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'The Biggest Loser,' with the heaviest contestants

Koli on NBC's "The Biggest Loser."

Koli on NBC's "The Biggest Loser." Credit: NBC Universal, Inc./Trae Patton

THE SHOW "The Biggest Loser: Couples"

WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 8 on NBC/4

THE DEAL It seems like it was only yesterday that the most recent edition of "The Biggest Loser" ended with land surveyor/musician Danny Cahill's stunning victory (losing 191 pounds, from 430 to 239).

Actually, it was just 28 days ago. But NBC knows this weight-loss competition is its, um, meal ticket - the downtrodden network's highest-rated and most-talked-about show. So even a month seems like too long to wait between "TBLs."

WHAT'S NEW With "TBL," we've seen everything before - starting tonight with the contestants' self-loathing ("I've never had a girlfriend in my life") and determination ("I am willing to do whatever it takes") to the trainers' in-your-face hectoring.

So to keep the pot boiling, the producers always need to amp up the stakes, and, this season, there are a few new twists:

The three heaviest contestants ever: Michael Ventrella, a 30-year-old DJ from Chicago, clocks in at 536 pounds. Identical twins James and John Crutchfield from Orlando tip the scales at 485 and 484 pounds, respectively. (All three weigh more than last season's heaviest-ever, Shay Sorrells, who started out at 476 pounds.)

A modern-day version of putting a transgressor in the stocks to be humiliated in the public square: Contestants have their initial weigh-ins in front of a huge hometown crowd of friends, family members and whatever stray people NBC could round up.

A much-more difficult initial challenge: The teams must pedal the equivalent of a marathon (26.2 miles) on stationary bikes. The last two teams to finish will be eliminated.

And you'll see a contestant's biggest one-week weight loss in the show's history.

MEET THE TEAMS The contestants consist of eight parent and (adult) child teams; three other teams feature family members - cousins, brothers and spouses. (None from LI, though.)

JILLIAN MICHAELS' BEST LINE The sadist/trainer is appalled at how several the contestants can't handle their workouts. "One's puking out this window; one's puking out that window," she moans.

FIRST SHAMELESS PRODUCT PLUG Jillian works in the Brita water filter, which she helpfully adds "is available in the hardware aisle of Walmart."

BOTTOM LINE Yes, we've (sort of) seen it all before, but that doesn't diminish the show's appeal.

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