Saturday, September 18, 2021

DTWS S028 Week 3: A Sensual Movie Night and Ray’s Gone


No, theme last week? Oh, we’ll fix that. We’ll give you a theme. Here you go: MOVIE NIGHT!

They filmed an opening trailer, going into the Fine Arts theater. Credits roll, they show each star, finally, “and starring SEAN SPICER as SEAN SPICER.” (Which made me laugh.)

Then, finally, we have an opening number again! Even using some of the stars! To the tune of “Fame!” (Of course) All of the male pros have this sexy white tux on, and the women have a longer jacket white tux as well. Very classy. And our new pro Daniella, who isn’t a pro, just a glorified member of the troupe, becomes the star of this movie within a movie, for the Busby Berkley overhead shots.

Then, the rest of the cast, in their outfits for the show, come on. So, they are using a troupe of dancers (but not “the troupe,” including someone with red hair who kinda looks like Sharna, but isn’t Sharna :-( *sigh*) Tom Bergeron informs us that that number was choreographed by “two-time Emmy Award-winning choreographer Catherine Burns.” (Sorry, I prefer Mandy Moore... *sigh*)

I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but it seemed sloppier than a Mandy Moore-choreographed opening number. I think the lines weren’t strict enough. Especially for those overhead shots, you have to be strictly in line, or it throws off the visual... Ah well...

Last week, our conservative country singer Lauren Alaina was all stressing out because Gleb ripped her skirt off (very tastefully). This week, she’s a hooker with her boot on a car. OK... 

Their package (lame, so lame) has them trotting over to a theatre (supposedly) to see Pretty Woman, but they just show stills of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, as Lauren comments about how much she loved her in the ’90s. Then Carrie Ann pops in to explain what the nuances of tango are, with an assist from Len. Daniella and Keo are once again acting it out for us. God, this package is nauseating...

FINALLY, the dance. 

That car is awesome! Gleb does have the handsome guy thing down, though, as Lauren said, “You should be so lucky to be Richard Gere.” The choreography doesn’t match the words. (I hate that.)

Ah, well.

Really awkward. They seemed to be getting in each other’s way more than dancing. Blech.

Lauren tells Tom that she told her dad “not to watch tonight.”

Under Len’s name, it says: “Professional Ballroom Judge.” hahahahaha (No Twitter handle.)

Len is “a little bit disappointed. You had to take that fabulous uniform off, with the hat. That’s what’s disappointed me.” (HUH?) “This was full of attack, drive and purpose. A little bit stop and start, here and there. But the tango you did, I thought was excellent.” 

Bruno’s title says: Film, Music Video and Theatre Choreographer. (Did they have these titles last week?) And his Twitter handle, @ brunotonioliofficial

Bruno: “Lauren, listen to me, you racy little thing.  That was a racy tango, full throttle. Some of the lines were very, very good.”

Len is backing away from Bruno, as he gets animated. As he gets too close to Carrie Ann, she hugs him from behind, and he pulls back toward Bruno. Quite funny.

Carrie Ann’s title: Choreographer & Dance Producer, with @ carrieanninaba

Carrie Ann: “I love the confidence. You still need to work on the musicality. I’m loving your confidence, I want you to keep bringing that back out here.”

Courtesy of David Livingston, Getty Images.

Last week, Carrie Ann had this fantabulous off-the-shoulder dress with these amazing earrings. It appears that this week, Erin Andrews is copying her, with the exact same earrings. Stunning, both weeks.

So, of course, Erin picks up on the question that Tom posed earlier: “Why did you not want your dad to watch?” Lauren: “I’m the Christian country girl, and then I had to put my foot up on the hood of a car, and rub down my leg. I did not want my daddy to see that.” LOL Oh my. 

Lauren and Gleb, tango

JUDGES: 20 (out of 30)

Erin: “Well, I hope your dad is watching! Good job, babe.” (as she hugs Lauren)

Tom: “You are cagey, Len.” (No one expected him to score that higher than Carrie Ann did.)

The previews tell us that Ray Lewis is now “out of the competition.” Wow.

So, you might have to look closely to see this, but this is the episode where you can see Jonathan Scott (Property Brother) squiring his new flame Zooey Deschanel in the front row, with a dude who looks like, but isn’t, Seth Rogan by their side. (Both behind Tom as he’s speaking to Erin.)

Apparently, in Hannah and Alan’s package, Hannah explains that she is currently her best friend’s maid of honor, and so they are dancing a rumba to a song from Bridesmaids. So she goes off to do the bachelorette party thing, and Alan bursts into the party as a cop. A stripping cop. And starts dancing. And... SCENE.

Godawful music (“Hold On” by Wilson Phillips). Personally, I wasn’t impressed with this rumba at all, although they both look very nice. The setup is a bridal party, where everyone is lamely "dancing" (actually just swaying) on the stairs (including the new bride and groom), while Hannah and Alan steal the entire dance floor for their number. Ugh. Hated that.

Tom to Alan: “Had we known you were going to be crashing their party, we coulda lent you some spray tanner. We could white balance the camera on your chest.” (LOL God, I love Tom Bergeron.)

Bruno: “Well, Anna, no need for a weddding planner. Blah blah blah... You are a wonderful lyrical dancer. This being a rumba, you have to use the floor more. It lacked a little bit of Cuban motion. Pretty, but work on that.” Carrie Ann: “I agree. Your lines? Exquisite. But there was no hip action. We need to see you get into the ballroom and Latin stylings. So I wanna see that. I didn’t see any of that. It looked more like a cheerleading dance. (She gets massively booed by the audience for this.) You need to lose the jazz stylings.” Tom: “I think Len got a little Boo envy there.” Len: “You have got beautiful musicality. I really liked some of the lines. You needed a little bit more hip action, and a little bit more movement going on. But you are a lovely dancer.” 

And yet, with all these comments, they still give these guys high marks. SMH.

Erin: “Every week, you learn a different dance. If you can take the positive comments and use it, right?” Hannah: “I definitely will work on my hip action.” Erin: “I didn’t know you when you did the other shows you were on, but there’s just something different about you from what I viewed on television. You just seem so happy and having a good time. What’s going on?” Hannah: “I’ve been through a lot on television. My whole life has been exposed to everybody and there’ve been ups and downs, and I think this is also something that has those ups and downs, but this has been something that’s been such a great therapy for me, and I think that’s what people get to see. I get to come out every Monday and shine.” Erin: “I love you like this. I love you hitting the bouquet too.” (She tossed the bride’s bouquet aside at the beginning of her dance.) “That was good.” 

