Sunday, October 25, 2015

DWTS Season 21 Week 5: Switch Partners and Blow Our Minds

When last we left Alexa Vega, she was upset because missing a few steps gave her a low score. Mark Ballas, her partner, was hinting that she might be kicked out soon.

But this week: THIS! Holy moly. (But we'll get to that.)

DWTS Week 5: I love every single thing people are wearing here. How often does that happen?
First, my condolences to Tom Bergeron. To my knowledge, after 10 years of watching Dancing with the Stars, I don't ever remember Tom Bergeron missing a single episode for any reason. He missed last week (Alfonso Ribeiro filled in for him) because his father died. But he's back this week. What professionalism! Wow. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

So, Tom is back, Erin looks hot as ever (fabulous red sequined dress) and says "I Love You" to Tom on camera. (Awesome. Loved that!) And oh, Maksim Chmerkovskiy is in one of the judges' chairs. Yay for that! (He's an excellent judge, btw, the perfect foil for Bruno's antics, wish he were on all the time. Besides he's also smoking hot sitting there. Love his new long hair.)

This week was already emotionally charged, from frame one. And this week, if you haven't garnered this from the first image with Alexa and Derek, is Switch-Up Week.

For those unaware of the blissful joy of Switch-Up Week, it goes like this. Just about the time that the stars are getting used to dancing with their pro partners, they SWITCH! and get NEW partners. Fun!

The only drama of Switch-Up Week is that originally Mark was paired with Bindi, and Val with Paula. Something (DUN-DUN-DUNNN) happened, and somehow, instead, Mark got switched to Paula and Val to Bindi. Not sure what exactly, but I'm quite sure that Paula's a damn handful. So thank you, Mark, for being a professional.

There was, in Switch-Up Week, a lot of pushing boundaries that aren't otherwise pushed. Emma, for example (who's paired with teen Hayes this season, and is usually paired with really old guys), got to perform her first rumba (which Erin called, "the hottest rumba she's ever seen"). Andy performed a steamy Argentine tango with Sharna, showing a sexual/sensual side that we haven't yet seen with him and Allison. The Mark-Paula pairing was interesting because we got to see a sexual side of her that Louis hadn't really been bringing out. Although I could really do without ever having to see Paula lift her skirt again, thank you.

But seeing Mark Ballas as a "pervy milkman" as Tom called him, was really cute and funny, since Mark Ballas doesn't often show his humourous side.

Personally, I discovered another thing. That some people, whom I really don't like, I just ignore when they are with their other partners, cause I like the partners so much. For example, I really dislike Taymar (but love Val), and really could just ignore what she did with new partner Louis. Simliarly, while I love watching Alek, I really don't like Lindsay much as a dance pro, so her dance with Carlos kinda did nothing for me personally, though the judges seemed bowled over by it.

I really love watching Sharna dance, and have loved what she's been doing with Nick as her partner so far, but I realized that I really feel like he's kind of leaden overall, and didn't get very thrilled by his dance with Witney.

Miche's Favorite Dances of Switch-Up Week, Week 5
1. Alexa and Derek (tango)
2. Andy and Sharna (Argentine tango)
3. Alek and Emma (steamy hot rumba)
4. Bindi and Val (cha cha)
5. Allison and Hayes (Viennese waltz)
6. Carlos and Lindsay (quickstep)
7. Nick and Witney (paso doble)

Courtesy of and
Let me skip out of the dances which less than thrilled me to the ones which blew my mind. And in this moment, let me take a second to compliment the amazing technicians they have working on Dancing with the Stars each week. The stagecraft of all the sets they are moving around between numbers is astonishing. The glorious beauty of the costumes every week (this season has just been spectacular with that). The camera magic that they are pushing the envelope with week after week (see the b/w effects above) are why this team wins Emmys for their work.

Just incredible, incredible stuff.

This number, with Alexa and Derek, does rank among one of the best dances I've seen on this show. Here's what I believe at this moment, too. (Alexa misunderstood what Alfonso Ribeiro said to her last week. What he meant was: both of them (her husband Carlos and she Alexa) cannot win. ONE of them can win, only one. And he was actually complimenting her by saying he thought it would be HER.) So let me say it again, since she didn't understand it.

I don't know that she'll WIN (for sure) at this point. But I do know that I'd put more money on her going further in this competition than Carlos. And this incredible tango she did with Derek proved why.

Look at this! Look at everything in this photograph. The stagecraft! The lighting! The costumes! The emotion of the dance. This is why I watch Dancing with the Stars every week. This kind of stuff is what makes this show one of the best shows on TV, and worth every moment of suffering through nonsense with Gary Busey. Cause there are also magical stunning moments like this. DWTS, to me, is a work of art. Cutting-edge, beautiful art. This week, none more than this dance.

