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.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

DTWS S028 Premiere Night: New Season, Big Changes

There are many things to love about Season 28 of Dancing with the Stars. There are also many things to hate.  

A thing to love? The first thing you see, the amazing set! And the colors! Just deeper and bolder somehow. Gorgeous.

A thing to hate? The voting. The judges, apparently peeved by last season’s win by fan favorites Bobby Bones and Sharna, switched the voting around, so the judges’ votes held more sway. Worst of all, the fan votes (always so crucial) this time only counted the East Coast viewers. If you were in the rest of the country, you were either out of luck, or you voted (as I did) just for your fan favorites, without really weighing in the quality of their dance. Man, did I hate all that. So very unfair.

Another thing I really and I mean really hated this season was that they somehow felt the need to get writers. WRITERS! FOR A DANCE SHOW. So they have these super annoying lame skits at the beginning of each episode. Man, did I hate that, too. UGH. It’s dance, people. Just let them dance.

(Although, in this first episode, this also meant that Tom Bergeron got to show us some acting chops, which was just awesome.) Which brings us to:

(SIDE NOTE: I am writing this after the fact, which explains all the tears on my keyboard right now. Let’s just say: enjoy the hell out of Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews this season.)

Another thing that I hate about this season is that they announced earlier that there would be no troupe this season. Which meant, in reality, that they would start with no troupe, and then work them in throughout the season, but not announce them as such. Lame and disrespectful.

Brutally for me, this meant that there was no Britt. No Hayley. :-(

So we begin, with the opening dance (to “Higher Love”). We revel in our favorites returning: Jenna and Val, Sasha and Emma (with dark hair), Peta, Alan, Brandon, Lindsay, Witney, Keo and new pro Pasha. With no troupe to flesh it out.

But let’s take a quick look at this season’s competitors, shall we?

We also have a thing that we didn’t have previously, where each competitor’s name is wrapped in some spiffy graphics at the beginning and end of each song. It’s pretty at first, but after FIFTEEN TIMES, lemme tell ya, it gets tiresome. And it takes minutes. Each time. UGH.

Luckily, our lovely judges are back (thank goodness).

Let me also say this. When this season aired, The Bachelorette had just finished. I was so done with Hannah Brown by this point. I really didn’t want to see one minute more of her. Alas, she and Alan were first up with their cha cha.

Well, first first, we get to see how each star met their partner. Hannah’s journey (predictably) begins at Bachelor Mansion. “I’ve been through a lot,” moans she, as I fight the urge to turn it off. Again, too much writing and malarky. She talks to Chris Harrison (although it is nice to have him finally on DWTS).  A limo pulls up.  Alan gets out. Blah blah blah.

Their first dance, the cha cha to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” is very perky and light.  Hannah seems a bit ahead of the music sometimes, but her pageant smile does her in good stead.


JUDGES: 20 (out of 30)

I’ve never heard of Kel Mitchell, but he was in Good Burger, and Witney says that was “her favorite movie growing up.” Um... ok...

So, he’s a comedian, and if you didn’t get that from the Good Burger reference, surely the massive Kel face, where he slides down the huge pink tongue to start the dance will clue you in.

Kel and Witney do the tango, an ambitious first dance. They are dancing to the Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker.” Fun stuff.


JUDGES: 16 (out of 30)

Oh, this pairing. LOVE Kate Flannery. Was very anxious to see this new pro, Pasha Peskov. After this dance, they became one of my favorites this season.

Their package starts off with Kate as her Office character, walking around behind the scenes at DWTS. I don’t know how much of this is true, but Kate says that she used to be a waitress, and she “kept (her) waitress uniform for the first season of The Office... I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

The dance starts out with Kate in a waitress outfit, polishing a table at which Bobby Bones and Tom  Bergeron are sitting. She’s singing (quite good a capella) “She Works Hard for the Money,” Pasha grabs her, and she rips the outfit off.

Loved that sooooo much. Loved both of these two.


