The Biggest Loser 4, September 11 – The Selection and Rejectionby Brian Towers -- 09/13/2007
Welcome back to Season 4 of The Biggest Loser!! This series focuses on teams of overweight contestants and their competitive struggles to lose weight and, in the process, regain control of their lives. Challenges and temptations bar their way to a nice prize – $250,000 cash. We will often be reminded that, in this show, “The Bigger Loser will be the biggest winner!”
This week, we have a big two-hour preview to enjoy, so let’s get right to it, shall we?
Before the events of the initial episode unfurl, some prepared video is run to give us a little background about the impact of this show on America, and what’s ahead this season. Voiceover Guy tells us versions of the show now runs in ninety countries on every continent but Antarctica.
Some of the twists we already know about are mentioned, namely, new host Alison Sweeney and the presence of returning trainer Jillian Michaels and her secret Black Team. Since I’ve written about these things in earlier columns, let’s move along.
Next, back-stories for some of these contestants are shown in brief clips. There are twin brothers who are very determined, a paramedic who has trouble doing her job, the oldest contestant ever, and a Hurricane Katrina survivor. We also meet Neil, too big to attend a ball game because he can’t fit into the seat, cheerleading coach Hollie, who remembers being called “a fat pig” when she was ten, and Patty, who has an elevated liver enzyme. Needless to say, all the stories are compelling. But enough previews; let’s get on with the events!
Sensing my angst, series host Alison meets up with the eighteen contestants somewhere in the Mojave Desert. Alison shares her own story with them, which involves both getting bigger and losing weight on national TV. She tells them, “Change can be really scary.” She also tells them the show’s big scale has recorded 6,500 pounds of weight loss so far, representing the burning of 23 million calories. I suspect it’s more, as they never acknowledge the Special Edition shows.
Alison has one question for the gang: “Are you up for the challenge?” All enthusiastically indicate how very ready they are. Alison indicates a plane passing overhead, and out parachute the two trainers, Bob Harper and Kim Lyons! Kim tell them that the first person to reach Bob will be the captain of the Blue Team, and the first to get to Kim will captain the Red Team. She further informs them that the captains will pick five teammates each, and the other six will be going home.
Oh good, just what these self-esteem-challenged folks need – more rejection in their lives!
Cutting back to the plane, we see that the trainers are actually doing tandem jumps, strapped to someone who (we hope) actually knows what they’re doing. One also notes the absence of a helmet on the trainers. Is that even legal?
While we wait for them to waft to the ground, brief video clips indicate that Kim’s team “have no idea what’s in store for them,” while Bob’s troupe will find out, “It’s going to be tougher than they ever imagined.”
As Bob and Jillian near the ground, Alison turns the pack loose. Jerry, who is the oldest contestant, estimates the trainers are about a mile away. Pretty much everyone is trying their best, though some realize the task is pretty daunting for them. In a cameo, Kim tells us it is exciting to see the spirited pack make their way towards them, and Bob echoes similar sentiments.
Finally, Jerry is the first to reach Bob, followed closely by big Phil. Phil is an ex-football player, and he sweeps Kim up in a hug and spins her around like she’s a rag doll!
The others arrive in a string. Twin Bill is third, and Nicole is the first woman to finish.
Somewhere about the time everyone regains normal breathing patterns, someone realizes that paramedic Amber is still out in the desert. We see her walking along and weeping steadily. The group decides to go back and meet her. Amber is appreciative not to have been abandoned to the coyotes, and trainer Bob likes this display of teamwork.
Hostess Alison tells the captains they will have a chance to meet with their teammates at the Last Chance Diner tonight, and then they will make their picks. The six not chosen will be sent home on a plane (wink – not really!) Captain Jerry is glad for the chance to select the best teammates he can, but dislikes the fact that he will be responsible for sending six players home. Buck up, Jerry – Phil is 50% responsible too.
Several of the players take the opportunity to tell their stories. I can’t identify the players yet and the editors didn’t give me any names to work with, so let’s just say there are fourteen people in this room who will be heartbroken if they have to go home now. As the tales continue, there are few dry eyes among the group of sixteen. Picking teams that exclude six of them is going to be rough!
Picking begins. It’s alternate picks, and as winner of the race, Jerry gets to go first. The first seven or eight choices are wildly celebrated, but then the realization that they may be excluded seems to subdue the crowd. “Schoolyard Pick’em” is a bitch. Those chosen (in order selected) are:
BLUE TEAM (Bob)
RED TEAM (Kim)
Kae says it’s the first time ever in her life that she’s been picked first! Unfortunately, this leaves six very unhappy people standing in the desert. They are:
Blue Team member Kae waves sadly at her new friend Julie, who was not chosen. As a bus takes the lucky dozen and their trainers away, the others forlornly wave goodbye. A dejected Isabeau jokes weakly, “I feel like the fat kid at camp!” On the bus, Neil feels badly for those left behind.
