About Last Night: Happy New Year! Now Get On That Treadmill

Here's how you get off to a good start with your weight loss resolution: sit still for 120 minutes and watch other people exercising. "Can two people who have gotten fat together lose the weight together?" was the question posed at the start of episode one of the fifth season of The Biggest Loser, which is using a couples format for the first time.

We met the teams one by one. Bette-Sue and Ali: a mother and daughter who were both former competitive swimmers. Curtis and Mallory: a married couple. Curtis had been told that he was too obese to receive medical insurance, which made him feel like a failure as a father. Jenn and Maggie: friends who serve as fat camp counselors. They were understandably worried about what sort of example they are setting. Neil and Amanda: newlyweds who decided to leave their baby behind for the show. Paul and Kelly: a divorced couple. Paul sounded like he wanted back with the missus. Paul was worried because he is approaching the age his father was when he died. Lynn and Jenni: father/daughter. Jenni was looking forward to bonding with the old man. Jackie and Dan: mother/son. Jackie said she indulged her son and led him down the road to pudginess. Dan looked like a blown-up Cousin Oliver. Mark and Jay: brothers. Both termed themselves successful at everything but staying in shape. Trent and Roger: former football teammates. Trent believed no other teams could relate as well as they do. Alison introduced herself to the teams and surprised them with one more team: two strangers who were members of the Biggest Loser Club, Brittany and Bernie.

The first challenge called on the teams to race to the top of a nearby mini-mountain and back down. Upon finishing, the teams would line up behind the trainer of their choice, either Jillian or Bob (Kim has disappeared). Jillian seemed to be favored, and Mark and Jay picked her when they finished first. Bette-Sue had so much trouble she crawled up the last section of the hill. Five of the first seven teams picked Jillian, leaving the last three for Bob, who wondered if he was considered not tough enough. Bette-Sue cried at the end, worried about being a burden to her daughter as she and Ali came in last.

The first weigh-in commenced, with a special scale that weighed both team members simultaneously. Doing well on your own would not matter if your teammate was not also losing. Seeing the weight spelled out was a depressing eye-opener for many. At 436 pounds, Trent was tied for the heaviest player ever. Jillian complained about the losers having "their enablers" with them, but she put her 10 charges through their workout paces. Bob's teams weren't thrilled with his taskmaster duties either. The losers were brought to the hospital to hear from the show physician Dr. Huizenga, who warned them they would be back for real if they didn't make changes soon. The doctor took them into the morgue to drive the point home.

For the second challenge, the teams had to drag hot air balloons around a marked course. Winners would have two pounds subtracted at the weigh-in, and the last place team would have the weight added, which worried Bette-Sue. Mark and Jay won their second challenge, and Maggie and Jenn were last, which surprised them given their youth. Later on, while working out, Jenni complained that Lynn wasn't doing his part. She challenged him to come work out and he angrily refused citing his age, reducing her to tears. Lynn got up early the next day to get some cardio in. For his part, Bernie was concerned that he was having trouble keeping food down; Brittany wondered if his weakness would hurt their team, which had been performing well.

At the weigh-in, Alison said the losers would have only one hour to decide who would be voted out. Most of the teams reported huge losses off the bat. Trent dropped 29 pounds all by himself. Maggie/Jenn (hurt by the two-pound penalty) and Lynn/Jenni were the bottom two teams. Jenni complained again about her father's lack of effort, but Lynn pointed out she had lost less than any other competitor. Lynn's attitude was perhaps the deciding factor for the others, who voted them out. Lynn and Jenni have lost a combined 50 additional pounds since leaving the campus, though the update segment seemed to be dancing around the suspicion that Lynn is still not really into it. (Being Fat Sucks)

The Amazing Race:

We seem to get one of these every season: India week. The teams had to fly from Florence to Mumbai. Kynt and Vyxsin, who were worried because they knew they would have an extra task at some point, caught a break when their flight got to Mumbai before everyone else's, although teams bunched up again overnight. Teams bought a newspaper and hunted through it to find an ad telling them where to go next. The Detour choice was: hang a Bollywood movie poster, or create a garland for a wedding. Kynt and Vyxsin discovered their extra task, which was to perform some yoga poses. Ron, who had been a bit more normal lately, spent the poster-hanging task blowing up at Christina. The last U-Turn of the race, which requires the team receiving it to return to do the second Detour task, was on this leg. Kynt and Vyxsin managed to get to the U-Turn fourth, but foolishly used it on the long gone Nicholas and Donald instead of Jennifer and Nathan, who they had just seen doing the detour with them. The Roadblock required a team member to deliver propane tanks to two addresses. TK and Rachel used her garland-making skills to ascend to first place, while Jennifer and Kynt both made mistakes on the Roadblock that would typically be fatal. On this day, though, they were fatal for only Kynt and Vyxsin, who now have a game status that reflects their Goth makeup. [My TV Musings]

