It’s back! The Biggest Loser is back! We’re stomping out obesity! By “we” I mean Anna Kournikova. Did you see how skinny she was in last season’s finale? I don’t know about that. First thing’s first: let’s meet these people and see some truly embarrassing shots of them eating burgers and ice cream and pizza.

Courtney is first, and she is definitely going to be sexy-hot at the end of this journey. Joe has earned the nickname “Daddy Joe,” but is that because he’s overweight? Becky is doing this for her father and her children, to set a positive example. Is it just me or are the contestants less overweight this season? I’ve become desensitized to obesity.

The Biggest Loser bus drops the contestants off in the middle of the desert, wearing shirts with their ages on them. No one is sure what to do. “Should we start exercising?” they all think, hoping the answer is “not yet.” Enter Alison Sweeney in a Humvee and a hairstyle that is completely age inappropriate.

Alison has them line up in their shirt number order. She tells them those numbers “represent” their ages, and this season they’re pitting the age groups against each other. I’m sure the people under 30 are thrilled/over-confident. The contestants are divided by “under 30,” “over 50” and everyone in between, which John notes is “the perfect blend” of wisdom and energy. I am totally rooting for the over 50 team.

Next: three trainers, and none of them are Jillian, Bret, or Cara. I will not miss Bret, but I can’t believe they didn’t bring Cara back. Anyway, helicopters courtesy of the Marines (why?). This is needlessly expensive unless they’re going to pull those helicopters for their first challenge.

First up is Bob, who we all know and love. Bob will be coaching the Black Team this season. Did he get more tattoos over the summer? Next, out of her own loud helicopter, Anna Kournikova. She looks good, and not freaky thin like the last time we saw her on this show. Maybe she’s just wearing sleeves now. She will coach the Blue Team. Last but not least: menacing celebrity trainer Dolvett Quince. He is unexpectedly gentle sounding in his interview. Dolvett gets the Red Team.

At last, the first challenge! The teams have to earn their right to choose their trainer. But the trainers have sped away in Humvees with the helicopters! Is the theme this season militant obedience? Anyway, everyone is shooting for Bob because they know him. That one guy with the long hair (Ramon) wants Anna, though. I like him.

The teams must race one mile, all together, to choose their trainer. Bonnie, of the 50+ team is worried because she’s got a bad case of backwards knee (or she just had surgery. I don’t know, I’m not Dr. Huizenga!). The seniors barely even try for Bob, they just want to finish. I love them!

“Big Vinny” is from Nashville, and is a professional entertainer. But little did everyone know that overalls were all that could fit him. No, that’s not true, and I like Vinny. The middle group is gaining on the younger group, because they have the ex-NFL guy, Antone, on their side!

The younger team decides it will be good enough just to finish together with one of the other trainers. They also have an ex-football player in Ramon. I tear up with every single story we hear introducing the contestants. I just like them all so much and I want them to do well.

Bob knew he was getting picked first, and the Middle Team becomes the Black Team with Bob as their trainer. Antone will win this whole thing if they let him (unless he sneaks off to eat bags of chips and then falls on his own sword–I’m looking at you, Rulon!).

The Young Team picks up speed, and rewards Dolvett for his enthusiasm by choosing him and becoming the Red Team. I bet Anna is pissed she got the old, walking team. The Russian will not stand for this! She ran her bony butt out there to meet them and finish with her new Blue Team. Why am I crying at that? I just love the seniors.

Touchingly, and only a little patronizingly, everyone else runs out to meet them and finish with the seniors. There was triumphant music, it was just great. Everyone gets their shirts and Alison promises them that in a few months, they will all return to this spot to compete in a marathon. All of them, even if they’ve been eliminated! John, 40, is like “no, girl.” But the winner of the marathon will automatically become a finalist! That’s huge incentive, guys!

It’s the first day at the Biggest Loser Ranch. What about the public humiliation and weigh-in? No? I’m totally fine with skipping it. I love the pictures of past winners and successes they put up on the walls! They had to cover up the quotes from Jillian, who works for now.

I’ve decided I like Dolvett, he’s all about the mental game as well as working out. He’s also working hard to prove himself because he’s the most expendable at this point. Anna is working hard to master the English language still. She tells the seniors that no one expects anything from them. I don’t know about her for this show.