The sexiest female dancer, Sharna, gave us a super steamy Argentine tango. Luckily, Maksim, king of Argentine tango (seriously, he is), was there to comment on it. Wondrous work by Sharna.

Steamiest dance of the night, though (one of the steamiest I've seen too) was between Alek and Emma. Emma, who never dances rumbas because her partners are "either too ripe or not ripe enough," thought Alek was "just right." And Alek, not a dancer, not even a person in entertainment who has to deal with kissing random people on screen and such, just a regular Joe, is obviously smitten with Miss Emma, and found it difficult to concentrate on this dance, without... well, showing his interest in her.

I suspect, though I don't know this for sure, that initially they had him in light colored trousers (to match the colors of her dress) and later, WISELY, changed that to black pants... just in case his "interest" showed a little too much. WOW, was it steamy.

Later, Erin pushed them to state on camera whether or not a date would come of this steaminess. Emma said yes. "Sure, why not?"

More on that later, hopefully. (Emma deserves a hot romance!)

I have so enjoyed watching Bindi Irwin, in all phases of her love affair with the press. She has been a joy to watch with Derek Hough, and last week's homage to her father was a special high point so far. She's kind of grown up before our eyes. So it was fitting that she bursts out of the Dad homage into the arms of another partner.

As Val said to her in the package, "You're not a little chicklet anymore, you're a grown-ass chick." And there was a maturity, a change in stature with her and her new partner Val. Loved their dance, whose chorus was "I'm ready for this." Apparently, yes, yes, you are.

Emma's tactic with teen Hayes has been to play up his boyish side. Allison's tactic this week was more to show him what a man could be. What a man should aspire to. And as someone who dreams of my future husband to someday be wearing gray tails in our wedding, this beautiful Viennese waltz was a sight to behold. (Again, kudos to the costume department. Cause: Wow!)

Please Get Off the Screen Now (Miche picks)
1. Paula
2. Taymar
3. Hayes
4. Andy
5. Carlos

Bindi and Derek
Alexa and Mark
Nick and Sharna
Andy and Allison
Alek and Lindsay

Next week: Top movie/memorable dances

No one was eliminated this week, cause it would just be weird to have people paired up with other people and then be kicked out with their partners, so the scores from last week and this one are going to be computed for the big boot next week.

Meanwhile, we swoon at this new (potential) couple...


Monday, October 19, 2015

DWTS Season 21 Week 4: My Favorite Year, Some Sadness, Some Star Power

Dancing with the Stars, Season 21, Week 4 was all about "My Favorite Year." Sometimes, this week can be tiresome ("the year I finally booked that movie/TV show/whatever"). Yawn. In the best of times, this week can leave us sobbing through every number. Season 21's version of it was somewhere in the middle. There were some sobs, not a lot. There was some major hotness (see above), not a lot.

There was some great dancing. But the emotional fireworks was more profuse in years past. In fact, some of the biggest/most emotional news happened off the dance floor (when Allison announced that she's pregnant).

(PS--Doesn't Erin just look so hot with the shorter hair? Or maybe it's the dress...)

For me personally, the years which fall flat are the ones that focus on the star themselves (I got a hit record, I booked a TV show, whatever). The ones that resonate are ones that involve other people. There were two big ones like that this season.

You pretty much just say the words, "Bindi Irwin and her dad," and I'm already tearing up. I think a lot of America, if not the world, feels that way, too. So it's no surprise that the contemporary dance Bindi dedicated to her dad, Steve Irwin, who was taken from us (and her) too soon, left few dry eyes in the house.

Bindi talked in the package about how she remembers holding her dad's finger, and Derek (of course) worked that into the dance.

It was just a beautiful dance. Very moving.

Involving people in a different way was Alek. He became known to most of us by stopping some crazed terrorist on a train in France. This week, his college campus was shot up by a madman. He visited there, and dedicated this dance to them. (And good grief, what else is going to happen to him this year yet?)

Alek and Lindsay did a stunning paso doble. (Also really great costumes in this dance.)

Both Nick and Andy focused on more of their own career fame, Nick to better effect. As the picture above (and below) shows, being a Backstreet Boy was a pretty big deal. Dancing to "Backstreet's Back," with most of the Boys in the audience, was pretty amazing. And Miss Sharna looked hella sexy. Here's a sexy Australian dancer dancing a Backstreet song with a Backstreet Boy. It almost doesn't get any better than that.

My problem in this week is that I really love love love watching both Valentin and Allison, but their partners are both starting to bug me.

Both of them (Valentin and Allison), I just can't get enough of. I love watching them dance. They are in top form, and just brilliant to watch. But this woman Taymar just bugs the crap out of me.

