Biggest Loser 5: Couples, Episode 1 – Twenty Vie For Coveted Titleby Brian Towers -- 01/02/2008
If you did not read my article that previewed this season, you may wish to check it out here first. One correction is that team jerseys I thought were RED are instead ORANGE.
This is a big cast with a lot of different colored jerseys and team dynamics, so things could get confusing for readers. Therefore, I’ll provide a chart of the surviving teams each week. You might even want to print this one out for reference throughout the season. Here’s the list of original teams:
The show begins with many preview clips that tease us of the season ahead, but are really too quick and disjointed for it to be useful for me to recap them. The basic message is: It’s gonna be good, people! But in this article, I’m skipping ahead to after the main theme is played.
Action begins on the day before contestants arrive on Campus. We visit briefly with each team. First up are the mom & daughter team of Bette-Sue and Ali. Both were once nationally-ranked swimmers, Bette-Sue in speed swimming and Ali in synchronized. Bette-Sue says she’d give everything to have her daughter win.
Parents Curtis and Mallory are up next. Wedding shots show us that once upon a time, they were a hot, young couple. Curtis tells us that he worked hard to get medical insurance for his family, only to be denied coverage himself. Needing to lose at least 150 pounds to get his insurance, he feels he is a failure as a husband and a father. Hearing her husband say this makes Mallory cry.
Friends Jenn and Maggie work at a camp for overweight children. They are aware that being their size in their job sends all the wrong messages.
Young parents Neill and Amanda are next. He tells us their objective is to get in shape before their young son realizes they are fat. It was a tough decision for them to leave him and be on this show.
Paul and Kelly used to be married to each other. He would like to get back together; she doesn’t HATE him, but that’s not going to happen. The men in Paul’s family don’t live past fifty. A photo from 1993 shows Paul with a powerful build, but he’s twice that size now.
The father and daughter combo of Lynn and Jenni (whose picture adorns this article) call themselves “Team Big Dog.” Jenni wants to bond with her dad and make him proud of her.
In the mom and son team, Jackie feels guilty for her son Dan’s obesity. She says, “He’s the kid that grew up playing video games and eating fast food. And the worst thing about that is, I’m the mom who drove him to the fast food place.” Dan admits he’s a statistic, part of America’s growing obese population and realizes that at age 21, he needs to take responsibility for his own condition.
Brothers Jake and Mike have been successful at everything except losing weight and being healthy.
Several seasons ago, Trent and Roger anchored the middle of the University of Alabama’s o-line. They feel they can win because they’ve been through vigorous training before and know they can stand up to it.
Series host Alison Sweeney greets the nine teams of two in a big field. Everyone is wearing his or her own clothes. Alison immediately brings out the tenth team of Brittany and Bernie, who meet right now for the first time. They have a slight relationship in that both were selected as members of The Biggest Loser Online Club (on the NBC website), but really, they are complete strangers. Brittany thinks they have an advantage, because they don’t come with pre-existing baggage from an existing relationship. Jay of the brothers team notes their youth and thinks they will be a factor in the game.
Alison tells them that right away, there’s a challenge. And the prize is: Jillian and Bob, the trainers! A video follows to reintroduce us to Bob and Jillian. Jillian says her objective is “rebuilding people’s lives,” and her style as, “It’s violent, it’s aggressive, it’s uncomfortable.” Bob says his approach is, “functional training, balance, and coordination, and getting you comfortable with your skin.”
The challenge is pretty straightforward. Teams will run up a steep hill, touch a flag, then come back and line up behind the trainer of their choice. The catch is that each trainer will only train five teams, so the laggards will not get to make this key choice.
In a cameo, mom Jackie says that this might be an all-day challenge. Other mom Bette-Sue says a bad word that may begin with an “F,” but fortunately it doesn’t get past the ever-vigilant censors. She says this because she feels her chance of getting Jillian as their trainer is lost, and thinks they need her no-nonsense approach.
Before the race starts, we see video clips of teams expressing their trainer preferences. There is no consensus. Son Dan wants Bob, while daughter Ali wants Jillian. As the race starts, everyone jogs the first few yards across the flats, but when the hill is met, several teams begin walking. First to the top is, to their surprise, the brothers, while despite being pulled determinedly by daughter Ali, Bette-Sue lags badly.
