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10-Year Rewatch: TAR2: The Boston Boys, Tara & Wil, and the Power of the Cha


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#1

Arlo Rowan

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Posted May 2, 2011 @ 1:59 AM

All right, then! Thanks to all who took part in season one's review. Now, let's move on (though the other's still available if there's anything you have to add). The 10-Year Rewatch continues with us moving on to season two of the show!

There's a bit I did like about this season, but there's also a bit I didn't.

I like that the show worked out at least some of the bugs that'd been present in season one, though not all of them. They still couldn't stop teams from being terribly, unbelievably far behind, but they still managed to find a way, for the most part, for everyone to get where they were going at least within the same day.

The show actually had a fairly decent route and showcased some terrific locations. The tasks were pretty decent, too, even if a good number were still simple.

I thought the casting was actually okay. There were some teams I'd rather have lasted longer than others (I'm one who'd have preferred that the entire F3 wasn't the F3, even Blake & Paige, but there you go). There were some nice early team dynamics and camaraderie between the teams that was really good to watch. My personal favorites were Shola & Doyin, Cyndi & Russell, Mary & Peach (the first all-female team to ever win a leg without a Fast Forward, as Pat & Brenda had used one in TAR1), and, of course, Oswald & Danny! I also noticed they were trying to create Nancy & Emily 2.0 with Deidre & Hillary, but that didn't happen, as they were the first to go.

And of course, the racing ability. TAR2 was, as said on a different thread, a very rare season in which even the cannon fodder teams had a modicum of racing ability. (See: the aptly-named Groanies correctly taking a risk by going with the Detour involving finding the original Girl from Ipanema rather than the rappelling Detour and saving themselves and thus knocking Deidre & Hillary out in the process. Other than that, the teams that made the F6 seemed to be most capable ones, but it was disappointing that the one mostly-lucky team had to make it to the F3 over the lovely Chas.

Speaking of whom, their taking time to shop after getting reservations for a great flight was a joy to watch, as well as them picking up the original Fern. That started a tradition of finding Ferns in later seasons.

And, of course, the game of "follow that airplane" on the final leg, and the actual race to the finish line. Both of those were edge-of-my-seat moments as things led up to the final victory. Honestly, it's not that I even liked winners Chris & Alex (I actually quite disliked them immensely upon rewatch), but I really wanted Tara & Wil to lose (him more than her). They were just annoying. Of the F3, I'd have most liked Blake & Paige to win (even though he annoyed me, too), but as long as Tara & Wil lost, I was satisfied.

The bad things, of course, were also present. But as it's kinda late, I've only got the energy to mention one really big one below.

While the early team dynamics were good, things seemed to devolve into nastiness later on. Mainly between Tara & Wil and Chris & Alex, and that was bad in that it started taking up more than half the season by one point. It cast something of a pall over most of the season for me. Though I did sorta enjoy (but sorta didn't, as well) the Wil/Blake feud.

On the whole, while TAR1 was good, TAR2 was, in a lot of ways, much better.

Discuss here, and I'll see you next week with the one you all have obviously been waiting for!

#2

The Australian

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Posted May 2, 2011 @ 8:14 AM

Well, if TAR1 had outlined the great possibilities of the format while revealing a few flaws, it was TAR2 that refined the show and really set up everything that has come since.

I'll make a bold statement and suggest that the first nine legs of this season are the best the show has ever been over such a long number of episodes. Things are a little bit more tightly structured, but with enough room for teams to jump ahead or fall behind by significant margins to keep things interesting.

Realising that the race would be run over winter in the northern hemisphere, the producers wisely stick to hotter climes. It's a season where the sun is shining brightly for 90% of the time - even in Alaska! We get to see new and mostly interesting locations around the world and the grand adventure feel established during the previous season remains.

If there is a problem, it's that the final three teams lack zing, despite each having a valid claim to being there. The wonderful excitement of the final dash through San Francisco can't disguise the fact that the last four legs are quite dull and run by flawed teams from an entertainment perspective.

