Welcome to the season premiere of The Biggest Loser! I'm Critical and I'll be your recapper. I'm taking over this gig from the über-fabulous Shazzer, so be gentle: she's a hard act to follow. I also have a confession to make: I have a rather gigantic crush on Bob...and his abs. I'll try not to let it bias me in my recapping, but I make no promises, especially if he takes off his shirt. Hey, I'm only human.
This season premiere is a recapper’s worst nightmare (yes, even worse than the TAR: Family Edition premiere, which I also recapped, thankyouverymuch): 50 contestants on one reality show. What was I thinking? Let’s be honest here. I’m recapping this thing on the fly – no VCR, no DVR…. it’s like 1962 in this house - so you’ll have to forgive me if I didn’t get everyone’s name. Really though, most of these folks won’t be sticking around very long, so there’s really no point. Regardless of who the contestants are and how much weight they each lose, this season promises to be full of sweat, tears and whining….as well as gratuitous shots of fat-filled spandex and lots of food porn. You know what food porn is: it’s the lingering and slightly repulsive montage of heaps and heaps of fattening, unhealthy food. The producers of this show love to hit us with the food porn at least a few times each season.
Because this show has been such an inspiration to people all over the country, this season will start out with one contestant from each state. The wannabe losers run the gamut: a single granny from Idaho, a fireman from Tennessee, a father of six from Arizona and a housewife from Rhode Island whose husband is no longer attracted to her (ouch). The contestants will have a new gym to train in, as well as new challenges and new temptations. There’s also a new trainer. Before you panic, ladies, don’t worry, Bob and his abs are back. It seems that Mistress Jillian has moved on to greener, er, treadmills. Just from the previews I can tell that Jill’s replacement is muuuuch perkier. I don’t even know her name yet and I already want to smack her.
Before we actually meet our potential losers, NBC hits us with the first musical montage of the season. Cue the video, to the sounds of “Lean on Me” …and cue the eye roll from me. Really now, we don’t even know these people, lets wait a while on the cheesy montages.
Fed Up With Being Well-Fed
As the camera pans over the ranch - where that flags of all fifty states are flying - and surrounding land, we see all of the contestants standing along a ridge high above the ranch. Um…..how did they get up there, by helicopter? Since going downhill is easier, they all make their way down to the ranch. In voice over, various contestants discuss their commitment to getting healthy. Sarah from Wyoming tells us that she’s tired of failing every day at weight loss. John from Arizona, a father of six, says that he’s tired of his kids having a fat dad. Erik, who runs a deli in New York, admits to sometimes using handicapped parking so he doesn’t have to walk as far. It’s like a confessional of dieting sins.
Eventually, they all get to the ranch, where they run through the gates, past the state flags and up to the giant stage where Caroline waits for them. She congratulates them all on making it to The Biggest Loser. They all came to the ranch to transform themselves, but first they have to make themselves a priority. Caroline tells them that this is the best thing they can do for the people who love them. She goes on to talk about the difficulty of making correct food choices. To illustrate the fact that none of them are capable of making those aforementioned choices, Caroline informs them that a random sampling was taken of their diets and, between the fifty of them, they ingested over one million (*pinky to cheek*) calories in one week. That’s a lot of peanut butter, bacon and Krispy Kreme sandwiches, my friends.
Caroline reminds the group that there’s a huge prize at the finish line for the winner of the show: $250,000, courtesy of Jell-O, the first name in great nutrition.
The Forms of the Destructors
On the heels of the “You guys eat enough food to feed a small country” lecture comes the next bit of good news: it’s time for a weigh in! That’s when it becomes obvious that the stage is actually one ginormous scale. All fifty contestants will get on the scale together – like cattle…or an 18-wheeler. Really, it’s got to be a good feeling when you have to be weighed on a scale the size of a basketball court. Way to build their confidence, people. The starting weight for the whole group? 14,384 pounds. For those who aren’t nerdy enough to get a calculator and do the math (*ahem*), that’s an average weight of 287.68 pounds. That’s a huge number but really, unless you were weighing fifty models, it would still be a big number.
The bad news just keeps coming for these people. Caroline chooses this moment to tell the hopefuls that only 14 of them will be staying at the ranch: the other 36 will be going home today.
Who will be deciding which 14 will be staying? Our trainers, of course! Why, here they come now! As if to show us mere mortals how uncool we really are, here come Bob and
JillianNuJillian flying in on zip lines like they’re action heroes or something. Coolest. Entrance. Ever. 99.9 points out of 100. (100 = no shirt for Bob).
The new trainer, who is blonde and perky and resembles every aerobics instructor I have ever hated, is named Kim Lyons. She promises to work her team hard and show them they can succeed. She claims that she is not Fitness Barbie: she knows how to win. Bob clearly knows about his Smurfy reputation and claims that his potential trainees might have the wrong impression. He intends to hug them all the way to the gym where he will be kicking their asses all over the place. Is that a service I could pay for?
Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?
If the contestants were hoping to be eased into this fitness thing, they’ve got another thing coming. Bob and Kim order the fifty into formation for their first work out. They start out with a round of jumping jacks as Kim runs back and forth chirping at them. Bob reveals his strategy for choosing his team members: we know he’s a heartfelt guy, so he’s looking for people he wants to get to know better. Kim’s criteria = a little more eclectic: she wants “the smiler,” “the serious” and the one who wants it so bad they’re ready to do anything.
With this audition/work out over, Bob and Kim are ready to choose their teams. Bob tells the fifty that he and Kim have a tough decision. He tells us that, in previous seasons, his team has always been handed to him: now he has to pick the team and seems a bit frustrated that he can’t help all fifty potential losers. Still the tough choices have to be made. Here is how the teams fall out:
Bob’s Blue team
Tiffany - Texas, 27: Bob says that she captured him right away.
Bobby - Tennessee, 31
Brian - California, 33
Melinda - Alabama, 32: She cries and cries when Bob picks her.
Marty - Missouri, 25
Amy - Maryland, 27
Erik – New York, 35: Bob tells us that he felt like this person really needed his help
Fitness Barbie’s Red Team
Ken - Washington, 43: Ken has an enormous head of hair. He may be trying to make his body appear smaller in comparison.
Kai - Alaska, 27
Nelson – Massachusetts, 35: Nelson picks Kim up and swings her around like a rag doll.
Pam - Indiana, 25
Wylie - Florida, 40
Heather - Utah, 36
Jennifer - Minnesota, 32
In picking Jennifer, Kim proclaims her the winner of a golden ticket. She may have had her head down all day, but this is the last day she’ll ever walk that way.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
The losers all stand on the field, teary-eyed and disappointed. Caroline congratulates the chosen ones and the two teams job away with their respective trainers. Caroline then calls the un-chosen ones forward to tell them a little secret. She knows that they all gave up things to come be on the show and they will still have a chance to become the Biggest Loser. The game is still on! All thirty six will return home where they will continue to work. The man and woman with the highest percentage of weight loss will be allowed to return to the ranch. Each will receive a gym package as well as the Biggest Loser book and workout videos and a membership to the online Biggest Loser club. The whole country will be able to watch their progress online.
The First of Many Indignities
Back at the ranch, the teams have their first meetings. Everyone has various reasons for wanting to get in shape: chronic pain, not wanting to die young, wanting to be healthy for their children, etc. Bobby from Tennessee tells the story of how he wrote a letter to his father, asking him to quit smoking. When Bobby was getting ready to leave for this show, his father showed him that letter and Bobby then realized that he, too, was killing himself just as his father was.
Before things devolve into a full-fledged therapy session, there’s an important matter to get out of the way: individual weigh-ins. Oh, hurray! The women, in particular, must be excited about this. I know I fantasize about getting into spandex cycling shorts and a sports bra in front of millions of people. Most of the contestants claim to not know how much they weigh and say they avoid scales.
Caroline greets the teams and they each take their turn on the scale. Here are the results of the first weigh-in:
Tiffany: 255 lbs.
Bobby: 321 lbs.
Brian: 308 lbs.
Melinda: 236 lbs.
Marty: 365 lbs.
Amy: 260 lbs.
Erik: 407 lbs.
Ken and his hair: 358 lbs.
Pam: 247 lbs.
Kai: 262 lbs.
Nelson: 404 lbs.
Wylie: 307 lbs.
Heather: 223 lbs.
Jennifer: 245 lbs.
The next weigh-in will come in one week. The team that loses the weigh-in will have to send to a team member home. Every contestant tells us that they are going to win the whole thing.
After the trauma of the weigh-in, it’s clear that everyone just wants to go back to the ranch and relax. The trainers have other ideas. It’s time to hit the gym! Everyone makes their way to the gym where Bob directs them upstairs where there is some “special equipment” waiting for them. No, it’s not the latest elliptical machine: it’s a pile of sleeping bags and camping mats. Bob explains that the house at the ranch may be beautiful, but they’ll be living in the gym. Tonight they will actually be sleeping in the gym. They’ll need to get their rest: tomorrow, the hammer falls.
The next morning, the Blue Team discovers the horrible truth. Bob is a morning person. The horror! Can you imagine having a slightly masochistic (albeit hot and smurfy-sweet) trainer who gleefully wakes you up at the butt crack of dawn to abuse you in the gym? Now that I think about it, that doesn’t sound to bad…if Bob is the trainer in question. Kim, on the other hand is waaaaay too perky. Again, I’d probably smack her.