Hannah and Alan, rumba

JUDGES: 21 (out of 30)

Have I mentioned yet how totally sick I am of Hannah Brown? If I never see her again on TV after this show, I’ll be VERY happy with that.

Also, please note. If you lie to the audience early in DWTS, it will come back to bite you in the ass...

Tom: “Hey, go pop some corn. There’s a festival of film favorites still to come.” #LOVE

Karamo and Jenna are dancing a jive to “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John (from Rocketman). Which is all good and fine. But then, in the middle of their rehearsal, Karamo casually drops that “I hit up my friend Taron Eggerton (who plays Elton John)...” and he wishes them good luck on FaceTime. Sheesh.

They do a jive that I just love. There was one (poorly choreographed) segment when the troupe (who isn’t a troupe) dancers do their thing RIGHT IN FRONT of the judges, and Len couldn’t see Karamo. He looked very irritated. 

(Although it did look great on camera, that whole sequence.)

 The audience goes wild after this dance. Oooh, now I can see that both Property Brothers are there.

Carrie Ann: “I kept waiting for Bruno to come out, cause that’s the video that he stars in.” Bruno: “The outfit is still underneath. I still have the same size!” Tom: “That’s OK.” Carrie Ann: “Karamo, that was not the greatest. And I could see it your face. There was a lot of mistakes. But what I love is: you come out here and you entertain us, and you make us feel joy. That is half of what this is about. There was a lot of moments when you were out of sync. And just the toning of your feet. Just wasn’t quite there. But hopefully you don’t go home, cause I wanna see more of you.” Len: “What I liked... you didn’t mess about. You came straight onto the floor, and you started dancing jive. So that was terrific. I liked the mix of steps that you did. I want you to be happy. But going wrong is a bit like getting a hickey. As much as you try to cover it up, it’s there.” (Jenna laughs hysterically at this.) Bruno: “Look at the bright side. You did go off like a rocket. The sparks were flying. But the jive is very very hard. It’s a difficult dance. You have to keep rhythmical. And once you lose the step, it’s difficult to cover up. But you have great potential. Regroup.”

Tom: “And our first hickey analogy in 28 seasons.”

Erin: “I’m gonna pretend I’m part of the Fab Five. Let’s do the Karamo on you now.” Karamo: “I’m going to be positive. I’m going to keep doing good. I’m having so much fun here, and I love this. I’m gonna keep fighting. I love this show. I love dancing.” Erin: “The good news is, Len loved it, and he brought up a hickey in the middle of it. OK.”

Karamo and Jenna, jive

JUDGES: 16 (out of 30)

Tom (to the judges): “And you wonder why they boo you.” 

Attention momentarily distracted by seeing Jonathan Scott with his arm around Zooey Deschanel in the audience. What? Guess they’re a couple now. The audience, btw, is packed with people who competed in past seasons.

I start every season rooting for Sasha Farber to win his first Mirror Ball. His partner this time, Ally Brooke, does seem to be improving. 

Here she talks about her “favorite movie, Selena,” as they perform a rumba to a song from it. In the package, she takes Sasha down to see her family as they are feasting and talking about Selena’s influence on the Mexican culture. 

Then, this beautiful, lyrical rumba. I just love Sasha’s choreography. So many wonderful signature Sasha moves make this dance just stunning.

Len makes Sasha show the world what a “cucaracha” is (there are several in this dance). Len talks about how normally they put fringe or whatever on the costumes, and you can’t truly see the cucaracha performed, but in this outfit, you could really see it. (Thank you, costume department.) “I was really enjoying the performance," he says, as Ally lunges to give him a high-five. (ProTip: Len, not big on the PDA.) “Don’t get overwhelmed,” he says, though he clearly is. Ally runs back to Sasha’s arms. Len: “Don’t touch me again.” (Tom and Sasha are laughing. Len is not. He’s truly not kidding.) YIKES. He continues to name a couple other dance steps that Sasha had in his (wonderful) choreography: “...And that finished me off. Great job!”

So many of these newer choreographers on the show think it’s all about the show, and totally forget why this show even started. Sasha knows. He knows how to pack a dance with content that will appease Len. And, btw, STILL put on a great show.

Bruno: “Ally, my darling, you really put all of your heart and soul into that dance. And we all really felt it. When you combine it with actual, correct, real rumba, with the Cuba motion we were talking about earlier on...linking all the steps, reaching through the lines...” he leans over the desk to shout: “Beautiful!”

Carrie Ann: “You are truly such an emotional dancer. I had chills the whole time. I’m so happy this season is about technique (WAIT, aren’t all the seasons about technique?...) because is exactly what we were looking for! Unapologetically, an amazing rumba with passion. Who’s your ballroom/Latin alter ego that came out just now?”  Ally says: “Her name is Alison.”

Ally and Sasha, rumba

JUDGES: 24 (out of 30)

Love Cheryl Burke. Love her. Sadly, her partner had an injury this week, which reignited an old injury, and he had to withdraw from the competition. :-( But in his place, we did have Rashad Jennings (former Mirror Ball winner with Emma Slater) dancing instead.

Ray and Cheryl, cha cha

JUDGES: No Score. :-(

So distracting to see Jonathan Scott and Zooey Deschanel whispering to each other behind Tom... Ahem...

Emma and James, another of my favorite couples of the season, are dancing a rumba to “Shallow.” Their package shows James bonding with his wife, in which he tells her “this dance is for you.” She swoons. Then she says: “Who else would you dedicate it to?” Which makes Emma bust out laughing. “There’s your wife,” she says. 

Everything about this number is spectacular. The lights, the costumes, the set, the amazing choreography by Emma. This is how a dance is supposed to be constructed! The lyrics actually mean something and a “fall” is punctuated by a fall in the choreography. It made me swoon. Sadly, it’s not all of “Shallow,” only a segment.

Felicia Barton and Travis Garland did exquisite vocals on this number.

Bruno: “There was nothing shallow about that performance. It’s harder for a man to do the rumba, because you have to complement the lady more than dancing for yourself. And you danced with Emma. You made your partner look fantastic. A real gentleman.” 