I bet Debbie will be the first to call Anna a bitch. She’s very sweet, but she’s always asking for breaks, which Anna will not allow. Debbie’s got some fight in her. Johnny quits, Anna lets him. Why does everyone on this show have nicknames? Johnny is also known as “Boston Johnny” but all we know him as is “quitter,” until he dug deeper and got back on the treadmill!

So Bob made Antone cry a bunch, and then it made me cry. Bob got his first motivational speech of the season, proving he is incredibly good at this thing we call The Biggest Loser. Anna Kournikova is just not that good.

In the middle of the night, Becky gets an urgent phone call. Her father was dealing with congestive heart failure and passed away. To deal with it, Becky took her emotions to the elliptical. Good girl! She left, but will be back in a couple days. The seniors sit in the kitchen with Anna and talk about death. It was a stone cold bummer.

Anna’s accent makes everything she says sound insincere and manufactured. I’ll need to get over that, because we’re committed at this point.

Last. Chance. Workout! Screaming, sweating, crying–it’s all happening in Season 12. Also, Becky is back with a renewed determination. She made Anna cry/prove she is a human and not the T2. She’s still not great at this trainer thing, but she’ll improve with time.

The person Dolvett is worried about is Patrick. He’s incredibly skeptical of Patrick. Then Dolvett kicked him out of the gym, giving Patrick time to reflect on his self-loathing. Dolvett got his moment with Patrick and proved his worth as the new trainer. Forget Jillian, this season is all about Dolvett!

Bonus scene: Dolvett and Vinny have a motivating heart to heart talk

Everyone has to prove themselves at the first Weigh-In. Tonight we’re going oldest to youngest, starting with Boston Johnny. He lost 17 pounds, off to a good start! Maybe Anna’s team won’t all go home right away! Bonnie with the bum knee only lost 4 pounds. Anna promises that they’ll find a way, but I just don’t trust her to know the options for her seniors.

Mike lost 12 pounds, Debbie lost 6 (and Anna doesn’t like her). Last for the Blue team is Becky, who lost 10 pounds. The Black team weighs in next, and they have to lose about 13 pounds each to beat the Blue team. Joe lost 22 pounds on his own, so that’s a great start. And he’s already off his blood pressure medicine! Antone lost 32 pounds, pretty much securing a win for Bob’s team. Sunny (who is Sunny?) lost 16 pounds, John lost 37 pounds, and Jennifer lost 19. Beasts!

Bonus Scene: Jennifer working hard and opening up to Bob

The Red team needs to have lost more than 60 pounds. Can the young people prove themselves? Vinny kicks things off by dropping 21 pounds. Ramon lost 17, and at this rate he’s got a haircut in his future! Jessica lost 15 pounds, Patrick made a tearful speech and lost  20 pounds. Anna looks envious of Dolvett’s youthful team. After that, Courtney lost 16 pounds even though it didn’t matter.

So Debbie’s going home, right? The only person the Blue team can’t vote out is Johnny. I think Bonnie is worried, too. They won’t vote Becky or Mike out! Debbie started her statement out, “I’m not saying I want to go home,” and that pretty much wrote her ticket back to her “support system” at home. Also, Debbie told Bonnie that her crying was annoying, so BYE DEBBIE!

Of course, Debbie was voted out because she pretty much stuck her neck in the guillotine and dared them to lower the blade. See you at the marathon, Debbie. I’m sure Anna is glad you won’t be whining in her gym anymore.

What do you think of the new season? How do you like Dolvett and Anna as trainers?

(image courtesy of NBC)

Carla Patton

Writer, BuddyTV

Originally from Seattle, Carla recently took a husband and moved to Austin, Texas, where she is finally using her television “problem” to her advantage. It’s sort of like Dexter, but boring and less murdering. Carla’s favorite shows include 30 RockThe Amazing RaceProject RunwayModern Family, anything with murder, and pretty much anything gross and weird (CSIThe BachelorToddlers & Tiaras, etc.). Favorite canceled shows include: Arrested DevelopmentVeronica Mars and Average Joe. In her spare time, Carla leads tours of downtown Austin on a Segway (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!), blogs about Netflix Instant, and visits elementary schools telling children they don’t need math to succeed (just kidding, stay in school, kids).