The Girls Next Door:

Bridget had a yearning to perform on a trapeze, for some reason. She climbed up and tried it, hanging from her legs and screaming with glee. Several other girls tried it too, but Kendra passed on it despite her athletic image. She had to admit she was afraid of heights. Bridget thought the annual Midsummer Night's Dream party should have an Arabian theme. Holly insisted that plans be made to keep Hef comfortable during the party.

Bridget had Kendra and Kendra's mom on her radio show, and the girls were searching for a date for Patty to take to the party, as Patty was looking to show off her plastic surgery. Kendra thought the show was a boost to Patty's confidence. Holly said she had a track record of dressing up as Disney princesses, and this year would be Jasmine. Kendra took her mother to a place called Trashy Lingerie, and the mom and daughter clashed over just how sexy mom should be. Kendra felt it was weird to see her mom's breasts at the lingerie store (imagine that).

Bridget said that Hef gave a thumbs-up to the Arabian party theme, and things took shape in a satisfactory way. Hef joked that he was thinking of having Patty moved into the mansion. Patty kidded around with her hairdresser: she didn't want to date; she just wants to be married. About 1000 people were present for the party. All the girls were expected to be in lingerie. Patty's entrance was heavily anticipated, since few had seen her since her surgery. The verdict was that she now looked more like Kendra. Holly pronounced the party a big hit, and Kendra was thrilled that everyone thought her mom was hot. Kendra has hired a male stripper who came dressed as a construction worker, since Patty was into them. She liked the idea of Patty being the center of attention, and thought it would be the memory of a lifetime.

Father Hood:

Snoop said his oldest son Corde ("Spank") was more sports-oriented and not into the sort of bad behavior Snoop himself had been into at that age. Snoop said things had changed since he was a teen, and the idea that his son wouldn't be allowed to have girls over was unrealistic. Snoop told his wife that he wouldn't be able to take the kids to practice tomorrow because he would be filming the hilarious "Sensual Seduction" video. Cori told her parents that Corde and Anthony were going to a party, and they seemed surprised he was getting advice on how to appeal to girls. Shante told Snoop that Corde needed to get this sort of advice from his father. Snoop told his son he needed to get permission for something like a party with girls, and he asked Corde if he'd like to go to the video shoot...where there would also be girls, but where there would also be "adult supervision."

Snoop introduced the family patriarch Uncle Junebug, a southern raconteur right out of central casting. Junebug flirted with the girls at the video shoot. Anthony tried to run his own game with the girls while an amused Corde watched. Junebug reminisced about his youthful times with women as Corde listened. Anthony kept flirting ineffectually, but Snoop warned him he had to be classier in the company of a real lady. Snoop was worried that Junebug might be talking to his son while drunk, and interrupted during a raunchy soliloquy. Snoop demanded to talk to Corde, and then told him that Shante made him wait a long time and only eventually got around to liking him. Snoop said he didn't think he was Shante's type when they were teenagers because he ran with a rough crowd, but he was determined to have her. Snoop and Shante looked back on what a charming suitor he had been.

Rich Bride, Poor Bride:

Necole and Raymond were the happy couple, although they tussled a bit on their way to the altar. Raymond knew they needed a planner to help them work within a budget, but neither had a strong feeling about what they wanted. They told planner Claudio that they wanted things simple, although Raymond said there might be as many as 300 guests. The bride and groom said they wanted a dry wedding, which Claudio told them was not a great idea, but Necole insisted. Claudio and his sassy assistant checked out the reception venue. Necole said she was thinking of going along with the idea of having some wine after all, but didn't seem enthusiastic. Claudio mentioned the notion of a cash bar, which Necole was really opposed to, although Raymond was more interested in accommodating the idea of booze. Necole flatly said that if his family wanted to pay for it, then she would agree, and that's what they went with.

