Tuesday, April 1, 2008

'The Biggest Loser': Like a punch from a kangaroo

Nokiainside - Hot News

The Biggest Loser goes Down Under this week, and all the gorgeous shots of Sydney are almost enough to make me ignore the blubbering. Granted, some of the tears are earned (yes, I got a little sniffley at points), but most of the weeping and gnashing of teeth was over the top.

Throw another spoiler on the barbie.

Whoo-hoo! Australia! The Land of Oz! Home of gorgeous beaches, stunning rainforests, brilliant cities, and more things that can kill you per capita than just about anywhere else on the planet! Heck, there's a seashell that can cause death! I LOVE this place!

Our hardy contestants won't be facing anything more perilous than Bob and Jillian-who are, admittedly, pretty darn scary. Bob and Jillian are trainers for Australia's version of the show, and all of a sudden their involvement in the show makes much more sense. They get paid to go to Australia? Lucky devils.

Look, there's not much point to taking the contestants to Australia, or much new stuff they do -- apparently they sold a product placement to a travel company, and they decided what the hell. What it means is we get plenty of pictures of Sydney, and cool restaurants, and great markets, and the harbor, and clubs, and hotels, and wow, do I really want to go back to Australia again. Sydney may be my favorite city on the face of the planet.

The challenge
At first, I'm disdainful of the challenge -- the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb? It's cool, but it's not that huge a challenge. You're roped in at all times, and they basically tell you anyone can do it so long as you can walk under your own power. Fantastic views, not really as intimidating or exhausting as it seems. A lot of it is just a gentle slope, not even that may stairs. It's possible they were climbing and walking a hell of a lot faster than I did, but still.

Alison clues us in that the bridge is just a spiffy backdrop -- they'll actually be doing a mini triathlon, starting with a 300 meter swim in Sydney Harbor. Wait, aren't there sharks there? Huh.

Apparently the Great Whites were napping, because everyone makes it to shore. Ali's a really strong swimmer, and she comes out ahead, with Mark second. They swap places during the bike ride (through the botanical gardens, which are stunning -- plus, you can see really huge fruit bats hanging from the jacaranda trees, which made me laugh), and Ali is trailing Mark through the final footrace and 44-story stair climb.

Here's where I'll admit to getting a little teary-eyed: Mark makes it to the top of the stairs first -- and, because he respects Ali as a competitor so much, waits for her to catch up so they can cross the finish line together (actually Ali carries him piggyback over the line. Hee!) Jay and Roger follow, and then everyone goes out to the stairs to encourage Kelly to finish the climb. It's a big deal, and I'm thrilled that everyone is supporting everyone else. That's what I like to see.

The weigh-in
It's a wild and wooly week -- the competitors have had plenty of gym time, but their schedules have been disrupted something fierce. That really takes a toll on everyone. Ali again takes the top spot, losing 3 pounds for 2.01% of her body weight. Roger is next, down 2 pounds, or .85%. Curses! Everyone was hoping they'd get a shot at ejecting Roger this week.

It comes down to Kelly and the brothers -- and Kelly pulls it out. She loses 1 pound, or .52%. The biggest shocker? Mark and Jay both gain a pound -- apparently their bodies don't react well to a change of schedule (or time zone, or hemisphere). That means the Brothers Blue are up against each other in the elimination.

This time, Jay tearfully insists that he must be the one to go home. Oh, alas! Alack! And woe upon woe! You guessed the rest -- there's a lot of crying and strangled voices, but Jay is the one to go. Even Alison looks slightly shiny-eyed. At this point, however, I'm sick of the histrionics and I just want the crying to stop.

Jay looks great at home -- he's lost 100 pounds, and he's running every day. He's even organizing a 10K to raise money and awareness for the Beckwith-Wiedemann Children's Foundation. Go, Jay! Normally I'm against the whole product-placement aspect of the show, but I'm more than happy to point people towards a children's health charity.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends:

  • When Ali gets all dressed up to go dancing, she looks incredible. That's why it's almost physically painful to hear her worrying that her arms still look too fat. It just shows how deep body issues can go. Ali, sweetie -- you look incredible. You are incredible. Trust us -- you have nothing to worry about.
  • It worries me that Bob may not know precisely what a continent is. He says the Biggest Loser is dealing with weight on every continent -- which I doubt, unless there are bench-pressing penguins on what's left of the Ross Ice Shelf. Then he says Australia is the second most overweight continent, following only the United States of America. Remember, Bob -- Australia is the only country that is also a continent. The USA is big, but it doesn't stand on its own.
  • Bob is disappointed when Dan isn't among the competitors -- "Dan had a way of making me feel young," he says. Funny, he had a way of making me feel completely nuts.
  • I did like the footage of everyone checking out the local seafood and fruit market -- especially when Bob was watching Mark go after the enormous lobster in the tank. "It's gonna get you and I'm gonna laugh."
  • I loved that a women running in the park encouraged Kelly to keep going, even running alongside her.
  • Possibly my favorite moment of the whole show: Mark calls home, and starts crying, His wife, Erica says "Oh my god, are you crying again?" Then she laughs -- "You're a mess! You need to snap out of it, toughen up!"
Next week, the final four are back on campus, but their trainers are not. What? Plus, America will decide the last member of the final three. Good move, or totally bogus? And are you booking your flight to Australia yet?

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