Back in the day, Dancing with the Stars was about people who couldn't dance being paired with those who could, and doing routines. Somewhere along the way, it became people who couldn't dance and through the magic of television being made to look like they actually can. Nowhere is this more evident than this week, Memorable Dances, where the star, now six weeks in, has to dance with a bunch of other professionals to recreate an iconic dance, and pull it off.
I don't particularly like this week. It's big, it's splashy, and this year, a bit rehashed. A thing that isn't talked about often in DWTS articles is that they have to get the rights to perform to any song they do. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes, as this week, it does not. I can only wonder what amazing song Mark Ballas had already done choreography for that got yanked at the last minute. (Makes me very sad.) No matter though, he did amazing work with the Austin Powers number he got substituted instead.
We also had a song that they must have the rights for the length of the show (that "Patchuco" song from The Mask). I've already seen two seminal versions of that one on this show, both much better than what was performed tonight. I think there were a couple versions before I started watching the show as well. #RetireIt
Six shows in is also when people start really showing their true colors, and for me, this was the week I started voting less for two people: Nyle and Ginger. (No, actually, I started voting less for Nyle when they did that Tarzan travesty, but this is the week I stopped voting for them no matter what they do.)
Stars often forget that while they are competing for judges' votes, yes, they are also competing for the hearts of America, who is also a percentage of the vote. Two things really irritate me from these stars and cause me to vote less for them immediately.
ONE: Don't Whine About Your Damn Schedule
Possibly my number one pet peeve about any of these "stars" who get on this show. Let's review, shall we?, this season's travesties. We have Antonio, who is a pro football player, with all kinds of things going on with that. We have Wanya, who secretly (smartly not whining about it into camera) flies to Vegas two nights a week to perform with Boyz II Men AND do all these complex dance routines. And the topper, we have Ginger Zee, who has: a regular gig with Good Morning, America, that she flies back to every week, a husband, a new baby (new, as in three months old) AND she chose to do this show right now. Realizing or not the PUNISHING choreography that is involved. It was YOUR choice to do this, babe. Don't start whining about your schedule now that you are in Week 6.
PLEASE, CASTING DIRECTORS! Can we get some people with less punishing schedules next time, and no new babies? C'mon! Sheesh.
Most of the voting public probably aren't as incensed by the schedule thing as I am. (I just think it's disrespectful.) But what the voting public IS really as irritated as I am about is ARROGANCE. We saw it last season with Val's partner Tamar, who thought she was better than all the other dancers, and said so. This season, our deaf boy, Nyle, has upped that bar, and not only said he was better than all the other star dancers, but he considers Val (as in pro dancer Val, one of the best dancers IN THE WORLD) to be "his competition." Um, no. Val has been dancing HIS ENTIRE LIFE. You will never in a million years be as good as Val. Never. Not in this Universe. Not to rub in the obvious, but YOU CAN'T HEAR. Val softly gently caresses the music and his partner to wring emotions from our very hearts. There is a lot you can do as a deaf person (and Nyle is showing that, thanks to his amazing partner, Peta, on this show). But you can't do what Val can do. Period.
So, I'm sure Peta will create wonderful things the rest of this season, but for me, personally, no more votes for Nyle. Done.
Now, let's compliment some folks. This episode was really a tour de force from the production team. I mean, every show is, really, but wow. To recreate all these iconic dance numbers, sets, costumes, makeup all went above and beyond for this show. Seriously, these sparkly shoes with the British flag on them? Wow.
And while we're throwing out the compliments of the behind-the-scenes team, let's put a spotlight on two hopefully soon-to-be-pro dancers that consistently put out great work. Our super stunner, Jenna, has long been a favorite of mine, and really should be a pro soon. But a new sparkle to my eye has been this new guy, Shannon. (Remember the days when they used to actually introduce the new troupe members? *sigh*) Anyway, they DID introduce him on this show because he used to dance with Michael Jackson.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven't seen him already, let's welcome Shannon Holzappfel.
|Shannon, Von, Artem in "Bad."|
Shannon really belongs on that pro stage next season. He's a star. (So's Jenna.)
But let's start the show, shall we?
|Alan and women of the troupe, opening number|
The pros and troupe danced a spectacular opening number to "Puttin' on the Ritz," choreographed (say it together now) by Mandy Moore.
First of the couples to dance are Kim and Sasha, with a jive to a song from Hairspray.
I liked it, and I like Kim and Sasha together. She has some nasty words to say about her Switch Up partner, Keo, in her package. But the gist of it is true. Keo is untested this far in the competition, but then, that same statement is true of Sasha. And this jive was pretty fun to watch.
Kim and Sasha's Jive
Witney and Von dance to Michael Jackson's "Bad." Troupe dancer Shannon, who actually danced with Michael Jackson, dances with them. I also love how Tom gives credit to the choreographers to each dance. Especially this week, when the pro dancers mostly use the original choreography, with some modifications.
Von and Witney's to Michael Jackson's "Bad."
SHANNON: Yes (of course)
I've watched this episode a few times now. Just noticed at this point, they run a promo of the dances to come... it ends with Nyle (quoting The Mask) saying, "ooooh, somebody stop me." Indeed. A tip of my hat to the DWTS editors for that bit of brilliance.
