The mirrorball trophy has inched closer as it’s come down to the finalists doing their last three dances. Tonight the competition had the judges’ picks and the always interesting freestyle round. Previous seasons have shown that the freestyle is the make or break for our dancers. I stil wonder if Stacy Kiebler could have won if she didn’t do a Saturday Night Fever routine or if Mya decided not to listen to Dmitry and do a Broadway routine.
The competition this year was only one hour, which made me miss the group challenges. Watching the dancers perform to the same song and have a small group sequence at the end was really helpful to compare styles and routines. I think that the athleticism of Hines, sensuality of Kirstie, and spunk of Chelsea would have been interesting to stare at side-by-side. Chelsea never danced next to Hines and Kirstie.
The elimination this week was pretty obvious after the judges basically told Chelsea & Mark that they were safe last night. I love how Hines, Ralph, and Kirstie were talking about breaking points, but the closest to Chelsea talking about breaking points was getting bad judges critiques? Chelsea still lacked anything dramatic. I was hoping she would start crying about how Mark threw water at her to emphasize how easy she’s had it during this competition.
Ralph made Twitter remarks saying that the judges threw him under the bus and it’s true. This wasn’t like last season with Bristol and Brandy because out of nowhere, Len is throwing 7s at Ralph. He deserved at least 8s. Bristol may have been over scored, but she was closer to Brandy. It’s obvious that if the judges really wanted to get rid of Bristol last season, Len would have given her 7′s or at least 8′s.
It was a week of injuries and stress as the contestants had to learn three dances — and the extra stress of the possibility of a fourth dance. Plus, Kym Johnson is a trooper after having one of the most painful looking injuries we’ve seen on this show. With Kirstie’s weight issues, Ralph’s knee, and Kym’s neck, it seems like a given that someone will have to club Mark Ballas in the arm.
The “Winner Takes All” Cha-Cha ended up more interesting than I expected, except for Brooke pointing out that she’s horrible live by not knowing how to read a coin. Sure the coin was some randomly made thing for the show, but Brooke should know that if there’s a head, that means it’s not tails. The fifteen points would have been able to save Brandy last season and it’s clear that the producers or judges would like to keep Chelsea around a bit longer, though I don’t know why.
Seeing that Romeo is gone, one wonders where all his votes have transferred to. If one stayed with the youth demographic, some would go to Chelsea, but I have a feeling more people would throw their support towards Ralph or Hines because both have proved that they are dynamic performers.
After trying to fill an hour with some unnecessary dancing and performances, the results didn’t seem as stretched out as usual. There were only two sections for eliminations and the second one was right near the end.
The DWTS Dance Troupe was nowhere to be seen this episode, we just had the professionals that we’ve grown to love performing with the musical guests. I love how the pros can really grab the emotional strings of a performance.
But let’s get to the good stuff…
The commercials before DANCING WITH THE STARS claimed that it was “Latin Night” but there was really no theme. Instead of bringing anything too original to the table, the Instant Dances were back as was the Salsa, which was last seen in season nine — and resulted in a 27, danced by Joanna Krupa & Derek incidentally. And Mya’s performance of the salsa in season 9 was also very good, giving us very high expectations for what a salsa should look like.
As the stars descended from the stairs last night, Hines looked like he wasn’t really in the mood. I was happy to see that someone’s finally gotten to Ralph’s hair, giving him an updated look. Speaking of hair, I realized that I only liked Mark when he had hair. When he shaved it off, it was the beginning of his downfall. He got too cocky and sure of himself. Why couldn’t he be like Samson and just lose his talent too?
By the way, why was Casey Abrams sitting in the audience and, more importantly, why were the producers so excited to put him on screen? He’s not going to perform like Pia Toscano, is he?
But enough gabbing. Let’s get to the performances…
I’m not sure exactly why there was two hours of DANCING WITH THE STARS, but part of me thinks it was because ABC wanted to prove that they could still get ratings during both hours. Jamie Oliver would probably do better if he was a contestant on DWTS and he wouldn’t be the first chef on the show either.
While the elimination actually took place in the last five minutes as it always does, the first hour was spent doing an analysis of the current contestants and gave some extra musical acts to perform outside of the Backstreet Boys/New Kids on the Block second hour. Of course somehow Mark managed to get his “friend” Pia Toscano some time to perform as a big middle finger to AMERICAN IDOL.
Guilty Pleasures week was miles better than Americana week, especially because “American Woman” was an anti-American song. The guilty pleasures at least fit the tempos of the songs somewhat better. As the contestants descended from the stairs, Hines was not as happy looking as the rest of the contestants. Kirstie made some bird motions as a hello to someone out in the television audience. Apparently Hanson became the house band for the night singing snippets of songs like “Hello” and “Achy Breaky Heart.” Sadly, their ten second snippets sounded better than the full versions of the Howard Wheeler Band.
Brooke pointed out that she doesn’t know how to handle a microphone as she constantly pulled her microphone away before she finished her sentences or celebrities because of bad timing. Luckily Tom is a very quick-witted host that can react on a dime.
There are some themes that make sense on DANCING WITH THE STARS — for example acoustic night and classical night were both successful weeks because they emphasized the style of music. American week ran the most obscure variety of songs and dances. Who thought that people could translate a Brazilian Samba into something closer to a country two-step?