JUDGES: 15 (out of 30)

The other thing that is both love and hate this season: the cool-down room where Erin does interviews. In past seasons, the poor, tired dancers had to schlep up a massive flight of stairs to Erin. This season, they just walked across the floor to something on the main stage area. (I liked that it was closer for them, but it got mighty crowded in there.)

Lamar Odom, all 6'10" of him, is paired with 5'7" Peta Murgatroyd for this foxtrot.

It just continues to amaze me how this show always finds new ways to shoot this incredible set. The initial overhead shots were just stunning. There, on the steps, is a wonderful jazz band. The costumes, as usual, are fantastic. But the dancing? Peta is stunning, but Lamar is kinda walking through it.


Carrie Ann, totally smitten with Lamar, thought he did a great job. The audience boos.

JUDGES: 11 (out of 30)

Can’t remember the last time I saw threes. Wow.

Our beloved Bobby Bones, the reigning DWTS champion, believes he’s responsible for Lauren agreeing to participate in the show this season.

Pretty sure that was Shaina Twain’s “Feel Like a Woman” they were dancing that cha cha to. Love the costume on Lauren Alaina. She looks fabulous. Like most of the competitors, they haven’t quite gelled together yet, but it was a fun dance.


JUDGES: 19 (out of 30)

Then, there was this. Christie Brinkley was supposed to be Val C.’s dance partner this season. And he had planned (as one does) to dance to “Uptown Girl,” because of Christie. She says in the package: “It’s my theme song!” (Do you remember her being in the video? Yeah. That.)

She says: “And you can foxtrot to it?” Val: “We will.”

(Plus, Val had already danced to this song, so he might’ve had some moves already.)

During rehearsals, Christie broke her arm. “Sailor, you’ve gotta go on for me!” (And so she does, with only three days of rehearsal.) “This is for you, Mom,” she says.

And of course, she’s fantastic. (And OMG, that CAR! *swoon*) To say nothing of the luscious NY backdrop behind the car. Stunning.


JUDGES: 18 (out of 30)

Val’s wife Jenna is next. And dig these funky costumes. LOVE them. They are doing a salsa.

Early on, the camera person has an issue. :-(  It happens right when Jenna is doing a cartwheel, sadly.

Karamo (of course) is from the newly redesigned Queer Eye. He said that he begged to be on the show. He seems a bit stilted, but like he’s having fun.

Both Len and Bruno comment that he doesn’t “have enough hip action,” which is key in the salsa.


JUDGES: 17 (out of 30)

How much do we love Cheryl Burke? The one who almost won last season (IMHO). She is fantastic. Such a pro.

She is paired with Ray Lewis (I just don’t know these sports figures at all, sorry), and they are doing a salsa. Cheryl’s hair is black, and shorter than it was last season.

Got some pretty spectacular fire effects on the stage. Very nice. That switches to a football stadium, as he waves to the crowd. OK, football guy. Yep. Football numbers on the dance floor. They are dancing to “It’s Getting Hot in Here” (or whatever it’s called).

But once again, we have no hip action from Ray.


JUDGES: 15 (out of 30)

Mary Wilson. Stunning. Founding member of The Supremes, who should’ve been just as famous as Diana Ross (IMHO). So beautiful. Regal.

Mary is paired with Brandon, for this foxtrot. Look at that set! And the costumes are great.

Of course, she is dancing to a Supremes song (“Baby Love”). The opening formation has HER at the center, with two backup “singers” behind her. Very nice. Loved that.

She’s trying. Oh, she’s trying so hard. But man, she’s just terrible. But, unlike many of the folks on here, ladies and gentlemen, she IS A STAR. She really is.

Len mentions that they are the same age! (WOW)


JUDGES: 17 (out of 30). (overscored)

Ally Brooke was in Destiny’s Child... no, wait... what was it? Oh, right... Fifth Harmony. Which is harmonious no longer, because she is now on her own. Of course, Dancing with the Stars is a good stop on that journey. And lucky for her, she got the BEST partner to be with: the man who so deserves a Mirror Ball, but astoundingly doesn’t have one yet (how is that POSSIBLE?) Sasha Farber.