The challenge is taking its toll on the contestants. Footballer Trent has hamstring issues and wife Mallory thinks she might pass out. Several teams appear to be optimistically searching for a med-evac chopper as they reach the halfway point.
At the end, the brothers end up winning handily. They choose to be trained by Jillian. In second place is the team of strangers, who choose Bob because Brittany feels he can better address her emotional issues. Curtis trips, resulting in an impressive face-plant. Jillian is the choice of the next couple of teams, the former football teammates and Mallory and her husband Curtis, who had an impressive face-plant running on seemingly-flat land.
Mom and son are next, and are pleased to get their preference, Bob. Next across the finish line are spouses Neill and Amanda, who opt for Jillian. At this point, Bette-Sue and daughter Ali have made it to the halfway point. Ali later expresses the opinion that her mom gave up too fast.
Meanwhile, the camp-worker girlfriends make it back and become the fifth and final team to choose Jillian. That means that the Exes, the father-daughter team, and eventually, Bette-Sue and Ali are assigned to Bob. Ali even has to pull a virtually immobile Bette-Sue down the hill! Bette-Sue is upset that her efforts affected her daughter’s results as well. I’m not seeing this duo as a threat in any of the challenges!
Bob wonders if the teams don’t figure he’s tough enough. Remember, at this time they did not know how dominant Jillian’s Black Team was in Season 4, as that hadn’t aired yet. The shape these guys are in, I’m confident Bob is going to be plenty tough enough!
Bob awards the strangers team his signature blue shirts, and Jillian assigns the challenge winners her trademark black jerseys. Others are assigned as per the chart at the top of this article. Bob thinks it’s going to be an odd season training people together who are actually competitors. It has always been that way, Bob – there is only one winner at the end of the season.
As Jillian ends her meeting with a rally cry, we get a wonderful picture of Dad Lynn (newly of the Green Team) snoring peacefully in his chair.
To recap, here’s how that all broke down. Trainer Jillian has:
And Bob is assigned:
Bob has an odd collection of players – the three generational teams, a team of strangers, and a team who wishes they were strangers!
Alison assembles the teams once more, this time in the weigh-in room. One notes that although the trainers gave out tee-shirts only, the women are wearing those God-awful sport bras. I feel sorry for Dan – no son should ever have to see his mom in one of those hideous devices. Mind you, the men are shirtless when on the scale and I’m seeing way more man-boobs that I really care to!
Alison reveals the new scale to be used this season. It’s a double scale, capable of weighing both contestants at once. Very nifty! Of course, we know the real weighing is done earlier in the day and this is just a fancy display device. Alison is anxious to put this new prop to work, and the initial weigh-in ensues. I’ll keep the actual numbers a secret until the end of this article.
Team Orange had good comments in later cameos. Dan is sure that their combined weight exceeds what his car weighs. However, mom Jackie probably says it best when she says, “The misconception I had of myself just blows me away: I. Am. Fat!” White Team wife Amanda doubts their bed was built to hold such a load as her and her husband. Yellow Team member Kelly starts to cry as Alison confirms that she’s the heaviest woman in the game. She later says, “I didn’t want to be known as the crier, but… heaviest girl in the house, sucks!”
The final team weighed is the former football teammates. Visually, there’s little doubt but they are the largest team present. Alison helpfully notes that Trent ties the record for largest man in the American version of the game. His partner Roger says, “We gotta lose at least a guard to get back into this thing!”
Jillian expresses the opinion that she doesn’t like this season’s format. It’s not just her and her charges this season, as everyone has brought their enablers with them. Jillian sees Amanda of the White Team as “fabulous” because she is a dedicated worker and did not quit or cry. Husband Neill, however, is getting yelled at a lot because he tends to quit right near the point of meeting his objective. We see him hitting the deck hard a couple of times. I bet he has the best bruises of any of them. Neill confesses to us that Amanda wanted Jillian as their trainer, but he wanted Bob. He says wistfully, “Would I have picked Bob over Jillian, knowing what I know now? I’m trying not to think about it.”
Jillian does a cameo where she expresses surprise that Bob was seen by so many teams as the kinder, gentler one. She says emphatically, “That’s a lie – he’s a monster!” Sure enough, in the next scene Bob is shown to be beating up his troops with relish and fervor. Blue Team’s Bernie is spitting up, dad Lynn can’t keep up, and Yellow Team’s Paul gets lightheaded and passes out completely.
