Sunday, November 26, 2017

DWTS S025, Week 2, Night 1: Ballroom Dances, Boggles and Bumps in the Road

Week 2, Night 1 of Dancing with the Stars. This is our cast before any eliminations.

Night One is Ballroom Dances. Night Two is Latin Night. Both nights have someone going home.

First up on Night One, Debbie Gibson and new pro Alan Bersten dance a quickstep. She’s fine. Alan’s fine. I just wish they would both go away.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 20 (out of 30)

WWE wrestler Nikki Bella and Artem wanted to show “her softer side” with this waltz. The set designers used the La La Land trick of having stars everywhere, to nice effect.

 21 (out of 30)

The reason that I love Mark Ballas so much, and why this show has just ached from the void of him not being here, is that he is a breath of creativity and passion this show desperately needs. This shot, of him and Lindsey as caterpillars before they dance.

Which evolves, during the dance to this:

And I just want to give a shoutout right now to the amazing magicians who do stagecraft on DWTS. Wow. The things they create! Look at this. It looks like a Van Gogh painting! So beautiful.

And then, this:

Lindsey and Mark as butterflies. I mean, truly, we are not worthy of the creativity and genius that comes from this man, and this season, really, from both of them.

Len acknowledged that he “loved the creativity,” but admonished them for not being in hold for the entire quickstep.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

DISCLAIMER: This show aired before the Harvey Weinstein news broke.

So, cougar and resident sexual predator Barbara Corcoran dances a tango with Keo to “Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets).” At the end, she rips Keo’s shirt open. (Although I do think it was funny that the lyrics to this song at the end say: “You’re not gonna win.”)

(You will recall that last week, as they were receiving scores, her hand was firmly planted on the inside of Keo’s thigh.) This week, as they are getting scores, Tom says: “Well, at least your hands are where we can see them.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 17 (out of 30)

Peta and Nick Lachey dance a foxtrot to Barry Manilow’s “Mandy.” He (Manilow) Tweets in his congratulations and luck. And it was a very pretty dance. It was wistful and sad, like a first girlfriend dancing in your memory.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 19 (out of 30)

Drew had pulled a hamstring in rehearsal, so lucky for us the troupe got to add some texture to this quickstep. They dance to a familiar and beloved song, and there was some razzle dazzle at the end that just couldn’t be believed.

Carrie Ann, commenting first, as the swells of applause drown her out: “It was a showstopper. Look at this!”

Len the curmudgeon was less impressed. Bruno quite liked the Charleston parts near the end.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 20 (out of 30)

Vanessa Lachey and Maks dance a foxtrot that was more flash than content for me, but the judges seemed to love it. Everyone’s suffering from little aches and pains, and she was no exception.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 24 (out of 30)

In the pantheon of #DWTS, as long as I’ve been watching it, it is a fact that Mark Ballas almost never plays a song that I dislike. Whereas Witney Carson, 85% of the time, at least, plays songs I really dislike. I think I would really like her more as a dancer if she played better music.

She and Frankie dance a harsh tango to some harsh music. Bruno even commented on it: “If you listen to the beat of that track, it’s almost impossible to keep on it.” Carrie Ann: “You guys are this really powerful, dynamic couple.” Len: “I thought it was a little over-agressive.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 23 (out of 30)

Terrell and Cheryl's foxtrot started like this.

And ended like this:

And yes, he was simulating grinding over her. Val C. was in the stands, covering his eyes.

In the middle, there was this:

Carrie Ann thought it was really hot. Len was incensed: “That was more bedroom than ballroom.” Bruno: “It was a sextrot, straight into the bedroom. But I am not complaining because you went into it very beautifully.” As he laughs.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

Gleb, in past seasons, has taken a lot of grief for being overly sexual in all his dances, and not really incorporating the proper content into them.

Here, he does a Viennese waltz with Sasha Pieterse. Len still thinks he doesn’t have enough content in it, but somehow Sasha took that comment as a compliment. (He said that he wanted Gleb to have the proper amount of time in hold, and “come back and knock my socks off.”) But Carrie Ann told Sasha, “You are a star.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 23 (out of 30)

Val and Victoria do a nice, well-choreographed (of course) tango. Victoria still has the Ginger Zee defect of smiling too much (you don’t smile in tango), and she doesn’t really have this whole concept of “a character” down yet, but it was fun to watch.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 24 (out of 30)

Sharna and Derek Fisher do a foxtrot, as his mother, a longtime DWTS fan, watches in the stands.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 19 (out of 30)

Our wunderkind Jordan Fisher danced a Viennese waltz with Lindsay Arnold on Week 2. Len complains that some of the movements are too staccato, and should be more lyrical. He said that Jordan should be more aware of “the character of the dance.” Bruno said that he “danced like a singer.” Carrie Ann wants to see “more ballroom nuances. I see lyrical jazz nuances.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 24 (out of 30)

Going home on this night?

I can only say how glad I am that they never got to do a rumba.

1. Mark and Lindsey, quickstep
2. Lindsay and Jordan, Viennese waltz
3. Emma and Drew, quickstep
4. Sharna and Derek, foxtrot
5. Val and Victoria, tango
6. Cheryl and Terrell, foxtrot
7. Peta and Nick, foxtrot
8. Witney and Frankie, tango
9. Maks and Vanessa, foxtrot

1. Debbie Gibson
2. Sasha Pieterse



Monday, November 20, 2017

DWTS Season 25, Week 1 A Crazy Mix of Folks

Twenty-five seasons of the show we love the most: Dancing with the Stars! How is that possible? Wow. Congrats, #DWTS. And who do we have on this season’s show? All of the people above! (Note: Mark Ballas is back! Cheryl Burke is back! YAY!)

Oh, you mean the celebs? The “stars”? Eh. Let's start at the beginning. Well, first, we inexplicably had Sharna (in her heels) and Alan walking in the desert. *head scratch*

Then, we had Len come from out of nowhere and save them. And then we had (finally) this GREAT Mandy Moore dance.

Boy, doesn't she know how to highlight what needs to be highlighted?

The first two dancers are the ones whom I think will go the distance: Lindsey Sterling (and her partner Mark Ballas) and Lindsay Arnold and Jordan Fisher. Then, Jordan throws his hat to the man who SHOULD'VE been here among the pros, but is still thankfully in the troupe: Sasha Farber.

And Sasha sorta introduces Sasha (Pieterse, that is) and Gleb. Then Nikki Bella and Artem. Val Chmerkovskiy leads us to Derek Fisher and his partner Sharna. Then, we have two baby carriages and two married couples. Nick and Vanessa Lachey dancing with Peta and Maks. Terrell Owens, dancing with Cheryl Burke. (BTW, they are all dancing to “Dancing in the Street,” and they are... in the street.)

Emma Slater (last season’s wondrous champ) dances next to a picture of her partner, Drew Scott of The Property Brothers, as noted Shark Barbara Corcoran comes out with a SOLD sign with her partner Keo.

All pros dance, to reveal Val Chmerkovskiy and his partner Victoria Arlen. Debbie Gibson dances with Alan. Witney and Frankie Muniz. Then, a massive crowd scene, as the premiere is known for. And they all start running, to be on the stage again. (Except now, Drew Scott is actually here.)

Thank you, Mandy Moore. That was AMAZING.

Tom Bergeron mentions how Mandy Moore just won an Emmy for her work on last season. Congrats to her. We love you, Mandy. You are a big part of what makes this show so great.

Wanna see the chaos of the first week of #DWTS? Here you go.

So let’s begin with all the competitive dancing of this mass of people.

And BTW, when did football players become “pro bowlers”? What are actual pro bowlers called then? But I digress...

First up, the wondrous and amazing Cheryl Burke and Terrell Williams (?), some football player dude.

They do a cha cha to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” (nice hearing more Motown after the Motown opener). (And welcome back, Miss Cheryl. We missed you!)

Tom mentions that ”our original three judges are back.” Len: “you really got the party started.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 15 (out of 30)

Well, they do tend to start with low scores at the beginning, but 4s and 5s are the ones they really hate. So...

I gotta say, I have mixed feelings about this couple. First, it’s Debbie Gibson, who doesn’t even look like Debbie Gibson. Plus, although we’ve had people with one leg, various diseases and impediments, it’s really not disease of the week time. You don’t come on #DWTS because you found out you have a disease, especially a disease which causes you to not be able to move, which is what she says in her first package. That’s a disservice to the audience, IMHO.

Plus, we have Alan, who is likeable enough (in his first season as a pro), but I have a resentment because that really should have been Sasha Farber up there. So, let’s just say, I am already not liking this pair, and want them to exit as soon as possible.

Great costumes for this foxtrot. Oh, I guess she was dancing to one of her songs.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 17 (out of 30)

So this one, who is apparently on Pretty Little Liars, says that she wants to be on #DWTS because she’s getting married and wants to lose some weight. So go join a gym. What is wrong with these people?

They also have huge letters, spelling out SASHA on the stage, which, for me, only serves to underscore the SASHA who should be dancing right now, isn’t. :-(

Their cha cha is ok. Costumes and set are great.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 18 (out of 30)

They do a bit before the couple dances where they are polishing the Mirror Ball, and the other previous past winner (with Emma) Rashad Jennings comes up onstage and helps them polish it. Cute.

Gotta say, it is weird to see Drew without Jonathan. Also, in the opening package, he promises Emma that if they win the Mirror Ball, he’ll “come and renovate your kitchen.” Hahahaha. (We all know that Jonathan does all the renovation.) He also tells us that he has mad karate moves. Um... Ok...

