Sunday, May 8, 2016

DWTS S022 Week 5: Maks Rules The Switch Up

Nyle with his new partner Sharna, as Peta looks on.
Yeah, it's like that. There are partners (especially in this Dancing with the Stars episode of the Switch Up) that just don't bond at all. But, you also have partners that you wish were together all season long.

For example: if Jodie Sweetin were with Val C. all season, they would win. No question. But she's with Keo, who is usually lucky if he gets past Week 2. I personally don't think he has the choreography chops, the dealing with stars finesse and the long-term vision that it takes to win the Mirror Ball. Which is too bad, cause I really do think that Jodie Sweetin has the stamina and drive to win, if she were with the right partner. So it was nice to see her with Val for a week, who really worked her, and polished her technique.

Here's the other thing you should know about this Switch Up week. Remember that famous dust-up between Maksim Chmerkovskiy (when he was a dancer on DWTS) and judge Len Goodman? Heck, it turns out that you get most irritated by those who are most like you.

If you know nothing about these judges, let me clue you. Bruno is an oversexed gay man (who is wearing incredible suits lately) who often inappropriately grabs (actually both men and women, but usually men), says things to male dancers who are shirtless that would get you fired in an office, and I'm sure votes favorably for men just because they take their shirts off. But we love him anyway.

Carrie Ann is often a hot mess herself, often giggly, often falling off her chair (literally). Don't know if she's drunk or just bipolar. You give her an emotional dance, and she'll be sobbing into her voting card. Quite often her antics irritate me. But we love her anyway.

It is the stern Len Goodman, who, for me, is most often the best judge. He's judged the most ballroom competitions of these three, and it shows. He knows the rules inside and out and he knows what he's looking for. He doesn't go for all the frou-frou nonsense. And he gets booed like crazy.

The studio audience often gets swept up in the moment.

But not Len. Rules are rules, m'am. The only rule Carrie Ann consistently enforces is the "no lifts" edict. Of the guest judges they've had, the only one I really liked was the whole time period with Julianne Hough. She was tough, she was fair, and she also knew the rules (of ballroom competition).

So Maksim Chmerkovskiy coming back as a judge, sitting next to his former nemesis Len, is an odd thing. But Maks DOES know the rules too. So we had this bizarre situation this entire episode where both Len and Maks were agreeing with each other, and Carrie Ann and Bruno were gushing hot messes with each other. Len and Maks the voices of sanity? It was quite bizarre.

But I liked it. I really hope they have him back. Maks is an awesome judge.

So, let's look at the sublime successes, and the horrible trainwrecks that were Season 22's Switch Up.

The night kicks off with (again) stunning choreography by Mandy Moore. Where most of the cast is dressed in red and blue. Inexplicably, some cast members are in black outfits. Kinda strange.

At the end of it, everyone piles together, those in black more strategically hidden.

Normal Partners: Wanya and Lindsay

New Partners: Wanya and Witney

Dance: Tango

Trainwreck or Sublime: Trainwreck

Let's see. Wanya has so far been going gangbusters on this show. He's another star (like Jodie Sweetin), who's bound and determined to win this thing, works hard, knows his steps.

Also, Witney and Lindsay are supposedly best friends, yet obviously also great competitors, because Witney starts out telling her new partner: "You've been killing it, but I'm going to make you so much better this week." Wow.

But of all the pros, I'm not a big fan of Witney. The music choices she makes are often not ones I would choose. And if you can't get behind someone's music, you probably aren't going to like their dance.

So they decide to do a tango to this slow music from James Bey, performing live, since he was in between Coachellas. Don't think it was very effective, as tangos go, although Wanya was trying.

Witney's record with the Switch Up is not good. In fact, in pretty much every Switch Up she's done, she's gotten really low scores (for whatever reason). In this case, I just think Wanya and Wanya's way of working vibes better with Lindsay and her way of working.

Best Judge's Comment: (MAKS) "Tango is all about nothing moving on top, everything happening on the bottom. It felt like it was a little falling apart."


Normal Partners: Kim and Sasha

New Partners: Kim and Keo

Dance: Viennese Waltz

Trainwreck or Sublime: Trainwreck

Mad props to the costume department on this amazing dress Kim has on.

Reminder: Keo, as a pro has never gotten this far in the competition before.

I like Kim as a competitor. I really like her partnership with Sasha (even if he doesn't really know what boobs are). And personally, I thought this was a nice dance. But, I have to agree with the judges.

