This is ABC's answer to the popularity of The Amazing Race. 13 teams of 3 are racing in Morocco's sand dunes, mountains, rivers, cliffs and difficult trails to avoid elimination each episode, which will happen to the last-place team. There are 10 stages containing a series of checkpoints. The team that crosses the ultimate finish line first gets $150,000 and three brand new Ford Explorers. The teams are from all across the U.S. To me, the most impressive was No Limits, which had blind Erik on their team. It should be pointed out that Erik has reached the summit of Mt. Everest, which I doubt that anyone on another team had done.
Ep. 1 "Sun! Sand! Sahara!"
The expedition used a caravan of vehicles to transport the teams to a remote section of the Sahara Desert. Host Dave Salmoni revealed to each team that if one member of the team quits, the rest are also out.
The teams crossed through two flags atop a massive sand dune in order to see their first checkpoint. The Gypsies took an early lead which means they got their choice of the camels for the next leg of the journey. Choosing a camel isn't easy and neither is getting on one without serious help.
Back on the dune, Chad of the Country Boys had a rough time with endurance in the 100+ degree heat, seated on the sand while the ladies of Latin Persuasion step over him. Chad's teammates motivated him to press on. At the camel station, Grandpa's Warriors got underway, but Latin Persuasion was not moving as a result of internal bickering. Mounting a camel in the desert is different from navigating the New York city subway system.
The Gypsies, Fab 3 and the Football Players led the way, but No Limits reached the Lone Palm Camp checkpoint with Fab 3. The first challenge is to fill up one full jug of water. That's not easy to do in the middle of the desert.
Akbar of the Football Players pondered the notion of finding water "the old-fashioned way" by cutting open a hump in the camel. Not a great plan, since the jug of water was for each team's camels. AJ of Fab 3 wanted his team to dig under a tent. The Gypsies and No Limits help out. A short time later, they had unearthed a pool of water. The Football Players didn't help with the digging, but did tap into the well. Other teams arriving later took advantage of the water holes that were left behind by the lead teams.
Fab 3, Gypsies, Football Players and No Limits were the breakout leaders of the moment. The middle group consisted of Fishermen, Cops, Team Kansas, NY Firemen and California Girls. The back of the pack was Mom's Army, Country Boys, Grandpa's Warriors and the bickering Latin Persuasion.
At the next checkpoint, the teams must rappel more than 300 feet down the face of a gorge. Fab 3's Kari sheds a tear because of the intensity of the situation. She was scared, but sucked it up and made it down for the sake of her team.
Football Player Akbar struggled with his descent, but blind man Erik of No Limits calls upon his climbing expertise to make it down with no issues. In Mom's Army, Eleanor's daughters have a rough time watching their mother struggle down the cliff, but in the end Eleanor persevered.
Once on the ground, the teams traveled down a dry riverbed to the center of Snake Valley. They must keep track of the number of snakes revealed during a Moroccan snake charmer routine. Then they choose a box bearing the correct number. If right, they were directed on a five mile hike to the finish line. If they miscount, they'll go 30 minutes off course until they hit a "wrong way" sign and have to double that penalty.
Fab 3, Gypsies and Football Players guess the correct number of snakes, but No Limits is off by one. They get it right the second time around, but the middle teams have caught up to them. Finally, Latin Persuasion also gets the snake count right, as do Grandpa's Warriors.
The Gypsies are the winners of Stage One. Fab 3 is second, followed by Football Players. 4th through 11th place goes to Team Kansas, Fishermen, No Limits, Country Boys, NY Firemen, California Girls, The Cops and Mom's Army. That leaves Latin Persuasion and Grandpa's Warriors in a battle for the final spot as they traverse the terrain down a mountain in the dark. Grandpa's Warriors nabs the 12th place slot which eliminated Latin Persuasion.
I will definitely watch all episodes of this inaugural season of Expedition Impossible and can recommend it to you. I am sure the producers paid a lot of money for the cooperation of the locals, who were involved in many different ways in the first episode and are likely to be so in future episodes.
It is clear that endurance and prior extreme sports skills are the most important ones to win this race. I think No Limits and Fab 3 have the advantage on this. The Football Players will go a long way, but they ultimately do not have the flexibility and endurance to win. I didn't see enough of the Gypsies to make a prediction yet for them.