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'The Biggest Loser': bigger than ever

January 6, 2010 |  9:18 am

Too cruel?

Season 9 of "The Biggest Loser" kicked off with two twists. The contestants make up the biggest cast ever, with five players weighing over 400 pounds and one player weighing an astonishing 526 pounds. The first twist: a public weigh-in.

In the past, players had their initial weigh-in at the ranch. Granted, it's public, it's mortifying, but it's also in a supportive setting -- all the players are there -- and the looky-loos are limited. This time, the players had to weigh-in in public: in front of friends, family and the world. Daris and SunShine were visibly shaken. The next twist: Two teams were sent home immediately following the very first challenge, riding a marathon's distance of 26.2 miles on a stationary bike. The yellow and blue teams didn't make the cut and were sent home in a grab-the-Kleenex moment. Thankfully, there was a twist to the twist. As the devastated yellow and blue teams headed home, Bob and Jillian flagged down their limos to tell them that they have 30 days to lose enough weight to compete for a spot back in the house.

Was it too harsh? It's likely that Bob and Jillian would say that the public weigh-in was a courageous first step to acknowledging just how out of shape these folks have become -- and to give them a moment so horrifying that they'll do whatever it takes to never go back there. They would probably also say that the blue and yellow teams were given a gift -- an opportunity to go home with fire in their bellies and find out what they're made of. And then of course there is the fact that this is a game, after all -- one that is never played the same way twice so as to keep the contestants from trying to manipulate the race for the cash prizes that await at the end. And it's one all the contestants willingly signed on for.

But what did you think of all of this?

Some other highlights:

--We're going to have monster weight loss numbers this season: Both Patti and Michael already set records in the first week.

--Are Bob and Jillian going to get sent to the principal's office for pulling the fire alarm? You know that someone, somewhere will complain about this. Seriously, kids: Do not try that at home.

--Is someone new doing Jillian's makeup? That bronzy, eye-liner thing suits her.

--After nine seasons of being portrayed as "the nice one," we find the truth out about Bob, in his own words: "I'm a sadist, I just want to push people to their extremes, I just want people to cry and scream" so that they go back to the real world and realize "I can handle anything."

--Note to the producers: Please arrange a Tongan dance reunion between Koli and Sam and their "brothers" from seasons past, Felipe and Sione.

--Miggy isn't kidding when she says the green team will bring an intensity to everything they do. They handily won the first challenge.

--Is there a "villian" here? You know, a Heba or a Vicky? And if so, who will it be? They all seem so nice. But you know there is one lurking...

--Let's hear it for Team Orange! Cheryl for her heretofore-unseen drive -- Jillian was like a black widow on that treadmill, trying to suck it out of her -- and Daris for that unbelievable mop-o-hair. Let's hope it doesn't get chopped off come makeover week.

And that brings us to our quote of the episide: Bob, on "Badass" Cheryl: "Somebody wound up that momma and let her spin like a top up in this gym."

A hearty congrats to James, one half of the twins, who had the misfortune of being eliminated after this week's weigh-in. He went home and lost 100 pounds. Given how he and his brother are lock-step in all things...can we assume that John has also already lost 100 pounds? We'll find out.

--Rene Lynch

Photo credit: NBC Universal