Bob is amazed by Bette-Sue of the Pink mom and daughter team. She pushes herself hard and he wonders if she might just become a contender. Meanwhile, Bette-Sue says of Bob, “He does that taunting, and I just want to smack him,” and, “He’s just a mean little booger.” I think she’s happy she didn’t end up in Jillian’s camp!
In the kitchen, Jillian has some sponsored advice regarding liquids for Neill. She suggests he does not want to be drinking his calories – he should drink water to flush his system instead. It will detoxify his body and increases his metabolism.
Dr. Huizenga meets the competitors at a local hospital. After reviewing their medical tests, he and the rest of the medical team see a lot of disturbing items. Three-quarters of them have high blood pressure and half have severe obstructive sleep apnea and the rarer condition of fatty liver. So he has decided to show them where they will end up if they don’t make some changes. First stop – the morgue! Hey, is this the New Year’s Day version of the show or is it Halloween?
Dr. Huizenga tells them that if they don’t address the urgency of their situations, they will be in this room much sooner that the national average. Especially affected are footballer Roger, who thinks of his family, and mother/son team Jackie and Dan.
Some disturbing medical facts follow. We learn that nationally, sleep apnea is present in half of those who are overweight. Dr. Kearns speaks of fertility issues, such as difficulty conceiving, higher percentages of birth defects, and double the chance of miscarriage.
A cardiologist puts a plastic heart into a vat of fat and then shows it’s hard to even find the heart. Bette-Sue says the fat looks like fifty pounds of vanilla pudding. It looks like custard to me, but bottom line – yech! She is skeptical of the demo, but Dr. Huizenga says she has 167 pounds of hydrated fat on her body, and this story is real. A popup tells us that every additional two pounds of body fat increases the chance of coronary heart disease by one percent.
Yellow Team member Kelly relates how she has had trouble conceiving. Reluctant to share, Dr. Kearns prompts her to educate America. Some of her episodes have been life threatening, and at 39, her biological clock is ticking.
A radiologist informs Lynn that all four of the arteries into his heart are showing blockage from calcified plaque. He is told he can reverse the situation, but he needs to treat it now. Both he and his daughter are taking this very seriously. The doctor says this could be a very scary day for you, or it could be your best day, depending on the choices he makes.
Another group is told that if they lose 15 percent of their fat, they will experience a 50 percent improvement in sleep apnea problems.
Those are some disturbing facts, and I’m glad they took the time to educate us.
The next morning, the teams are assembled outside for a challenge. They note huge hot-air balloons in their team colors. The teams need to walk a course while dragging their balloon with them. It’s a windy day, so manipulating the balloons isn’t trivial, and smaller teams could be at a disadvantage.
The prize is a two-pound deduction at the next weigh-in. And… the last-place team must add two pounds to their total! Bette-Sue takes this personally and, sure that she is “dead meat,” is ready to give up before they even start. Daughter Ali knows it will be important for them to get a good start or her mom will give up.
Off to a good start are the brothers and the married Brown Team. Straggling is the father and daughter team, the exes, and last overall, the Purple team. The Pinks are about seventh. At a little after the halfway point, the Brown Team fades and the Blue Team passes them for second. However, despite stepping up their pace to a healthy trot, they cannot catch the brothers. Blue Team’s Bernie is having no fun at all, puking repeatedly near the finish line while partner Brittany tries to get him to keep running.
Bette-Sue’s Pink Team finishes in the middle of the pack. As she busts a move while seated, she tells us, “I’m learning from these youngsters about the Beyoncé victory dance. If I was standing, it would be really good! Mm-mm-mm!” Ha!
At the tail end, the Yellow and Green teams push hard to hold off the plodding young camp workers (Purple Team). Maggie admits she is embarrassed to be last and doesn’t take much solace from the encouragements of the others.
The next scene is late that evening, at a quarter to eleven. Most of the teams are working out. However, missing is Green Team father Lynn, who refuses to work out after earlier promising his daughter Jenni that he would. She finds his refusal frustrating. At about 11:15 PM, she hunts him down and tells him, “I’m very disappointed in you,” but nothing will sway him and she walks out of the kitchen, crying and inconsolable.
However, Lynn wakes up early the next morning and all alone puts in an extra workout session. I’m guessing some Campus dwellers didn’t even know this happened until the show aired.