Drew and Emma dance to Madness’ “Our House” (very funny). They do get props for picking great music. LOVE her dress. Great stuff.

 16 (out of 30)

Back when this was filmed, all the macking on Keo that she does in the package was called “entertainment.” Today, it might be called “sexual harassment.” But in any case, we have Barbara and Keo, attempting to do a salsa to “Shake Your Moneymaker.” The less said about all this, the better.

 14 (out of 30)

So, we go from the evening’s worst performance to the evening’s best. Jordan Fisher, late of “Hamilton” on Broadway, and Lindsay Arnold, who has placed fourth, then third, then second (last year)... and this year? From this first evening, and this first dance, I could totally see them winning it all. They are an incredible pairing.

The only thing about this: this dance was precise and they did the steps amazingly. However, there is zero sexual chemistry between them, and that's a problem with a sensual dance like the tango.

 22 (out of 30)

Then, we have this. The Married Couples.

First up, Peta and Nick do a cha cha.

Best thing about this cha cha? Sasha Farber’s also in it. And Nick has a great asset with two-time Mirror Ball winner Peta Murgatroyd.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 18 (out of 30)

OK. We get it, Vanessa. You’re a mom.

She comes out pushing this baby carriage. The song is “I’m a Mother.” And it’s a cha cha, just like Nick just did with Peta.

 21 (out of 30)

Erin tries to mention that that’s higher than Nick and Peta. Maks steps in and says that it’s not about the scores.

Tom Bergeron: “Wow. Maks got married, had a baby, and someone took his personality.”

Our little Frankie Muniz from “Malcolm in the Middle” is back to dance again!

Beautiful foxtrot. Just beautiful.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 19 (out of 30)

Nikki Bella, of WWE fame, is paired with Artem for this tango. Everyone seems so nervous tonight.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 20 (out of 30)

Derek Fisher, of late of the Los Angeles Lakers, dances salsa to a basketball song with Sharna Burgess. She ends it with her signature move, that she doesn't do with everyone, where her head almost hits the ground. Dramatic, but scary.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 18 (out of 30)

Victoria Arlen, who a year ago couldn’t walk, decides to do this show. She is paired with Val. They do an amazing cha cha, with incredible choreography by Val. Pink is her signature color.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 19 (out of 30)

Lindsay Stirling, famed electric violinist, is a creative mind to match Mark Ballas, and I don’t say that often. On this evening, I think they saved the best for last. They are amazing together. I have so missed Mark’s creativity and choreography on this show. So glad he’s back, and he and Lindsay did an amazing cha cha.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 22 (out of 30)

What a way to end this first show of the Season. Wow.

1. Lindsay Stirling and Mark Ballas, cha cha
2. Lindsay Arnold and Jordan Fisher, tango
3. Victoria and Val, cha cha
4. Vanessa and Maks, cha cha
5. Frankie and Witney, foxtrot
6. Derek and Sharna, salsa
7. Nick and Peta, cha cha
8. Drew and Emma, foxtrot
9. Cheryl and Terrell, cha cha

Look where her hand is! (No, don't look.)
1. Barbara and Keo
2. Debbie and Alan
3. Sasha and Gleb


Sunday, November 5, 2017

DWTS S024, And the Winner of Season 24 Is...

I don’t wanna spoil it all for you... But...

Let’s go back and just walk through the final show step by step... Let’s see... Starting with this.

(Sorry, can’t find a photo of David and Lindsay walking out.) But first the final three came out. Then the judges, looking spiffy.

Hostess with the mostess, Erin Andrews.
Len gave a chivalrous cheer to all three, wishing them all luck, and off we go.

We go through each contestant and their journey to get to the finals. First, with David and Lindsay. They show a clip of Julianne saying that they "are the heart of this competition."

Then, Sasha and Simone dance a jive as segue into the next segment. It was wondrous, and made me wish they were in the final three.

Next, Rashad and Emma take us through their really memorable dances of the season. Erin states that Rashad and Emma put in 100 hours MORE rehearsal time than anyone else.


Witney choreographed this women’s dance called “Like a River.” They added “star” Heather (“I’m not a dancer’) Morris.

Then, we have former Oscar®-nominated actress, now inspid pop star Hailee Steinfeld singing about
“I didn’t know I was starving till I tasted you.” Well, alright then.

Dance assist by Alan and Brittany.

Then, it’s Normani and Val’s turn. Normani says that she “became a woman” through this competition. Val calls her one of “the best female ballroom dancers this competition has ever seen.”

Val: “This show is about people, it’s not about dancing.”

Then, the “super-hot guys” of #DWTS (minus Sasha and Val) dance for us.

