams receiving either 7:30 or 7:45 AM departures.

The next day, the teams are off to a nature preserve, and the trip’s success depends on good directions.  Ozwald/Danny and Rob/Amber both follow taxis and manage to get to the park without too many delays. 

Rob/Amber actually arrive first to the Detour challenge at the preserve.  Initially they decide to do the “Recover It” challenge, which involves searching through a field for small items.  They realize quickly that this is going to be far too time-consuming, and decide to head back and complete the other challenge, “Wrangle It.”  This challenge requires they assist some local horsemen with trimming the hooves and manes of some wild horses.  They complete this quickly, and are able to proceed to the Pit Stop.  Phil informs them they are first, and they’ve won a prize trip package for this leg of the race.

The rest of the teams also wisely pick the quicker “Wrangle It” challenge and get to the pit stop.  Ozwald/Danny are in second, and Teri/Ian come in third.  Eric/Danielle make up for being behind and come in fourth.  Team Guido makes it in fifth place, Beauty Queens are in sixth, and Uchenna/Joyce come in seventh.

Some of the other teams are not having such success.  Kevin/Drew blow a tire and drive on the rim through the park to the challenge.  Charla/Mirna and Jon Vito/Jill get some bad directions and wind up at the wrong entrance to the park, creating some bad delays.  David/Mary are also going slow, but manage to catch up to Charla/Mirna, who still don’t even realize they are on the right track.

After some harried wrangling, Charla/Mirna find themselves in eighth place, with David/Mary right behind them at nine.  Despite their destroyed wheel, Kevin/Drew make it to the mat in tenth place and are safe for another leg.

Not so for Jon Vito and Jill.  They are stunned to find they are in last place and have been eliminated.  Although they obviously would have like to make it further, they do feel The Amazing Race has brought them closer together again, and that makes the experience worth it.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist