UPDATE: Controversy surrounds “Dancing with the Stars.”
First, allow me to apologize for taking so long to get this post up and running. Sorry, guys. I’ll try to do better this week.
Okay…if anyone had told me 15 years ago that I would one day be watching…nay…JAZZED about watching a ballroom dancing competition…I would have vehemently denied it.
And…if those same people had told me that three of the contestants would be three of the hottest guys on television…I would have pointed at them and laughed.
Finally…if those same people also had told me that I would one day be strangely attracted to A.C. Slater from “Saved by the Bell” instead of Zack Morris…I just would have had to smack them upside their heads…because, clearly, they were lacking all good sense.
But, had those prognosticators actually been whispering all this in my ears in the early 90s…they would have been completely and utterly…correct.
On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the third season premier of “Dancing with the Stars” kicked off. The theatre is grander, the audience is bigger, the stars are a little brighter (I’m still shocked at the presence of Vivica A. Fox), but the show is maintaining its total cornballness.
And I’m eating it up.
Returning as hosts this year are Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris. The judges are, again, Carrie Ann Inaba (the stern judge with heart), Len Goodman (the uptight Brit who tolerates no foolishness), and Bruno Tonioli (who makes Little Richard look sane and sober).
First out of the gate in the competition is Joey Lawrence…WHOA!
Hmmmm…let’s see…there’s something different about Joey. What is it? Oh yeah…HE’S FRIGGIN’ BALD!! The hirsute pretty boy has shaved his noggin for some “role” he currently has (possibly, the stage performance of “The King and I”…but I’m putting my money on a Mr. Clean commercial). And, as if the lack of hair isn’t disturbing enough…Joey has taken to not smiling…at all…ever. Remember how cute he used to be when he smiled? Well, your memories are going to have to suffice…’cause he ain’t cracking a grin on that cue ball head of his anymore. Plus, he’s done something bizarre with his eyebrows…they are distinctly plucked…mmmm…make that disturbingly plucked.
Anyway, Joey is paired with Edyta Sliwinska. In a move reminiscent of Drew Lachey from last season, Joey begins the dance in a sleeveless chambray shirt and jumps from the stage steps to the dance floor. All the men this week are dancing the Cha Cha Cha. Joey and Edyta are performing to “I Like the Way You Move”…a song that, thanks to “America’s Got Talent,” makes me want to vomit. But the dancers have good interaction. Joey is very crisp and in control. All in all, it’s a good dance…not outstanding…but not anything to be ashamed over. The judges give good feedback and reward them with three 7s.
Next is Country Music Award-winning Sara Evans and her dance partner, Tony Dovolani. Ever the country singer with a sob story…Sara shares that when she was 8, she was hit by a car and broke both her legs…so it is amazing that she was ever able to walk again…much less dance in a competition. Thank you, Sara…you have just ruined your entire performance for me before taking the first step on the dance floor. How do you imprint in people’s minds the image of an 8-year-old kid being plowed down by a car and having casts on both legs then go out and dance the Fox Trot to “Oh Mandy”?
Seriously, I couldn’t tell you anything about her performance except that she wore a pretty blue dress…oh, and I think Taylor should have sung “Oh, Mandy” live on the show. (Admit it, y’all…you now associate that song with Taylor…’fess up…I know you do…you’re lying if you say you don’t.)
I did manage to notice that Sara danced very sweetly…but too carefully. She had a nice rise and fall but her performance was a little boring. The judges thought the same things and gave her three 5s…yikes.
Conservative political journalist Tucker Carlton in his cute little bow tie was next. He described his previous dance experience as involving “too many drinks at a wedding,” and he is partnered with Elena Grinenko…a self-described sexy, hot, feminine dancer…I don’t like her.
Tucker begins the dance seated, while the house band plays “Dancing in the Streets.” He then loosens his tie and begins to pat his knees. Then he keeps patting them…and patting them…until I’m convinced that he’s about to start a round of “Miss Ma-ry Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in black, black, black.” But he doesn’t. Instead, he stands and begins to “dance” while Elena twirls about in her pink fringe (did I mention that I don’t like her?). He’s terrible…a cutie pie…but terrible. And the height of the terribleness comes when he starts mouthing the movements…it’s like watching dancing with subtitles. I can see that he’s trying to tell himself the dance steps…but it comes across more like his tongue is digging for a piece of corn stuck in his back molar. Finally, he sits back down in that damn chair…laughing…honestly, it was his only option…crying on a nationally televised dance competition would probably have made him more of a target the next time he covered a story in Beirut.
I gripped the arms of my chair and prepared for the beating he was about to receive from the judges.
They weren’t kind.
Carrie Ann laughed hysterically and couldn’t even catch her breath to give a true critique. Len told him that “all the problems started when you stood up.” And Bruno…the most idiotic man on television…told Tucker Carlson that he looked like he was sitting on a toilet…and then called him a freak. The judges scores were, respectively, 4, 5, and 3.
I had the feelin’ then…Tucker was goin’ bye-bye.
