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Time to roll off that couch and brush off those potato chip crumbs – it’s time once again for The Biggest Loser! After such a long decent interval between seasons, you’d think that we’d be ready for that requisite first-show footage of contestants shoveling down fast food, wearing disturbingly little clothing (who wears a sports bra around the house, particularly while a video camera is running?), and imploring viewers to believe they’re applying to TBL for their families and not because they crave size 2 skinny jeans. But hey, if you’re not quite on board for more sweat and tears, there’s always Glee and Dancing With The Stars. Come to think of it, there’s sweat and tears on Glee and DWTS too. Geez…DWTS even has weight loss. Huh. Well, consider this – DWTS has Bruno and Nigel, while TBL has Bob and Dolvett. Winner…TBL! Boom!

Who’s Dolvett, you ask? Well, he’s quite a treat, but first - some meat and potatoes. That’s skinless baked chicken breast and sweet potatoes with no butter or brown sugar, but Dolvett will make up for that skimpy yet protein-rich fare. Our new crop of Losers are dropped off in the middle of the California desert, and I think – hey, that’s a pretty effective form of weight loss. And it would make for a shorter season. Alas, the NBC lawyers couldn’t make it fly, so instead host Ali Sweeney pulls up in a ridiculous-looking customized Hummer to announce this season will be the “battle of the ages”. The numbers plastered on the Losers’ grey t-shirts are their ages, and the 15 contestants will be split into 3 teams of 5 – the Young ‘uns are age 30 and under, the middle-aged – henceforth known as the PILFs (which stands for People Intending to Lose Fat – what did you think it meant? Hmm?) aged 31 to 49, and the Oldsters, 50 and over.

Next to arrive are the trainers, via Marine helicopter. (I suppose Bob has gotten over his fear of heights?) The helicopters cause inexplicable excitement among the Losers. Perhaps the desert heat is already beginning to affect them. The aforementioned Bob is, of course, Bob Harper, TBL veteran, looking happy and sporting some fresh tats. Next is the annoyingly blonde and beautiful female newbie, former tennis pro Anna Kournikova. Finally, we meet for the first time the male newbie, the black and equally beautiful Dolvett Quince. As he flexes truly magnificent biceps and flashes a blindingly white and charming smile, it occurs to me that 2 hours per week can possibly fly by.

This new season also wins some extra points from me for not having a Terribly Dramatic Initial Weigh-In, in which we gasp in horror at the numbers on the scale while the Losers hang their heads in shame. Instead, the trainers hop in a set of Humvees and zoom off a mile down the sand, which coincidentally is the same distance the teams will race in this quickie first challenge. The teams will choose their trainers – first arrival at the finish line will choose first, etc. The general consensus is that Bob is top prize, though Young ‘un Ramon has eyes for Anna. The PILFs win the day and become Team Black (Bob), while the Young ‘uns waddle to a distant second to claim Team Red (Dolvett). The Oldsters maintain in dignity what they lack in fitness and walk veeery slowly toward Anna, who jogs out to meet them. Damn, it is increasingly difficult to hate her. The other teams run out to the seniors as well, and everyone exchanges sweaty hugs and declare themselves one big happy family. Well…big, anyway.

Ali smirks at them and advises that all Losers – including those eliminated – should prepare to compete in a pre-finale marathon. That’s right, ALL contestants, and that’s a full 26.2 miler, bitches! Everyone giggles and cheers because they’ve never run that far and have no idea how much it sucks. I. Cannot. Wait. The winner of the marathon will guarantee themselves a spot in the final, regardless of their order of elimination. I’m pleased as punch, seeing as how last season’s finalists didn’t even have to do a marathon. In fact, I think Hannah and Olivia should return for a little run time. Think of it this way – they’ll be so busy gasping for air they won’t talk that much. But it will give them something to cry about.

Time for the first workout in the new digs, which are adorned with pictures of former Losers. I kind of preferred the profound little quotes from Bob & Jillian that used to hang on the walls, but whatever. Bob sends his Black PILFs directly to the treadmills, and gleefully channels his inner Jillian by getting his cuss on and making former NFLer Antone cry.