Carrie Ann: “First of all, beautiful choreography, Emma. That was stunning. So much poetry in the way you move, you juiced out every little ounce of emotion and sensuality and everything that was necesssary in every movement you did. Usually the rumba is the woman’s dance, but I watched both of you equally. It was stunning.”

Len: “You got a little bit wide in your leg action, which impeded your hip action. For me, the rumba is like a developing romance. It was a little bit on the passionate side for me.”

Carrie Ann is incensed. “You were just talking about hickeys!” The judges start fighting amongst themselves. Tom sends James and Emma to “the Star Lounge” and Erin, ”while they decide what they’re talking about.”

Talking to Erin, an emotional James mentions how “it’s been amazing to step in this flow of creativity. It’s my happy place. And just to be around these people, every day.”

Erin: “So gorgeous.”

James and Emma, rumba

JUDGES: 23 (out of 30)

I seriously, deeply, love the combo of Pasha and Kate Flannery. So very much. They do not disappoint. For my money, they are one of the most fun couples in Season 28.

They look back on last week’s scores (all 7s), which Kate says “leaves her speechless,” and Pasha says he knows she’s never speechless. This week, they are dancing a quickstep to the theme from 9 to 5. Kate likes the cast (Parton and Fonda and Tomlin), and notes that “it’s a workplace comedy. I’m familiar with that.” (She being from The Office, of course.) 

In the package,  Kate talks about how she went on tour with Jane Lynch (is there no end to this woman’s talents????). 

Oh, dear God... it actually looks like they have old-school typewriters in this opening. Wow. #TrulyImpressed 

I guess the mustache is supposed to make Pasha look evil. At the end, Kate throws down her chains (Pasha). Nice touch.

Spotted in the audience, the married Property Brother and his wife, Nick Viall and Rumer Willis...  

Carrie Ann: “Absolutely sychronized. So good. You’re working hard, and it’s paying off.” Len: “I really, really liked it. I liked your choreography. I loved your performance. You got right into character. Great.” Bruno: “Like the movie, this is a big hit.”

Kate and Pasha, quickstep

JUDGES: 24 (out of 30)

Tom, who’s talking to them instead of Erin: “I wanna know how you like that.” Kate: “I never felt so sexy in my life.”

Lamar and Peta are shocked that they weren’t sent home last week. This week, they are doing a cha cha to “Risky Business.” (Or, more accurately, to that Bob Seger song...) Lamar balks at wearing the iconic “tighty whities” for the dance. He gets a call, as they are rehearsing (as one does) from Kobe Bryant, who tells him to practice more.

“Hopefully I can make him proud... when I dance to the cha cha in my underwear, ” says Lamar.

Well... Peta’s choreography certainly makes one think of that iconic movie. But Lamar Odom is no Tom Cruise. He is one of those lead foot dancers who certainly needs to go home soon. Ugh.

Len: “I like to see you dance because you are so much fun... The wheels fell off a bit... so...” Bruno: “I was very distracted because all I could see was bounce flying around. You went for Undress for Success. It works for some... You couldn’t quite manage it until the end.” Carrie Ann: “This week, you channeled the love you felt from the audience. I saw you way more confident. I could see that you felt good about yourself out there. We didn’t see that in the past.”

Erin: “You don’t need a pep talk this week, cause guess what? Dancing in your underwear—you owned it. No one does it better than you.” (This makes Sean Spicer laugh behind her... guess he’s glad he didn’t have to do this dance.)

Lamar and Peta, cha cha

JUDGES: 12 (out of 30) Ouch.

Sailor Brinkley-Cook, who, remember is filling in for her mother (Christie Brinkley) performs a tango to “Mama Mia” with Val. Sailor is very excited, and looks upon the song as a chance “to really celebrate my mom. I know (she) is really gonna love this dance. She loves this movie. Every time we watch it together, we smile from ear to ear. She’s definitely a special mom.”

They show Christie backstage, giving Sailor a pep talk. 

Sailor and Val are just so fun to watch. This dance was effusive and fun. The (all-male) troupe was spectacular. Costumes and sets are superb.

Bruno: “How can I resist you? You’ve taken on board all that we’ve said in the past few weeks. You’ve worked very very hard at it, and it shows. Nothing unclear. Nothing shaky. Nothing uncertain.  great feel-good tango.”  He also compliments Val’s choreography. “Brilliant, Val, brilliant.” Carrie Ann: “Very clever way to enhance the routine with lots of lifting, cause you didn’t do the lifts.” (She finally concedes they were all “legal lifts.”) “What a transformation. I was watching you. Huge congratulations for a huge leap forward.” (This makes Val jump for joy.) Len: “It was full of snap, crackle and pop. Lots of energy. Lots of clever moments going on. Do you know what’s brilliant about this season?... This was a fantastic routine, and well done.” (Val is beaming at that one.)

Erin: “Sailor. I felt like I was in the  movie, watching you in the movie. It was so amazing. I can’t wait for you to watch it back. How did it feel?” She says she just wanted to make her mama and Meryl Streep proud. Val says: “I’m really grateful that I have a partner that loves to learn, and is grateful to be here, doesn’t take it for granted. I’m proud to see her shine.” Erin: “With the best attitude, the best smile. You’ve just taken this whole thing in stride. I love it.”

Sailor and Val, tango

JUDGES: 23 (out of 30)

Kel gets very excited when Witney tells him that they are doing a rumba to “My Heart Will Go On," from Titanic. He starts raving about Leonardo DiCaprio movies... etc. What he didn’t hear, which was key, is “we are doing a rumba.” (Also, Jack dies in Titanic.)

It was a serviceable rumba, nothing to write home about.

Carrie Ann: “Really solid dancing. I can tell how hard you’re working because of the way you made every detail so specific. But you were a little tight. But otherwise, it was quite lovely.” Len: “You needed more shaping in your hand. Your feet... it was hard to see ’em in that fog. I woulda liked a bit more toning in that. Listen. It’s always a good, solid performance. I enjoyed watching.” Bruno: “Look at the bright side. Unlike the Titanic, you managed to complete the sailing without sinking. You have to soften a little bit. The intensity, take away the fluidity. I’m sure you have talent to work on it, come back even better.”

(I listened to that Bruno comment three times. I think what he’s trying to say is that if you are too intense, you are less fluid than you need to be with the rumba.)

