"If "ifs and buts" were candy and nuts, what a Merry Christmas we all would have!"
First off my POV is always from a production point of view. After 20 years wearing black backstage @ theaters, concert stages and movie sets as a second job, it is just how my mind works and looks at TAR.
1) I think the paucity of events/tasks in Broken Hill were predicated on Phil et al, making that 125 pm flight back to Sydney and making that QF21 flight to Japan 24 yours ahead of the teams. I really don't think they could have added anything in Broken Hill and made those flight connections. So to me, the events in Broken Hill followed the timeline that was designed.
2) The events that happened at Palm Springs/Los Angeles also happened along the planned timeline.
3) The events that happened in Sydney DID NOT happen along the planned timeline. The diversion of QF12 really really messed up production's plans for that day. When Kisha/Jenn checked in with Phil at Shelly Beach, that should have been the last team to do that. But instead, the 8 teams from QF12 were actually about ~2 hours behind the timeline. A lot of them made up time, but I really doubt that production thought that 7 teams would share answers and make up that much time. Again, IF the planes had landed on time and teams progressed as they did, the Cowboys would not have been so far behind. They would have been in 8th, not 11th and had a 90 lead over the last 3 teams. If they lost the same 30 minutes on the ferry, they would still have had a hour lead to Oceanworld. From looking at the sun angles, it really doesnt look like they are more than and hour behind Kent/Vyxen checking in at the beach. Tis a pity that our Coutzy had to leave Manly before we found out. Kudos to Coutzy for all he did.
From Phil's video diary, the Cowboys check in such that he has time to wash his hair, do a standup at Oceanworld and drive all the way across Sydney to the airport in time to catch a 630pm flight. From you Sydney-siders, how long did that drive take at that time of day on a Monday? How long did it take to check in Phil et al., at the airport and get to the gate?
The Cowboys are pretty laconic normally, but I never sensed in them a sense of urgency after they left the flag puzzle. Even in the Schychells, when they knew they were last, they hustled. It might have been just the editing, but I believe they were told it was going to be a signup for flight in the AM and all the other teams were already checked in. I believe that production made them walk around till it got dark to make it look a lot later than it was when they checked in. Doing this would not have changed the outcome at all and would add to the suspense of a very popular team.
I think that Australia was orginally planned for two separate one hour episodes with the Express Pass/TBC to be the midpoint. [I actually think it was edited that way and also the way we saw it. After watching them both, BVM and CBS went with what we saw.] In the orginal storyboard, we would have probably seen the Tall Ship and ended the episode with the first team @ Shelly Beach told to keep racing, like always, with the other 10 ten teams still doing stuff at Oceanworld and the Yacht Club. The second episode would have started there and would have had a lot more events/tasks taking place and not seemed so "light."
I think they really scrambled to make lemonade out of some lemons this time.