Tara & Wil are strong racers, but their terrible wardrobe and ever more dysfunctional relationship tend to grate, until in the end Tara becomes an almost intolerable shrew. It's unfair to label Chris & Alex as mere lunkheads, as they do show a reflective side and hardly brute force their way to victory - but they're not amongst the better winners. And I still can't stand Blake and his endless silly schemes to get ahead; Paige is nicer and a chirpy presence, but they're not top drawer either.

Really, it's teams four through to six who truly make this season. Oswald & Danny begin by coming off quite snobby, but soon their gracious charm and people skills shine through to make an indelible impression. Gary & Dave's cynical witticisms put a lot of people off at the time, but hindsight has shown that they're one of the few teams whose wisecracks continue to amuse many years later. And Mary & Peach are undeservedly semi-forgotten - a team of ostensible opposites who actually manage to have a solid arc and a presence you can root for.

And that's leaving out the unfairly maligned Gutsy Grandmas (OK, maybe just Claire) and the charming small-town figures of Cyndi & Russell.

Overall, this is one of the classics and deserves 9/10.

#3

FatLynn

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Posted May 2, 2011 @ 8:45 AM

I think the Tara/Wil story arc is one of the best-developed in all of the seasons. You could see them be nasty to each other, but you could also see that Wil was genuinely hurt by her behavior with Alex. I don't think the editors have given us that type of character depth ever since.

#4

NotPatrick

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Posted May 2, 2011 @ 6:49 PM

Honestly, I think it'd be in my top 3/4 favourite seasons if you replace Chris & Alex with a much more likeable and substantial team. Or if Blake & Paige are replaced by a marginally more likeable and substantial team and manage to pull it out over the ridiculous cab-stalling shenanigans that Tara & Wil and Chris & Alex pulled on one another in the finale. I think that whole end-game is potentially really great, but it's just played out by the wrong people, apart from Wil & Tara, who are golden in their role - like Colin having his Broken Ox meltdown on the final leg rather than a meaningless Non-Elim. It's like Frank & Margarita but in reverse : instead of finding out he's not as bad as he seems, it turns out they're both awful (but fun! cf : icy balls)

On rewatching, I think 4-6 are all great teams, but I like them less on second viewing. Oswald & Danny are much whingier than I remember them being - there are whole stretches of legs where really all they do is whine about various physical ailments and wanting to quit. Gary still makes my eye twitch, but his constant bitching and snide comments about the other teams is actually really useful for getting a more complete picture of them, if you remember to refract it through his fun-house mirror view of humanity. Dave is the original Justin I think in being hot, but the kind of hot that people think they are alone in finding hot (although maybe I genuinely am). Peach is adorable (her moment in the township in South Africa is up there in my favourite TAR scenes ever, and her wading through the bats is inspirational) but Mary's kind of a smug douche. I struggle to think of a more ridiculous line in the history of the race said with such earnestness as "welcome to the world of being human"

Deidre & Hillary are honestly the most painful first boot ever. Not because I liked them so much, but watching Deidre break down into awkward silence and tears over thinking she's cost her daughter the race, and then... that's it. Really awkward and a bit upsetting to watch.

Edited by NotPatrick, May 2, 2011 @ 7:04 PM.


#5

TudorQueen

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Posted May 2, 2011 @ 6:56 PM

Not much to add here - I agree with nearly everything that's been said, except I still love Danny and Oswald, and treasure their joie de vivre.

Peach really was endearing, wasn't she?

#6

Michel

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Posted May 2, 2011 @ 8:20 PM

I found Peach adorable, too, but she showed more and more just how unfit for the race she was. I think, with a better partner, Mary would've gotten a lot farther than she did. Maybe to the F4, if not the F3. Their elimination reminds the saddest to me, at least in this season.

And yeah, a better F3 would've made the endgame of this season much enjoyable.

#7

graytex

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Posted May 2, 2011 @ 8:23 PM

I love everything that's been said here! This was a season that had some of the best moments and some of the best characters, but the final 3 kind of put a damper on the whole thing.