I knew we were in for an interesting week when there was almost immediate, but minor lighting issues for Tom and Brooke. This week marks the return of the stairs, but along with the stairs, the producers decided to grab a large screen with the same generic video that AMERICAN IDOL used and placed it in the middle. The screen predominantly used the shot of either a blinking or waving American flag.
Not only have we reached the halfway point in the competition, but this episode contained the 1000th competitive dance of the series.
The live show began instantly with a musical performance by David Garret playing “Walk this Way.” The DWTS Troupe provided some dancing, but I wasn’t that impressed for some reason. Am I being too harsh on the troupe? Possibly, but if the producers wanted us to know more about the troupe, I’d think that the camera would have focused on them instead of David Garrett’s violin playing skills. After their initial introduction, we haven’t heard the troupe talk much.
The elimination process began with the top three contestants in terms of points and after the commercial break Ralph & Karina and Hines & Kym were both revealed to be safe but Chelsea & Mark was still in jeopardy. Len commented that Chelsea was an excellent dancer and thought the two could make the final. They then forced the couple to perform after keeping them under the red lights.
This week introduced the theme of “classical night” which proved that traditional music can be as dynamic and interesting as trying to translate the newest Jennifer Lopez song. Why were all the contestants upset that there were no lyrics when all they had to do was create lyrics by themselves? I’ve heard enough people put words to the Super Mario theme that placing words in the Harry Potter theme would be really easy. Even better? How about adding the dance steps?
With such a large music ensemble, the stars emerged from the sides of the stage, but I thought it would have been more interesting if they emerged from the back side of the stage. After weeks of songs dedicated to dancer’s names, I’m surprised that Romeo & Chelsie weren’t given the theme to Romeo & Juliet. I’m happy a more mature couple got to translate the music.
Kirstie continues to remind us that we are watching live programming and I thank her for that. Somehow the live mistake kicks in and she does better. She wasn’t the only one with live issues as Dmitry’s microphone caused him and Petra some issues, too.
But let’s get down to business and really talk about the dancing…
DANCING WITH THE STARS continued to trim the little fat it has for the weaker dancers. With a ten point difference between the top scorers and Wendy Williams, she was behind the eight ball. There were several moments of Disney integration with Hines bringing his son to Disneyland and Selena Gomez’s performance, but I’d prefer the Disney advertising over watching Chris Brown, so it didn’t faze me at all.
We were also reminded that Brooke was not as quick on her feet as she stumbled through her words. I’ve never found reading off of a teleprompter to be that hard, but this is also piled with the fact that Brooke has a very similar script every week of the competition.
This week, the celebrities got to pick their own music so even the non-actors had the ability to channel their emotions. It probably gave the non-actor/musicians a small opportunity to match the level of the celebrities with the natural ability to emote.
Interestingly, most of the dances were categorized as a “rumba” because of the slow tempos. As for the non-rumba dancers, I think it’s too early for these contestants to get the paso doble or the samba. It looked like the couples should have alternated between the rumba and the waltz/Wiennese waltz instead of mixing up all the dances.
I’m now tempted to believe that the producers want Kirstie, Chris, Ralph, Romeo, and Kendra as their final five contestants because they were all given the same dance. Both Chelsea and Wendy are expendable and given week one dances. I’m also guessing that, since Sugar Ray, Hines and Petra have interesting backstories, but don’t look like they will go that far in the competition, the producers decided to give them dances that were less challenging so they would be able to dance it before their pending eliminations.
After a recap show that showed what felt like four hours of footage could have been squished into one hour, the elimination episode began. I’ll admit that DANCING WITH THE STARS continues to have the same exact format for eliminations where there is a guest singer, some professional dances, random celeb/pro banter, and every two or three sets of celebrities being told they were safe or “in jeopardy.”
There was a lot of controversy having Chris Brown on the show tonight and I’ll admit that I was disappointed. His performances didn’t sway my opinion past the fact that he still needs anger management.
On with the coverage…
With eliminations this week, the contestants tried their best to increase their scores and most of them got into a groove. Romeo stopped complaining about looking feminine and instead went the polar opposite, constantly flirting. Even Wendy managed to bring some personality out despite her obvious dancing difficulties.
But I really dislike the fact that several teams had to rely on props this early into the competition in hopes that it would boost their appeal. The pros know that Len is not a fan of routines that depend on props, so I’m surprised they thought that was a good idea.
I’ve never been a big fan of host Brooke Burke, who took over for Samantha Harris, but she was definitely channeling her inner Elvira during this episode. Whoever dresses her should be fired. The contestants, whose interviews seemed really off, might’ve been distracted by a number of things, her outfit choice probably being one of them. And then there was the point when Brooke just blatantly cut Dmitry off — who, by the way, needs just as much help trying to portray a likable personality.
But I digress. Let’s get to the performances and break things down…
This season of Dancing with the Stars is missing something: the big tabloid/political figure that everyone would be talking about. Last season had Bristol Palin and seasons back it was Kate Gosselin causing all the drama. I have that feeling that Dancing with the Stars was really banking on Christine O’Donnell, but she backed out.
A cheesy winter joke started off this season with the regular pimping of the celebrities. At this point, DWTS is a well-oiled machine and has only made minor tweaks, like improved dance floor visuals and the fish tank. I must admit that I love the opening credits this season. I don’t know why, when it’s basically the same as the past few seasons, but the performers look like they are having more fun.
The new celebrities made their way down the stairs, a few had some looks of nervousness, but sadly no one fell. As long as I get my “How you doin’” expression from Wendy, I think I’ll be good for the season.