I’ve gone back to Dancing with the Stars after being away from it for a few seasons, both because I missed it and because it’s a fantastic stress buster. Excuse me if I mix up elements of this season with those of last season–I’m watching last season during the week when I’ve already watched this season’s episode (though this week, I have not gotten through the current episodes yet, so don’t tell me who went home. I hope it was Kendra. Bad dancing and bad attitude don’t or shouldn’t last long on this show. Update: Noooooo, Sugar Ray went home and the Playboy B*tchy stayed.)
–I like the Theme Weeks. Rock Week, Classical Week, TV Theme Song Week, etc. They bring a punch of extra interest for very little cost in the format of the show.
–I don’t like the new lighting. Remember in The Cutting Edge when Doug and Kate skated in the dark under spotlights, because it wouldn’t have been dramatic enough for the movie otherwise, even though in the Olympics they always skate in full light so the judges (and audience) can see what they’re doing? Yeah, the new lighting is like that for me. The spotlights make it harder to tell how well somebody is really dancing. I should think it would make it harder for the judges too.
–Along those same lines, two of the Baby Pros danced a waltz this week to show us how it’s done–and the fog machine obscured their feet the whole time. Obscured their feet. On a dancing show. Are the show runners trying to tell us they think America doesn’t care about how well the technical parts of the dances are performed? Or that they think we shouldn’t care? There are other effects like plumes of fire (! a little too close to the band IMHO) that also obscure our view of the dancers. Because apparently I watch it for … Bruno? No. Let me see the dancers, including the feet, please.
–If they think we don’t care about how the dances are performed, I have to concede that in the case of Bristol Palin, it appears they are right. I don’t want to wade too far into a quagmire here, but Bristol’s performance and people’s reactions to it puzzled me. The judges seemed to go out of their way to take it easy on her–and frankly, I appreciated that a little bit, since the poison and vitriol that have been heaped on that girl and her mother (her whole family, really, but primarily them) is beyond human reckoning at this point. They constantly told her how “correctly” she danced and that she’d be doing well if she’d just put more into the performance side of it. And she never did. I’m not through with the season yet–Rick Fox just got eliminated–but she had no fire at all. I can understand that. She’d never been a performer, she was nineteen, I get it, but since she really couldn’t bring it, why did we vote her back again and again, on into the finals, America? At some point sympathy for what she and her mother have had to deal with isn’t enough. And yes, she and Mark were getting death threats and I have my ideas about what I’d like to do to the senders thereof, but it really isn’t enough to justify all those votes. It was painful for me to watch her go through it week after week while never understanding what was needed to make it click–and still messing up on steps far into the season, and then still going through the motions of saying for the camera that she was going to bring it. Ouch. Not looking forward to seeing how that plays out in the finals. Yes, I know it was last season. I’m slow.
–Bruno. I once had a professor who taught a class at 11 a.m. To start class, he would say, “Good morning!” And when we’d mumble back, he’d get on the Sighy Look and say “Now, come on, it’s a beautiful day, you can do better than that” etc. etc. That works as an ice breaker. It works as a refresher once in a while. He did it Every. Single. Class. “Good morning!” Mumble mumble. Sigh. “Now, come on, it’s a beautiful day [etc.]… let’s try that again: Good morning!” Louder mumble. Bruno is like that. Bruno, we get it. You are flamboyant. You love it when the dancers do something to be flamboyant about. But it’s Every. Single. Dance. on Every. Single. Show. You stand up, holler something flamboyant and, 50-50 chance, completely inappropriate. And then sometimes you gyrate. Stop it. Just bring it out when the performance really warrants it. Please please! You are tiring out your own schtick. And Len is enabling you by putting on his Disgusted Look and cuddling up to Carrie-Ann. If he would stop reacting, maybe you’d stop too?
–Speaking of inappropriate, do we really need all these dancing Playboy Bunnies? I guess there’s always been an element of “this is not a family show,” given the way female ballroom dancers dress, but that seems a bit much, especially since they are usually such bad dancers anyway. And WHO hired Wendy Williams or whatever her name is? And WHY?
–I’m trying really hard to come up with another “I like” to balance all this negativity, but really, the fundamentals of the show are still the fun basics they’ve always been, and I still love it. Don’t change!
Update: Having watched the semifinals and Brandy’s elimination, I’ll balance my criticism above with a couple of points:
–1) Bristol’s semifinal paso was amazing, and up UNTIL the Brandy elimination, I can fairly say Bristol was not saved over anybody who shockingly and overtly needed to stay, not even Rick Fox. Kurt Warner was very cute and very competent, but in actual dance technique he wasn’t noticeably better than Bristol, and just like a friend tells me that women get their LSAT scores padded in the admissions office, men get their performances “padded” in the minds of viewers because it’s amazing enough if they can even do the steps, have rhythm, and have a smile on their face while they perform. Women of the same ability level suffer by contrast, because as they said in, again, The Cutting Edge, the man is the stem, the woman is the flower, and a lot more is expected of her in performance.
–2) Once it’s a done deal, the judges really shouldn’t make it harder on the person who is staying by calling it “shocking” right there on the show. Let the pundits and bloggers and celeb gossips call it “shocking” tomorrow. Be sorry for the person departing without overtly devaluing the effort of the person staying. When Brandy’s name was called, Bristol’s first look was not at Mark, it was not a grin of relief, it wasn’t even an open-mouth WTF? at the camera. She immediately looked at Brandy, and she was concerned for her hurt. The judges may not have gotten enough real emotion out of her to suit them during the dances, but it was there then. She’s not dumb and she must have known that the gossip would tear her apart tomorrow; don’t make it worse by calling it a shock right there on the show. Maks was even able to be gracious, saying one of the reasons his parents came to this country is because the people vote.
Do I care too much about a competition that ended last November? Well, maybe.