I completely agree with NotPatrick on Deidre/Hillary. I so wanted them to beat the groanies. I just really felt like there was a great story there and their broken hearted exit really tore me up.

I love the airport craziness trying to get from South America to Africa. I know we ended up with the groanies a day behind, but I thought that was one of the few times where, with everyone taking different flights, the airport madness really added up to drama. In fact, the whole Africa part of the race had some great moments. Robbers' Island, Namibia and the giant sand dunes, Soweto, and ESM where we see all the evil teams getting drunk at the winery.

Of course, my favorite part of Africa and TAR2 is Peach, and IMHO, she should be in the pantheon of TAR characters. She was a girlie girl, who really performed well beyond her abilities. She was loving and kind and add me to the list that think her moments with the kids in Soweto were among the greatest moments on TAR. I was already her fan, but at that moment I fell head over heels for her. Plus, I love the woman on the train telling her and Mary, "If you go there, they will kill you!" Now that would be scary! Peach did have the infamous flameout, but she still exceeded all expectations. Oh, I can't forget Mary & Peach beating Dave & Gary on the raft and getting a 1st place on a leg!

Gary and Dave have aged well in my memory. They annoyed at first and seemed to be an attempt to repeat the Frats from TAR1, but in hindsite they were pretty good. I also thought Dave was like Justin, and more than just being a non traditionally nice looking guy. He was also a competent racer that caried this team.

I also loved Thailand in this leg. It was pure chaos. It seems when they go to Thailand now it's the tourist-y Thailand. But this one was lots of self navigation that was insane.

I liked Blake & Paige ok, but don't remember them with any extreme fondness. But Blake did give us Toms, so he gets some props for that. And teeth, yes, we got teeth.

Alex & Chris are still some of my least favorite winners. Alex and his Joker smirk just drove me nuts. And his coming on to Tara was gross. I hated him.

Now for Wil & Tara. Tara was despicable and I hated every minute she was on my television. I started out thinking I was going to feel sorry for her but by the end I felt sorry for Wil. And I agree with FatLynn that his arc was incredible. He went from detestable to idiotic, to pitiful, to heartbreaking. The look on his face at the end, when he knew he had lost the race and Tara just killed me. I didn't like him, but that was deep pain on his face. I remember the one groanie hugging him at the end, and telling him it would all be ok. It really tore me up. And the evil Tara was hugging and mugging with Alex at the time...ugh.

Once again, like TAR1, a very long run to the mat created drama. They need to go back to the long run.

#8

enlightenedbum

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Posted May 3, 2011 @ 3:08 AM

I was not nearly as big a fan of this season as the first. I wasn't a fan of four of the top six teams (Cha Cha Cha and Mary/Peach being the exceptions) so that hurt. There were some nice tasks, and the first non-task at a major historical site, I think. But overall something was missing from this course for me. Not sure what without fully rewatching in its entirety... again.

Of the top three teams, Tara and Wil were... themselves. So that was unappealing. Alex was an obnoxious jackass about flirting with Tara, and I believe decided he was going to fuck her out of pettiness because of something Wil had done. Because he was classy like that. While I appreciated Paige's hatred of shirts, Blake lost me forever in Thailand.

On the plus side: Fern!

#9

Late Lamented

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Posted May 3, 2011 @ 6:04 AM

I loved TAR2, and thought it was really impressive just how much they'd tightened up the mechanics of the whole show since the first race. Everything is much slicker (apart from some of the captions - I'm sure it was this season where in the early stages some teams were captioned as being in a position that wasn't correct, and one team was referred to by another team's name) and pretty much everything I didn't like about TAR1 had been addressed.