Erin also tries to figure out what the heck Bruno was talking about, and finally says: “I think it’s Len who needs to stop being so serious.” To which Len does this:


Kel and Wiitney, rumba

JUDGES: 20 (out of 30)

Erin and Tom have been keeping a running total of a confetti drinking game during the show (how many times confetti dropped). Erin: “What are we up to?” Tom: “I think five.” Erin: “Great.”

(Seriously, this show is so damn fun...)

Speaking of fun... let’s have a party. Troupe members... Present? (Remember Miche’s rule of #DWTS? The more troupe members in a dance, the worse the dancer.) 

The best part of having the hated Sean Spicer on this show I gotta say is seeing all his baby pics. LOL

Lindsay and Sean are doing a cha cha to Saturday Night Fever

The package shows Sean walking through New York, picking up a white suit, doing the John Travolta thing. With all the swagger that a sad pigeon-toed man can muster.

But now, look at the set and the costumes. You can see, logistically, why they left this one for last. So much going on. Beautiful recreation of that dance floor.

Well, I can say this. Of all the worst dancers ever on #DWTS, he’s not the worst. But he sure does make the list. He does try to hit his marks, and there is some rhythm. But, oh my... 

Tom notes that “the confetti drink count is now at six,” which is certainly the most exciting thing about that number. 

Tom indicates that Bruno should start, but apparently Len glares at him, so he then calls on Len first. (*sigh*)

Len: “I don’t know about Saturday Night Fever. More like Monday night lukewarm.” Len gets booed for this, but he’s NOT wrong. “You walk along, your feet are great. But you start to do New Yorks and things, you’re so pigeon-toed. But—you’ve mastered the Roly-Poly.” (Len then makes the hand gesture he’s talking about.) 

Bruno: “What I was going to say was that you’re a genius.” Sean: “OK.” Bruno: “You turned Saturday Night Fever  into a disaster blockbuster. People would want to watch that again, I promise you.” Tom: “It sounded so promising at the start...”

Carrie Ann: “You know what I love is you’re living your best life right now.” (She is right about that.) “You smile from the moment you start until the moment you finish. I’d like to see you loosen up just a little bit. You are a little bit robotic. I don’t know. People seem to love you, so you might be here awhile.” :-0 (Dear God, no.) Sean: “I’m working on it.”

Erin: “What happened to the knee jump? We showed it in the package?” Sean: “I forgot how old I was. I saw it on the plane, and said I could do that. I showed it to Lindsay.” Erin: “And she said?,” handing the mic to Lindsay. Lindsay: “Let’s try it.” Sean: “I did it once, and she said, ‘Let’s move on.’”

Sean and Lindsaycha cha

JUDGES: 15 (out of 30)

Who will be in the bottom two? 

After meticulously going through all the couples, and determining that Lamar and Peta and Kel and Witney are the bottom two... Len announces that there will be no elimination because Ray went home.



 Miche’s Favorites of Movie Night

1. James and Emma, rumba

2. Sailor and Val, tango

3. Karamo and Jenna, jive

4. Kate and Pasha, quickstep

5. Ally and Sasha, rumba

6. Hannah and Alan, rumba

7. Lauren and Gleb, tango

8. Kel and Witney, rumba


Please Go Home

1. Sean

2. Lamar

3. Kel 



Wednesday, June 9, 2021

ABC ghosts its longtime hosts to the detriment of two shows

Let me start with a disclaimer. I fundamentally believe that the United States has a system of built-in racism that must be dismantled. Dismantling all the paths that cause white people in this country to act in insensitive ways to anyone who isn’t white is (and should be) our second biggest priority right now. (The first being saving our democracy from lunatics and autocrats.) I sincerely mean that, and as a white person who came from a pretty racist town in the Midwest, I know that I, too, have blind spots and ways in which I need to grow on this topic. 

I, like Chris Harrison, strive to be better on that topic. And that is all you can ask of a person. That they look at their blind spots, and strive to do better. To be more humane, more progressive, more sensitive to a topic that they had been insensitive about. And then, actively WORK to be better, and not just mouth words about it.

But really, the reason I want to write this column today is not to dissect racism and how we all need to be better (people have, and will continue to, write amazing books about that). Go read them!

This is about ABC and its host problem. I mean, I do get (completely) how after the George Floyd murder and protests, it is essential to change the dynamic of regular shows. That casts need to be more racially diverse to reflect the country. (They also need to have more women leads, but maybe that’s just me...) That is an admirable goal, and we should do that. To new shows. Upsetting the apple cart on established shows? Not so wise.

ABC, for instance, took two landmark shows of theirs, and removed beloved hosts just for the purpose of shaking things up. In both cases, they are to the detriment of the show. 

I am still not over the loss of these two beloved hosts. Tom Bergeron, there since the beginning of the show (2005), was the heartbeat of the show. One just cannot underestimate how much he gave to this show. How many moments he saved with his witty banter, how he was a bridge when things got awkward, or things went wrong technically. How he kept the show going when there was suddenly an attacker on set who had to be tackled by security. So many moments, so many wonderful, funny, heart-rending memories of Tom Bergeron. 

Erin Andrews arrived (2010) after they removed Brooke Burke (and, to be honest, I never liked Brooke Burke. She was lame and fluffy when that wasn’t what was needed in the role). Erin Andrews arriving was a good decision for the show. Her banter was funny and real, honest and warm. She balanced and complemented Tom Bergeron. They were a great hosting team.

Getting rid of them truly was like kicking out one of the legs of a table. It’s just not going to be right after that. The corporate brass just don’t realize how integral they were to the show. I say this as someone who has watched every Dancing with the Stars show since Season 10 (they are now on Season 30). 

And what did they replace them with? Well, this.

Don’t get me wrong. Tyra Banks is beautiful. She is a great model. I’m sure her fashion show (whatever it was called) is wonderful. And she tried so hard this past season of #DWTS.

But dudes, she was TERRIBLE. As a longtime viewer, I hated every single moment that Tyra was on screen. Mostly because her presence was ill-conceived and unnecessary. IT’S A DANCE SHOW. All that matters (or should matter) is THE DANCE. They had her entering in all these flouncy gowns, for some bizarre reason, detracting from the time they have to showcase the dances. Blissfully, they cut that nonsense back as the season went along. But Tom and Erin didn’t have gobs of time just to showcase what they were wearing. NOR SHOULD THEY.

The hosts were there to move things along, not to take over and be a major part of the show. Do you GET THIS, ABC?