Meanwhile, Bernie of the Blue Team finds he is unable to keep his food down. He spends the night in the hospital, getting extra tests. He’s worried that he’s letting his Blue teammate Brittany down.
The next scenes show the last-chance workouts. It’s pretty rough for these newbies, but everyone seems to be applying themselves to the best of their abilities. Bernie is cleared to work out, but Bob wants him to take it easy, being sure to drink lots of water, and not to press himself too hard. Teammate Brittany shares Bernie’s concern that he may be putting the team at risk.
It’s time for the weigh-in. Alison tells us that the two teams that have the worst results will be up for elimination. Trainers are on hand.
As Alison polls the group for opinions, she asks the Yellow Team’s Paul and Kelly if they worked this hard together when they were married. Unfortunately Paul responds before thinking and says, “One of us gave up.”
Kelly says they had agreed not to say things to hurt each other while on Campus, and as she’s the one who left the marriage, what Paul said is a shot about that topic. Getting weepy, she insists she hasn’t given up here, nor is she about to. Paul apologizes several times, but the damage is done. Meanwhile, Amanda, Bette-Sue, and Ali all shoot looks that to me, convey both a low opinion of Paul and a hope that they can write his name down on an elimination card real soon.
Alison delivers additional cheerful news – the elimination ceremony will be in one hour, and not the usual 24. Jeepers, how will the trainers be able to manipulate results without a day to wear their charges down and impose their will on them?
Before they get weighed, Orange Team mother Jackie comes to the verge of tears, scared by the excellent numbers of the other teams. So does Pink Team’s Ali, who actually has a damp, hysterical meltdown. Jeepers, Bob’s got his work cut out for him – combined with Bette-Sue earlier, that’s the third time in the episode that one of his people tried to give up before even trying!
The following chart shows the results (including the initial weights). As the two-pound reward/penalty ends up having no impact, I’ve excluded them from my totals and percentages. Here are the results:
In a later cameo from Green team’s Jenni, she doesn’t understand why she worked so much harder than her dad and equally hard as most of the rest, yet had the smallest loss to show for it.
Pink Team’s Ali also recorded a message. She thinks her good numbers said to the others, “Huh – showed you!” Showed them what? She was the one who thought they couldn’t do well.
Whatever. When all the dust settles, Alison informs the Green (father/daughter) and Purple (girlfriends) teams that they will be facing elimination. Bob and Jillian are sent off, and they will not learn the results of the vote until tomorrow.
The teams meet to discuss the situation. The Purple Team (best friends Maggie and Jenn) say they want to stay, and so does the Green Team’s Jenni. However, her father Lynn all but gives permission for the others to send him packing, saying that as a duo, they can do it themselves at home.
In their room while packing their suitcases, Jenni expresses he frustration with his speech and his general attitude about being there. He reminds her who lost the least amount of weight, while he lost 19 pounds. Jenni is sure his commitment will disappear as soon as the plane lands at home. She’s also sure he will be dead in a couple of years.
It’s voting time. The Yellow Team votes first, for the Purple Team. However, the White, Blue, Orange, Brown, and Pink teams all vote for Green Team, and the father/daughter team is eliminated, five to one, with two undisclosed.
Lynn promises they will keep up with the program, and they depart with minimal fanfare.
It’s apparent Lynn didn’t buy into the program like Jenni did. In video, she hopes he doesn’t regret this decision in the future, and he assures her he will never change his opinion on that. Jenni says she still loves him.
In more current video, Jenni tells us it took her about two weeks to get herself calmed down and straightened out once she got home. Jenni explains that although his diet is better, Lynn isn’t going to the gym. Jenni is trying her best on her own and is using her friends as her support system.
Pictures taken six weeks later shows us that Lynn has lost thirty more pounds and Jenni, twenty. Good luck to you, folks!
My Opinion: In the first week there’s often no great reason to vote someone out, so Lynn sealed their fate by his speech just before the voting. I’m not sure that either team was a threat to win, so I’d have voted against the team trained by the other trainer than my own.
Sometime around weeks two or three, the weight-loss numbers often get very small. I hope Bob prepares his team for that!
Well, that’s it for week one – we’ll see how this all plays out. Join me here 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!
More at home with popcorn than push-ups, Brian can be reached at email@example.com. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!
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