I just love everything that Sasha does. I love his choreography, I love his style. And Ally looks pretty damn good in this number, although, like every competitor so far tonight, there were misses and mistakes. But I liked watching that.

He said in the package that he “hit the jackpot” getting Ally as a partner. Nope. I respectfully disagree. He hit the jackpot when he walked into Terra Jolé’s living room. THAT was the jackpot. Ally’s just beautiful. Terra had it ALL... But I digress.

(I had to take a quick break just there to watch Terra and Sasha’s Charleston again... Yeah. That was the best...)

Len thinks that it needed more cha cha content.


JUDGES: 16 (out of 30)

At this point, I’m thinking what a lot of people are probably thinking... usually by this point, there is one couple that you just think: this person! they’ve got it all. And no one in this set so far has stood out like that... and the next one won’t either.

Oh my. Let me preface this, since we are all so political now (and divided). As with Bristol Palin, I had friends up and down declaring that they weren’t going to watch because she was on. And they are saying that now about this next guy (whom I can’t stand either): Sean Spicer.

However, those people who storm around about that are usually people who don’t watch DWTS anyway. So the heck with them. As someone who DOES watch DWTS all the time, I have to say that I try to give each contestant (whoever they are) a fair chance from the beginning, to watch with no preconceptions or judgment... WAIT, holy crap... what the HELL is that? hahahahahahahaha

I love you, DWTS costumers. hahahahaha

Now, in fairness to Sean, everyone is wearing brighter colors this season. And this does look very salsa-like. But still, it makes me laugh. (I’ve been watching this show for 28 seasons, I have never seen anything so gaudy.)

OK, I guess I can sit through this.

The number starts with Sean’s hands on the bongos. Oh my.

The camera person tonight seems to have issues every time someone does a major spin. I think Lindsay did a fantastic twirl, but the camera messed it up, so I’m not sure.

And, as far as Sean... well, he’s not the worst person who’s ever danced on this stage. He is really putting his all into it, and I have to give him credit for that.

Right after he did this move, tons of bright green and pink confetti dropped on his head.

JUDGES: 12 (out of 30)

So, we get to this point in the evening, and I’m really thinking about how in previous seasons (like the last seven or eight, for sure) there was always someone by this point in the evening of the first night who stood out, who made you go: Oh! This person! But no, nothing like that...

But wait... one more couple yet to go.

Let me say first that I watched very episode of Dawson’s Creek, back in the day. That’s how I knew James Van Der Beek, and how I remember him. Not even sure what he was doing between then and now, but it turns out it was a lot.

So his first image on this first show, is a stark one. Him in a porkpie hat, and gray flannel vest, taking a tango turn center stage. Out comes the gorgeous Emma, all sparkly in a black slinky tango dress. 

Doing the tango on the first night of Dancing with the Stars is a REALLY bold move. It shows you’re really sure of yourself and your partner, and this dance just had my jaw dropping. (Look at how he’s already got the hold thing down! Incredible.)

This, then, my friends, THIS is the couple we were waiting for. HOT DAMN was this amazing. So stunning.

As they come off the floor, Tom Bergeron had to utter: “Holy crap!” Indeed. Clearly the dance of the night. And the couple to beat.

JUDGES: 21 (out of 30)

There are no eliminations tonight, because it is the Premiere. Look forward to wonky unfair voting next week! Woo hoo.

1. James and Emma (tango) (OMG)
2. Kate and Pasha (cha cha)
3. Sailor and Val (foxtrot)
4. Ally and Sasha (cha cha)
5. Lauren and  Gleb (cha cha)
6. Karamo and Jenna (salsa)
7. Hannah and Alan (cha cha)
8. Ray and Cheryl (salsa)
9. Kel and Witney (tango)
10. Mary and Brandon (foxtrot)