Initially, Tyra didn’t even seem to really know what was going on. Like she hadn’t even watched the show before. Which is inexcusable. 

I mean, OK, previously we had someone who could compare something that just happened to something that happened in Season 12. We are spoiled that way. But we also LOOK for that kind of depth and intimacy from this show.

Hiring Tyra was a travesty that I hope they rectify, because I love this show and want to keep watching it. It’s very hard when you have to shield your eyes during all of Tyra’s parts.

But while I’m trashing ABC’s decisions, let me also give credit to what they did right. This.

After a long slog as part of the troupe, the wonderful and amazing Britt Stewart finally became a Pro dancer. Yay. More of this, please. (And Brendan as a Pro is also a great addition.)

Now we also have a host who has been with the franchise through thick and seriously thin, over nearly 20 years (since 2002), and gets booted with barely a fare-thee-well. (Tom and Erin were also dumped really unceremoniously and awkwardly.) All of these integral hosts really deserved better, ABC.

How much do we love Chris Harrison as The Bachelor host? Let me tell you, ABC. Let me tell you what you are now so clumsily and stupidly missing.

Chris Harrison started with this franchise from its very first show. I’ve been watching this show (and all its iterations: The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise) from the very beginning. Chris Harrison is the glue that holds them all together. Why? Because he was adaptable. He rolled with the punches. He knew what was good comedy (much like Tom Bergeron). He knew when to be serious or thoughtful. He had a heart, and watching him, you really believed that what he (and the Bachelor franchise) wanted was for this person in front of us to be happy and find love. 

He could also switch to wacky, by navigating what Bachelor in Paradise became. Not smarmy (as many of these love on an island shows became), but fun and fun-loving. When we had our first gay couple (who started out as straight, but declared her gayness on TV), Chris rolled right along with that, guided us through that. It was truly landmark. 

He’s officiated many Bachelor/Bachelorette weddings.

And when many Girls/Guys Tell All shows threatened to deteriorate into screaming matches, Chris Harrison was what calmed everyone down. He has grown and evolved during the course of the show (getting divorced, and then finding hot sexy love with the wondrous Lauren Zima). (*winks at Lauren Zima* Miss you, babe.)

It is gut-wrenching to me that Tom and Erin are gone from DWTS. It is also gut-wrenching to me that Chris Harrison is gone from the Bachelor franchise. In both cases, these hosts are such massive, integral parts of the show that I truly don’t know if the show will recover with other hosts.

(So far, in the case of Tyra, UGH NO.)

Having Taysha and Kaitlyn as pseudo-hosts on the first episode of The Bachelorette post-Chris Harrison was an idea, but not a good one. Having David Spade as the host of Paradise is an even worse idea.

You don’t have someone wacky in an already wacky situation. Chris Harrison was the center, the calm of the storm, the one who stood for integrity and honesty and truth and true love. And you BELIEVED THAT about him. I did. I believed he was honest and honestly going through this experience. I don’t believe that about David Spade. He’s not an honest guy. He’s a comedian. (For that matter, he’s also not a guy who’s found true love himself. What does he know about this process? I fully expect it to devolve into being like these other smarmy love island shows now.)

So, I write this, as a longtime viewer of both of these shows, feeling like they’ve both recently been hacked to pieces.

Will I continue to watch? Since I really love the dancing most of all on DWTS, sure. That part is still great. (I miss all the great dancers I’ve come to love. And the fact that this show used to be on three times a year and now is down to only one season is also gut-wrenching.)

But I will be gritting my teeth through all the Tyra parts, for sure. HATE HER AS HOST. HATE HER.

Will I continue to watch the Bachelor franchise? Since I love Katie, I am watching this one. I will probably watch Bachelor in Paradise, if only because it will generate fun columns. But I HATE the idea of David Spade as host. It’s really an affront to who Chris Harrison was, and the place he had in this show, which obviously ABC has forgotten, or never understood. 

I will say this. Emmanuel Acho (who has an excellent book—Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man—that everyone should read) was a great fill-in for last season’s After the Final Rose. He did what needed to be done in the moment.

But truly, ABC, the BETTER resolution of this would have been to have Chris Harrison continue to walk through this, and talk about his evolution, and bring us not-understanding white viewers with him. Maybe even have a Bachelor special on how The Bachelor plans to do better and be more integrated? All kinds of things, all manner of paths you could’ve explored. 

But instead, you take the easy way out, and get rid of Chris Harrison. So lame. So pathetic. 

So much of this show (obviously ABC doesn’t get this) is about psychology. What one does when one has a breakthrough is work through it. Accept it honestly, talk about the blind spots, go forward. All of which Chris Harrison did in social media. That’s all you can really ask of someone. 

I know it’s not going to happen, but both of these shows would be MUCH better off with their previous hosts reinstated. Not having them really guts the franchise. I mean, can anyone imagine Survivor without Jeff Probst? No. Good hosts aren’t just plug and play. Especially when you’re dealing with emotional, complicated stuff like The Bachelor (no, seriously, it is).

Maybe they’ll bring Tyra Banks to The Bachelor franchise and bring back Tom and Erin? A girl can dream... (That, at least, would be a better fit.)


Friday, September 25, 2020

DTWS S028 Week 2: First Elimination

Our second episode of Dancing with the Stars, Season 28 had its first elimination. Wonder who goes home? Hmmmm....? 

Before we get to all that, let’s review tonight’s dances.

Courtesy of ABC.

My favorites from last week, the wondrous James and Emma (who closed that show) open this week’s show with a wonderful cha cha.

The package shows how James worked a storyline about Dancing with the Stars into his show, Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23, because he “secretly wanted to be on DWTS!” (And he had to learn a few moments of a cha cha for it, so he’s laughing at now having to actually do a cha cha.)

The dance starts with James in the audience, taking selfies. He gets onstage with Emma right on beat, though. I love this couple so so much. James really has star presence, and added with Emma’s fantastic choreography, it’s just awesome.

They get some massive applause from the audience, and as Tom kicks away some of the silver balloons that have fallen, they get judges’ scores.

Len, sadly, thinks there were “a few too many gimmicks going on.” Tom Bergeron throws a silver balloon at Len after that. 

Carrie Ann looks so stunning tonight, with this bronze off-shoulder dress and poufy hair. Just so beautiful. She is very picky about a few things, but says that “it was a fantastic way to start the night.”