Which only goes to prove two things: Gleb has a bright future as a Chippendales dancer, and none of these boys holds a candle to Maks’ steaming hot sexiness.

Then we have past Mirror Ball champions talking about the final three. No one knows who is going to win.

(As you can see, there is always a lot of hooha and blah blah on this final show. JEEZ.)

They inexplicably have a ferris wheel in the middle, and try to do a segment with Tom and Erin, going around on the ferris wheel. It doesn't work. They can only get a lame shot from the side.

Then they do what is essentially an opening Mandy Moore number in the middle of the show, introducing all the people who were on this season, and featuring the three finalists. It's actually quite fun.

Then, they show some highlights from last night’s show (including backstage moments, like one where ever-charming Len says to crew members, ‘Coming through, don’t touch me.’). Wow.

The first of the “who was in this season?” dances: Bonner and Sharna.

A look back at “the first half” of the season.

Oh yeah. Charo and Chris Kattan were on this season (*shudders*). Chris got 4s in his first dance. (*super shudders*). Really? Do we HAVE to remember this?

Nancy Kerrigan, who was actually a pleasant memory of those first few weeks, performs a samba with Artem.

A comedic bit about a “bromance” between Maks and our Bachelor, Nick, who was dancing with his wife, Peta.

And just when we are counting our lucky stars that we got out of seeing Charo have to dance again, they announce that she’s doing a song. Ugh.

But first, Peta and Nick do one of their “favorite” dances from the season.

Then, David and Lindsay do one of their most crowd-pleasing numbers (see above).

Why they have the final three do other numbers as well, I just don’t understand. But who didn’t love this Magic Mike number?

That leads into a hilarious bloopers reel (always my favorite part of finals night).

She’s a thousand years old. She must have it in her contract that no one talks about her age. Usually how old a competitor is is played up. Not this time. No mention. Cause, you know, Charo is ageless. Except she’s not. And she’s also obnoxious.

Keo and Whitney dance while she plays.

Then some cha cha bumpers.

This was the first song they ever did, and it's so great to see them dance this cha cha again.

Then, back to the “middle” of the season.  Maks and Heather come back and dance to “Waterfalls” to celebrate their booting. TLC sings.

Hailee Steinfeld is back to perform.

And this dance... well, let’s just say that it was pretty darn sexual.

Tom after says: “To paraphrase a famous quote, you go to a dance show with the army you have.”

Then OneRepublic performs (”No Vacancy”). Gleb and Sharna dance.

Normani and Val perform with Len and Bruno (the infamous construction worker salsa).

Let’s just say this was better the first time around... Len was so cute at the end, though.

Then a look at the rest of the season. Just a reminder. This is how the judges looked when Tom announced that Simone and Sasha were going home.

Yeah. Yeah. Me too.

Then, blissfully, Simone and Sasha dance again.

*SWOON* So wonderful.

Lady Antebellum performs. Dance assists from Artem and Witney and Gleb and Brittany.

Then, some damn fool video from Mr. T. *eyeroll*

Some preview dance of Dirty Dancing with former winner Nicole Scherzinger.

OH FINALLY! We get back to the three finalists.

Oh no. Just the judges and pros talking about who they think will win. Who? They have no idea. Any one of the three can win.

Then really bad camerawork where half the troupe is cut out for a minute. Jive bumper. The ending was amazing. (HINT: It had Sasha doing some flips. Very cool.)

FINALLY. The last round. The three finalists have a “fusion” dance, where they combine two dances.

David and Lindsay combined foxtrot and salsa. This is also the moment where the team visits their rehearsal space for the final time, and they see their own photos hanging on the wall. Always a pivotal moment.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 36 (out of 40)

Normani and Val are dancing an Argetine tango/Foxtrot fusion. And oh, Val’s choreography! Sweet Jesus. So great.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 40 (out of 40)

(It is pretty clear that the judges want Normani and Val to win.)

Rashad and Emma have a cha cha/tango fusion.

Yup. Miss Emma doing some pretty snazzy choreography there too.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 39 (out of 40)

According to the judges’ scores at this moment:

1. Emma and Rashad with 119
2. Val and Normani with 118
3. Lindsay and David with 109.

This is without America’s votes, which Tom Bergeron said “count for half” of the scores.

Then OneRepublic comes back to play, while images of the final three’s season flash on the screen.

Pretty great dancing, all in all.

THIRD PLACE: NORMANI AND VAL. Judges and Tom are “stunned.”

Congratulations, Miss Emma Slater and Mr. Rashad Jennings, on your first Mirror Ball trophy!

SO so so very happy for Miss Emma and her first Mirror Ball. Thank you to all three finalists for giving us such amazing, memorable dances this season. And to Sasha and Simone too. Truly incredible and mesmerizing to watch all of you.