All of the six are disappointed to the point of tears as they try unsuccessfully to console each other. Hostess Alison bids the six goodbye after telling them, “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. But you have to know, you can still change your life, even without Bob and Kim. So I don’t want any of you giving up.” Then she walks off. Man this is a rough game – first they kick sand in your face, then they won’t even get you a taxi home!
But wait – there is still hope! Passing the bus on a motorcycle is a rider all in black. From the previews, we know this is former season trainer Jillian Michaels, and she’s on her way to form these six sad desert rats into the Black Team. And to their intense relief, that’s exactly how it plays out.
Remembering the moment later on, Julie says in a cameo, “It was like all hope was gone, and then it was back with a vengeance!” In a clip, Jillian says, “I’m the perfect trainer for the Black Team. I will accept nothing but their best, and I will show them no mercy!” In a separate clip, she tells us they will re-enter the game in two weeks. That’s a nice consolation for being snubbed in the Pick’em - two weeks’ immunity.
The bus arrives at the new facility that I told you all about a few weeks back to find Alison waiting for them. She tells them this campus is no million-dollar ranch, because they’re here to focus on the task at hand. Then she tells them to suit up and be officially weighed in.
No one loves this idea, especially the ladies in those dorky sports bras. Several former contestants have said this was one of the worst parts of the whole experience, and we can add Nicole to that list. I’m going to keep the numbers a secret for now, but all will be revealed in the charts you’ll find near the end of this article.
Almost everyone is shocked, disappointed, and/or embarrassed at the large numbers popping up on the scale. This is the first time trainer Bob has ever attended a weigh-in, and he says, “It’s a very humbling experience, and I commend them.” He promises us those weight numbers will be going down.
The scene shifts to the Black Team, flipping gigantic tires up and down the beach under Jillian’s watchful glare. At the bottom of the screen is a clock counting down the time until the Black Team reunites with those who cast them adrift. Right now, it’s at more than thirteen days. It even goes down to the second, how wild is that? At any rate, it seems that of the seven of them, only Jillian knows the point when the contestants all come together.
Jillian promises us lots of pain for her Black charges. Bill confirms this saying, “Before we started our workouts, Jillian told us there is no, ‘I’m sorry,’ there is no ‘I can’t,’ there is no ‘I’m weak.’ Whatever she says we need to do, is what we need to do, without any excuses.” At one point Jillian verbally corrects the way Isabeau is carrying a sandbag, and Isabeau accidentally responds with the verboten phrase, “I’m sorry,” so Jillian rewards the whole team with a punishment of twenty jumping jacks while holding the sandbags overhead!
Bill and Hollie both confirm that they have never worked out this hard in their lives. At this point Jillian senses Isabeau is falling apart and offers to buy her a plane ticket home, but to her credit, Isabeau is having none of it. At the end of the workout, Julie is so tired she can barely sit up, but she’s proud she made it through and never cried.
Meanwhile, back at the campus (that doesn’t have the same ring as “meanwhile, back at the ranch,” does it?), Kim and Bob have their charges in the gym working out. It’s a good hard workout that leaves them all done in, but I think the Black Team worked harder. That happens when Satan is your coach!
At one point Amber (who was last in the “find the trainers” race), becomes frustrated and cries, “I want to go home.” Kim settles her down, but she realizes Amber will take special attention and that “she’s the oddball on the team.”
After the workout, Bob introduces his team to their new diet. He tells them that the diet is as important as the gym. He says it’s all about metabolism and puts them on a strict eating schedule. An on-screen popup tells us that dehydration brings your metabolism to a standstill, so be sure to drink your water as you work out. He also tells them that every time they eat they should be looking for protein. One of the guys says he’s not sure what protein is and Bob says, “If it had a mother, it’s protein.”
Kim has a similar meeting with the Red Team. She says every meal is about “carbs, protein, fat,” as a graphic tells us that only 38% of Americans eat breakfast. People, eat your cereal, but not the sugar-frosted ones.
Bob comes into the kitchen with a handful of blindfolds. Everyone has to blindfold himself or herself and take the shoulder of the one in front of them. Contestants are guessing it’s a trust exercise. When the blindfolds come off, the teams are faced with tables of junk food representing their intake in a week. It’s pretty gross. I must say that if the source of many of my calories (a beer keg) were tossed up there, it would be significantly more palatable!