Segue, featuring Can-Can
So. Let me just put the pieces of this out there for ya, you decide what's going on. Last week, Keo ostensibly danced a "Viennese waltz" with Kim, for which the judges said there was "no Viennese waltz content." There's a segment just aired in this show, which shows Keo, brushing aside cameras and "leaving his partner," according to a producer. He's then shown sulking outside, playing with his phone.
My bet from all of this is that Keo very well may not be a pro dancer next season. You have to be able to do the job, and being a pro is a very different job than just being a troupe member. You have to not only always hit your own marks (which he's been accused from the judges of missing lately), but you have to pack the star's dances full of content, so the judges will give them high scores. Those things are all kind of key.
So this week, and remember, bad dancing is covered up/hidden by having lots of troupe members dancing around you, Jodie and Keo are dancing alone. No troupe members around them. Also, they are inexplicably dancing to Pink's "Try" video. It seems reasonable that, since it's a very difficult thing, with lifts and whatnot, that the original choreographers would be brought in to help with it. (But no one else has other choreographers helping them with their numbers.)
All of this is really speaking to Jodie's skill, and the fact that in the right hands, she could win this. The show really does what's best for the star.
But, in the end, they had to sacrifice some of the lifts and things. It's really quite a complex dance to put on someone new to dance. I really love Jodie as a competitor, but I didn't like this dance of hers. It just wasn't working for me.
Keo and Jodie's recreation of Pink's "Try" video
Mark and Paige's Austin Powers number
Segue, featuring Jazz
|Peta, after hearing what Nyle said in interview about Val being his "competition."|
But in any case, I much prefer the previous versions of this dance, and really wish they'd stop doing it. They received some of the lowest scores of the night for this dance.
As they step up to the judges' table, host Tom Bergeron says, "I think that's Nyle in there." (under the makeup/mask)
Nyle: "Maybe one of the other pro dancers..." (*eyeroll*)
BEST JUDGE'S COMMENT (LEN): "Don't start saying, 'I'm as good as Val,' cause you'll just annoy people."
Count me among the annoyed. This was the other dance which had no troupe members involved.
Peta and Nyle's recreation of The Mask
Speaking of annoyed, next up, we have Ginger Zee. Don't get me wrong. Sweet, cute Ginger Zee does the weather on Good Morning, America just fine. But as an actress? Not so much. As a dancer? Hmmm...
It must be that time of the competition, cause she, too, in her package makes a bit of an arrogant statement: "(In this dance), Val's kind of like a backup dancer. I don't have him to rely on. It's all me. If I hit it, it's gonna take off."
*shakes head* These people. First, let me just say. If she didn't have Val there, backing her up, not to mention all the talented professional dancers who also make up this dance, she wouldn't be anywhere. Not to mention carefully constructed camera angles, so she doesn't look like a fool.
And then there's this. NASTY. Ginger Zee is in no Universe "nasty." Or even mean. That nasty part requires ACTING, which she seems to be incapable of. She's sweet and cute. She's got those down. But doing the nasty thing? Hell no.
|Val, Ginger (trying to be Nasty) and Shannon|
CARRIE ANN: "You weren't able to hit it and own it, but you were very well-rehearsed."
LEN: "It was a bit more tasty than nasty."
BRUNO: "There is nothing nasty about you. It was Janet in the best possible taste."
Val and Ginger's "Nasty" jazz
|Look at this cool thing they did with effects, like Shannon and Val are behind a screen. NICE!|
Segue, featuring swing
Doug Flutie, at this point of the competition, is the last of the truly bad dancers to still be here. They are dancing Bollywood to the famous dance scene from Slumdog Millionaire. I'm happy that Karina got a chance to dance Bollywood for the first time. I'm also happy that Doug is the one who gets eliminated on this episode. It was time.
Karina and Doug's Bollywood dance to "Jai Ho"
Here's the difference. In the other packages, everyone's getting all arrogant. In Wanya and Lindsay's package, she says: "I like the way you dance," to which he responds, "I like the way WE dance." That's class. That's how someone wins this competition.
They dance, of course, to N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" from the MTV Music Awards. The judges loved this dance. The guys from N Sync (in the audience) loved this dance. I loved this dance.
|Alan, Lindsay, Wanya, Shannon and some other dude.|
Lindsay and Wanya, doing N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye"
Last week, Sharna (in one of those question and answer interview things the teammates did of each other), mentioned other people FTW, instead of her partner, Antonio. Then saying, "Oh, I should probably say Antonio!" He didn't like that. And I, like she, didn't really think very much of it, just attributing it to her being honest. But I didn't realize the whole sports culture thing of it, where, if you're on a team, you're on that team, you don't root for others, or even say others are better than you. So, he was pretty upset at her, and the result of that is that this week he tried much harder. All in all, a good thing. Very fun dance.
Sharna and Antonio, doing jive to "Footloose"
MICHE'S PICKS FOR BEST OF WEEK 6
1. Mark and Paige (jazz, Austin Powers)
2. Sharna and Antonio (jive, Footloose)
3. Lindsay and Wanya (jazz, N Sync video)
4. Karina and Doug (Bollywood, "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire)
PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Len!