James and Emma exit to the new holding area, where it seems like all of the other stars are (looks very crowded). Erin also looks gorgeous in a white number.


JUDGES: 20 (out of 30)

Val and Sailor this week are dancing the rumba. Bruno helpfully pops into the package to explain that the rumba is “the lady’s dance.” OK. No pressure, Sailor.

Who decides these things? Hi, I just met you. Now, let’s rumba... Anyway, it was very sensual, with all the orange lighting. 

Val, of course, is such a stunning dancer to watch, one of my favorites always. He seems to be doing his best to put Sailor at ease. It wasn’t the sexiest rumba I’ve ever seen, but it was ok.

Bruno goes on to detail Sailor’s mistakes. Tom (thankfully) jumps in: “Granted, he makes it look creepy.” (True.) It gets a laugh. I laughed.

Sailor and Val, rumba

JUDGES: 18 (out of 30)

OMG. There are SOOOOO many people back there (when they go offstage to talk to Erin), it looks so crowded.

Erin makes note of how it must be difficult to dance such a sexy rumba “when your boyfriend is in the front row.” Sailor blushes.

Ugh. Their package shows Cheryl Burke taking Ray Lewis to some kind of anti-gravity place to show him what being “light on his feet” looks like. Whatever. (It didn’t work.) He’s one of those stomping dancers.

Cheryl is working SO HARD to try to make this dance look good. Doesn’t work. Ray’s pretty awful.

Ray and Cheryl, foxtrot

JUDGES: 15 (out of 30)

Can I just say how much I LOVE seeing again how the audience was packed with former dancers and their partners, and star fans? Tom Bergeron, acknowledging them all, of course. AND the video of what it was like after the dance last week? (I love those backstage bits.) 

Ally talks in her package about how she was bullied by people online who said that she was “the worst dancer of the group” (Fifth Harmony) and “create videos online and laugh at them.” Ouch. 

Then she does what I truly hate about people who go on this show (a pet peeve of mine), where they have tons of other things to do, in addition to doing THIS show, which, for those who don’t know IS HARD. Damn hard. But she is touring with “her solo show.” Ugh.

Courtesy of Just Jared and ABC.

Lucky, she is with the best partner in the world, Sasha Farber. 

Finally, to the dance. Let me just say: some people just breeze through the Viennese waltz. Others, some of the best pros (like Sasha) really show you what a Viennese waltz is supposed to be all about.

God, Sasha’s choreography just makes me weep. That was one of the most beautiful Viennese waltzes I’ve ever seen. Just stunning. #Adore

Ally wipes away tears at the judges’ stand. Len says it’s “a pretty looking dance. The key to Viennese waltz is to get rotation.” (And truthfully, that’s what makes it so hard, cause these celebs don’t seem to like the going around and around that is the key to this dance. But when it’s done right as it was here, it’s just breathtaking.) Carrie Ann comes up and gives her a big hug: “You are a dancer.” And, “to the haters: Boo Yah!” 

Ally and Sasha, Viennese waltz

JUDGES: 20 (out of 30)

Well, once again, Mary Wilson absolutely looks like a star. I mean, white gloves? C’mon. Gorgeous. And this week, she was dancing cha cha with her partner Brandon to Aretha Franklin’s “Think.” (So her presence was really providing GREAT music.)

However.... the dancing?

Oh my, oh my. :-(

Both Len and Mary are 75. You can tell he’s fanboying out over her.

Mary and Brandon, cha cha

JUDGES: 15 (out of 30)

Gleb and Lauren Alaina are dancing a paso doble to Demi Lovato’s “Confident.” In the package, Lauren brings out a picture of herself at 10, which she says hangs in her studio, because it reminds her “of a time when I didn’t care what anybody thought of me.” She points to the picture now. “That’s the most confident person I know. Look at her!” She says, “My 10-year-old self dreamed up every bit of this for me. She is the reason I am on Dancing with the Stars. I wish I could just give her a big hug and thank her for that.” 

For some reason, there is a massive tiger along the back wall. I guess tigers are confident?

She is truly fierce in that song. About mid-song, Gleb whips off the skirt she is wearing, and she’s wearing a black sparkly bodysuit underneath. Just beautiful. Really enjoyed this dance.

The shapes were really wonderful.

Carrie Ann: “How did that feel? I love seeing you come out of your shell like that. You seem so conservative, but not today.” She talks about her lack of focus for a moment. Lauren says, “I never really expected a man to rip my skirt off on national TV. My dad is in Alabama, very surprised right now. I love you, Dad.” Carrie Ann: “Welcome to Dancing with the Stars!” Len: “Occasionally, it lacked a bit of shaping.” And then Len beats up Gleb for his lack of content. Whew. Len is in a MOOD! Yikes.

Bruno: “She’s gone all nasty. Nasty is good! Nasty suits you.” Lauren: “Nasty suits me?” Bruno: “It was very very convincing.” 

Lauren and Gleb, paso doble

JUDGES: 19 (out of 30)

Lindsay and Sean Spicer are up next. Well, at least his outfit is a little toned down from last week. In the package, they have him going around with buttons and stickers and a megaphone, “going back to my roots to try to get votes.” Ugh. OK.

He’s got hats, T-shirts. Course, they say: “SPICER-Arnold” on them. *shudders*

He’s running around, posting signs, putting things on people’s windshield in Hollywood. Now, they dance to “Shut Up and Dance (with Me).” Kinda fitting. Also, they do have a lot of the good music.

But this was one of those walking dances. (Not good.) And the backdrop morphed into mega versions of Sean. (Kinda scary.) Ugh.

As they walk to the judges’ desk, Tom wishes Sean a Happy Birthday. Sean: “It’s the first time I’ve spent my birthday on a dance floor.” Tom, starting to face the judges: “Now we go for the birthday gifts.”

Len: “Good news, Sean. Better than last week.” (Considering they got 4s last week, that’s good? I guess.) Bruno: “I actually have to admit, it looked like a tango.” Carrie Ann: “That was the most sure-footed tango I have ever seen. I love that you started with great body contact. You were working as a pair. That was super much improved.”

Sean and Lindsay, tango

JUDGES: 16 (out of 30)

Karamo decides to bring his fiancé’s mother (who used to ballroom dance) to rehearsal for some support (I don’t know how I’d feel about that, if I were Jenna...). Mother-in-law has some choice words to say about Len’s scores last week. Yikes. They end with her shaking her fist at the camera. :-0

Oh, what was I saying about Lindsay having all the great music? Oh no! When was the last time we saw a dance to PRINCE music? (“Let’s Go Crazy”) It sure has been awhile.