I actually really liked Tara & Wil - sure, they were a villain team, but they were a villain team that I found endlessly fascinating. Tara saying on the final leg that she almost wanted to lose the race just so Wil wouldn't get any of the money was a really interesting moment for me. I went into the race knowing what would develop between Tara and Alex and assuming I would feel sorry for Wil, but strangely, I never really did. He was an ass, and I felt that a lot of his misery was at least partly of his own making. I'm not saying Tara was a saint or anything, but it was rare that I ever thought she was being a jackass to him for no reason. Also, the "I'm not a miner!" "No, you're an idiot!" exchange is up there with my favourite TAR quotes of all time.

Another thing about Tara & Wil that I really enjoyed - Wil's well-intentioned but utterly boneheaded attempt at faking out Chris & Alex in the cab ride to the finish line in San Francisco. I could sort of understand the strategy behind it, but the more he outlined it, the clearer it became that it wasn't really going to work - and then they fumbled the execution of it completely and ended up costing themselves time, leaving Tara screaming "you're an idiiioooooooot!" for about the ninetieth time. And that long, gruelling footrace to the finish line was awesome - I'd actually like to see them try something like that again, as I don't think I've seen quite such a brutal last dash in any of the other seasons I've watched. I was actually heartbroken for Tara & Wil when Chris & Alex overtook them - not because I wanted Tara & Wil to win (I didn't), but because it was so clear how devastating that must have felt.

I genuinely could not stand Gary & Dave. Well, that's perhaps a bit harsh - the only thing I had against Dave was that he was friends with Gary. Gary's enforced quippiness had me wanting to reach through the screen and knock him out, and he's pretty much become my yardstick for all future contestants who are accused of mugging for the cameras. I don't think anyone's ever rivalled him in sheer desperation to be a fan favourite.

Oh, I almost forget: my other favourite TAR2 moment was the Roadblock in Sydney, where Wil and Blake both wrecked the whole thing by picking their partners up after the first stage, and then having to go back and run it by themselves all over again. I loved the little scene of Tara and Paige bonding over the numbskulls they'd stuck themselves racing with.

Edited by Late Lamented, May 3, 2011 @ 6:07 AM.


#10

The Australian

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Posted May 3, 2011 @ 8:06 AM

Another thing about Tara & Wil that I really enjoyed - Wil's well-intentioned but utterly boneheaded attempt at faking out Chris & Alex in the cab ride to the finish line in San Francisco. I could sort of understand the strategy behind it, but the more he outlined it, the clearer it became that it wasn't really going to work - and then they fumbled the execution of it completely and ended up costing themselves time, leaving Tara screaming "you're an idiiioooooooot!" for about the ninetieth time.


Funny thing is, Wil's back-of-the-envelope plan came within a whisker of actually working. Chris & Alex were confused enough, and spent enough time double checking the situation, that Tara & Wil's cab got in front of them going across the Golden Gate Bridge. So I really can't blame Wil for trying the first thing that came to mind, even if he didn't make the ruse complete enough.

And I agree with graytex that the tight shot of a solitary and genuinely crushed Wil at the finish is one of the show's most memorable moments.

#11

sp23

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Posted May 3, 2011 @ 1:58 PM

I found Wil and Tara both to be immensely dislikable, but as the race went on, I came to despise Tara as a ball-busting shrew. And I really didn't care whether or not the marriage was well and truly over, but to be in a race, or any competition, and to abandon your partner to snuggle up and feed information to another team member was kind of disgusting in my opinion. And I hated even more that Tara made me feel sorry for that ass Wil.

I came late to watching TAR, and so I've only just watched this season a week or so ago. Without doubt, my favorite teams were Cyndi & Russell, Shola & Doyin, and the Cha Chas. In fact, having watched the Chas in All-Stars when that season first aired, when I first started watching this season, I thought I had already seen it. However, no one else looked familiar which caused a bit of bewilderment before I realized where I'd seen Danny & Oswald before. Yeah, long term memory is not my strong suit. LOL

Anyway, the F3 left me cold, but I would have much preferred that Blake & Paige win over Boston and Taraweasel.

Edited by sp23, May 3, 2011 @ 2:00 PM.


