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Trip to the gym before walk down aisle

A mash-up of wedding planning and weight loss becomes a reality competition on CW. Getting healthy is an admirable goal for these couples, but it doesn't make for compelling TV.

February 23, 2011|By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
  • Bride-to-be Lindsay with trainer Nicky Holender in "Shedding for the Wedding."
Bride-to-be Lindsay with trainer Nicky Holender in "Shedding for… (Patrick Wymore, The CW )

"Shedding for the Wedding," which premieres Wednesday on CW, or "the CW" as it wants to be called but which always seems silly to write, combines the popular weight-loss competition reality genre with the popular planning-for-the-nuptials reality genre — a chocolate-meets-peanut-butter moment that seems both brilliantly inevitable and somewhat recycled. Although I don't have the evidence at hand, surely these topics have met somewhere before, even if just for the space of an episode of "The Jenny Jones Show" or "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

You know the drill, or should by now. There is almost nothing here that could not be anticipated from the premise. You might as easily, even more profitably, imagine the show as to watch it. But for you who would rather not put in the work, here's what you'll get.

Nine seriously overweight couples compete for a dream wedding, picking up related odds and ends along the way — a gown, a cake, flowers. (You do not have to win the big prize, which you get for losing weight, to win the smaller ones, which you get for things like keeping your heart rate up or carrying a four-tiered cake over an obstacle course.) For narrative color, the couples –- bunked together in the customary big house — are identified according to shared interests and the related theme they wish their wedding to take: "Team Eco-Lovers" would like some moss in their nuptials; "Team Gamers" met online playing "Final Fantasy XI" and grew fat playing it together, "Team Greek Week," who met at a frat party, want a beer pong table at their reception, "but we want it monogrammed, 'cause that keeps it a little classy."

The overqualified host is Sara Rue, from "Popular" and "Less Than Perfect" and also a former Jenny Craig spokeswoman; there were 50 pounds more of her once. (Here she is draped and coiffed something in the manner of a Greek goddess, a beacon of possibility.) Rue is too good for this job and, possibly as a result of that, not particularly good at it. Not quite flanking her are a couple of drill sergeants, a nutritionist and a wedding planner.

Even as these things go, "Shedding for the Wedding" is a plate-load of empty calories, a lot of huffing and puffing we're meant to take as compelling even though there's little compelling in the presentation; it is just speedy. What should be actual moments of suspense or drama are thrown away and rushed over, while the players' commentary consists mostly of familiar variations on "We're going to win," "That was hard," "I was sure this was going to happen, but then the opposite thing occurred" or "I just don't understand that person."

Still, there is nothing as disturbing here as E!'s "Bridalplasty," in which brides-to-be competed to have bits of themselves surgically altered on the way to the altar. These people are young and in love and trying to get healthy. And that, at least, is nothing to sneer at.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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