Life’s a beach? Not for Mel and Mike White. The father-son duo — Mel’s a famed clergyman and author; Mike’s written and acted in School of Rock and Freaks and Geeks — were led way off-course on Sunday’s Amazing Race in search of a gorilla statue at the beach, when it was in fact at the zoo. That wasn’t the only factor that led to their ouster. Find out what and who else played a part, why they think Margie really passed out at the Pit Stop and if we could be seeing Reese Witherspoon on the Race one day.
TVGuide.com: Was the cabbie sure the gorilla was at the beach?
Mel: We asked everyone at the Bangkok airport who lived in Phuket and they all said Patong Beach. The cab driver was convinced it was there. The other teams were asking where it was, but that’s like following a herd, so we were thinking maybe we’d get lucky and do it our way.
Mike: I don’t know what the local folklore is, but there were gorillas everywhere. For some reason, these people were convinced that gorilla was there, but it wasn’t the right one. … People would look at us and just sort of guess the zoo, like that was the obvious answer. We thought the zoo when we first saw the picture, but it was one of those things were it was so obvious somehow that it couldn’t be right, so that’s why we were like, “No, no, not the zoo! Where is it?”
TVGuide.com: I was thinking I would’ve Googled it at the airport. Did any of you do that?
Mike: Luke said he’d done research and his hands were doing a sign language that indicated where the location was. So the whole night, I was like, “Luke, tell me!” And he was like, “I don’t know, I’ll have to decide later.” He was basically playing a mind game with me. They didn’t know. I went around the airplane all night going, “Do you know sign language? What does this say?” He just sent me on a fool’s errand. My biggest regret was trusting Luke.
TVGuide.com: Well, you said he’s the sinister deaf kid.
Mike: I guess I didn’t realize the sinister deaf kid was going to be sinister with me too. I was no exception to the rule.
Mel: We spent a lot of time with him, sitting there, writing notes back and forth. Mike really thought Luke liked him and Luke turned on him.
TVGuide.com: You’ve had some great comebacks. Did you think another one was in the cards here or did you figure you were last?
Mike: We thought we were last and we were five to 10 minutes behind Kisha and Jen. We also thought maybe Mike and Mark would be last [Laughs]. When it gets down to a couple teams, if you have an off day, it’s definitely not good.
Mel: I was delighted when they said [Mark and Mike] got a 30-minute penalty for hiding those pumps. I thought real justice had been done.
TVGuide.com: Did you think 30 minutes was enough of a penalty?
Mike: It was definitely mean-spirited. I don’t know how much it impacted the other teams. If we had done the rickshaw, maybe we would’ve been even more offended.
Mel: We were gonna do it and the driver was calling ahead to find out where it was and took us to the end of the rickshaw. So again we’d been taken astray by this guy.
TVGuide.com: That must’ve taken up time then. But you guys were always so calm. How did you stay that way? Even in the herb shop, you were laughing and joking.
Mike: Well, it’s not gonna make us faster just to scream. We tried to motivate people by making them laugh and maybe they’ll take pity on you.
Mel: After seeing the episode and seeing how people treated the shop owners, I was really glad we didn’t do that. They were smiling and laughing when we left.
TVGuide.com: Well, you called Jaime mean.
Mike: I said she was kind of mean.
Mel: “Kind of mean”? She was mean straight-out! What are you talking about?
Mike: I think she has a capacity to be rude, which has been evident on the episodes. As an audience member, I think it’s fun to have someone who’s just so determined to win that she keeps us entertained.
Mel: Plus, she made some wonderful comments, like, “I hate these foreign languages! What are they talking about?!” [Laughs] She expected everyone to know English, I guess.
TVGuide.com: Were you close to them at all?
Mike: We were friendly with everyone. Toward the end, people got more stressed. … Some people got really into wanting to be ahead of everybody at every stage, so it was aggravating.
Mel: Yeah, Luke was exasperating. He was unhappy most of the time. He was constantly yelling at his mother — yelling in his deaf way. It was amazing how he picked on her.
Mike: He was worse than Jaime, I think. He would see you in your cab getting ahead and suddenly he’d be snapping his fingers at the driver’s mirror to go faster. It’s one thing when you’re in last place, but when you’re ahead, it’s like, you’re not enjoying any of this. … I think he put a lot of pressure on himself. Our theory about why Margie passed out is that he wouldn’t let them buy food or water along the way. He wanted to hoard the money, which is smart, from a strategic point of view. But at some point, her body caved.
TVGuide.com: Mike, I know you said your ideal teammate would be your friend Reese Witherspoon. Should there be a Celebrity Amazing Race?
Mike: I think it would definitely be entertaining for people to watch, but I don’t know how many celebrities would put up with how they treat you on the Race. [Laughs] You’re not treated like a star, let’s just say. Even for me, who’s never even been a star, I felt like I was being treated like an extra with a criminal record.
Mel: I loved the line Michael gave at the beginning: “I don’t fly coach.” But then he learned that coach is pretty good, huh, Mike?
Mike: I didn’t say I don’t fly coach. I said I feel misunderstood when I fly coach. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You know who wins, but who are you cheering for?
Mike: When we got off, we were cheering for Kisha and Jen because they were cool and we liked them. Also, Tammy and Victor. We really bonded with them toward the end of our run. We liked that even though they were competitive, they seemed to have fun along the way and we could relate to the way they played.
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