Best Judge's Comment: (MAKS) "There was half a step of Viennese waltz... I can't even criticize the frame, cause there was none."

Keo goes on to try to defend himself by saying that he couldn't do a proper hold because Kim is quite a bit shorter than he is. To which Maks (properly) reminds him of Maks and Meryl (who won the Mirror Ball).

Let's examine, shall we?

Keo and Kim Viennese waltz

Maks and Meryl Viennese waltz

Look at that form! Look at all that content. Look at that Viennese Waltz. Maks is absolutely right.

Second-Best Judge's Comment: (Len) "Thank God you're here, Maks, cause it's normally me against the world."

Third-Best Judge's Comment: (Len) "Why not ONE step in hold? Not one. It's a Viennese waltz."

And then the judges break out into loud arguing, forcing wonderful host Tom Bergeron to yell, "Oh kids! Oh kids!" to break them up. (Great moment.)


Normal Partners: Doug and Karina

New Partners: Doug and Peta

Dance: Tango

Trainwreck or Sublime: Trainwreck

BONUS POINTS: Sam Sparro's "Black and Gold" is such a great song.

I love Peta's dancing and always will, but by this point in the competition, it's obvious that Doug Flutie is not a dancer, nor ever will be. In fact, at some points, it appears that he's actually pigeon-toed.

Still, great costumes, great music, a fun watch.

Best Judge's Comment: (CARRIE ANN) "I didn't think you missed a step, and that was filled with content."


Then, we have a segment new to the Switch Up week, where people ask questions of each other. Pretty standard stuff. Except that one of the questions is: Who do you think is going to win this season? Most people say "Me!" Sharna is actually honest (love that about her, actually), and says to new partner Nyle: "You and Wanya are right up there... I should probably say Antonio [her partner], though."

Tune in next week to see how that comment resonates with Antonio...

THEN... we have another James Bay song ("Let It Go") performed live, with Jenna and Artem dancing this amazing contemporary dance. So beautiful. Such great choreography.

Jenna and Artem amazing


Normal Partners: Ginger and Val

New Partners: Ginger and Mark

Dance: Salsa

Trainwreck or Sublime: Sublime

Best Husband Comment: "Mark is like a nice glass of merlot. Val is a dirty martini."

Best Walk-On Ad Lib: "This is my girl, Ginger, I met her at Valentin's last week."

First, why is this husband (and baby) a character in this show?... Anyway, this was a great dance. Val and Mark are the male geniuses of this season, so Ginger is in good hands either way.

All that "Boo hoo, I just had a baby and don't know how to be sexy" nonsense is gone gone gone with this dance. She shakes, she shimmies, she does a mean salsa. (Her acting is pretty horrible, though.)

Best Judge's Comment: (MAKS) "It seemed like this might not be your thing...cause you haven't done such a fast dance yet... but it was totally your thing. You sold it, I loved it. We all had a great time."

Second-Best Husband Comment: "Mark is the marrying type. Val is more the Russian love slave."

Best Tom Bergeron Comment: "Tonight's program is brought to you by Magnanimous Russian Love Slaves."

Side note to Ginger: He tells you to sit down. Moments later, you have to get up to dance. From the moment you sat down to the moment you got up, that's acting. That part was awkward.


Normal Partners: Antonio and Sharna

New Partners: Antonio and Karina

Dance: Cha Cha

Trainwreck or Sublime: Trainwreck

The first time I watched this, I didn't even see Antonio, Karina was so front and center in that skimpy lacy outfit. But then, that smile! Wow.

But I've already stated how little patience I have for people who have other things going on in their lives and can't rehearse. Boo hoo.

Best Judge's Comment: (LEN) "All that bump-and-grind stuff. The bits of cha cha that were in there were poor."

Second-Best Tom Bergeron Comment: "A few years ago, if you woulda told me that Maks and Len would be paddle buddies, I never woulda believed it."


Normal Partners: Paige and Mark

New Partners: Paige and Sasha

Dance: Rumba

Trainwreck or Sublime: Sublime

PRO TIP: In Life, in Dancing, in Acting, in Sex, looking someone directly in the eyes is a very powerful thing. Glad that Sasha was breaking down Paige's walls in this rumba.

Sasha asked her why she wasn't looking in his eyes. She answered that she doesn't really look anyone in their eyes. (Although she did, somewhat, in this dance.)

Beautiful costume, beautiful dance. Not a lot of rumba content in it, however.

