In praise of the Dancing With The Stars season 28 premiere - 9/16/19

[This is something I felt I had to do for my own reasons, but if anyone wants to turn this into a general DWTS Season 28 thread, I’m fine with that.]

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when I was genuinely enthusiastic about reality TV. Survivor, The Amazing Race, American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen, the experimental stuff like Whodunit and Unanimous and Splash, I discussed them all here. I made predictions, dangit! And I never make predictions!

So what now? American Ninja Warrior has become so completely prepackaged and homogenized it may as well be Survivor, the Voice is as obnoxious as ever and will only get worse as an increasingly desperate Blake Shelton’s faded glory slips ever further into the past, Songland is the mehest meh that ever mehed (“You know what would make me enjoy this song even more? If I got to listen to a bunch of pretentious clowns ramble incoherently about it!” :rolleyes:), anything where Mary goddam Murphy is allowed to open her mouth automatically becomes unbearable, and The Masked Singer continues to somehow pull off being torturous and pointless at the same time. I wasn’t exactly blown away by The Titan Games in its first season, but with the crop we have now, I’m all but begging for the next season to get here already. All in all, a bleak picture.

But not very long ago, one show…one of the shows I was really avid about in the distant past, in fact…showed me something really, really good.

Ladies and gentlemen, the season 28 premiere of Dancing With The Stars.


We begin with an introductory number from the regulars, mainly to give the audience a taste of what good dancing looks like before we have to start watching the amateurs. The men are in jackets and pants, while the women are sporting really skimpy leg- and back-revealing (and borderline flesh-tone) dresses. Naturally, I dislike this arrangement…I think that the men should be skimped up as well. We never see male legs or backs on this show, and honestly, that’s a real loss. I don’t care how hairy they are, dangit!

Enter host Tom Bergeron and obligatory vapid blowhard Erin Andrews. Bergeron, let’s be realistic, is the only person on this show who will be anything more than a D-lister after it ends, which makes his appearance on The Muppets all the more inexpicable (remember that one?). Andrews is by far the worst thing about this episode, so I will naturally spend as little time on her as possible. They’re quickly followed by judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli. I’ve had my criticisms of this trio over the years, but I do give them all the credit for one thing: unlike every other reality TV show judge ever, they need to actually have a clue what the hell they’re talking about. They have to be knowledgable about form, hold, line, posture, hip action, placement, when lifts are and aren’t appropriate, all the elements that go into the different dance styles. Occasional stupid posturing aside, every time they talk I get the feeling that I’m listening to intelligent professionals who give a damn, and it’s reassuring to have them around.

The contestants make their entrance. All of them make it down the stairs without mishap. So far so good.

Bergeron begins with a…development? Christie Brinkely had to pull out due to injury, so daughter Sailor Brinkley-Cook went in as a last-minute substitute. I still remember season 2 and what an unmitigated disaster Master P was. Fingers definitely crossed.

Contestant #1 is former The Bachelorette contestant Hannah Brown. In a long-ago thread I mentioned how for the vast majority of participants, the only real opportunity reality TV opens up for them is more reality TV (coughLeeDewyzecough), and that definitely hasn’t changed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her on America’s Got Talent a few months down the road. Her profile has her, ah, pairing on that show completely misunderstanding what “break a leg” means and introducing her pro.

On to the actual performance, set to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. It’s a good choice mainly because it’s an even-tempo dancepop number, so they can truncate it without making it jarring. Actually, at this point anytime anyone plays any Whitney Houston song whatsoever other than that execrable ear-blistering “I Will Always Love You” is a cause for celebration, so I’m a happy man. She’s in the same number as the female pros in the opener but red, giving us a nice view of the best part of her. (Her legs. What did you think I meant? ;)). She looks flexible and fairly energetic, definitely easy on the eyes. Judges are mostly positive, Tonioli pointing out a couple things to be improved on. Every dance ends with a quick debriefing with Andrews, who is a complete waste of oxygen and not worth wasting keystrokes on. Scores: Inaba 7, Goodman 7, and Tonioli 6, a heck of a start, both for her and the show.