I loved that quite a bit. Lots of fun. And that sparkly purple cape he wore at the beginning? Wow.

Bruno: “Everyone’s going crazy for Karamo, look at the reaction.” (To wild cheers) “I have to say, you had such panache, such flair. That was a really good quickstep.” Carrie Ann: “That is what I was hoping for! You can still improve on the body contact, but that is the pizzazz I wanted to see from you.”

Karamo goes and hides behind Jenna for Len’s comments. (I wouldn’t expect Len to be a huge Prince fan, I gotta say.) Len: “I don’t know what these two are talking about, really. I wasn’t overstruck on it, I’ve gotta be honest. You were flying around (audience is massively booing now), absolute lack of body contact. It was a little bit on the hectic side. I know it’s a quickstep, but it mustn’t be fast.”

Erin thanks Jenna for putting the part in the beginning (with the cape). Although it is in the song...
Erin: “And can I add? Both of them are under the weather, and no one knew.”  

Karamo and Jenna, quickstep

JUDGES: 19 (out of 30) (Two 7s. Len coughed up a 5.) Honestly.

Erin suggests that Carol go talk to Len on the break, “cause he needs some shaking up. Right, Tom?” Tom: “Len, you might wanna have someone else go start your car.” Len laughs.

It’s been awhile since we had a new pro on Dancing with the Stars. So, of course, we wonder: who is this guy? How does he dance? How’s his choreography? This week, all those questions are answered.

Kate and Pasha are foxtrotting to “Fly Me (to the Moon)” (see moon rock above) by Frank Sinatra. Len pops into their package to describe (courtesy of a video with Keo and Pasha’s wife Daniella, who was added as a pro also this season, yet didn’t get a partner to go with it; so I guess she’s in the non-existent troupe?) how a foxtrot should be performed. (BTW, upon a second viewing, I would bet money that those two moonmen up there are actually Daniella and Keo...)

Kate: “There’s a lot of technical crap... there’s technique.”

The other thing about Pasha that is different from other people who’ve been added as pros along the way is that he’s a bona fide ballroom pro. And you can tell. 

His technique, his form, his choreography? Just stellar. Really, truly something. Plus, my God, Kate Flannery. We are used to her as this annoying (but funny) schlub on The Office. Here, she is a goddess, a movie star. So stunning. Look at her amazing costume! (Both of their amazing costumes!)

Look at these two! I want to give them the Mirror Ball right now!

Oh, I adored that so much, I’m just going to go watch it again.

Judges are wearing some space alien head bobbling things. Then Bruno takes it off. Kate has some of her Office-mates in the audience, rooting her on.

Carrie Ann: “That was amazing, first of all. I am blown away by your technique. Pasha, you taught her a lot of technique, from last week to this week. You’re mastering the technique.” Len: “How refreshing. I liked the music. I liked the routine. I liked the fact it was better than last week. I liked the fact that you, Pasha, were sorta dressed more sensibly than some of the funny outfits I have to look at (Len does NOT like the open shirt guy thing they do so often here in DWTS)...” Tom stops him. “You realize what is on your head right now?” Len soldiers on: “Yeah...listen, the bottom line is: You did a wonderful, wonderful job.” 

Oh, I see. He’s using them as a prop. Bruno starts talking into his headgear. Bruno: “Houston to Kate, we have liftoff. And we have entered the correct orbit! Mission: Foxtrot, accomplished.”

Kate and Pasha, foxtrot

JUDGES: 21 (out of 30)

They have the highest score of the night. No surprise.

Kel’s dad had brain surgery. Tough week for him. 

All kinds of bright colors on the set. Witney in some kind of torn black thing. Interesting street look. Kel in like red leather. 

OK dance. Not as artful (to me) as some of the other dances.

Guess I was wrong. Len says there were “plenty of recognizable steps.... samba walks...” Tom whispers to Kel, “It’s the happiest he’s been all night.” Bruno thought it was “very, very musical.” Although he did think that Kel “could push a little bit more the bounce.” (samba bounce, that is...) Carrie Ann: “You were so smooth, the way you hear that music, the way it flows through your body when you dance. But watch, because some of the bounces became thrusts. Slightly different. There was more sophistication this week. Well done.”

Kel and Witney, samba

JUDGES: 20 (out of 30) 

Can I just say how much I love Peta? She is such a great dancer and choreographer. However, with this matchup, she is handicapped with several things. One is that Lamar Odom is so much taller than she is. she does the best she can with that in her choreography. But also, he’s had a rough go of it in recent days, and I’m really not that sure he’s really into doing all this dancing training.

In their package, he talks about how he was in Las Vegas, “went to hang out in a place I had no business, I overdosed and wound up in a coma. I had 12 strokes and six heart attacks. The only problem is that I still have memory loss.” 

Despite his memory loss, they are doing the salsa, which Peta is reworking for him. 

Oh, I so love the choreography on this. Really nice. He still seems to be struggling, though.

Bruno: “I thought you were more relaxed. You had more freedom of movement. You seemed to enjoy yourself more.” Carrie Ann: “You look like you were having a lot of fun, but there were a lot of mistakes.” Len: “Peta, you’re doing a fantastic job. You’ve got to work out choreography that suits the pair of you. What’s not to like? You’ve got a ways to go.”

So Lamar gets down on himself (“I feel like I lost,”), and the wondrous Erin pulls him out of it. “What are you talking about? You’re an athlete. This thing isn’t over. You’re still in it. Everybody else behind you is learning this too. Did you have fun out there?” Lamar: “I just hope I get some votes.” Erin: “All right, let’s get your scores.”

Lamar and Peta, salsa

JUDGES: 12 (out of 30)

Tom: “Erin gives good pep talks, you gotta give it to her.”

Hannah talks about how she studied dance when she was little. And that when she competed in pageants, “dance was my talent.” But then, “it wasn’t fun anymore, and I decided to stop.” 

Compared to the perfect Viennese waltz we had earlier from Ally and Sasha, this one felt rushed to me. Also Sasha’s (to me) had just perfect choreography. This one was the kind of lazy Viennese waltz that others on this show do sometimes.

