The Biggest Loser (season premiere)
But wait a minute: Jillian Michaels -- the tougher of the two trainers in earlier seasons is gone, much to my disappointment. Had I paid attention when she announced her departure months ago, maybe I wouldn't have tuned in tonight. I really like how she drove the men's team last year, and they seemed to love her too. That, and this time there are fifty contestants to wade through. One from each state in the union. The obese nation theme gets a lot a play early on. But fairly quickly they're whittled down to a manageable group of 14: seven men and seven women. Unlike last year, they are not divvied up into teams based on gender. The other 36 will continue the challenge on their own at home. However, the parade of fifty hopeful contestants marching down the hill to the Biggest Loser Ranch is an impressive sight. (Spoilers after the jump.)
Jillian's replacement as Red Team trainer is Kim Lyons. She keeps saying she's not a Barbie. Bob Harper is back as a the trainer for the Blue Team. Caroline Rhea returns as host. Bob and Kim glide in on zip wires, then there's some taped segments introducing them. The absence of Jillian, though never mentioned specifically, is alluded to, as both Kim and Bob remark how everyone will be surprised at how tough they can be. We'll be the judge of that. From Kim's intro she seems like a female version of Bob. I always had the feeling that Jillian was borderline psycho -- which is hot -- but it looks like we will be stuck with two perky-and-stable trainers this year instead of just one.
I loved the twist of putting all fifty contestants through a workout, while they attempt to impress the trainers, who will pick their own teams -- seven members each. Bob's first pick is Tiffany from Texas (27) "because she triggered something" in his heart. Argh, I miss Jillian. By the way, Bob's got some overgrown rooster Mohawk deal going on, and I can only hope it grows out over the course of the show. Kim's first pick is Ken from Washington (43), a bona-fide reality-television eccentric character with his big smile, and (speaking of hair-do's) Sideshow Bob coiffure. His listed profession is "Paintball Airsmith," though on the show website, that's been revised to the more general profession of "life of the party." No way this guy was not going to make a team. Kim mentions Ken's "three pounds of hair" as an advantage to exploit. Bob also picks a hairy dude, Brian from California (33), a stay-at-home dad who reminds me, at tiny bit of last year's winner, Matt. He even picks up his tiny trainer, Kim, and spins her around in the air, the way the boys used to do with Jillian last season. I liked Kim's final pick, Jennifer from Minnesota (32), an ex "beauty queen and model," which Kim said was someone who "had had her head down all day," because Kim promised that would be the last time she held her down, and that the Red Team would hold their heads high. Even though this doesn't work out so well.
Of the thirty-six who weren't picked, the man and woman with the highest percentage weight loss, through monitored diet and exercise, will return to compete in the finale. They'll receive support and their progress can be followed on the show's website.
The two teams go for their first weigh in. Indoors, Ken's hair looks even huger. He is the first to weigh in: 358 lbs. The women range in weight from 223 to 260, I think. All the men weigh in over 300 lbs, with Nelson from Massachusetts of the Red Team at 404 lbs, and Erik from New York at 407 lbs, for the Blue Team as the heaviest. That's some big people.
The trainers make the players sleep in the gym their first night, saying something about "learning to live with equipment," but actually it looks more like a product placement op for Coleman-brand sleeping bags and lanterns.
First work out: Kim tells one of her team it's okay to puke but not okay to stop, but I doesn't appear anyone puked on the Red Team, unlike last year, when Matt did. Kim busts Jennifer slacking on the stairmaster. Bob's team, meanwhile, has a veritable puke-fest. And one dude almost cries.
Then it's time for more product placements. Apparently Jenni-O turkey is the best turkey because Jenni-O only does turkey.
The Red Team wins the wall climbing challenge, and gets to swap a member with the defeated team during the weigh in later. Offhand I'd say that the Red Team has a lot more highly competitive members, but you can never tell, it might be the editing. One of the emotional high points (or low points) of any episode of The Biggest Loser is when the team that loses the current challenge has to go tell their trainer they lost. Bob takes it well, maybe he got used to losing last year week after week to the Red Team. Bob sends his losing team back to the workout room that night, which works out well. It seems to get them back in good spirits and washes the defeat right out of them, for the moment. However, when Bob checks on his team in the morning, there is a major freak-out going on, as half his team is in tears, wanting to quit, missing their kids, and Bob has to talk one guy off the ledge and back into the game.
At the weigh-in all the players are happy with their weight individual weight loss. This will change in subsequent weeks when players start to plateau at different time. Then you'll see some drama. The Red Team loses the weigh in with 4.75% weight loss to the Blue Team's 5.05%, with Brian putting Blue over the top by losing 23 pounds. Caroline Rhea rubs salt into the losing Red Team's wounds by saying that if they had chosen to swap for Brian, then they would have won.
The team with the overall highest percentage of weight loss is safe, and the team with the lower percentage of weight loss has to then vote off a member. Though the producers did their best with music and editing to build some suspense, Jennifer is eliminated in a blowout. Not surprising -- since she was the player her team decided earlier to dump on the Blue team, clearly indicating she'd lost the least weight. Also, Heather had gone off on Jennifer after the weigh in, kind of shocking Kim. Heather probably would've risked getting eliminated herself, if only she hadn't been right on the money that Jennifer really didn't work out as hard as the rest of the team. That's the consensus anyway, and so it's a done deal. Heather's scary, and will probably butt some heads before it's over.
Jennifer's admirably gracious in defeat, and predicts Heather will be final winner. In the wrap-up we get a glimpse of Jennifer post-elimination, she's lost 66 lbs since starting the show and is looking good.
(Be sure to check out sister-site That's Fit for their rundown of the premiere as well!)