#12

graytex

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Posted May 3, 2011 @ 6:05 PM

One thing I forgot to mention, I hated how the clues told the racers if it was an elimination leg or not. I remember after the leg where they washed the elephants and there was no rush to get to Phil because they knew it was a non-elimination.

Also, the tandem bungee jump in New Zealand was one of the most terrifying things I've seen on the race. We've become immune to the bungee thing, because it's been done so much. But the terror on Danny & Oswald & Wil's faces sticks with me. It was freakin' scary!

Edited by graytex, May 10, 2011 @ 1:45 PM.


#13

soapygirl

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Posted May 10, 2011 @ 4:54 PM

I'm on episode 2, and I have a major crush on Shola and Doyin, they're a beautiful specimen of manhood. It was exciting to see teams compete for a fast forward.

I love the other racers telling the racers telling the Grannies they'd have to relinquish their gutsy title if they didn't hanglide. It was a great to see the one with the bum knee overcome her concerns and complete the trip. They were so darn cute when one said she was going to take hang gliding classes and the other said "yeah you're not going to do that"

So were Blake and Paige the first racers to beg for money? They were lucky that when they lost their wallet they didn't lose their passports.

Edited by soapygirl, May 10, 2011 @ 5:04 PM.


#14

Neeney

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Posted May 15, 2011 @ 8:47 AM

Until recently, if someone had asked, I'd have said that of all the seasons so far, two was down near the bottom of my list. I think, looking back, that it wasn't the locations that would have put it there, but the cast. However, on rewatching it, after seeing the last few seasons, I have raised it somewhat as it still has the "classic TAR" feel, but it's still not one of my favs.

#15

Arrow23

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Posted May 16, 2011 @ 9:35 AM

One of my favorite seasons.

The teams were pretty cool except for the Gutsy Grannies. Mary and Peach were the first all female team to win a leg without a FF, The twins were cool but I think the season hit is high at that HK - Sydney leg especially because of the Roadblock which Wil and Blake screwed up badly. Then you had the great sprint the finish where Chris and Alex beat Tara and Wil.

I was never really into Danny & Oswald because my favorite team was Blake & Paige and Chris & Alex but I could see why people liked D/O. Chris and Alex I liked because of their accents which cracked me up every time. Paige was a gun racer and Blake was just very unique but at least he tried something out of the ordinary. Gary and Dave were pretty cool but how could you beat the story of Tara and Wil. First it seemed like you had to feel for Tara until later on the season when you just start feeling sorry for Wil, well I did. I just couldn't stand Tara really but I didn't dislike her I mean I only disliked the Gutsy Grannies. You just had to feel for Wil at the last moment when he knew that it was over.

With great locations and great tasks, this is one of my favorite seasons.

#16

Agent0042

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Posted May 19, 2011 @ 10:51 PM

Ah, TAR2. As I mentioned in the thread for the first edition of The Amazing Race, I watched the series from the beginning. So I had good expectations going into this second season and I was not disappointed.

Arrow23 mentioned the so-called "Gutsy Grannies." While they weren't a team to like, I was fond of a particular comic moment where, faced with a particular task, they were told that they must give up their t-shirts reading "Gutsy" and "Grannies" respectively if they didn't complete it. In the end, they had a somewhat fitting elimination with the oversleeping and the convoluted flight arrangements.

Chris and Alex don't really stand out for me as winners, but I have nothing in particular against them. Perhaps more memorable were Tara and Wil, the designated "villains" for this season. One thing I will always remember vividly is the task in the final episode, in which the Roadblock required one member of each team to retrieve a clue from the frozen ice. And Wil first going at with a torch and setting stuff on fire, then coming at the ice with a drill and a hammer, before finally taking Tara's advice to use a chisel. And what a final race to the finish.


And, of course, one team I remember quite fondly is Oswald and Danny, also known as "Team Fabulous." They were truly a joy to watch and so it was great to see them come back in All-Stars as well.

#17

sardonic

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Posted May 31, 2011 @ 10:57 PM

I think season 2 is often underappreciated, because it doesn't have the nostalgic glow of season 1, or the high-octane, high-drama cast of season 3. I think, though, that start to finish, this is the season that to me is the most satisfying overall. (Season 1 started slow and had some editing/pacing issues, and season 3... was won by Flo.)

