July 06, 2005

Dancing with the Stars, pt 5

Lots to talk about now. I just finished last week's DwtS episode, and the results were both expected and unexpected.

John and Charlotte are so smooth. Although the timing on his foxtrot wasn't the three-in-four timing characteristic of a truly advanced dancer, he still managed to delay the initial "slow" a little, and look really smooth on his rise and fall. And he was pulling out move after move after move that looked good and easy, and was in fact quite advanced. A shadow grapevine. A contra check. A bounce fallaway! How did he get all that in one week? He's really good at being good enough not to distract from showing off his partner, and that is why he will win. Charlotte is clearly the best teacher in the group, too, in addition to being an excellent dancer in her own right, and this helps too; this is fundamentally a pro-am championship, even though the network is focussing on the "am" part, and Charlotte will deservedly make a fortune after this. Their score of 27 was too low for this performance.

Kelly walked on with an odd costume for a smooth dance, but she put on a pretty great show, especially considering she'd learned foxtrot just three days before and was still actively working her General Hospital gig. She is a really good follower---probably a mix of innate talent and good instruction---and her pro is quite canny at selecting moves for which he can provide a strong lead. She has a bit of a pop up on her rise, but manages to be smooth nevertheless. As the routine ended, I guessed she'd get a 22, which was right on.

I loved Joey's costume (and his partner's even more), but he still seems constitutionally incapable of bringing his legs together. He was dancing right on the 1, 3, 4, which is of course what you teach beginners to do, but of course makes him look like a beginner. I do have to say, though, this was definitely his best performance so far; he has shown a lot of improvement since the start. Unfortunately, there was too much show and not enough dance. As a cabaret piece, it would have been great. This is pretty much exactly what the judges said, too, and then his whiny partner actually had the poor judgement to start arguing with the judges. Why did she think that would help? I thought the score of 20 was probably about right.

So now we move on to the Paso Doble. I was slightly dreading the prospect, because it's sort of a tricky dance; on the other hand, it would benefit my man John significantly, because the hip stuff he has such trouble with is not really there.

John led off with some syllabus paso and then mixed in some good open work as well. The routine was well-planned to show off his partner (who, btw, had an awesome costume (that skirt cape!), much better than the unflattering thing they stuck on him) in a dance that tends to highlight the guy a lot more. And she's really really good. It looked pretty awesome, and as usual he really nailed the character of the dance. It wasn't one of his smooth/standard masterpieces, but it was a fine, fine piece of work. The judges fell over themselves to give it another 27, which I thought was a smidge high but was pretty happy with.

Kelly took the floor, and this music started playing, and I said, and I quote, "what the hell kind of paso is this?" And it was even worse than that: not only was the music a samba, so was their routine. From start to finish, they danced a well-choreographed samba. WTF? Judged as a samba, it looked pretty good, actually, but it just wasn't a paso.

Not. A. Paso.

And yet somehow, the judges affected not to even notice. After all the crap they've given all sorts of competitors for not observing the character of the dance, making it too showy or not feeling it enough or whatever, the comments they gave were so deeply, utterly disconnected with reality that I can't help but assume that there was some network muckamuck sitting there telling them they had to give Kelly good marks so she'd get called back so the finals would be gender-balanced. There's just no other explanation. The judges awarded this routine, which failed on the most fundamental of criteria, a 25.

Still somewhat in shock from the bizarro-world the normally agreeable judges had fallen into, I steeled myself for Joey's performance. The music started, and it was---"Eye of the Tiger"? What a strange choice. And the moves they were doing were---

---good?

Son of a gun. If you blanked out the weird music and imagined the strains of "España Caní" piped out over the ballroom, Joey and his whiny little partner were actually dancing a picture-perfect paso doble! It was clean as a whistle, and it looked fantastic. There were some great open moves, and then there were perfectly recognisable bronze basic moves in there. It was, to be totally honest, the best paso of the three. But this unexpected result clearly didn't fit in with the judges' notions or the network's plans, and they only gave it a 25. Not only was it not rated better than John's, it was only tied with Kelly's.

So it was that Joey was eliminated. If you'd told me at any point before watching this episode that Joey wouldn't make it to the finals, I wouldn't have been a bit surprised. But tonight his performances really broke through to a new level, and I rather felt that he had gotten gypped. On the other hand, Kelly has been on a consistent upswing; though I was a bit negative about her at first, she has undeniably improved a whole lot, and I'm not unhappy to see her make it to the finals. My money's still on John and Charlotte for the win, though, unless something strange happens.

But did they have to make Joey do his farewell dance to ABBA's "The winner takes it all"? That's just snarky.

"There is nothing pleasurable about being a Cassandra." --Molly Ivins

Posted by blahedo at 3:38am on 6 Jul 2005
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