Sunday, April 24, 2016

DWTS S22 Week 3: Most Memorable Year Not Most Memorable Night

Mark Ballas and Paige Vanzant break ground in the paso doble arena.
As Carrie Ann stated it, "We need innovative ways to keep the show moving forward," about this paso doble by Mark Ballas and Paige. It was stunning. The camera work was incredible, and it was my favorite dance of the night, by miles.

But oh, let's back up, shall we? My Favorite Year has morphed into My Most Memorable Year, and it's usually a teary affair, dedicated to dead dads or lost loves. Not so much this year. Another common theme, is (essentially): This is the year I became a star (for whatever reason). We had a lot of that this year.

Valentin and Ginger kick it off with a contemporary dance meant to signify "Home." Val's choreography continues to stun, and even though I don't usually like the contemporary ones, the ones Val creates are stunningly beautiful with great lines.

It was a story about Ginger meeting her husband, getting married, having a child, etc. At the end, as Val and Ginger are waiting for their scores, Ginger's husband brings the little brat backstage. He's yowling. Tom Bergeron saves the day by saying, "Lemme tell ya. In 22 seasons, that's not the first crybaby we've had on the show." Which was especially funny considering that Ginger was dancing with Val. :-X (not meaning Val) #WeLoveYaMaks

There were a few tears with Doug Flutie's waltz with Karina. It was supposed to represent his father, who died, and his mother who kissed him at his casket and then died herself. It was very touching. Excellent choreography. Karina looked just like an angel.

I am just now realizing (after all these seasons) that the Memorable Year week serves an additional purpose. If you don't know who the heck these "stars" are, many of them use this year to remind you. Kim Fields, for example, started her career with a Mrs. Butterworth's ad, and then Facts of Life. God bless the set designers, who gave us this recreated Facts of Life set. And one of her cast members from that show was in the audience, looking a bit older.

But as to her foxtrot, it was OK. Nothing to write home about.

I'm not jazzed about Von and Witney as a couple, and contemporary doesn't do much for me, so let's just say the lifts were great, but... eh?

I really liked (and voted for) the couple of Tony and Marla. This jive was fun. But this is also the moment where (if people didn't already know), they found out that she was previously married to Donald Trump. I do have to wonder how it affects her scoring.

In the "I had a kid" moment, we had an interesting twist. Antonio Jr. danced with his dad and Sharna. The camerawork and concept were just stunning, and the foxtrot was pretty amazing, too. Sharna's choreography is just beautiful to watch. And the costumes, as you can see, are absolutely incredible.

I just adore Mark Ballas. And this was a stunning and amazing paso doble. It also told the story of Paige, getting into the UFC. It was just brilliant and I loved it so much.

Jodie Sweetin is one of the lights of this competition to me. I really look forward to her dances each week. Still not sure about the strength of Keo to go all the way in this, but Jodie seems to be down for that. Loved hearing her struggles with sobriety and the light that is now back in her eyes. This foxtrot was beautiful.

I'm going to omit the Mischa Barton dance with Artem. It, like all her other dances, was dreadful. Her package ("I thought you were going to take care of me") was snotty and entitled. I'll just cut to the chase and say she got eliminated, and THANK GOODNESS. Her "dancing" was awful.

There's always someone, some soldier or patriotic person who whips out the patriotism in My Favorite, sorry Memorable, Year. This year, it was Wanya and Lindsay, who danced a waltz to, no kidding, the National Anthem. Done a cappella by Boyz II Men. He is now on the verge of surpassing (this is two so far) a record for dancing to one's own music. Personally, I'd prefer it if he danced to other people's music from this point forward.

That said, this is still one of my favorite teams.

Peta and Nyle continue to astonish and amaze with this tango. Great dancing. Great choreography. (How does he do that?)

1. Mark and Paige (paso doble)
2. Peta and Nyle (tango)
3. Valentin and Ginger (contemporary)
4. Jodie and Keo (foxtrot)
5. Lindsay and Wanya (waltz)
6. Sharna and Antonio (and Antonio Jr.) (foxtrot)

Mischa Barton

(sorry Artem)

NEXT TO GO (no order)
Doug Flutie
Von Miller
Marla Maples
Kim Fields

The original DWTS judges: Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Bruno Toniolli


Sunday, April 17, 2016

DWTS S22 Week 2: Not Very Sexy Latin Night

This, from the opening number of Week 2, choreographed by "the birthday girl, Mandy Moore." First, let's say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Mandy Moore, and DWTS got infinitely better once you started choreographing so many of its numbers.

