Sunday, May 22, 2016

DWTS S22 Week 7 Mark and Paige Stop the Show on Icons Week

While it's true that Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Ginger Zee scored the FIRST perfect score in this evening for their amazing Viennese waltz, it's also true that Mark Ballas and Paige Vanzant scored the SECOND perfect score for this jive. (And these were the first perfect scores of Dancing with the Stars Season 22.) So, all in all, there was some stellar dancing going on in this episode.

There was also some less than stellar. We had the team dances, first time I can remember without Derek, and they pretty much fell flat. The construct was men (stars) versus women (stars). It didn't work. In fact, they were probably the worst team dances I've ever seen on this show.

Also, it was a double elimination (always rough) but the right people went home.

So, an eventful evening. But let's start at the beginning, shall we?

This was the awesome opening number, choreographed by Mandy Moore.

First up, Keo and Jodie. I've expressed previously that I think Keo is holding Jodie back. That if she'd been with a different pro, she would've gone further in this competition. I still think that. It's also curious to me (since there are so many talented pros on this show) that Keo (and somewhat Sasha) are the only ones that I've heard the judges fault for their performance, or their choreography (lacking content), or missing a step.

In this dance, the judges said that their hold wasn't close enough ("lost body contact"--aka, points off), and that even though Keo missed a step, Jodie stayed on time and powered through it. :-0

I honestly hope that Keo sits out the next season, and is not in a pro slot. I do think he was put there before he was ready. And that the only reason Keo got as far as he did this season was because Jodie was so darn good. And they get decent scores on this evening, and don't go home.

Other couples were not so lucky. Sasha and Kim, for example. Sasha has also not been this far in the competition previously. And he and Kim were good partners together, I thought. I loved this Icons dance they did to the Jackson Five's "ABC." They did this whole black light thing with part of the dance which was also fun.

But Kim Fields did not take her parting very smoothly. She felt wronged by the judges' scores (last week), and said so in her package. Let's just get some perspective here, a moment.

By this point in the competition, let's say the last two weeks, the best dancers are left. But Kim Fields, try as hard as she might, was NEVER as good as say, Ginger Zee, or Paige Vanzant. Now whether that's because of sheer talent (or lack of it) or because the other two women had better partners? You decide.

It does seem to me, however, that both Keo and Sasha seem like backup dancers still, even though they are pros. They both proved this season that they don't seem to have a concept of how much content must be packed into each dance to get into the finals. They both seemed to think that if they just put forth a pretty dance, it would be fine.

And from this vantage point, it sure seems like Ginger and Paige (for example) not only have the steps down, but have the pointed toes and the facial expressions and everything else that's required for a champion. My main problem with Sasha is not that he doesn't have a lot of energy, he does, but that he doesn't seem to be that good of an actor. Dance is a big part of this, yes, but some of these dances (paso doble, for example) require a strong command of a different character than one who just constantly smiles.

These people who get to the top, into the finals, into the semifinals, KNOW what it takes to get there. Know that it's not just who dances better than anyone else. It's a LOT of factors: dance, acting, movement, precision, choreography, luck, America's votes.

Look at Val, for example. EVERY dance he does, even in Week 1, is created with beautiful (even stunning) choreography, which is packed with all the steps that Len and the other judges are looking for. As the competition moves along, he adds more steps that he knows are going to make the judges salivate. More nuance, more detail.

Sasha and Keo at this point couldn't even keep up with all the steps that were required in the dances. "Not good enough hold"? That's a rookie mistake. A pro on DWTS SHOULD NEVER get a judges' note like that. Nor a "lack of content" note. Kim Fields route to the exit started when she danced on the Switch Up with Keo and the judges said there was "no Viennese waltz content" in their dance. (And there wasn't.)

This is not a show where you just go out there and look pretty. They are looking for, and scoring, very specific things. And if you don't know what they are (pros), I suggest you go look them up. Cause if you, as the pro, don't know these things backwards and forwards, you are doing a great disservice to your partner.

Truly, at this point in the competition, not only do the people who are actually going to win the Mirror Ball have all their steps and content DOWN, they are now adding things like flips and splits and double cartwheels. But it STARTS with knowing what the judges are looking for, and perfecting that. Using it from Week 1.

Nyle and Peta dance to U2's "Beautiful Day"
Then, as if all that wasn't already going on, we also had this. When last we left this, you'll remember that in last week's package, Nyle said that he thought Val was "his greatest competition," to which the producers asked, "Val and Ginger?" and Nyle clarified to say, "No, Val." (Basically saying that he was beyond the competitors, and thought Val was his competition.)

This week, Peta (who also knows what it takes to win this competition) tried to walk all that back, by saying that Nyle's comments were "taken out of context." No, no, they weren't. They played the entire thing. They played the incredulous producers, and Nyle repeating his comments, to explain further. They weren't out of context at all.

And she tried to use the old trope that "I want you to aspire to be as good as a professional," which is the same nonsense Val used last season when Tamar got all uppity and arrogant, saying she was better than everyone else.

Whatever. He said it. It cannot be unsaid. I refuse to vote for him further, no matter what dances you come up with.

Thankfully, we then had a fabulous bumper (Jazz Funk... have they ever danced that on this show?) to Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" that Tom Bergeron noted was the first ever dance on DWTS. Thank you, Jenna, Shannon and Hayley for that. Quite wonderful. Great palate cleanser.