At the commercial break…we were treated with a new ad from the Gap. It features a clip of Audrey Hepburn from “Funny Face” dancing to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” I found it somewhat creepy…on the verge of disturbing. Maybe it will grow on me…or maybe I’ll start leaving the room during commercials.
After Audrey and Angus, it’s time for “High School Musical” star Monique Coleman and her partner…Louis van Amstel…who is even creepier than the Gap commercial.
They danced to “Baby Love.” Monique, in her pink gown, was very graceful and expressive. She kept her arms up and showed that she really worked hard. I found it charming, as did Bruno and Carrie Ann. But Len, the pervert, said he didn’t see any chemistry between Monique and Louis. He said they need to be more romantic.
Um…hello…they have to have at least a 15-year age gap between them. Gross. Then the judges gave, what I thought were, some unfair scores: 6, 6, and 7.
Next up…my favorite dancer and last year’s champion, Cheryl Burke. She is dancing this season with Dallas Cowboys player Emmitt Smith. Cheryl looked great in her yellow fringe dress (I want to be Cheryl), and Emmitt was very dapper in his spats. They danced to “Son of a Preacher Man” and made it so much fun that I started cheering out loud for them…I’m such a dork. They looked very comfortable with one another, and Emmitt proved that he has natural ability…though he needed to move a little more. Overall, it was great, and the crowd gave a standing ovation.
Carrie Ann shook Emmitt’s hand and said “You can dance!” Len said he also enjoyed it, and Bruno said Emmitt was the “king of effortless cool.” The scores were three 8s.
Dancing next was the “Bad Girl of Pop” Willa Ford (who?) and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy (what?). They got on my nerves almost immediately. They danced to Spandau Ballet’s “True”…and made every person under the age of 30 scratch their head and say “What the crap is this song?” I felt terribly old…’cause I knew all the words. Then I started thinking about how I felt listening to my folks’ stuff when I was a kid and how kids today think my music is old and…oh wait…the dance was over…and I hadn’t taken a single note. So I wrote down “boring” and waited to hear what the judges had to say.
Bruno said, in his thick-as-gelato acccent, that the dance was “an exsqueeesite treat.” Carrie Ann said it was “graceful,” and Len said it was “lovely” and “fluid.” The scores were 8, 7, and 7, respectively.
Hitting the floor next was none other than Mr. A.C. Slater (a.k.a. Mario Lopez) and his partner Karina Smirnoff. He was introduced as an actor and host (I’m totally clueless as to what he has hosted…maybe a Tupperware party…I have no idea). I honestly can’t move past the fact that he is way, way, WAY hotter than he was on “Saved the Bell.” Time has been kind to him…and it’s probably a good thing that he didn’t go the Joey route and shave off his dark locks. Very cute…dimples and all.
He explained that he is hyper, has a scorching case of A.D.D., and that he has the attention span of a gnat. You can tell that his partner is one step from braining him with her dance shoes…but I can’t help but liking his little insane antics. They remind me of my brother, Beau…total…goober.
They dance to “Walking on the Sun” and he moved great! Not only did he have wonderful hip action…his movements were crisp and precise. It was surprisingly good. Plus, he smiled through the whole thing…working those dimples like no one’s business. He and Emmitt are clearly the frontrunners in this race. Emmitt’s got more soul…but Lopez has the attitude.
The judges loved him…especially Bruno…who made me and all of America extremely uncomfortable when he asked, “Super Mario, the hottest Latino in town. Do you have extra batteries in your pants? What about the hip action?” The scores were 9, 8, and 9…and they deserved every single point.
Former Miss USA Shanna Moakler and her partner Jesse DeSoto (a relative newcomer to the ballroom dancing world) were up next. Shanna, who didn’t get the memo that frosted eye shadow is both tacky and 30 years out of date, told us that she wanted to be known for more than her appearance on the reality show, “Meet the Barkers.” She also told us that she used to be pro-roller skater…suddently the frosted shadow made perfect sense.
(Sidenote: DeSoto, who began dancing seven ago, reminds me of a high school boyfriend, Eric Landrum. Cutie, cutie.)
They danced to “Saving All My Love for You” and, besides the fact that I was totally mesmerized by the shimmer of her frosted brow bones, I couldn’t help but notice how choppy her footwork was…maybe she’s better on skates. I didn’t dig her at all, and the judges gave a mixed bag of reviews. Their scores were 7, 5, and 6.
Then came time for the hotness that is Harry Friggin’ Hamlin. Paired with cutie-pie Ashly DelGrosso (who SOOOO earned the right to dance with Harry the Hottie after having to clunk around last year with Master Turd…I mean, Master P).
Seriously, Harry (who has to be close to 50) looked amazing. He looked as if he could totally still rock his “Clash of the Titans” toga…I’m putting my vote in for that costume next week.
