Tag Archives: Weight Loss

Huge – “Poker Face”

“Poker Face”

August 9th, 2010

After last week’s journey into slightly hokey territory, Huge returns to its roots with an episode that brings weight back to the forefront with the all-important weigh-in.

However, there’s a reason that it isn’t called “Weigh-in”: while “Poker Face” does return to each camper’s anxiety over their weight, it is more interested in how they respond than about how much weight they lost. Even with something this monumental, the show is still more about those small moments where campers confront the challenges which face them every day rather than those big moments where they stand on a scale.

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Trials and Transformations: Reflections on Watching The Biggest Loser

Trials and Transformations: Reflections on Watching The Biggest Loser

June 1st, 2010

I don’t entirely know why I started watching The Biggest Loser this season.

It’s not like I was particularly interested in one of the show’s gimmicks, or that I heard some positive things about the series; in fact, my one clear memory of my first experiences with the show is that I wanted to be able to offer my own perspective on the series to see if it matched with James Poniewozik’s distaste for it. I wasn’t watching because I was interested in the show itself, but rather I was interested in how it was structured, and how it was balancing its various generic elements within its two-hour running time.

However, at a certain point in the process this sort of forensic viewing pattern would have revealed all that I really needed to know: every episode of The Biggest Loser is structured the same way, so if I was only in it to discover how this reality series compared with others I could have stopped watching after a couple of weeks. That I was compelled to keep watching indicates the ways in which the series, perhaps more than any other, pushes you to keep watching until the end in order to witness the transformations, to be able to say that you saw these indiviiduals’ weight loss journeys from beginning to end.

And yet, as much as this may be what kept me watching (beyond the fact that it was recording on the DVR and made for a lazy way to start my Wednesday), it’s also a quality which is largely buried in the mess which is the rest of the show. The decision to extend the series to two hours full-time is smart in that people keep watching and NBC keeps making money, but the decision to draw out each of its moments points out the contradictions inherent to the show’s premise and forces viewers simply interested in the contestants’ progress to sit through a lot of material they have no interest in.

Accordingly, I do know why I won’t be watching The Biggest Loser next season, and why tonight’s premiere of spinoff Losing it with Jillian (10pm on NBC) will be summarily ignored based on its relationship with its big brother.

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: The Office – “Weight Loss”

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“Weight Loss”

Season Five, Episode One

Airdate: September 25th, 2008

If I had a time machine as opposed to a time capsule, I would go back in time and keep Amy Ryan from being nominated for that Oscar.

Don’t get me wrong: she was stunning in Gone Baby Gone, a film I watched for the first time recently and enjoyed a great deal, and she deserved that nomination and maybe even a win for her performance. But it made her an actress in demand, someone who could guarantee herself juicy supporting roles for years to come.

It also meant that Holly Flax, introduced in the great fourth season finale “Goodbye, Toby,” would eventually be leaving Dunder Mifflin. With her laidback style and willingness to ham it up with Michael, Holly was the best addition that the cast had seen perhaps since day one. Not only was Ryan quite hilarious in terms of her comic timing (the woman can do anything), but Holly as a character did something even more important: she humanized Michael Scott.

This was no more evident than in “Weight Loss,” what I believe to be the best hour-long episode the series has ever done. Using a unique structure that follows the office’s attempt to lose weight over an entire summer, the episode never plays out a single joke for too long, letting the episode tell itself in short stories and build naturally to its conclusion.

In the process, we get numerous highlights: Holly and Michael’s rap (which will forever go down as one of the most surreal, and hilarious, scenes of this show), Holly’s believe that Kevin is mentally challenged finally exploding, and…well, a lot of things involved with Holly. The show developed her and Michael’s relationship all within one episode: their moments of awkwardness, their moments of jealousy, and eventually that moment when it’s clear that they are both big dorks and made for each other.

The wonder of “Weight Loss” is that its compartmentalization works wonders on every storyline: Dwight and Angela’s trysts become even more hurtful towards Andy as they take place over an extended period, and what could have been (and eventually kind of did after the premiere) a contrived separation of Jim and Pam was helped by the illusion of time. When the time came for Jim’s surprise rest stop proposal, the episode felt more like a journey than the show ever has.

And while the season has had some strong one-off episodes (the end of the fourth season had quite a few that could easily have taken this spot), I feel as if this is the kind of Office I want them to move forward with: human, hilarious and worthy of the 2008 television time capsule.

Related Posts at Cultural Learnings

[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]

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Season Premiere: The Office – “Weight Loss”

“Weight Loss”

September 25th, 2008

There’s something very ironic about the desire to slim things down that pervades this evening’s much-anticipated season premire of NBC’s The Office. The show’s biggest problem in an uneven fourth season was its hour-long episodes, those which felt too bloated and out of control; it was at its best in shorter segments which left no room to breathe between their humour and their awkwardness (“Dinner Party” as the best example). But here we are with another hour long segment, an awkward concept wherein two half hour parts (which will be split for the purpose of syndication) must come together to introduce us to the season ahead.

But, in the vein of “Goodbye, Toby,” this episode feels more an investigation into this office and its character than last season’s opening episodes which felt much more mundane, much more perfunctory. Choosing to, for a change, show us an entire summer at Dunder Mifflin as opposed to dropping us into the fall, it allows The Office to follow up directly on the great elements of last season’s finale: from the wondrous Amy Ryan continuing to impress, to Ryan’s fall from grace, and both Andy and Jim’s ill-advised engagement strategies.

As the episode unfolds, and the ramifications of last season’s finale echo amidst the weight loss storyline, this never feels like an overstuffed episode: it feels like a welcome return to a familiar environment, an episode where characters get to be characters, histories get to be histories, and more importantly almost every joke lands. Not overwhelmed by any one storyline, and ending with a satisfying note on which to jump start our season, “Weight Loss” is everything I wanted in a premiere.

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