What I like about this season: I loved the racecourse. No Europe needed... I think that the South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand legs were awesome. The cast was interestingly weird. One thing that would now be unthinkable: count the number of young dating couples. That's right: ZERO. I think that there were some really tough female racers (Tara, Paige, and Mary.) I think that the tasks were memorable (the bat cave, the market in Cape Town) and they did an exceptional job of showcasing the locales, especially given that this was immediately post 9/11 and they went to some more isolated locations than they would choose in the future. The sequence from Hong Kong-Australia-New Zealand is, in my opinion, one of the best strings of legs that the show has ever had. I also feel that the finale was probably the strongest of any season that has come since, with the footrace to the finish line.

#18

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Posted May 31, 2011 @ 11:16 PM

I can't even give credit to the final footrace at the end since it was between two highly unlikable teams. Not that the third team that fell out of it was all that likable, either.

#19

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Posted Jun 1, 2011 @ 3:26 PM

Yeah, I must admit, some of the lustre did come out of the season once Danny and Oswald were out of contention. The final three was maybe not the most endearing in the show's history. I did enjoy the Chris and Alex sprint to the finish, though... I think by default they were my favorite team in the final three. I have to say, though, in terms of story arc for a finale, the "villain" team losing in a footrace was probably the most satisfying finale aside from maybe season 5's.

I was thinking about what it is about season 2 that is so special to me... I think season 1 hit the jackpot on casting (and this season didn't deliver quite as well on that front) but I think season 2 did a great job of featuring the locations. I would also add from a production standpoint that it felt much more polished than season 1. Although I think Danny and Oswald are the well-remembered and well-loved team from this season, there were a lot of other interesting story arcs. Tara and Wil had a complex arc... he started as the villain and ended as, well, kind of a pathetic figure, whereas Tara started as the long-suffering wife who ended by openly flirting with one of the other competitors. Mary and Peach had a great arc... the superwoman Mary (who I think holds her own as one of the toughest female racers) and her girly-girl sister who faced her fears and ultimately proved to be a much more formidable duo than they'd have initially appeared. There were a LOT of opportunities for the cream to rise in terms of both self-driving and convoluted flight arrangements. They would NEVER allow nine teams to come up with their own flight arrangements from Brazil to Cape Town via Europe now. (And, as much as we malign the Grannies for their cockamamy Rio-NY-Heathrow-Cape Town route, they'd have finished that leg in seventh place if they hadn't missed a flight along the way.)

#20

Lantern7

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Posted Nov 19, 2011 @ 2:38 AM

Wow . . . no mention of the sheep-herding Roadblock? Wil tries to bully forth, Oswald curses out the sheep in Spanish . . . and Chris? Chris tries reasoning with the black sheep, and has to read the clue to verify that he can't tackle it. If the hay bale Roadblock got revisited, why not sheep herding?

I think we wound up with a great F3, and the best finale in the show's history. Maybe it's because this was the first season I was fully on board. Being at the Manhattan Chili Factory for TARCon, yelling ourselves hoarse as Boston overtook Tara & Wil to get the win, seeing Oswald & Danny and the Frats waltz in to huge applause . . . it's a high mark to set the bar, you know? Speaking of Tara & Wil . . . in those last two legs, it must have been like racing against Freddy Kruger & Jason Voorhes. I mean, they kept fucking up royally, and they kept coming back. You couldn't ask for better villains. Well, you couldn't ask for better villains that didn't wind up stranded in Alaska, a full day behind the other teams.

Edited by Lantern7, Nov 19, 2011 @ 2:38 AM.


#21

starrynight71

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 10:14 AM

I'm struggling to finish this, as Neeney said the cast seems weak. Compared to the 1st and 3rd seasons it seems to lack big characters. Some airport scenes drag on too long too. So it feels like a misstep before the show got back on track again.