Excess Baggage

No diets, no lockdowns, a fetching trainer, and eye-catching backdrops -but is there room for more than one weight-loss show?

Truth be told I’m not especially a fan of the weight-loss genre.

Biggest Loser, Big, You Are What You Eat, The Weighting Game -they’re not exactly my preferred viewing at Dinner Time. But clearly there is a market for them and TEN’s Biggest Loser, now in its seventh season, sits at the top of the tree here.

With Loser now produced by Shine Australia and not FremantleMedia Australia, was it inevitable that Fremantle would dig deep and devise its own format for another broadcaster?

Nine has been down this path before with Celebrity Overhaul (2005) whose cast has been partially duplicated in 2012. Last time we had Australian Idol‘s Paulini Curuenavuli and now it’s Kate DeAraugo, Merv Hughes is now Robert “Dipper” DiPierdomenico, Fabio is now Kevin Federline. In fact there are even celebrities that I’m not convinced qualify for the title but I guess the cast from Australian Celebrity Survivor were a bit busy.

Thankfully the show offers more than spotlight-loving personalities migrating like moths to a camera.

The format sees them partnered with “everyday Australians” which I guess sounds nicer than non-celebrities / members of the public / tellytubbies who don’t have a chance without network television.

Each duo is shuffled into Wiggle-colour tops so that we can easily tell which one is falling down in the mud and which other one will scream at them in anger.

Each week of the series is also filmed before an eye-catching Aussie locale, this week it’s the Kimberleys. This cleverly gives the show a bit of a travel backdrop as well as putting its participants into foreign situations that may induce conflict.

Getaway-presenter-turned-singer Kate Ceberano tells the teams their success is up to them.

“No diets, no lockdowns,” she says.

Not like that other nasty show? Where’s an Ajay close-up when we need it?

Physical trainer and coach Christian Marchegiani is the show’s eye candy, move over Commando. He leads the team through their first “Spirit” challenge of trekking through the outback.

Video profiles of the non-celebrities give us an insight into their backgrounds, including 32 year old Alana who cares for her autistic sister.

Others also have a long-history of battling their weight and it affects their personal and professional lives -a bit like the celebs, which is kinda the point. As storytelling it works pretty effectively.

Nutritionist Dr. Joanna McMillan is about as cheery as they come, advising the teams of how to eat well during a buffet. If you’re paying attention at home, hey you might learn a thing or two. And there’s a face of a chubby celebrity on the screen just to drill it in: this could be you.

Excess Baggage insists it will arm its participants with information but it won’t be forcing them onto diets or even having weigh-ins. If MasterChef made us all experts on plating-up and the hero of the dish, then the challenge is on for Excess Baggage to educate us on a healthy regime.

Some of the celebrities are already annoying. Paparazzo Darren Lyons may have looked like an Aussie galah in the UK Celebrity Big Brother house, but that pink mohawk in the outback makes him look like ….. a galah. If the show plans to shift focus to team conflict instead of team solidarity it will be disappointing.

But on the whole this was a well-rounded debut with enough health tips, personal stories and exterior locales to sustain its lengthy debut. I have no idea if there is room for two weight-loss shows to survive in Reality TV’s early evening battle, but I guess if you can’t stand the heat you can always get out and into Seven’s kitchen.

My head hurts.

Excess Baggage airs 7pm weeknights on Nine.

46 Responses

  1. Kate Ceberano was terrible as a host on The X Factor in 2005 back on Channel Ten, and here she is exactly the same. Lame jokes, fake laugh and a really screechy annoying voice.

    I caught a bit of this show during the ad breaks and it was woeful – I hope it stays on air so that the figures continue to drop. The Biggest Loser does this type of show a lot better

  2. I watched this show for 30 mins then switched over to MKR. For a premiere episode it did not capture my attention. I found it terribly boring to watch a group of people just walking through the dessert and not much else happening. I won’t bother watching again.

  3. Ch 9 take off The View at 1pm to repeat it, then put The View on GEM (why they can’t do that when the cricket is on is beyond me…..) and then repeat it on GEM at 4pm this afternoon!


  4. I did not watch a lot of it, but mostly heard it in the background. I did like the fact that it was not about the weigh-in and elimations. I found that more positive than BL. However, most people here believes this element gives it the drama.

    I think they have gone very much for the emotional level. Hearing the backstories of the plebs, I thought that weight was secondary for getting picked on this show. They are certainly seeking to get people hooked on the participants rather than the weight loss.

    I sense a bit of change in TV producers in that they are looking for feel good, rather than bitchy eliminations. Don’t know if it will catch on, but YTT is certainly pitched in that direction.

    I was hoping that it would be more educational in terms of what works and what doesn’t work. However the proof will be in the advertising of products. If there is lots of Jenny Craig and the like – then it would have sold out. However it did have a promising start with what the nutritionist was saying.

    Personally, I would like to see some more about the phychology of eating. Why do we over eat, or eat the wrong things etc. Hell there is a lot of us out there, which alone would make for a rating bonaza.For me I hate all these reality shows that have the same format of repeating everthing they say two or three time, talking to camera about what they just did. So inane. The bits I saw it didn’t look that bad. I suspect it will live on for some time yet.

  5. Can not stand Ajay! Never have, even more after the way she spoke about TBL contestants during a radio interview, referring to one contestant (Alex Tsao) being the weight of a baby elephant. There were other derogatory comments made, but that one always stuck in my head.

  6. What a joke by Nein and happily switched over to Fox Sports 2 to watch the 3rd rerun of the epic Australian Open Men’s Singles Final which was the best match of all time in glorious HD…Bliss. It’s so bad and my pick for the 1st show to be axed in the 2012 ratings season by the look of it…

  7. A boring, badly made show – If Nine hadn’t stolen viewers by running it late into the Big Bang slot, it would have lost to The Biggest Loser. Given the millions spent by Nine to market the show they’d be extremely disappointed.

  8. Well I have to disagree….completely….this show is much better that the bullying Biggest Loser….the show settings are great….and I found all the different personalities….both ‘celebrity” (what ever that is) and the ‘ordinary’ folk a very eclectic mix…..and trainers …nutritionist etc….quite good choices….
    I am not a huge fan of reality TV….I like just a few….
    I tried Biggest Loser some years ago…and did not enjoy the way the contestants were treated…
    And before you hit the keyboard…I do not work at NIne…and not a Nine lover…etc…in fact I have not watched much on Nine for years….and I only watched this because of the few ads I saw for it….mostly on GEM…

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