They danced to “Disco Inferno.” Sure he was stiff…and, yeah, he really wasn’t that good. He was stilted and awkward to the point that he made even little Ashly look uncomfortable. But did I mention that he’s totally hot? I give him points for that. But the judges wouldn’t listen to my reason. Carrie Ann called him stiff and awkward, and Len spouted some gibberish that he was too “mechanical and not enough animal.” Apparently, they didn’t notice his tan and flat tummy. MMmmmmm….Harry. They gave him a 5, 6, and 6. Dammit.
Vivica A. Fox…looking more gorgeous than a woman has a right to…stepped onto the floor with her partner Nick Kosovich, “the James Bond of Ball Room World” (Um…what does that even mean? He likes his dances shaken, not stirred? What?). In the pre-clip, we saw that Vivica is one hard-working woman. I’m so impressed that she’s even on the show…much less that she’s bustin’ her ass to win.
They danced to “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” and moved very well together. She gave good extensions but lacked fluidity. She also was a little overly cautious. Overall, it was a fun routine and she nailed it…while being very expressive. All three judges gave her praise, but Carrie Ann was more critical than Len and Bruno. Their scores were 6, 8, and 8.
Finally, the King of Crass, Jerry Springer, took to the floor with partner Kym Johnson. Geesh, he’s gross. Gross. Gross. Gross. Gross. And the fact that the audience was yelling “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” made we want to puke.
Their song was “Hey Daddy” and, as much as I hate to admit this, it was a fun routine. Jerry had a lot of personality on the floor…although he was giving us the ol’ George Hamilton razzle dazzle of not moving very much. I actually laughed out loud during the performance…especially when he, bassically, dropped her at the end and ran off to the judges, leaving her on the floor. The judges cut him some real slack with comments but got tougher when came time for the scores: 5, 5, and 6.
At end of show…the judges’ rankings were Mario, 26; Emmitt, 24; Willa and Vivica, 22; Joey, Monique, Monique, Harry, and Shanna, all in the middle; and the bottom three were Jerry, 16; Sara , 15; and Tucker, 12.
With a spin of the kaleidoscope of colors and dancers…so begins another show.
Emmitt and Cheryl are asked to give the encore dance of the night. Again, they are great.
Going into the commercial, we are teased by the silhouette of a “Mystery Star.” We’re to call in on our cell phones to guess if the person is Donnie Osmond, David Cassidy, Scott Baio, or Erick Estrada. All I can think is that, for the first time in 20 years, I’ve just heard the words “Scott Baio” coming from my television…and I’m a very happy girl.
As much as I want the mystery star to actually BE Scott Baio…I have a feeling it’s either David or Donnie. This is intriguing…weird…but intriguing.
Please let me be wrong…let it be Scott…let it be Scott.
Next up, singing one of his very old songs from his very new album…ladies and gentleman…Mr. Tom Jones!
In what was the most ironic performance of the week…Tom stood on stage and clomped side to side like a Clydesdale and sang “It’s Not Unusual” while Louis van Amstel and Karina Smirnoff flitted and floated around him. (By the way, I’d put money on the fact that Louis has a lifesize poster of Patrick Swayze in his dressing room…he’s the spittin’ image of Johnny Castle. Nobody puts Louis in a corner!)
The dance is energetic and fun…but then I almost wretch when Tom lets out this primal growl from the back of his tongue during the song. Very. Disturbing. Stuff.
After some comments from the audience on the previous night’s performances, Tom Bergeron then tells us that the Harry and Ashly, Emmitt and Cheryl, Jerry and Kym, and Vivica and Nick are all safe.
Adding to the already too-long results show, a new feature this year is the Slim-Fast Dance Challenge. A real wife and mother, Tysonia Sichinga, is paired with professional dancer Christian Perry. She is to learn a new dance each week and perform for family and friends…while proving that ballroom dancing and drinking your meals will help you lose weight. This week she tackled the mambo and did a nice job…but, honestly, I was still thinking of Scott Baio…so I didn’t care.
Then comes the big number where all the professional dancers hit the floor and dance the mambo. All the boys are in black pants and colorful shirts. The girls are in black skirts and weird drippy halters. Honestly, there were too many people on the floor and I got pretty bored.
I start thinking about a “Joanie Loves Chachi” reunion show. MMmmmmm…Chachi.
More clips of the mystery star float across my screen and I’m now pretty convinced that it’s Donnie. We won’t find out until next week (tomorrow)…but I can’t shake the theme for “Charles in Charge” out of my brain. MMmmmm…Charles.
We’re hit with a shorter version of the Audrey Hepburn commercial…which I like a lot better, and then we return to see the remaining contestants lined up before the judges’ firing squad. Joey Lawrence has gone from not smiling to actually staring…hard…he looks like a cross between Chris Daughtry and a member of the Gestapo.
Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno pick the worst dancers and give them a tongue lashing…really, is this necessary?
Then Tom Jones comes out again and, this time, sings “She’s a Lady”…really, is this necessary?
I’m begging the producers of “Dancing with the Stars,” please, please, please, give us 30-minute results shows…PLEASE! An hour is way too long.
The couples in the bottom three are Tucker and Elena, Shanna and Jesse, and Willa and Max.
And going home is…Tucker. Poor guy. At least he was better than Kenny Mane.