Meantime, Dolvett smilingly informs us that he’s “overqualified” for the TBL training job. Oh, snap! Lucky he’s hot or I might think he’s a tool. He’s rather sweet to his Red Young ‘uns at first, but quite suddenly he morphs into a scary-eyed hollering monster. Dude is mean! The workouts for this season are looking quite promising – perhaps my FF button will get a bit of a break.

Oh, Anna. Too cute to be scary, she plays a stern yet sweet and doting granddaughter to her Blue Oldsters. She even makes a Russian accent sound adorable.

This season gets additional points for not dragging through long and boring hard-knock-life stories from all Losers. Actually, we don’t meet most of them during this show. We do, however, meet Oldster Becky, who unfortunately gets a late-night call at the ranch with the news her father has passed away. It’s apparently not a surprise as Dad has been quite ill, and Becky shows some grit as she deals with her initial grief with a wee-hours visit to the empty gym, where she jumps on an elliptical. Understandably, she returns home for a few days but is back in time for the last-chance workout. Her fellow Oldsters, acutely aware of their own mortality, are shaken up by their teammate’s loss and renew their vow to continue their new healthy lifestyle.

It’s been a while since I enjoyed watching a last-chance workout. Despite my deep and abiding love for Jillian Michaels, a little change really is good for the soul. Dolvett’s angry-man style is refreshing, and Anna really does seem like a sweet girl. The increasingly-grittier Bob declares his PILFs to be “soldiers” (SILFs?). Plus, they all make at least one person on their respective teams cry, and it’s only week 1.

Two hours really can fly by! It’s weigh-in time! A pretty-in-pink Ali decrees the order to be age before beauty, so Anna’s Oldster Blues begin the festivities. As we haven’t been properly introduced to everyone yet, ages are included.

John, aka “Boston Johnny”, age 65 – start weight 328, now 311. 17 lbs lost.
Bonnie, 63 – start weight 254, now 250. 4 lbs lost.
Mike, 61 – start weight 309, now 297. 12 lbs lost.
Debbie, 60 – start weight 239, now 233. 6 lbs lost.
Becky, 50 – start weight 238, now 228. 10 lbs lost.

Total pounds lost: 49

Bob’s Black PILFs:

Joe, 46 – start weight 348, now 326. 22 lbs lost.
Antone, 44 – start weight 447, now 415. 32 lbs lost.
Sunny, 41 – start weight 277, now 261. 16 lbs lost.
John, 40 – start weight 445, now 408. 37 lbs lost.
Jennifer, 39 – start weight 330, now 311. 19 lbs lost.

Total pounds lost: 126 (insert gasp! here)

Dolvett’s Red Young ‘uns:

Vinny, 27 – start weight 426, now 405. 21 lbs lost.
Ramon, 27 – start weight 355, now 338. 17 lbs lost.
Jessica, 26 – start weight 254, now 239. 15 lbs lost.
Patrick, 25 – start weight 387, now 367. 20 lbs lost.
Courtney, 24 – start weight 270, now 254. 16 lbs lost.

Total pounds lost: 89

If you blinked, or don’t have a PVR, you might have missed some of the Loser weigh-ins, because a few didn’t even rate a televised chat with Ali. Whether this is foreshadowing or edited for time, we have yet to see.

The Blue Oldsters troop off to vote, and Boston Johnny can rest easy as he has the highest percentage of weight loss among the losing team. If you’ve heard that cats get meaner as they get older, well, it’s true. The claws come out during the voting discussion and Debbie un-sheaths hers on Bonnie, who apparently can turn on the waterworks at will. Bonnie may be a crybaby but her back fur stands on end at the attack and she defends herself vigorously. As it turns out, the Oldsters will not be rewarding meanness, and Debbie is voted off. She manages to drop her weight to 215 with mother-daughter visits to the gym and some breakdancing classes with her son and grandkids.

Then, there’s a really long preview of the upcoming season. Don’t watch it or you might not need to check out the next 16 weeks or so. Heh, heh. I’m not exactly kidding. But then you’ll miss seeing Dolvett flex and make crazy eyes! (Or watch Anna undulate among the treadmills. Whatever floats your boat.) If you insist on not watching, don’t forget to come check out our recaps. Next week, AshleyPSU will bring you all the goodies. Fat-free with 50% less sugar – and no preservatives.