TAR's Supercool Seniors (#)
by Ethan Alter
They may've dubbed themselves "Team Medicare," but grandparents Don and Mary Jean more than kept up with their competition on The Amazing Race (Tuesdays, 9 pm/ET on CBS). Unfortunately, a last-place start (combined with a shortcut-that-wasn't) kept the scrappy seniors from sticking around for another week. Still, this couple hasn't stopped embarking on new adventures. Right after the race ended, they went out and got their deep-sea diving certifications. And they have a memo for TAR's producers: Bring us back for the next race!
TV Guide Online: You brought up the rear throughout last night's episode. Was there any point where you thought you were ahead?
Mary Jean: We were with the other teams at the airport and we were also at the train station at the same time. But our cab driver took us off into a side office to get special tickets. We thought he was doing us a favor. So as everyone else was getting on the train, we were getting these tickets and that made us miss the train. And that was the last time we saw anyone.
Don: It was very demoralizing when we got to the Berlin Wall, having thought that we had run a good race, to find out that we were in last place. That was a real head trip.
TVGO: Did fatigue play a role in your loss? Or was it just bad luck?
Don: Fatigue was a major factor. But not physical fatigue, mental fatigue. We spent 12 hours that you didn't see at the airport in Senegal. It was hot, muggy and we weren't able to sleep on the plane. So when we hit Berlin, we were 30 hours without sleep. To know what that's like, you've gotta be 69 years old and go without sleep for that many hours.
TVGO: Why did you sign on for TAR? Did you want to prove something to your family or yourselves? Or was it just a lark?
Don: There's watchers and there's doers in life, and we're not watchers.
Mary Jean: I think a lot of it has to do with our age. At our age, you look at an opportunity like this and say, "Hey, if I don't do this now, it's not going to happen." Whereas 20 or 30 years earlier, it can happen anytime.
TVGO: Do you think an older team could ever win this race?
Mary Jean: Yes, big time.
Don: I think you can if the sleep deprivation becomes a common denominator for everybody. I would love to race against a group that was more compatible in age. I think it would make a good show. And I told someone that I'd love to host it. I'd like to have Phil's job.
Mary Jean: I'd race anybody. I want to go back and win this race. If they have an all-stars, we want to be there and we're going to win. We can do it! We just had a few dumb moments and we had them at the wrong time. There were as many times during the race that we were in the front of the pack, but we just weren't in the front at the right times.
Don: We were in the front when it didn't matter. We were in the lead in Senegal and we were going to be the first to the cemetery, but then we blew a tire.
TVGO: A lot of couples' relationships deteriorate as the show goes along, but yours just seemed to grow stronger. What do you credit that to?
Don: Her. I give her complete credit, because my mantra was always "Lead, follow or get out of the way." If it's going to be done right, I had to do it. But I certainly proved myself dead wrong in the first few challenges here. I did them all right, but we didn't talk about them. We didn't talk about choices. Mary Jean chewed me up good and then we started to work together. It was great and it's held over. Now, we do things together. She's noticed it, my staff in the office has noticed it and the crazy thing is, I've noticed it. I'm not as wired as I used to be. I've changed and it's for the better.
Mary Jean: Yeah, I like him a lot better now! (Laughs)
TVGO: On the other hand, there are the ugly scenes between Jonathan and Victoria.
Don: That was sad. We've seen him at other times when he's been charming. He has a very interesting personality profile. Some relationship skills are definitely in need of honing.
Mary Jean: We saw ups and downs with all of us. In reality, I don't think there was a team among the 11 of us that didn't deserve to be there. Stress does crazy things, and we were all stressed. Normally, Don and I laugh a lot and during each leg, I don't think we ever cracked a smile.
TVGO: Did any good scenes hit the cutting-room floor?
Don: After we were eliminated, they told us to walk away through the Brandenburg Gate holding hands. We did and as I was watching it, I said, "I hope they put that in." I think I would've broken down if they had.
Mary Jean: On the soapbox car challenge, I would have liked them to show that the brakes did not work and that I was not so stupid that I crashed the car. My foot went right to the floor. There was no brake! The crew didn't believe me and then they looked inside and said, "Kaputen!"
TVGO: What's you would do differently if you ran the race over?
Don: We'd start out being partners like we ended up.
Mary Jean: We learned so much from that. It was a gift that we earned the hard way and that makes the whole thing worth it. And we would win!
Don: We have a fabulous relationship and it's gotten better over 27 years, yet it got even better in this one month. It was amazing.http://tvguide.com/news/insider/