When the person's significant other is somewhere on stage (playing a song they cowrote or whatever), it always ends badly. The star dancer always loses focus with their dance partner, to focus on their real partner. So this week's dance just overall didn't work for me, despite Valentin being a stone fox and a superb dancer.

Andy Grammar is hot on Taymar's heels, IMHO. Also, when people dance to their own songs it bugs me. Especially if their songs aren't very good. So ugh.

Back in the top of the pack, I also love everything Mark Ballas does, and his partner is fast becoming one of my faves on this season's shows. They can do no wrong with me.

Also, Mark (thankfully) still gives us a complete concept and execution. There's a story there, there's a dance which means something. It was just wonderful to watch.

Hayes and Emma are really fun, and still a couple to watch. Their contemporary dance was a lot of fun, and well choreographed.

Carlos and Witney danced to Amazing Grace (always dicey), and while his story was very moving, the whole piece didn't work for me.

Miche Favorites for Week 4
1. Bindi and Derek
2. Sharna and Nick
3. Alek and Lindsay
4. Emma and Hayes
5. Mark and Alexa
6. Val and Taymar
7. Allison and Andy
8. Witney and Carlos

We won't even talk about Gary and Anna, I'm so done with them, and gladly, he was sent home this week. Anna, you deserve a medal, and I loved your dancing every week so far.

1. Paula and Louis
2. Andy and Allison
3. Taymar and Val
4. Carlos and Witney

And now, since the state of pictures is so dismal out there in the world (everyone is so about video these days), it takes weeks to get any decent ones. I purposely keep this column a week behind so I can get better photos for it.

So, I didn't have this/couldn't find this last week, the week this aired. But... you're welcome.

Oh man! Was that a great dance! The all-male pros was pretty awesome too.

Next week? The Switch-Up. We get back to being AWESOME!!!! (Our first all-10s of the season, and a HOT romance between dancers... oh yes!)


Monday, October 12, 2015

DWTS Season 21 Week 3: Time Traveling to TV

Dancing with the Stars Season 21, Week 3 fell about as flat as Bindi and Derek are in this picture. The theme, ostensibly, was TV Week, where couples danced to various TV themes. In some cases (Carlos and Witney), they were screamingly bad. In other cases, they were just Breaking Bad (Mark Ballas and Alexa PenaVega did the best of the night with a Breaking Bad homage).

Most shows picked were from the last century, and surely didn't do much to add more than Baby Boomers to this show's viewing audience. I Dream of Jeannie and Gilligan's Island? Really?

I mean, I understand that TV shows don't really have "themes" anymore like they used to, but that brings into question: Why do this at all? The whole concept really didn't work for me.

The couple "sent home" came from a bad circumstance, where Tony's partner suffered a minor stroke and had to be disqualified. And still, they put the couples through the red light paces at the end, and then a "Just Kidding!" Ugh.

You knew the evening was going to be yucky when it started with a Muppets suckup (a new Muppets show started on ABC last week). Hated that they tried to integrate it with this show. Really hated it.

Also REALLY hated the Carlos-Witney dance, where they were dancing to a Golden Girls theme, and inexplicably had them in aging makeup. Ugh. Awful. Hated it so much.

But there were other dances which were just sublime. I tried and tried to find a picture of the dance, but all I could find was this.

By far my favorite dance of the night, Mark Ballas let his genius and love for Breaking Bad show through with this innovative wonderful dance. Really superb.

Nick and Sharna, quickly becoming one of my favorite couples this season, did an amazing Downton Abbey homage. Mad props to the costuming department this season, who are just doing a superb job. Sharna's dress in this number was stunning.

As you can see, the search for good photos is abysmal. Ugh.
As much as I love Valentin's dancing (oh, and I do!), this Taymar woman is really irritating me. This week, she was all up in Val's face about how men shouldn't have all the power, and women should be in charge. They were dancing to MAD MEN, which takes place in the 60s (when, sorry, but women didn't HAVE the power). It was just beyond ridiculous. But they got a pretty cool tango out of the Mad Men theme anyway.

Alek and Lindsay danced to the True Blood theme. Very sexy.

I will spare you the ridiculousness of Hayes and Emma's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Paula and Louis' Gilligan's Island. Paula arguing that she didn't want to be Mrs. Howell because she's "really Marianne." *eyeroll* Yeah, ok.

And then there was this.

Ugh. I'll just leave that alone.

1. Gary and Anna
2. Paula and Louis
3. Hayes and Emma
4. Carlos and Witney

Allison Holker and Andy Grammar did American Bandstand
TV Themes Week: the Best Dances
1. Mark and Alexa (Breaking Bad)
2. Nick and Sharna (Downton Abbey)
3. Val and Taymar (Mad Men)
4. Alek and Lindsay (True Blood)
5. Allison and Andy (American Bandstand)

Trapped in a fifty-year-old TV, just like this episode of DWTS.