July 07, 2005

Dancing with the Stars, pt 6

The finale.

John wants help learning lifts, and they bring in Patrick Swayze? Give me a break. Talk about playing to the audience. Anyway, seeing John and Charlotte's quickstep this time made me wonder: was it really not as good as before, or was I imagining it? I felt that they weren't as well synched, and although it wasn't bad or anything, they looked too much like they were trying too hard. Nice ending, though. The 27 they got was certainly too high, considering that it's the judges' way of saying "we thought it was damn near perfect".

Not to be outdone in the Dirty Dancing references department, Kelly practices her lifts in the pool. Sigh. Her samba, then, was maybe a bit worse than the last time (much as was John's quickstep). She's still clomping through her voltas, and her real issue is an inability to straighten her legs. The routine had a lot of spinning in it, and she frequently seemed like she wasn't totally in control of things; her arms appeared not to flourish but rather to flail. All the same, she does have some hip movement, and the actual footwork proper seemed to be relatively clean. I think I agree with the 25 inasmuch as I thought it was worth about two points less than John's quickstep, but I think they both should've been a little lower.

Freestyling around the floor, John managed to bring back the synchrony I liked so much. The choreography showed this off; it also let him throw in a lot of "formal" moves (which looked good) and a lot of showy, fun moves (which also looked pretty good), with a "character of the dance" well fitting the infectious enthusiasm of the song ("I'm so excited"). A pleasing performance with some easily overlooked inexactness of footwork. This one actually deserved the 27 it got, I think. See, this is the problem with grade inflation.

Kelly danced to "Let's get loud", which is really hard to beat for a compelling upbeat latin dance. Her routine was a really well-put-together open cha-cha (which, note, was not one of the seven dances she had already learned for the competition), which incorporated some recognisable bits and pieces of samba, hustle, and even a swivelly little salsa move, as well as the now-foreseen lifts (which were very well-executed). It was a nice way to play to her strong suit. Most of the worst clunkiness came at a transition between a lift-y move and regular dancing, which is understandable since they had less than a week to prep it. As usual, here legs never really straightened and she was a little clompy sometimes, but overall a great performance, one of the best in the series.

Unfortunately, the judges were clearly pressured into scoring her a certain way. I might have expected a 10 to come out on the very last dance, but the idea that all three judges, who had never awarded a 10 yet, would decide that this routine was so much better than every single other routine in the entire series, was simply too much of a stretch. I get the feeling that in the middle of the series they were allowed to judge according to their own criteria, but in the first and last two weeks they were under pressure from above to do certain things. Yuck. This routine was good, but certainly not worth the only 30 awarded ever.

We now turn to a medley of the other four couples. Trista's rumba was actually pretty good. Evander was just as bad as ever. Rachel's tango was, if not great, at least a lot of fun to watch. Joey's cha-cha was a significant and noticeable improvement over the one he did in week one; his feet were sharp, he stood up straight, his facial expression was good, and he had a passable latin motion.

Finally, the awards. Pretty much as soon as Kelly's 30 came up, it was easy to read the writing on the wall; she's always been very popular with the audience, and it seemed exceedingly unlikely that, having won the judging, she'd lose the audience. And as we might've predicted, she won.

All the same, I think that she might've had a shot even without the network's interference. She improved so much over the course of the series (much like Joey, for that matter) that it's hard to use anything earlier than a week or two ago to really form a good judgement; and even with tonight's dances only, her freestyle might have been enough better than John's to offset the amount her samba was worse than his quickstep. It's just that the judges had boxed themselves in with that first 27, so none of the rest of the scores could be reasonable either.

So, in the end, I'm not disappointed. I still think John could've been the winner, and he certainly was a consistently solid competitor. But by the end, Kelly was good enough to give him a run for his money, and took the prize. The series as a whole was definitely an unmitigated success. Here's hoping it's the start of an annual summer franchise!

"After all, deleting e-mail all day builds up an appetite. And what better way to fill that craving than with a protein-rich square of salty, pink pork." --Wired

Posted by blahedo at 1:23am on 7 Jul 2005
Comments

"Pressure from above"? Ya think? I'm thinking the word you're really looking for is "rigged"! While it's true that the marks have been inflated throughout the series (did anyone get lower than a five, ever?), I was pretty happy with John's first 27.

When they got the second 27, though, I knew that I was going to be annoyed. You see, that gave them a 54 total, and the only way Kelly was going to win (the judges) was if she could add something to her 25 to make it better than 54... which means she had to get a perfect 30. It was obvious it was coming. It was exactly the kind of cheap "dramatic" shit that I'd expect.

I held out hope until the last moment that they were going to declare it a tie, but no. So the segment of the viewing public smart enough to know that the game was rigged (note: not the core demographic, apparently) winds up disgruntled. And John? He looked like he was thoroughly restraining himself from yelling out "the fix is in!" I wonder if he was told ahead of time that he would not be winning. I'm pretty sure Kelly was not told ahead of time that she would be. Would the judges still have given her a perfect 30 if she'd actually fallen, as she almost did twice? Hmph. All in all, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Of course, if they do another season (as I'm sure they will), I'll probably watch it anyway. *sigh* Maybe I am part of their core demographic after all.

Posted by Greg at 12:43pm on 7 Jul 2005
I can't speak for the judges. All I can say is that I was incredibly disappointed by the scores they gave last night. As for the reason John didn't win . . . let's face it. Many of the people he really appeals to, the people who know what to look for in a good routine, the ones who are going to appreciate the amazing job done by a handsome older man, are also less likely to vote. I know that Greg, for one, never bothered. Kelly improved amazingly over the course of the show. And I was impressed by that. But I was more impressed by the fact that John managed to present an overall show, a performance, that beat the others hands-down. (I'm just ignoring his samba. That's a really hard one.) And even when I was impressed the Kelly's improvement . . . I still couldn't get over the clumsiness that still existed. Posted by Carrie at 5:26pm on 7 Jul 2005
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