But, oh what to say about Week 2 on Dancing with the Stars, Latin Night? First, the good news. Geraldo Rivera is voted out. But second, there were really no steamy Latin dances tonight. But there were many good, even great ones. So, let's break it down in order.

This was the dance that made me sit up and go, "Wow! JODIE and Keo could win this!" What a luscious samba. And that gold! Both her outfit (stunning) and all the really cool gold paint on Keo, to say nothing of his hot pants... Wow, was this amazing to watch.

I quite like Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani as a team. But still, upon second viewing, she does seem a bit awkward and stiff. She hit all the standard Argentine tango moves, but it's a complicated dance, and it didn't flow from her. Still I liked them.

Then... UGH... then, we had this.

Ugh. In all the seasons I've been watching DWTS, I've never ONCE seen someone dressed up as someone else. This isn't SNL, for gosh sakes. So this moron decides to come out like this... UGH... and in his package, he talks about how he has "no feeling in his right foot." (Why do they let these idiots do DWTS? Plenty of people with complete feeling who wanna do this show... UGH.) Horrible dance.

So, personally, I couldn't get rid of him fast enough. Sheesh. (Poor Edyta.)

This, however, was followed by one of the best dances of the night, choreographed by the brilliant Mark Ballas. Sadly not danced by him, however. :-(  He had hurt his back in rehearsal, so Alan stepped in for him, and did an amazing job.

Mark Ballas always does amazing choreography. Week 2. Paige and Alan.

Boys just don't know what to do when they are forced to dance a rumba with the luscious and lovely Miss Sharna Burgess. Antonio Brown tried. He did.

And he danced the dance, but was often felled by what he tactfully called, "Blood flow." Blood flow, indeed.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here's Sasha dancing with curvy Kim Fields. I really enjoyed this dance, and watching these two in general.

Peta and Nyle tackle a rumba that Len thought was rushed, but Carrie Ann thought was "stunning."

Then, there was this dreadfulness. This woman may be beautiful, but she sure cannot dance. This song (Pata Pata) was one of the most danceable songs ever written, and she still seemed like she was walking through it. No musicality or sense of beat at all. Ugh. Who can't dance to Pata Pata? C'mon.

Mischa tries to explain the bad performance away by saying that she couldn't hear the music. And that when the live band played, "everything changed." Bruno: "So THAT's what happened..." Carrie Ann laughs and turns her head away.

Folks, it was terrible. No excuses.

The judges showed their 5 paddles again (for her and 4s for Geraldo) in response.

So there was the whole "Barbie drill sergeant" thing. And the whole "being late = $100" and the "I'm charging for farts" thing. Witney is gonna be a rich woman. (Witney is donating the money to the Skin Cancer Foundation.) Oh, and it's a "whole lot more expensive in the locker room." :-0  Things you don't know about football players... *sigh*

But it was more hip hop. Not my favorite dance of the night.

Wanya continues to show us why he's one of the top competitors in this competition (with Lindsay), knocking this salsa right out of the park. The costumes and camera angles really worked together with this one, showcasing every last movement. Great great stuff here.

Keep it going, Wanya!

Karina and Doug did an incredible paso doble. Strong dance, great music, wonderful costumes and lighting. Good stuff.

With Karina's great choreography, and the fabulous troupe dancers, Doug Flutie became a contender with this dance.


1. Wanya and Lindsay (salsa)
2. Paige and Alan (Mark) (salsa)
3. Jodie and Keo (samba)
4. Ginger and Val (samba)
5. Doug and Karina (paso doble)
6. Antonio and Sharna (rumba)
7. Marla and Tony (Argentine tango)
8. Kim and Sasha (salsa)

1. Geraldo Rivera's Elimination


Saturday, April 9, 2016

DWTS Season 22: A motley cast of characters and a LOT of football players

My how time flies. Dancing with the Stars Season 22 is upon us! Some of the same old, same old, some of the new. Luckily for us, we have two of the best hosts this show has ever had with Tom Bergeron and the wondrous Erin Andrews. As for judges, sadly the amazing Julianne Hough is not here this season, but old curmudgeon Len is back! I do like Len, for all his crotchetyness, cause Carrie Ann can get so bubbly she falls off her chair (literally), and Bruno kinda loses it when a hot man takes off his shirt. But Len, always keeps it real, and keeps it on the dancing.

So welcome back, Len!