Sasha has the same problem that Keo has. He has never been tested with his choreography. He has never gotten this far as a pro. He is maybe not aware of how much the judges score for content.

Best Judge's Comment: (MAKS) "With a lot of ability comes a lot of responsibility... You are more than capable of winning the show."


Normal Partners: Von and Witney

New Partners: Von and Lindsay

Dance: Jive

Trainwreck or Sublime: Trainwreck

Personally, I liked this better than any dance he's danced. But any kicks and flicks were non-existent. Lindsay did an amazing job dancing all around him, however. And the choreography was stunning.

Best Judge's Comment: (MAKS) "Lindsay gets an 11 for all of this."


Normal Partners: Nyle and Peta

New Partners: Nyle and Sharna

Dance: Viennese Waltz

Trainwreck or Sublime: Sublime

Sharna is a dancer who, although she's never yet won, knows what it takes to get to Second Place in this competition. She packs her dances full of content to get those judges' points. I really hope she wins someday. This was, by far, the better Viennese Waltz of the night. Hope Keo learned a few things by watching this one. (Keo and Kim got a 28 out of 40 for theirs, this one received a 37 out of 40.) It was, by judges' scores, the best dance of the night. None of them thanked Sharna's stunning choreography, but that's why this received such high scores.

Sharna and Nyle Viennese Waltz

Best Judge's Comment: (LEN) "That was like a total eclipse. It don't turn up often, but when it does, it's FANTASTIC."

And then, an odd thing happened. Apparently, when the judges have their scores, they pass them on a piece of paper (what? in 2016?) to the control room, who uses them for the graphics on screen. However, when they raised their paddles, both Maks and Bruno voted 10s. Even though they had told the control room "9." So, they were only scored 37 because that was the official score. (Still the best score of the night.)

Also, you'd think after 22 seasons of this show they'd have figured this out...


Normal Partners: Jodie and Keo

New Partners: Jodie and Val

Dance: Paso Doble

Trainwreck or Sublime: Sublime

This dance encapsulates why Switch-Up Week is necessary. These stars rely upon their pros to pack their routines with content, and to be hard on them to execute that content properly. They have to run the gauntlet of these judges (and get their approval), PLUS, they have to win the hearts of the American people to get their votes. They are relying on their pros to get them there.

Derek Hough has won the most Mirror Ball trophies because he is the best at that. At delivering appetizing choreographic content (to new songs, even though they are ostensibly the same dances) for the judges, as well as making his partners look good, no matter how much they may be struggling with his steps.

Keo Motsepe, I would argue, has shown in this episode (and last week's fiasco with Jodie) that he is clueless about making his partner look good. His dances are nowhere near filled with the amount of content one needs to win this thing. And what sucks most about that is that Jodie Sweetin could WIN this. If she had Mark Ballas or Val Chmerkovskiy or Derek Hough as her partner, she would win, no question. The fact that she is still in Week 5 (and going forward) is due to her, not due to Keo's choreography or talent.

Because LOOK! Look at what she does with Val as her partner. They attempt a paso doble (very difficult dance), packed full of choreography. And she executes what one judge calls "her best dance." Of course. Cause now she knows what it takes.

How horrible it must be for Jodie, going forward, to have to go back to Keo, who doesn't have Val's skill. I almost think that Jodie could win this on her own. I hope she at least makes the finals.

I was talking to a fellow DWTS watcher, and we were speculating on what Keo Motsepe's Freestyle would look like. I cannot imagine. He has nowhere near the creativity to come up with a good one, let alone a great one. Makes me very sad for Jodie. I will be pumping all of my votes to Jodie (no matter how bad Keo's dances are) because she deserves to win this.

But in the meanwhile, we had this exquisite paso with Val, which shows what Jodie Sweetin truly can do.

Best Judge's Comment: (MAKS) "Amazing. You could be all the way in the Finale. Great job."

Because everyone is with different partners this week, there is no elimination.

1. Val and Jodie (paso doble)
2. Sharna and Nyle (Viennese waltz)
3. Mark and Ginger (salsa)
4. Sasha and Paige ("rumba")
5. Karina and Antonio (cha cha)

Did you know that Jodie was the first girl that Val "fell in love with before [he] knew English"? Maybe he can keep giving poor Jodie a few pointers on the side?

Val and Ginger
Jodie and Keo
Mark and Paige
Sharna and Antonio
Wanya and Lindsay


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