The first official workout gets underway and the trainers aren’t holding back. Bob tells us that he wants to assess their situation. To that end, he has them run up a mountain. Jeez, way to ease them into it. Kim, in similarly mellow fashion, tells her team (while running them ragged in the gym) that they can puke if they need to. She claims that if you can beat them to the ground and keep them standing, they’ll keep coming back for more. Okaaay. Bob cheers his team up the mountain and says that he wants them to remember how bad this is and to know that it will never be this way again. Bob tells Erik that he is saving his life. In the gym we see the Red Team running sprints and then lifting weights while screaming. Bobby says that the first workout was hardest thing he’s ever done in his life. They all whine and cry much like I would have – I only think they’re wimps because I’m sitting on my couch.
It’s a veritable puke-fest in the gym today. Kim announces that she won’t allow her team to take breaks. She has barf buckets at the ready and at least one person needs one. Bob also had a lot of people losing their cookies: he says that they just got more toxins out that way. Overall, there’s just a lot of crying and whining and sweating and puking.
Paying the Bills
Now that everyone’s stomach is empty, it’s time for the product placement extravaganza that is the proper nutrition lecture. The Blue Team meets Bob in the kitchen and they all stare and drool over a plate of pizza, burritos and other horrid food that they will not be eating. The gym is only half the battle here: food is the other. Bob explains that the women will be restricted to between 1200 and 1500 calories, while the men will take in between 1500 and 2100 calories. Bob then pimps Jennie-O turkey products. His team’s meal plan will be heavy on protein and vegetables.
Kim also has the nutrition talk with her team at breakfast. They discuss the evils of pancakes and the team seems genuinely horrified when they find out how many calories are in just one pancake. The product of the day for the Red Team? Quaker Oatmeal. Kim says that it’s all about balancing one’s diet. Clearly, the message stuck with Nelson: he makes a grab for the pancakes on his way out of the kitchen.
Meanwhile, NOT at the Ranch
The un-chosen thirty six are working out too. Before leaving California, each of them had the opportunity to work out at a state-of-the art gym and to meet with a nutritionist. They all vow to return to the ranch.
The Part Where I Swear off Spandex Forever
It’s time for the first challenge of the season and the teams all meet Caroline at the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena. Because this show is all about overcoming obstacles, they will have to overcome actual obstacles in this challenge. The teams will have to scale a series of walls, each one higher than the last. All members of the team must get over one wall before the team can proceed to the next wall. The walls are really like big, padded triangles that get taller and steeper. The team that wins this challenge will be able to swap one member’s weight loss for that of a member on the other team. Kai tells us that this is a metaphor for the entire competition and the team work they will need to win.
The race begins both teams quickly get over the first wall. There’s a lot of tumbling and pushing and unflattering angles and the Blue Team manages to pull ahead and reach the third wall first. While watching this part I realize that the producers of the show have an untapped source of diet motivation here. I know that if I was shown slow motion footage of myself in a sports bra and spandex cycling shorts while struggling to climb over a barrier – teammates pushing on my big butt to help me get over – I’d be eating all of my meals (steamed veggies and grilled chicken only) while riding a stationary bike.
By the time the teams reach the third wall, there is a rope to help them climb over. The 4th wall has a rope as well and they need it. The teams are neck-and-neck upon reaching the 4th wall and everyone works to pull out the win. After much yelling and grunting, the Red Team manages to get all of their team members over first and they run for the finish line and the win.
Good News and Bad News
Back at the ranch, the trainers meet with their teams to learn the results of the challenge. Bob finds his team in the kitchen preparing dinner. After the break the bad news to him that they lost the challenge he tells them to put dinner away. At first I was thinking, “Is he going to make them fast? That’s not healthy!” Of course not. Swearing that this is not a punishment, Bob tells them they’re going to be getting in another workout before they eat. This one will be just cardio – no weights. Bob explains that, because overweight people are often emotional eaters, he wants to help them create better habits. By getting them into the gym right now, he might be able to stop some emotional eating. The team grudgingly puts the food away and they all head to the gym
In contrast, when Kim learns that her team won the challenge, she sends them off to bed for a good night’s sleep, saying that they’ll hit it hard in the morning.
In the gym, Bob’s team is going one minute intervals on various pieces of equipment – treadmills, climbers, etc. Cut to footage of the Red Team snoozing away. Will Kim’s strategy hurt her team at the weigh in? We’ll have to wait and see.
The next morning, the teams will be hitting the gym again for their last chance work out. Bob finds Erik, Bobby and Brian in the midst of a spectacular mope at the house. The guys are all missing their children. Bob tells us that he’s very concerned about Bobby in particular. He urges Bobby to keep fighting: his kids want him there so he can go back home healthy and strong. Bob’s pep talk seems to do the trick and the whole team heads to the gym for their last chance workout. The Red Team is there as well, although members of the Blue Team comment that it doesn’t seem as if Kim is really working her team very hard. Who’s the smurfy one now?