On the subject of the pros (who matter the most to me), we have several who are not here. Derek Hough (the beloved one) is off doing Singing in the Rain on Broadway. Allison Holker just had her baby. Not sure why Emma Slater isn't there. Anna Trebunskaya is nursing the Gary Busey wounds from last season (which hopefully she got a LOT of $$$ for). And we're still not sure why the lovely and wondrous Jenna isn't a pro yet. (But thankfully, she is still in the troupe.)

On the positive side, Peta is back. Karina is back, with an actual partner who may last a moment. Even Edyta Sliwinska is back!!! (Do you know how much online fans have been clamouring for her return? A LOT!) Tony Dovolani is back, also with a partner who may last awhile. Sasha gets out from under the crab costumes to dance as a pro. (Hopefully, he'll work on staying in character this season.)

Of the regulars, we have (thankfully) Mark Ballas, Sharna Burgess, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Keo Motsepe, Witney Carson, Lindsay Arnold, Artem Chigvintsev all present and accounted for. Which, for those just tuning in, means we have kind of a level playing field this season.

Now for the "stars":

Hm... We have no straight-out-of-the-gate favorite as in past seasons, although the ABC spotlight is surely shining pretty strong on their own Ginger Zee (from Good Morning, America). She is one of those who not only maintains her job (at a morning news show IN NEW YORK, so is flying cross country EVERY WEEK--DWTS tapes in LA), but she also JUST had a baby. So, as much as I love both Val and Ginger Zee, we saw what happened to Val's last partner who also maintained her job and did a lot of flying (and she didn't even have a three-month-old baby!). I have a BIG bias against people who try to do this show while they are trying to do eight million other things... so... I'm holding back the Ginger Zee enthusiasm.

Just do the show, people. Nothing else. It's a helluva lot of work. Just do that. Why is this so hard to understand?


I think we have a record for most football players ever on a season (seems like there are four or five), a UFC champ, a singer from the 80s, a sitcom star, a TV reporter, a deaf guy, a millenials favorite bad girl, oh and another sitcom star. And Donald Trump's former wife for good measure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, of dancers who can't dance, we have two solid clunkers this season. So bad that Paula Deen looked like Twinkle Toes compared to them. REALLY BAD.

And lotsa people in the middle who will (and have) shocked and surprised. But let's go through Week 1 of Season 22, dance by dance.

We start out the first episode with (fittingly) the DWTS Batsignal, calling Len Goodman back to the show. (Nice!) And no doubt because people (in LA) got a little pissed about them closing down Hollywood for the show open for Season 21 (people around there are already touchy because of the Oscars madness), they opted to shoot the show open in downtown LA this season, in an area no one uses at night. Great idea! Lots of potential for wonderful aerial shots.

But let's get to the dancing.

Sasha Farber and Kim Fields are up first. (Oops. He was a pro once before. Forgot that.) Kim Fields (from Facts of Life to Real Housewives of Atlanta, neither of which I watched) is a fun partner. Sasha seems to have learned a bit from Val about how to make your partner look good (which is really key to staying a pro on this show). They do a cha cha and it's fun to watch. She could actually last awhile, if she applies herself.

WTF is this jacket? :-0
Then we had Mark Ballas (my own personal favorite) and Paige from the UFC, dancing a foxtrot. Put them in the Ones to Watch category. Mark Ballas' dances are always marked by stunning choreography, smooth moves and exquisite lines, and this one was no exception. They are my own personal joy from this show.

Karina Smirnoff is one of my favorite pros. She is quite amazing. However, the last few times, she's been saddled with... well, duds. It remains to be seen how footballer number one, Doug Flutie, is gonna fare, but so far, I think he's fine. He dedicated this foxtrot to "the entire Boston-New England area."

Keo Motsepe has really not had much luck on this show with the partners he's been saddled with so far. So we really aren't sure of what he is capable. I don't think he's gotten past the third week with anyone. Everyone else in Week 1 is throwing out foxtrots and cha chas, and these two burst right out of the gate with a tango. Brave!

But I'll tell you what. If Jodie Sweetin were with Mark Ballas, you'd be looking at this season's winner (for sure). She has all the marks of a champion. She is dynamic and fierce, and amazing to watch. Right now, I put her in the final three.

Remember those terrible ones I mentioned? Here is the worst.