Nicole was particular about what she wanted in a cake, but again stressed she wanted it simple and within a budget. Raymond had control of arranging transportation, but seemed most interested in making sure he didn't pick either the most expensive or least expensive option. A new twist in wedding prep came up next: a trip to the dentist for tooth bleaching. Raymond was in charge of the engagement photo and handled things to Necole's satisfaction. Necole next went shoe shopping for herself and her bridesmaids. She had some difficulty walking in the shoes that she preferred, and got lessons on how to do it. Claudio sat down with the couple to check and make sure the budget was being adhered to.

Necole again brought up the bar as a place where costs could be cut, and Raymond said the problem was the four pairs of shoes Necole had bought. Raymond and Nicole went to dinner and continued to disagree over spending; he gave her a cake topper he had bought. On rehearsal day, the couple decided against using a choir, which disappointed Claudio. The assistant again chewed Claudio out -- you'd never guess which one was the superior to listen to them fight.

On the wedding day, Necole was calm, but Raymond admitted to being nervous. Necole learned to walk in the shoes, and the ceremony went off with no hitches. Raymond was thrilled to see his contribution to the day -- the vintage car. Claudio judged that Raymond's cake topper was too heavy to actually sit atop the cake, so he set it to the side. Necole loved the reception hall, and the bar was more popular than Necole thought it would be, so much so that Raymond became concerned that the budget would get out of control and asked that it be closed early. The wedding ended up costing $50,444, waaaaaay past the original goal of $30,000. The moral of the story: $2,500 is too much to get your teeth whitened.

Law & Order: SVU:

The body of a young woman was found in a park. The victim was discovered to be Shelby, a Debutante. After some red herrings appeared involving Shelby's rich boyfriend, her "public school boyfriend," and a friend who was canoodling with the rich boyfriend, Shelby's missing earring turned up at a pawnshop, brought in by a scrawny girl who appeared to be homeless. The girl, Josie, was traced to a "street family"--an adult male and female in charge of a group of homeless kids. Stabler and Benson found the street family's camp, and grabbed the girl while losing the adults. Josie was protective of her "dad" and wouldn't squeal, so the detectives taunted her with food to get her to open up. Finally she talked, saying her "mom and dad," Cassidy and Cole, were involved with killing Shelby. Stabler and Benson turned Josie over to a woman at a homeless shelter who had previously shown an interest in her creative writing, but when they headed back to the family's camp, they saw a scrawled threat against Josie.

Rushing to the homeless shelter, they found Josie's protector dead and the girl missing. The detectives realized Josie's writing was describing her street family's crimes. Josie's body turned up, showing signs of torture. Josie's street mother Cassidy refused to turn in Cole, but when Stabler and Benson said she might be complicit in his crimes, she was willing to deal, describing a process where Cole used murder as a means of establishing control over his "family." Cassidy gave up Cole's likely hiding place and he was apprehended after a fierce struggle with Stabler. Cole blew up at Cassidy in court, telling her she would never be safe from the family.

Cassidy's mother and father showed up at the police station after seeing her in media coverage, and the detectives realized Cassidy had lied about winding up on the streets to get away from a squalid home. Cassidy was actually Helen, a spoiled brat from Park Avenue who ran away from home in rebellion. It was then discovered that Helen had gone to school with Shelby, and that the murder was likely the result of embarrassment about being discovered to be a street person. In order to get Helen convicted of anything, the detectives needed cooperation from the now-convicted Cole. After he heard the sorts of things Helen had said about him in court, Cole was willing to testify against her, saying her lies led him to kill Shelby. Helen was convicted of second-degree manslaughter. Interesting to see Mae Whitman (Cassidy/Helen) moving into adult roles.

Iron Chef America:

The challenger was Guy Rubino (whose "hometown," Alton Brown told us, was "Ontario, Canada"), an Asian cuisine specialist who hosts the show Made to Order. He picked Mychal Simon to do battle with. The secret ingredient was rabbit, which eliminated 95% of my interest right there. Both chefs seemed to be using a lot of spice, which can only help. Simon had rabbit meatballs going, and the challenger was making a puree of livers (this episode may motivate more appetite suppression than The Biggest Loser).

Rubino dropped prawn shells into a bowl filled with liquid nitrogen, which isn't something you see every day. Simon was frying quail eggs as part of one dish. When it came time to serve, Rubino explained his philosophies. The rabbit loin was cooked Korean style and was praised for its tenderness. Rubino used the expression "rabbit mousse" for maybe the first time in world history. Simon told the judges his goal was to use the entire animal. Simon giggled in a most un-Iron Chef-like manner while introducing his risotto. Simon, the newest Iron Chef, was deemed the winner, based entirely on his superior score for taste. [Le Food News]