Some pop-ups inform us that in the past, at a single sitting Jerry has eaten six hot dogs, Neil has downed fifty wings, and Patty has ingested a gallon of ice cream… wow! As the trainers spoil the disgusting food by pouring things on it, running their hands through it, or dumping it on he floor, another popup tells us that every 34 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from heart disease.
The scene shifts to the beach, where it’s now ten days until they arrive on campus. Jillian will have burned off all their easy fat by then! She has them running at each other like in a football lineman’s drill, and then they pull a trailing team member up a hill. Julie confesses that she asks herself every day, “What have I gotten myself into?” She knows enough not to say it aloud in front of Jillian, though!
Jillian thinks some of her charges are ready to move into the house now, but Hollie still has some self-doubts. However, Jillian is working on her and promises that in a week and a half, they will be ready to look the others square in the eye, and it will be sweet revenge.
It’s time for a challenge! Series hostess Alison Sweeney welcomes the teams on the tarmac of a small airport. There are baggage carts loaded with bags filled to match the stated weight-loss goals of each competitor. Each has to carry their marked bags across a finish line. But there’s more. Two planes, each weighing 21 tons sit nearby. Guess who’s going to be pulling planes?
The exact task is to carry the luggage to the planes, load in on board, then using attached ropes, tow the planes across a line. What fun! The winners get letters from home. Already? It’s only been a few days; they might have saved these until a few weeks had passed, I think. But let’s get this challenge started!
It’s going to take two or three trips to get the baggage loaded. The Blue Team leads initially, and gains even more time loading the plane. With two people trying to get the wheels rolling while the others pull the ropes, the Red Team gets their plane rolling, if I dare use this word, easily, and they take over the lead. Lezlye and Amber seem to have a superior technique on the wheels that the Blue team ladies haven’t discovered. Sure enough, the Red Team crosses the finish line while the Blue Team never really gets untracked on this part of the challenge.
I notice the Blue Team does not complete the task – that was a major issue with the newly-returning Gray Team last season that seems to escape detection tonight.
Predictably, the Red Team is elated while the Blue Team members are discouraged. Everyone on the Red Team is a weepy mess over their letters from home.
It’s time for the last-chance workouts. Both teams work hard in this sprint to the finish. Patti works so hard that she needs to make purposeful use of the barf bucket, which actually impresses Bob no end. Bob’s a weird guy, ya know?
It is time for the Elimination Weigh-In. The trainers are present again. I guess that’s the way it will be this season, although I always felt it was good TV when the teams had to relay the results to their trainer the next morning.
Carolyn calls upon the Red Team first. When they finished, the Blues needed to lose more than 83 pounds to win.
Jillian was completely stunned by the big loss by Kae – the dropped-jaw look on her face just would not go away! But the best reaction was from Jerry. After Alison informed Jerry he has lost more weight than any previous contestant has in a single week, he said, “This is for all the people who get into the shows on a senior citizens’ pass!”
In a later cameo, Bryan of the Red Team says that he hates to lose, but cannot deny that the Blue Team earned his respect this week.
The scene ends with Alison telling the Red Team that they have an elimination meeting ahead. As the biggest loser on the losing team, Phil is exempt from the vote. Alison says, “You have until tomorrow night to determine which team member is weighing you down.
The Red Team and Kim discuss the elimination. After Bryan nobly tries to take some of the blame, Lezlye suddenly puts the blame squarely on Amber, saying she has repeatedly let the team down. Pretty much everyone piles on to some degree once the topic has been breached, with captain Phil saying he’s embarrassed that he chose her for his team.
However, trainer Kim says, “This is your life. You get one body, you get one chance. I’m not going to let you quit!” I think the point is moot, based on the looks on the faces of Amber’s teammates.
The players are next show filing into the elimination room. Votes are written on cards hidden in classy silver serving dishes with lids, and are revealed in turn as Alison calls upon them.
Lezlye votes first, for Amber. Amber has the next seat, and she returns the favor. But then Amy, David, and Paul all quickly do the expected thing and Amber is eliminated, 4-1 with one vote (that of Bryan) unread. Amber says, “Bye” and leaves the table.
In her funeral video Amber tells us she still intends to pursue weight loss on her own. More current video shows us that Amber has now lost 65 pounds and can now run on a treadmill. She has dropped from a size 28 dress to an 18, and wants to fit into a ten by the finale. She can do her job more effectively, too. Good for you, Amber!
Next week, The Biggest Loser 4 has another two-hour episode slated on Wednesday, 8PM ET/PT, featuring the return of the Black Team to the campus. Can you wait for the stare-down? Join me here Thursday for a recap of all the action, sprinkled with my own reactions and opinions. And let me know what you think about it all at the eAddress below!
Born and raised in Toronto, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email.