Danced to Taylor Swift’s “Lover,” Alan kisses her hand at the end. Nice touch.

They cut to Chris Harrison (in the audience) applauding like mad for our Bachelorette. And Colton also sitting in the audience.

Carrie Ann: “You whisked me away into another world, only with the movement, which is amazing, because it tells me that you are telling the story only with your body. It was just ridiculously good. Were you holding out on us last week?” Len: “I liked the rotation, but you could put in a nice lot of Viennese waltz there, Alan. I woulda liked some more natural turns, or reverse turns, going to the left.” (I will note at this point that my favorite Viennese waltz tonight, Sasha’s, didn’t get any of these kind of lack of content comments.) Despite all that, he calls it “best dance of the night.” Bruno: “Now we are in business. Thank you for finishing the lines correctly. I was transported into a romantic dream.”

Tom: “That must feel pretty good.” Hannah: “It feels really good, but I’ve worked really hard.” (Have I mentioned how over Hannah Brown I am? Ugh.) 

Hannah and Alan, Viennese waltz

JUDGES: 24 (out of 30)  (first 8s of the season)

There are two things that they instituted this season which I believe are really detrimental to this show. Both have to do with voting.

In the past, HALF of the voting was left to the judges. They certainly have their favorites. And the other half was left to the people. To me, that was really the beauty of DWTS. It was half judges and half THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA.

One factor which did creep into this, which is different than in previous years, is that social media has really become a force. Those pros who know how to work their social media were able to stay in the competition longer. So, too, “stars” who just have massive followings in social.

Where this all broke down, finally (well two things) was last year when Bobby Bones and Sharna won. One thing that changed the show was longtime directors and upper staff left, so the vision of the show changed. That detriment is found with themeless nights like this one. But apparently, they are missing some of what makes this show so great. Let’s remind them.

The short answer is, if you want a popular much-watched show, YOU WANT AMERICA TO WIN. You want America to have the final say.

For me, personally, I LOVED Bobby Bones and Sharna. Bobby really represented exactly what DWTS purports to be about: having a star who doesn’t dance, and having them WIN, finally. Bobby LOVED being on this show. Sure, maybe he missed some steps along the way, but dammit, he had FUN. From the first dance to the last, he was ebullient, he was joyous. He worked in the floss, for gosh sakes. (LOVED THAT.)

Conversely, when the pros leave out tons of content, and say “It’s just about entertainment,” I’ll fight you on that too. It’s not. Strictly speaking, this show was created around ballroom, and that’s what we love about it. When they execute proper ballroom content. And after watching for many years, we know when the pro is shirking on the content. (So I’m with Len on all that.)

But, after they add in all the content, and do their best, it’s really up to America. Or, it was. Now, the judges may think that it’s just turned into a popularity game, and that’s why they balked, but I truly don’t think that’s what it is. 

I vote for people for different reasons. Every season (including this one, with Sean Spicer, whom I may say nasty things about on my political Twitter), I give every contestant a fair shot from day one. But each step of the way is a journey FOR THE AUDIENCE in growth and understanding, just like it is with the star who’s being trained. 

Len can say what he wants about Bobby Bones missing steps or whatever, but Bobby and Sharna WON OUR HEARTS. That’s why he (they) won. It is truly wrongheaded (and unrealistic) to think that the person who wins at the end is some kind of fantastic dancer (when they never danced before). The endings people want on this show are people who TOOK US SOMEPLACE winning. Someone who showed their heart and their spirit, and tried to do this darn thing, even though it’s way outside their comfort zone.

So. That’s what we had in the previous, beloved DWTS.

This season, as I said, because of Bobby’s win, the powers that be (new ones) decided to institute a couple of (LAME) changes. First, they got all into the time thing. OOH! We can have live voting, that we show right in the show. They just creamed their jeans over that concept. One little problem, though, in actual practice having live voting means that the East Coast and Central states can vote, and the West Coast is completely left out of this magical “let’s vote in the moment” concept.

Now, I don’t know how anyone else approached it, but, in trying to be fair, I would view the dance of the night, and vote on it. Presentation, content, etc. Sometimes my favorites would go up, sometimes they would go down. (Just look at my votes in this blog. I would vote Sasha Farber number one every single week, or Mark Ballas when he was on, if I was just voting my favorites every time.) That’s not fair to anyone.

It depends on the dance presented. Every single week. (As it should be.)

But now, since I’m on the West Coast, I essentially can’t vote in the moment. If I want to vote for my favorites on the show, I can only base it (either) on last week’s dance or just how I’m feeling about them at the moment (not fair). But that is the choice I’m left with. And thousands of other West Coast fans are left with. We are cut out. Sorry, guys.

(I also have to remind myself to get online and vote from 5 pm PST, since if I wait until the actual show, voting will already have closed.) I hate, loathe and despise this new voting process. HATE IT.

Second, they made it even worse than that. Just to ensure that a beloved dancer like Bobby Bones doesn’t get in over some practiced dancer, the judges have the final say. So, when it comes down to the mostly East Coast-selected final two, the judges get to pick which of those two stay and which go. I also HATE THAT process.

Trust America, judges. Trust America. The right winner should win, not the judges’ approved winner.

The judges-approved winner in the Bobby Bones season would have been Cheryl Burke and Juan Pablo di Pace. They were perfect. The judges loved them. I loved them. The night they got eliminated, they performed the most perfect Argentine tango I have ever seen on this show. I cried and threw things when they got voted out.

But had they captured America’s heart? No. Certainly not in the way I-made-a-shirt-with-Len’s-face-on-it Bobby Bones had.

Bobby Bones had us in the palm of his hand. He deserved to win by America’s reckoning, and I am forever grateful he (and Sharna!) did. 

Who will win with this new, warped, defective system, I wonder? (It makes me sad.) Certainly the more perfect person, not necessarily the best. :-(

So, who goes home this week, after the judges pick? Len breaks the tie and chooses to keep Ray and Cheryl, judging with his brain, not his heart. 


Miche’s Favorites of (Themeless) First Elimination Night

1. Ally and Sasha, Viennese waltz

2. Kate and Pasha, foxtrot

3. James and Emma, cha cha

4. Karamo and Jenna, quickstep

5. Lauren and Gleb, paso doble

6. Sailor and Val, rumba

7. Hannah and Alan, Viennese waltz

8. Kel and Witney, samba

Courtesy of ABC.