Sizing Up the Situation
It’s finally time for the weigh-in, thank God. It seems like this show has been going on forever. Caroline reminds the Red Team that, as their reward for winning the challenge this week, they will get to swap the weight loss of one of their team members for a member of the Blue Team. They choose Amy, saying that she looks great. Jen’s weight loss will be given to the Blue Team. Caroline reminds them that the team with the greatest percentage of weight loss will win this week’s weigh-in.
Without any further ado, here are the results:
Amy (Blue Team): 244 (16 pounds)
Heather: 214 (9 pounds)
Wylie: 293; (14 pounds)
Pam: 237 (10 pounds)
Kai: 250 (12 pounds)
Ken: 340 (18 pounds) He cries tears of joy: it’s been years since he saw that number
Nelson: 385 (19 pounds)
Red team total: pounds lost: 98/ percentage of weight lost: 4.75%
Blue Team is up and they must lose more than 101 pounds to top the Red Team.
Jen (Red Team): 237 (8 pounds)
Melinda: 225 (11 pounds)
Erik: 391 (16 pounds)
Bobby: 303 (18 pounds)
Tiffany: 243 (12 pounds)
Marty: 345 (20 pounds)
Brian: 285 (23 pounds)
Blue Team totals: pounds lost: 108 / percentage of weight loss: 5.05%
Caroline breaks the bad news to the Red Team: if they had chosen Brian instead of Amy, they would have won. Kai tells us that they made a bad decision and that Brian would have been a better choice. Thanks for the insight, Captain Obvious. Because Ken is the biggest loser on the Red Team, with 18 pounds lost this week, he will have immunity and cannot be eliminated this week.
How Quickly They Turn
The morning after the weigh-in, Bob arrives at the ranch. He’s running. That man runs everywhere. When the Blue Team gives him the good news, Bob is really excited.
As Kim goes to meet her team, she tells us that she’s really nervous. They don’t even have to tell her the bad news: the results are obvious as soon as she sees them. Even though they lost at the weigh-in, Kim is thrilled with the numbers. She tells them that 98 pounds is huge. They should be proud. Still, she acknowledges that the elimination will be brutal.
In mere milliseconds, the sniping and strategizing begins. Heather announces that she thinks Jennifer should go. She says that if you’re not “killing yourself,” you don’t deserve to be there. Kim tells us that she was shocked when Heather called out Jen, but then remembers having to tell Jen to step it up in work outs. We see a clip of Jen taking a break on the treadmill while her teammates keep working. Kim says that only they know if they gave 100%. Heather quickly becomes my least favorite person on this show as she gets nasty and screechy, continuing her verbal assault on Jennifer. Kai tells us that Heather needs to keep her mouth shut. Word.
The Red Team manages to mope and work out at the same time. Ken says that he wants to be healthy and get his self-respect back. Kai admits that the doesn’t know if she can keep this up if she has to leave the ranch so early.
It’s Not Us, It’s You
It’s time for the first elimination and the Red Team files in carrying the covered dishes that conceal their votes. They all sit facing Caroline, who really needs to fire her wardrobe person. Tonight, she’s in a sparkly citrus green sweater. I expect the Fashion Police to jump out at any moment and make an arrest.
Without any further ado, here are the votes:
Ken claims to be voting for someone he hopes will continue on to achieve her goal: Jennifer.
Wylie says he is voting for the person who caused a disruption on the team. He points out that, yes, they are all there for themselves, but they are also part of a team and, as such, they need to be cohesive. He votes for Jen also.
Kai explains that she voted for the person who seems more like a drama queen than a beauty queen: Jen.
When it comes time for Jen to vote, she takes the high road and votes for Heather, while saying that she thinks Heather has the ability to win the whole competition.
Heather must feel like kind of a jerk as she casts her vote and sends Jen home.
No need to find out who Pam and Nelson voted for, because Jen is out.
Caroline tells Jennifer that this isn’t the end for her and encourages her to continue on with the commitment she made to get healthy. As Jen makes her exit, her fridge light is extinguished. Jen tells us that she came in intimidated about tackling her battle with obesity, but she’s leaving with more confidence. She knows she doesn’t have to settle with being the fat girl
In a follow-up filmed months later we learn that, since leaving ranch, Jennifer has lost an additional 58 pounds (for a total of 66 pounds). She looks terrific on a video that shows her jogging with a baby stroller. Jen tells us that there is no magic diet: you just have to close your mouth and move your body.
Next week: The teams hit the sand, but their challenge won’t be a walk on the beach. The prize will be a message from home and it looks like at least one contestant will get hurt in the frenzy to win.