Contestant #2 is Kel Mitchell, who’s did a kiddie movie one time. He sounds exactly like the kind of competitor with far more confidence than ability, a bad sign if you’re rooting for him (you know who you are). He’s in a conservative suit, apparently in an attempt to keep his limbs under control. I don’t recognize the song they gave him, which is a definite plus (it’s boring listening to the same songs over and over!). Looks a bit stiff, doesn’t do a whole lot, but at least can get around the dance floor. Judges…hot dang, is this possible? Generally try to be positive, but still tell him what he did wrong and why it was wrong? Great stuff, man! Scores: 6-5-5, which sounds about right. And hey, props to the audience for not getting all boo-y at the 5’s.

On to #3, Kate Flannery, former star of The Office, and given that The Muppets lasted only one season, no, I’m not going to watch the whole thing just to understand the connection. Sorry. :frowning: (Are spray tans really in such demand that they need an entire room for them?) She looks nervous. Song is Pat Benatar’s “She Works Hard For The Money”, which Flannery lip-syncs the first few words off. She starts out in an waitress apron but almost immediately rips it off to reveal a blue dress (which covers the same amount of skin). It’s never a good sign when the very first thing a contestant does is a classic desperation move, let alone the first two things. Dance itself is nothing to write home about; a hip wiggle here, a gesture there, as much grace as she can muster into those teensy spike heels. Inaba softballs her comments, Goodman says that she needs to straighten her legs, and Tonioli says she needs to finish her movements. Scores…5-5-5? Hold the phone, after Inaba was all sweet ‘n nice, she gives the same score as the other judges? She’s not going to softball anyone tonight? A little tepid applause from the crowd, definitely a refreshing change from their usual reaction to 5’s. Andrews fires off a “Come on!” drawing absolutely zero response. Bergeron mocks that “You guys spent the past year practicing your booing!” which gets the same result. Hot damn, this just keeps getting better and better! :slight_smile:

#4 is Lamar Odom…oops, excuse me, TWO TIME NBA CHAMPION Lamar Odom, an extremely tall former basketball player, who should do just as well as every other extremely tall former basketball player we’ve had here. Seriously, could they at least try to get someone like John Stockton or Muggsy Bogues? Song is some piano-based number I haven’t heard before; he’s in a dark maroon suit. The dance…what’s to say? He looked like he could barely walk. I half-expected him to fall down. Goodman and Tonioli do a lot of hemming and calmly point out his problems, but you know they’re going to be merciless with the paddles. Inaba gamely acts the cheerleader, but she fooled us once; it’s not happening a second time. Scores: 5…3! And another 3! Ye gods…I read on Primetimer that there was an interview where the judges said they’d be harsher in their scores, but I never would have expected this. Seriously, the last person I remember getting a 3 was David Hasselhoff, and it was so long ago I’m not even sure it was David Hasselhoff! The best part? A tiny bit of tepid groaning, whereupon Andrews obligingly belches out “Let’s hear those boos!”…whereupon the crowd goes silent. I have never seen such absolute defiance of the happy-happy-everything-positive paradigm this show has built up, reinforced, and defended at gunpoint over 27 seasons.

A little break with a past winner before #5, Lauren Alaina, who…finished 2nd on American Idol? Another reality TV transplant? This is starting to get unnerving She’s a country singer, but since this is Dancing With The Stars and not The Voice, that doesn’t guarantee her anything. She’ll be performing in a green dress with a big ole cowboy belt and to a country song, as if there were any other possibility. The dance…works, I guess. Inaba is mostly positive again, Goodman is a bit critical of the middle part, and Tonioli gives a couple pointers about her legwork. Scores: 7-6-6. Clear contender.

#6 is Sailor Brinkley-Cook, daughter of the ill-fated Christie Brinkely, and now we’re going to see exactly what happened. Christie was really pumped for this, but just five days before the premiere, she tripped and fell. Couldn’t even tell what happened; it looked like she lightly brushed against her partner’s foot and just lost it. The fall broke two of the bones in her arm, which gave Sailor three days to get to Hollywood and learn how to do a ballroom dance…something she’s never done in her life.

On that ominous note, we go to the dance floor, where she’s in a long white slit gown. The song is Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl”, which I thought was an iffy choice given that it was made by the man Christie DIVORCED many years ago, but Wikipedia says they’re still friends, so whatevs. Typical rough first outing…it actually looked like she was having trouble remembering what to do…but she stayed on her feet and there weren’t any really glaring failings I could see. At the end she gave her mom a hug and got choked up in a way the New York Yankees probably found ridiculous. Largely, and understandably, softball comments from the judges, although Goodman did say she needed a little more contact. Scores: 6-6-6, which is definitely enough to keep her around. If nothing else, this is one of those competitors where you want to find out just how good she really is, and it looks like we’ll get the chance.

