Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DWTS: All Stars — The Story So Far

In my humble opinion, here's how you win Dancing with the Stars in a normal season.

1. You have a brillliant choreographer.

2. You have a fanatic fan base, that you enflame through social media.

3. You get lucky.

There are, IMHO, four brilliant choreographers on DWTS. Derek Hough, Mark Ballas, Karina Smirnoff and Peta Murgatroyd. The way you can "get lucky" with another choreographer, is if you have excellent chemistry and work well together.

But it's always some combination of those three things.

Chelsie Hightower and Helio Castroneves/ABC/Adam Taylor

This is one of the couples voted out last night. One of the things that felled them (quite outside of their own doing) was the costume designers have been tending to make the women's dresses too long this season, and in this case, the poor girl nearly tripped over it. We need to see their feet, costumers! Please.

This, however, is no normal season. This is the All Stars season. Which means that where you normally get the first four weeks of someone getting their sea legs, and really only get spectacular dances the last four or five weeks, this time, we've had them right out of the gate (from Ep. 1).

Usually, it's pretty easy to tell who's going to be going the first few weeks. There are always clunkers. I can honestly say that's not true this time. In fact, during this particular episode, I enjoyed every single (11) dance. So, it's been hard to pick a favorite to root for. So many are just spectacular.

And, in two cases, both named Chmerkovsky, the women "stars" are making their pros look better by their own sheer determination.

First, Val Chmerkovsky. He just entered the regular pro lineup recently, and has never really come into his own (that is, risen to the level he needs to be at to win) yet. Until this season. Because of her.

Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovsky/ABC

Look at that determination. I didn't think much of them at the beginning, but they have become one of my favorite couples this season. Their dance Monday night was my favorite through most of the other dances (no small feat, that).

Now, a moment about Maks.

He used to be one of my favorite pros to watch on this show. Sexy in an animalistic way, always taking his shirt off, always pinching Tom Bergeron on the butt, he was sexy and playful and fun. His choreography with Erin Andrews was truly inspired and magical. (I didn't much watch earlier seasons.)

And then: "It's my show." An offhand comment, compounded by a tirade against the judges, made him a pariah. And really, from that moment till now, he lost all his fire. Likely made to shut up by ABC brass, he has taken the tack of not saying anything, coming off pouty and walking through the paces. His season with a sports star as his partner was uneventful.

I don't know about others, but for me, it's been painful to watch. I just wish Maks would go away already.

But then, the magic of Kirstie Alley. She, who was previously his partner (in better days), she who knows a thing or two about entertaining an audience (and/or getting over your damn self and just putting on a good show). She, in this week of "the Stars get creative control" took it upon herself to kick Maks' ass into gear.

His selling points before were always that he's incredibly hot (the hottest male on the show, easily), and he liked to show that off. And he is a superb dancer.

So, we ended up with this.

Maksim Chmerkovsky and Kirstie Alley/ABC/Adam Taylor

He strutted to "Moves Like Jagger," was allowed to express his rampant sexuality, while Kirstie played wild groupie. It was wonderful and frothy and fun. The old Maks was almost back.

Between Kirstie taking control and Kirstie's frequent and wonderful use of Twitter to compel fans to vote, I think we'll be seeing these two for awhile longer. And this dance was a joy to watch.

OTOH, we also have the woman dragging the pro down.

I love Mark Ballas. In every season of DWTS, he is my odds-on favorite to win, going in.

However, just as much as I adore him, I really dislike her. Let's just say kindly that she is no dancer, in a season of real dancers. She should have been gone early on.

And this week, when everyone else is strategizing how to win, she had a pouty crying mess of a meltdown. That they even ended up with a dance, much less such a great one, is a true tribute to Mark's professionalism.

I adore him, but I really hope she goes soon.

Both Bristol and Maks need to learn that there is no ego drama in this business called show. You suck it up, whatever you're feeling, and put on a show. And if you can't do that, step down and get out of the business.

Cause if you don't, there are plenty of others who will.

Like these:

Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, dancing their little hearts out/ABC/Adam Taylor
Or these:

Sabrina Bryan and Louis Van Amstel, dancing their hearts out/ABC/Adam Taylor
Or these:

Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke/ABC/Adam Taylor

You don't see these people having pouty tantrums. These are pros, paid money to put on a show. Bristol Palin, for me, really threw a huge downer into the middle of a spectacular show. Is she gone yet?

These people are determined to succeed.

Peta Murgatroyd and Gilles Marini/ABC/Adam Taylor

But let's just cut to the chase, throw over all the cards and get to the performance of the week. All 11 were amazing (even Bristol and Mark), but this one was mind-blowing.

Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough/ABC/Adam Taylor

Bouncing off trampolines to start, this dance was part gymnastics, part dance, all spectacular. ABC wisely saved it for last. Dancing, dancing, dancing, simulataneous splits (see above), bounce back up (without getting out of hold!), keep dancing. It ended with them diving into the pit. Brilliant.

Creative genius. Take what they give you as an assignment and run with it. That's what it takes. Give us magic every week. Derek Hough never fails to provide that. This is, indeed, going to be an incredible season to watch. It's only WEEK THREE!!! Holy moly.

Can you imagine?

Shawn and Derek dive off the stage as a finale. WOW.


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