Amy Wilkinson
January 07, 2009 AT 06:44 PM EST

What better time for the start of another season of NBC’s weight-loss behemoth, The Biggest Loser, than the beginning of a new year — a time when many of us are begrudgingly nibbling on chicken breasts and steamed broccoli when we’d rather be downing Cool Ranch Doritos and Phish Food ice cream? And what better motivation than watching a group of 22 contestants drop the equivalent of a pre-schooler every week? So let’s raise our bottles of filtered Brita water and 100-calorie packs to toast a new year and a new season of tough love from Bob and Jillian!

As my colleague Annie Barrett mentioned earlier this week, the series’ seventh season is indeed its biggest ever. The heaviest contestant weighs 454 lbs., and he’s only 19! And the trainers have some heavy lifting ahead of them, too, which became especially evident as Bob and Jillian secretly watched the couples via hidden camera during their first workouts — sans trainers.

After the couples were split into two teams, they found their way to a dimly lit bridge — why do all the challenges on this show seem to happen under the cover of darkness? — for their first challenge. I give this one a 2.3 out of 10 on the creativity scale. Running across a bridge and climbing over a pile of sand? That’s the best the show’s producers could come up with? How about forcing the teams to do it three-legged-race style or with one of them wearing a blindfold? Anyway… Though the sister duo of the yellow team gave it a valiant effort, it was the dude cousins of the black team who won — and got immunity. Here’s how the rest of the episode played out:

Heaviest moment: Undoubtedly, 63-year-old Jerry collapsing after his first workout — before Jillian even sank her maniacal claws into him. Thankfully he’s okay, and lost an impressive 25 lbs.

What the #$*@ moment: I think I’m going to like the feisty girls of the “silver bullet” team, but why did Carla think her workout needed the flourish of a parallel-bars routine? Honey, the Olympics were last year. Leave that crazy Nastia Liukin business at home.

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Biggest twist(s): The entire elimination played out like a soap opera, maybe even like an episode of Days of Our Lives,Ms. Alison Sweeney! First the perky host announced that there would beno elimination. After the whoops and cheers subsided, she got to thecatch: No one would be eliminated, but nine people would be sent home(each team except for the Biggest Loser team and the team with immunitywould have to nix one player). I was really starting to question whythis season is called Biggest Loser: Couples, when there’d beno, you know, COUPLES. But then the final Ding Dong dropped: The playerswho were sent home could return to the ranch in 30 days if theirpartners were still in the game. By this point, Allison could have toldme I had a long-lost twin named Rupert and I probably would havebelieved her.

Biggest Losers: In the end, the father/son brown team werethe Biggest Losers having dropped a combined 54 lbs. Dad Ron lost 32 ofthem himself (the largest amount ever for one week).

Honorable mentions: The yellow team’s Aubrey for sprintingthe last 50 yards of the elimination challenge and almost overcoming the black team’s lead. Also, 19-year-old Dan for dropping 30 lbs.Perhaps it’s his youth, but every time he opens his mouth — in particular, when he shared his dream of growing old andsitting on the porch with his bud David — I get alittle teary eyed.

Tell me I’m not alone in that department, PopWatchers. I’m also curious: Who are your favorites sofar? What were your favorite moments from last night’s premiere? Andhow many product placements did you catch? (I saw three.)

More Biggest Loser:
‘Biggest Loser 7’ preview: Gonna need a little more effort from the Orange Team
‘Biggest Loser’ season 6 winner: The 110-pound finale

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