Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/09/15

Welcome to Season 8 of The Biggest Loser, subtitled "Second Chances". Because this is the theme.

DH and I are immediately irritated because the quality of our recording sucked. The sound cuts out or is overlaid by static a lot of the time, and the video kept pixellating, so we missed a fair bit of dialogue. We weren't sure if it was the tape or the broadcast itself, although hearing from other people who watched the show suggests it was the broadcast. But I think we got the general gist of most of what happened.

We open with a montage preview of the season, and then cut to the contestants in the bus on their way to the ranch, talking about their problems. Before they get to the ranch, however, they turn off the road near the beach, where Alison is waiting. That's right, they haven't even gotten to the ranch yet and already we are piling on the twists! Because right where they are now is the starting point of the last mile of the marathon that the final 4 ran right at the end of the previous season. Today, they're racing that last mile, and the rewards are pretty big: immunity AND first pick for who's going to be your teammate, who will also get immunity. Everyone is stoked.

Before they get going, however, there's yet another twist, and this one fits beautifully into the Second Chances theme: Daniel from last season is back! Fresh off of a 142-pound weight loss, he is still morbidly obese and has been brought back to continue his journey, this time with way more self-assuredness and energy, which is absolutely lovely to see. Everyone lines up at the starting point. Tracey vows to kick ass in this race, which is really stupid, since Daniel has been working up his endurance for months and is basically a pretty fit guy surrounded by a lot of fat. In fact, in his at-home profile, which was filmed quite some time before this point, he told us that he was able to run for over 19 minutes straight. So I'm thinking Tracey is pretty clueless to think she has a chance here. However, she goes for it anyway, zipping ahead right off the bat. Unsurprisingly, she runs out of steam and swears with annoyance as Daniel passes her, shouting encouragement as he goes, despite all the trash-talking she did with him. (So far, I'm not a Tracey fan.) He wins handily, which is beautifully poetic since he kept coming last in all the challenges last season. Everybody else does well, except for Mo, who gets dehydrated and has to go to the hospital; and Tracey, who pushed herself way too hard, needs to be dragged over the finish line, gets this horrible glassy stare before she passes out, and becomes non-responsive. She, too, is taken to hospital.

Next, it's time to pick partners. In order to have a tiny bit of knowledge about the people they're choosing from, the contestants are given an hour to exchange their stories. We're shown a few of them to get a bit more insight about some of these people, and the most heartbreaking tale of all is Abby's. She was married with two children, one of whom was just a few weeks old, when her husband and children were in a fatal car accident and now she's alone. Which is just one of the most terrible things I've ever heard in my life. This guarantees that my waterworks are going to come on automatically every time Abby is shown on the screen for the rest of the season. We also hear about Shay, whose mother was a drug addict and died young. Shay was raised in foster care. Needless to say, she has issues.

After that, it's time to choose partners. Daniel is up first, and he's given his orange shirt back. He chooses Shay as his partner, thus bestowing immunity on her. I didn't write down the order of the rest of the choices, but the eight teams are as follows:

  • green: Abby and Allen
  • black: Alexandra and Julio
  • pink: Amanda and Rebecca
  • red: Antoine and Sean
  • orange: Daniel and Shay
  • brown: Danny and Liz
  • blue: Dina and Rudy
  • purple: Mo and Tracey

Time to work out! We are told that there are no "sides" this year; Bob and Jillian are jointly training everyone. (At least for now, since nothing ever stays the same in The Biggest Loser house.) Shay wimps out at one point and quits, leaving the building. Jillian wisely tells Bob that they should leave her alone and see what happens when people stop paying attention to her. Fortunately, Shay sucks it up and gets back inside. Her reward: more working out.

Everyone is relieved when Mo gets back safe and sound from the hospital. Tracey, however, is still there. Since they weren't around for partner-picking, by default they are partners with each other, but Mo is on his own for now. No pressure.

It's time to flash the nation your organs with Dr. H! Everybody is put through huge amounts of testing, which apparently is going to advance obesity science. I thought the thing where they monitor brain activity while the contestants are making food choices was particuarly cool. After the testing, several contestants get huge wake-up calls. Mo is biologically 69 as opposed to his actual age of 55, and is scared shitless about that. Likewise, Shay is biologically 45 as opposed to 30, and once again demonstrates that she has issues coming out the wazoo. Especially frightening is the shot of her skeleton surrounded by a huge layer of fat. Meanwhile, Sean is in complete denial. He put "no health problems" on his questionnaire, but Dr. H tells him that he actually has Type II diabetes. This makes Sean dissolve into tears.

We move on to the last chance workout. It contains the usual screaming and yelling and barfing. Mo's fighting for Tracey. Jillian calls Julio "bitch" and spouts off the line, "Julio, there's no crying with tractor tires!" (Duh, when Jillian's around, there's no crying with ANYTHING.) What I did like was that Julio came back and kissed Jillian, that was pretty sweet. (Along the lines of 'Thank you ma'am, may I have another?') Bob tells us that he thinks this group has a lot of baggage. Gee Bob, ya think? We get some extremely unflattering shots of Jillian as she's yelling at Alexandra.

It's then time for the week's product placement, which is at least blessedly overt and bearable. It's Bob, Alison and Jillian telling us directly about the thing we should buy, instead of having the contestants lamely make happy noises about the product as the show attempts to make us believe that this is a totally spontaneous moment at the ranch.

And now, the moment of truth: weigh-in. This week's deal is that only one team will fall below the yellow line; and one member of that team will go home. Everyone looks SHOCKED by this, which is pretty dumb; have they not seen the show? At least one person going home per week is part of the whole PREMISE. Mo has to weigh in for his team alone as Tracey is still out of commission.

Milestones achieved:

  • Julio went below 400lbs
  • Mo went below 350lbs
  • Alexandra went below 300lbs
  • Dina and Antoine went below 250lbs
  • a number of contestants have now lost 5% or more of their total bodyweight: Mo, Danny, Allen, Abby, Rudy and Rebecca
  • Amanda and Abby went from being morbidly obese to clinically obese

Rebecca is the individual weight loss winner. DH is supremely impressed and believes she is a serious threat. She is wearing pink, after all.

But in the end, it's the black team below the yellow line, mostly thanks to Julio, who had one of the lowest individual loss percentages this week and was profiled as doing a lot of falling down during the last-chance workout. His partner Alexandra seems pretty pissed about all of that. Both make good cases for themselves back at the ranch. The decision is between person-who-deserves-to-stay vs. person-who-needs-to-stay. Need wins out over merit and Alexandra is given the boot by a vote of 4-3. She's very gracious about it in the elimination room, so good for her. Back at home, we find that she's down 60 pounds and her face sure does look great. Unfortunately, she seems to have mastered the annoying Leah Miller-esque style of posing for the camera. Ugh. However, she's motivating her friends and family to be healthier. She speaks of her increased self-confidence, and lets us in on the fact that she had a crush on someone at the ranch but was too shy to act upon it. Apparently we should stay tuned for the finale when we will find out who it was. Ooh, big secret. Assuming that she's hetero (which I think is safe to do since unfortunately I don't think it's likely that a mainstream American show would overtly plug a lesbian relationship), and eliminating all the married people and older dudes, it's either Antoine or Daniel. Big mystery.

Next week, look for the following achievements at weigh-in:

  • Shay could drop below 450lbs
  • Danny and Rudy could drop below 400lbs
  • Daniel will in all likelihood drop below 300lbs
  • Allen could drop below 300lbs
  • Liz could drop below 250lbs
  • Rudy could move from super obese to morbidly obese
  • Dina and Liz could move from morbidly obese to clinically obese

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