Sharna gives herself a 10 after pulling up her corset from her wardrobe malfunction.
And we go right from that sexy time into Sharna's first ever wardrobe malfunction. The East Coast feed may've gotten it live, but sadly, by the time it aired on the West Coast, said nipple had been airbrushed. :-(

I thought it was a great tango before that (to the Rolling Stones). Sharna, at least, knows that although Antonio has a million-dollar smile, in a tango or paso, it doesn't work. Antonio, to his credit, put forth a somber, darker mood in this dance. He calls it, "a different side of 'Business Is Boomin.' " Maybe you can't teach a football player how to act, but if you can at least get him to project a different mood, it's halfway there. Great work by Sharna.

As Tom directs them to leave, he says, "Go up to the Skybox, it's warmer up there." Heh. We love you, Tom Bergeron.

This was a beautiful, sweet dance. Nice costumes, great choreography by Lindsay. However, I take issue with the fact that it's "Icons Week," with people doing songs by their favorite "Icon," and this was introduced as from Aretha Franklin. In point of fact, this song was written for Dionne Warwick by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. So, if you're going to focus on an Icon, at least pick the person who actually wrote the song, and/or made it a hit. C'mon. So much perfection in this show, and they get sloppy with something like this? Ugh. (Also, they are dancing to NEITHER the Dionne Warwick version, nor the Aretha Franklin version. I think it's the show's singers who sang it.)

Next up? Ginger and Val.

First, she's wearing this gorgeous dress that is low cut in the back, and the opening shot is of her back. It looks like she's wearing Spanx or something, pulled up really high (like halfway up her back). Very strange. (A night of weird wardrobe problems, it seems.) Anyway, to the sublime.

They did this opening sequence with mirrors all around. Just stunning. Worked amazing for the Viennese waltz, where it's all about turning and rotating. And these Chmerkovskiy brothers sure know their way around a Viennese waltz. Valentin's choreography just continues to take my breath away. He had this move at the end, where he is swirling her by holding her back. Just amazing. Stunning. There aren't enough adjectives. They received a perfect score, and deservedly so.

I hope others are taking note of the wonderful steps that were in this dance.

Then, we had this one. I'm not sure, but in the package, both of them seemed to say they didn't know who Elvis Presley was. Witney: "He was the King of Rock, right?" *eyeroll* Seems to me like people shouldn't be doing an "Icon" unless it's an icon who means something to them. But whatever. I'll let this photo speak for what the dance was.

Von ends up getting booted on this show (one half of the double elimination), and I was glad. He wasn't even doing the level of what Antonio was doing, to say nothing of the competitors above that.

And finally, another sublime dance.

Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" is always a butt-shaker, but if you coulda seen the amazing jive that Mark Ballas choreographed to this song! Wow.

They had a triple cartwheel, where Paige does a cartwheel, then Mark does one on top of that, then Paige again, so they are like a spinning wheel for three revolutions...they had planned that for their salsa, but Mark hurt his back, so they brought it out for this one. Wowza.

Certainly one of the best versions of "Proud Mary" I've ever seen. Deserved its perfect score.

And then, too soon, the sublime is over, and we have this.

The men stars dance to James Brown.
The women dance to Beyonce.
The less said about all that, the better. Except to note that there was another wardrobe malfunction in this dance, with some of the women losing their skirts at the wrong moment.

1. Mark and Paige (jive)
2. Val and Ginger (Viennese waltz)
3. Sharna and Antonio (tango)
4. Lindsay and Wanya (foxtrot)
5. Sasha and Kim (samba)


Sunday, May 15, 2016

DWTS S022 Week 6: Memorable Dances Misfires, Ego and Magic

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.

TWO: Arrogance

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."
Usually troupe members (men and women) stay in the background, and do those things in between commercials (let's call it a "segue") where they highlight a dance style, but in this show, so many of these iconic dances used lotsa troupe members, so Shannon and Jenna seemed to be in just about every dance. (Which, when you get sick of watching the "stars" stumble through things is a really nice change to view.)

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
Our maestro of ceremonies was Mr. Mark Ballas (who I'm still pulling to win this season with Paige).

The pros and troupe danced a spectacular opening number to "Puttin' on the Ritz," choreographed (say it together now) by Mandy Moore.

Opening Number

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 has some amazing number, mostly choreographed, and it's pulled out from under him, due to "legal reasons." He scrambles, is instead given "jazz" as the dance (which pretty much means you can do anything), and a song from Austin Powers as the number. This is the time when the family that is the DWTS staff kicks in: sets, costumes, makeup, hair, extra dancers (all of which Mark thanks, as he is awaiting his scores) all rally to create this amazing iconic number. And both Bruno and Carrie Ann mention in their comments the attention to detail Mark has paid to the original choreography, as well as adding a few touches of his own. Brilliant and wonderful. I loved this dance so much.

Mark and Paige's Austin Powers number

Segue, featuring Jazz

Peta, after hearing what Nyle said in interview about Val being his "competition."
I will say this. Peta, I believe, is prettier than Cameron Diaz, and hair and makeup did a great job with her. They talked in the package about how the mask they were getting made "wouldn't arrive until show day." Correct me if I'm wrong, but he does not seem to have a mask on. He has very heavy green paint/makeup. He does have prostethic teeth, but no mask.

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
 Count me annoyed at this one, too. I loved the dancers around her. I just really despised her in this dance.


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"

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)



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