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Notes from the “Road Trip” July 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Restaurants, Road trips, Television.
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Some notes from the latest episode of the NBC reality series “The Great American Road Trip”:

The good. The Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas — along with its gift shop — got quite a bit of air time during Monday’s episode, even though the pie-eating contest in the restaurant was a bit repulsive.

The good. The show’s producers put up most of the families for a night at the historic Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz. Even though the Coote family earned a night at a luxury spa by winning a challenge, one of members of the losing families noted that the Cootes lost out because “they don’t get to see the tepee.” Couldn’t agree more.

The good. The UFO memory test at Meteor Crater was the strangest — and best — challenge of the show’s run. Viewers shared the families’ varied reactions to the weirdness and absurdity of random objects flying through the air. And the final moments brimmed with tension.

The good. The Faverys’ distraught reaction to losing the “End of the Road Challenge” was genuinely heartrending. I strongly suspect the show’s producers used that scene to help sell the show to NBC.

The bad. I’m not sure why the King of the Road Challenge winners were treated to a night in a spa 140 miles away from Route 66 in Phoenix when there are plenty of luxury accommodations in Flagstaff. If the Hotel Monte Vista was good enough for a certain Beatle, it was good enough for the Cootes.

The bad. While driving by the big cattle feed lot near Wildorado, Texas, the Favery children were begging their dad to slow the RV so they could see the animals. “You’re going too fast!” the daughter screamed. Being on Interstate 40, the dad was forced to keep going. That 10-second moment largely encapsulates what has gone wrong with this show.

The bad. Zap2It.com reports that “Road Trip” continued to languish in a distant fourth place in the major networks’ ratings. Two of the networks’ reruns logged better numbers. Ouch.

The bad. Lest there be any doubts that Applebee’s purchased product placement for the show, those were dispelled Monday night. For a second consecutive episode, the families were treated to a meal at the chain restaurant, this time in Albuquerque. The Duke City boasts at least a dozen excellent mom-and-pop restaurants on the Mother Road, so this snub is all the more infuriating.

Monday’s show was the best since the premiere. But, it seems, for every good moment on an episode, the producers make an ill-advised decision to wreck whatever goodwill was being generated.

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