One of the reasons I love “Amazing Race” is because it rises above most of the dreck masquerading as “reality” TV (see yesterday’s breathless blog entry). But it struck me, watching the Season 12 premiere, that the show isn’t totally free of reality TV cliche. Or at least, more cliches are creeping into the later seasons.

Maybe it’s because the new generation of competitors come a little too prepared to play the game, and a little too willing to play their parts in the drama. (You can thank Rob and Amber for opening that Pandora’s box.) In introducing herself this week, Shana, of the duo of cute “blondes” (blonde is a role, not just a hair color), boasted: “Jen and I fully intend to flirt our way through this competition.” Yeah, I hope that works out for you.

Of course, the good news is that on “Amazing Race” the interpersonal conflicts and rivalries are a result of the competition, not the impetus for it. You still have to play the game, and keep up. And if you can’t keep up, you’ll quickly be sent home.

This week: L.A. to Shannon, Ireland

Biggest obstacle: Navigating the L.A. freeways

Boy, you said it: “Vyxsin and I are like real-life cartoon characters. Every day is like Halloween.” --Kynt

Instant karma: If donkeys spoke English, ASPCA might have stepped in to stop the verbal abuse Ari and Staella heaped on the poor jackass that was hauling their peat during the Roadblock. (The pair previously poached another team’s taxi.) The donkey’s stubbornness cost Ari and Staella the race, and they were the first team eliminated.

Bu-Bye: Ari and Staella. From now on, be nice to donkeys.