Their first meet-and-greet starts with Edyta calling him: "Geraldo Riviera." :-/ (ouch) And his first dance inexplicably starts with a recreation of his dreadful Al Capone's vaults thing. Just as nothing was there, there was nothing in this dance either. You know a dancer is in trouble when a whole team of troupe members gets trotted out to make the star look good. That was impossible with this one. I really can't remember a star this bad on this show, maybe since the last time Edyta was on it. (Like 10 seasons ago). Ugh. (Seriously, Gary Busey was better.)

Geraldo would do well to take a clue from Marla and Tony's quickstep. She, too, played with her image in this "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number. But here it was to much better effect, and she could actually dance. Very nice. I look forward to watching more of her this season.

Wayna Morris, apparently, is from the huge group Boyz II Men. (Not my music.) However, I will say that I look forward to him going very far in this competition. Even though I don't much like Lindsay, I do like their chemistry together, and he really puts his all into his training (it seems). So this cha cha, dancing to one of their hits, "MotownPhilly" really hit it out of the park. (Giving the judges Philly cheesesteaks couldn't have hurt either.)

Valentin is my other most favorite male dancer on this show. His choreography is stunning, he's God's gift to women to look at. He can almost do no wrong. And Ginger Zee on the GMA is cute and perky. What's not to like? And yet... I'm just not as jazzed about this couple yet. And they attacked this jive, and got great scores from the judges for the first week... hm...

So. Mischa Barton. How does one say this gently? I don't have a very high opinion of her (as an actress). In my mind, she seems lumped in that area of the tabloids which often features (or featured) Shannon Doherty, Paris Hilton, and other rich girls. Spoiled LA girls, in other words. But Artem is a great dancer, and I believe, a pretty good teacher. Here, they attack a tango.

Let's let Len say it for us. Len (the Simon Cowell of DWTS) says, "It's not in my nature to be mean..." *eyeroll* And then, "That wasn't a dance, that was WALKING." (He's right.)

One of the worst things about this show is that people use it to revitalize their careers. I can just hear their agents. "Hey, yeah, you could do Dancing with the Stars!" And maybe they've heard of it, maybe they haven't. Certainly they've never seen one episode.

Mischa B. views Mark Ballas dancing in rehearsal with Paige, and she says, "Who's the pro? The female?" *eyeroll* They have NO CLUE how hard this show actually is. What they are actually in for. How actually, in point of fact, if you have ZERO dancing ability, you will probably get eliminated in the first few weeks. I don't care how pretty you are. To me, that appears to be the case with Mischa Barton. Really, she'd probably be better served by taking an acting class or working in some theatre in some small town somewhere.

It wasn't dancing, it was walking. Walking she does well.

There's always some kind of stunt casting on the show. (Sorry, but it is.)  Last season, we had one of the guys who stopped the terrorists on the train in Paris. (And actually, he ended up in the finals, so you do never know.) We had women with one leg, men with one leg, various washed up celebs of various natures. Large women, tall men, short men. It's always something. This we've never had: a deaf guy. (We have had a deaf woman, Marlee Matlin, but I wasn't watching way back then.)

Another plus, this guy is very hot, and he's dancing with Peta. So he could actually go pretty far. This cha cha they did right out of the gate was incredible. Incredible.

And oh, Peta, how we've missed you! It's so good to see you back on the DWTS stage.

Our reigning Australian queen, Sharna Burgess (placing second last season) is dancing with footballer number 2, Antonio Brown. They chose a quickstep for their first dance, and they are pretty amazing. However, his package ends with him saying: "Welcome to greatness." Well, no. Your welcome to greatness was when you got partnered with Sharna Burgess. This couple will go far. (And it's really about time that Sharna wins her first Mirror Ball.)

Closing out the first night was our Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller, (footballer number three) and Witney Carson, doing a foxtrot. I've mentioned before that I dislike hip hop, and especially doing a foxtrot to hip hop, but it does seem to be Witney's sweet spot. And I realized by watching their package that one of the reason top football players do so well on this show is that they are used to really brutal training sessions.

So this team does have some sparkle. We shall see.


1. Nyle and Peta (cha cha)

2. Jodie and Keo (tango)

3. Wanya and Lindsay (cha cha)

4. Paige and Mark (foxtrot)

5. Antonio and Sharna (quickstep)

6. Ginger and Val (jive)

7. Marla and Tony (quickstep)


1. Geraldo "Riviera"

2. Mischa Barton

3. At least one of these football guys


1. Jodie and Keo

2. Sharna and Antonio

3. Wanya and Lindsay

4. Ginger and Val

NEXT WEEK: Latin Night