Tuesday, October 09, 2007

DWTS: Nine Is The New Seven

We’re three weeks into Dancing With the Stars and already the judges are throwing around 9s like they’re shares of Enron stock. At this rate, teams will be earning straight 10s by week 5 and the judges’ paddles will have to be retrofitted to reach 15.

Either the show’s producers have been slipping something into Len’s Kool-Aid or the current crop of celebrities—with a few notable exceptions—are nearly as good as their professional partners. Which doesn’t make for particularly compelling TV. If I wanted to watch ballroom dancing, I’d watch ballroom dancing (I’m not sure where, but I guess I could find it if I really tried). The whole point of DWTS, besides single-handedly resurrecting the glitter industry, was to take a fish out of water and turn it into a silk purse. In other, more logical, words, the amateurs were supposed to suck at first and the fun was in watching them improve. This season, most teams are performing at such a polished level—especially to the home viewer, who doesn’t notice pesky things like missed holds and sloppy ball-and-toe footwork—a certain drama is missing.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I kinda miss Master P.

Still, we are weeks away from awarding the magnificent Disco Ball trophy and anything could happen. Or as Drew less eloquently put it: The ending is not finished.

Rating the teams:

Sabrina and Mark: What more is there to say about Sabrina. The judges have already run out of the obvious superlatives—Cheetah-licious, Cheetah-tastic—leaving Bruno to reach into his magic bag of mixed metaphors and pronounce her a “sizmic event.” While I don’t speak Italian, I do speak Bruno, and he meant “seismic.” So her jive was earth shattering. But just shy of a 10, apparently, on the Richter-Tonioli scale.

Cameron and Edyta: I’m starting to think the band is actively working against this couple—a tango set to “And the Beat Goes On”? Just plain wrong. In his rehearsal footage, Cameron promised to “blow the judges away,” which is always a clue to viewers that the dancer will not. But that didn’t keep him from earning 8s. Since no one seems intent on seriously critiquing the dances, let’s move on to fashion. Edyta’s floor-length black lace number was almost tasteful in that it covered most of her body. What, is DWTS cutting back on the spray tan budget?

Mark and Kym: Mark doesn’t want to earn pity points for dancing with a hip replacement (hey, sounds like a great spin-off show). But he keeps bringing it up. Dude, it didn’t work for Heather Mills and she only had the one leg. In regards to his jive, it didn’t make me cringe. The judges kindly noted that Mark is doing well, considering he didn’t come to the competition as an experienced dancer. Really? I sort of thought that was the premise of the show.

Jennie and Derek: “The comeback of the season!” Bruno proclaimed. And who am I to quibble that it’s ONLY WEEK 3. Jennie shook off last week’s fall and the 90210 curse, succeeding where Ian Ziering failed—she danced a brilliant tango full of head snaps and high kicks and the kitchen sink. I had her pegged as a perpetual nervous Nelly (or Kelly) who would constantly out-psych herself but she proved me wrong. Which doesn’t mean that I’ve warmed to the Doublemint Twins. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but over there on NBC’s “Chuck,” the titular reluctant super spy tossed off a tango of his own—and did a sexier job.

Mel B. and Maksim: The gratuitous display of waxed chest hair continued, with Maksim’s smooth pecs in the spotlight this week. He also worked in a plug for his Vegas show “Reve,” which somehow was related to helping Mel learn the jive. Was it just me, or during their dance did Maks seem to save the best moves for himself? Just me, it turns out, because Mel’s footwork, which I found to be “stompy” vs. the required “bouncy” earned raves—or was it reves—from the judges.

Cheryl and Wayne: Wayne is quickly becoming the Sanjaya of this competition. He’s dreadful, but also sort of the only thing worth watching. This week we learned that Wayne has a stable full of 75 Arabian horses, and I’m pretty sure he cut the tail off of one of them for his own bizarre wig. I think he was going for Antonio Banderas but he wound up more like My Little Pony. Cheryl, taking a cue from the George Hamilton-Jerry Springer playbook, has taken to incorporating props into her routines. Trouble is, Wayne waved his little fan at her like he was sprinkling a salt shaker. Please, please, please don’t eliminate him.

Floyd and Karina: From the waist down, Floyd is almost palatable, but his upper body moves are, for lack of a better word, ugly. He’s got loads of ability but can’t seem to translate it into an attractive body position. The judges all but told Floyd that he has no technique, which no doubt annoyed Karina, who thought, “Why were they even looking at him?!”

Jane and Tony: Jane’s mother died last week. And I’m sure there’s a Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman joke in there somewhere, but I’m not going to be the one to make it. Or to begin to criticize her dancing. Of course she earned across-the-boards 9s, begging the question, what does a person have to do to get a 10?

Helio and Julianne: Oh no, Helio twisted his ankle in rehearsal! See Helio writhe on the floor in pain! See Julianne try to look concerned! Will they still be able to compete?! Um, yes. Turns out Helio’s costume was the one in need of first aid, his pants suffering a torn knee during an impromptu slide off the dance floor at the end of their routine. I don’t know if Helio’s ankle was bothering him or if the sibling duo of Julianne-Derek are only allowed one good bit of choreography between them per week, but this pair was slightly off last night. The dance came to a couple of curious halts, and then there was the little glitch at the end. Which leaves the two perfectly poised for next week’s comeback of the season.

Marie and Jonathan: Is it just me, or is Jonathan starting to look like Donny (and no, I will not, ever, refer to this pair as Johnny and Marie)? Natch, the elder Osmond showed up at his li’l sis’s rehearsal. Hey, what’s it feel like to ride Marie’s sequined skirt-tail for a change? Her lips said she was happy to see him, her eyes said she’d be happy to banish him to “The Surreal Life.” Finally Len, or maybe it was Bruno, said what I’d been thinking all along, they thought Marie would be a horrible dancer. Yet, lo, she’s not. And they are still so stupefied by this turn of events that they failed to notice the pair’s tango looked like a whole lot of standing around. In my non-professional opinion.


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