People Staff
January 07, 2009 12:00 AM

The premiere of the seventh season of The Biggest Loser: Couples last night proved its the heaviest yet, and we’re not just talking about the weight of the contestants! It was a night packed with a medical emergency, startling twists and wrenching epiphanies. So let’s get down to business.

First Workout, First Pass-Out: All 11 couples were thrown for a loop when told their first workout would be without the help of trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. Befuddled, most did a light treadmill walk or, in the case of Team Silver’s Carla Triplett, the heaviest woman ever on the show at 379 lbs., tried their best to break the equipment.

“It’s an insightful way of meeting the contestants,” Bob said while peering at them via hidden camera with Jillian, kind of like if TLC had a show called What Not To Weigh. As the trainers swooped in to rescue/torture their charges, oldest contestant Jerry Hayes, 63, turned white as a ghost and slumped to the floor. “I was afraid I was having to see a loved one leave me,” said Jerry’s wife Estella, also 63. “It was very scary.” But Jerry seemed to receive good care and was taken via ambulance to the hospital for tests. Weigh-In Twists: After the first challenge, a Survivor-like series of three races across a mountain of dirt, gained immunity for the Black Team (cousins Dane Patterson, 27, and Blaine Cotter, 27), the couples found out at the weigh-in that only one other pair would make it above the yellow line, and while no one would be eliminated, the remaining couples would have to choose one member each to work out at home.

Surviving the cut intact was Team Brown, the father and son team of Ron and Mike Morelli. And surprisingly, among those sacrificing their time on the Ranch was Team Silver’s Carla. Not surprisingly, 19-year-old college student Daniel Wright, who at 454 lbs. is the heaviest contestant ever on the show, remained as the defender of Team Orange. As he got the good news that he lost 30 pounds during his first week at the Ranch, Daniel shook his head and revealed, “One time in my life, I tried to lose weight, and I did. I lost 34 pounds. It took four months and then I gained it all back. With hard work and doing it the right way, I did it in a week. It’s awesome.”

And that’s what makes this season brim with promise. The hard work and tears are going to be cathartic for more than just the contestants (bring out the tissue box!). What a contrast to the gaming, conniving and all-around mean previous season of The Biggest Loser! –Cynthia Wang

Tell us: Are you looking forward to more team spirit and less gamesmanship this season? Which team will you cheer for? What do you think of the twist of sending 9 contestants home?

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