#7 is Karamo, star of Queer Eye, yet another show I’ve heard about but never seen. (Hey, YouTube videos take up a lot of time! :)) He’s rocking a shiny purple suit to an unfamiliar disco song. He does okay, but he looks like one of those second-tier also-rans more concerned with polishing his image and building support for his real job than doing what it’s going to take to win the competition. (I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen that much forced smiling!) Inaba says he underperformed and was underwhelming. Goodman says it’s disappointing and has not enough hip action, drawing the first round of boos the entire night. A very short round of boos, I might add. Tonioli compliments his “good looks and style” but reiterates the need for hips. Scores: 6-5-6. Tiny bit of lethargic wailing at Tonili’s score; I figure this is one of the really popular stars, and even then the response was limited. Good stuff.

#8 is former Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis, who has a highly checkered history I need not repeat here. Let’s just say that there were very good reasons Got Milk chose Trent Dilfer instead of him after that Super Bowl. He comes out in a plain purple suit to Nelly’s “Hot In Here”. I’m almost certain there was a time when playing a song about demanding a woman take off her clothes on this show would’ve drawn some pretty nasty complaints, but then the same could be said about Lewis himself, so six of one. He doesn’t do very much and seems to have real trouble moving his big body around. Judges comments follow the usual pattern, and then…

…Holy cow, is this really happening? Bergeron says that the show’s running a little behind schedule, so they’re going to dispense with “the usual chitchat” and go right to the scores! DWTS staying within its allotted time by taking out the absolute worst part? I know it’s way too early to be Christmas! :smiley: Scores: 5-5-5, and man, you can tell that Goodman didn’t want to do this to him. But he did. Because he is a judge, not a mom. Little bit ‘o booing; ends as quickly as it came. I am absolutely loving how this episode is coming together.

#9 is Mary Wilson of the legendary soul band The Supremes. “You Can’t Hurry Love” plays during her profile, and man, I don’t even want to speculate as to how many girls were royally messed up by that one. She comes out in an elaborate white coat but immediately discards it to reveal a white sequined long-sleeved shirt and pants; the song is, appropriately, The Supremes’ “Baby Love”. She’s…sluggish. Really, really sluggish. She looks exactly like the typical DWTS contestant who’s simply too old for this; no speed, no stamina, no passion. Judges are on eggshells with their comments; I honestly think they’re frightened of ticking off certain fanbases. Scores: 6-5-6, which she seems unusually happy to have, which Bergeron obligingly points out the unusualness of for any of us have been a cave for roughly the last 15 years. :rolleyes:

#10 is Ally Brooke, a former member of Fifth Harmony, which is apparently a girl pop band which has some success. (You want to enlighten me, go ahead. Don’t everyone get up at once. :)) She struck out on her own, which is highly noteworthy for some reason. She’s in another opening-number dress and dancing to what I presume is a Fifth Harmony song. And right away I see the difference between her and nearly everyone else here. She can dance. She starts dancing before her partner is even on the stage. The range of motion, the speed, the energy, all the things a contestant needs to contend for the trophy. Inaba says she needs to find a balance and keep her core tight. Goodman says there was a lot of hip thrusting and Beyonce stuff…hey, his words, not mine…but it didn’t fit the dance. This has always been a sticking point, and it’s a good reminder that they actually have to know what goes into a samba, or a foxtrot, or a quickstep, not just move around a lot. Little groaning, nothing more. Tonioli says she went ahead of the music. Scores: 5-5-6. Not impressive, but not a cause for concern. Improper execution can be fixed; having one foot in the grave cannot. If she can get her head in the game, expect her to develop into a real contender.

#11 is short-lived Donald Trump lackey Sean Spicer, who’s an…interesting choice. Now, obviously I don’t brook his noodlebrained bible-thumping, but as right-wingers go, he’s definitely one of the more palatable, or at least less disgusting, choices. If nothing else, he didn’t stick around long enough to do any serious damage; mostly just tiresome whoppers about media bias and the like. He’s got some really, really super-duper basic stuff for his opening number, so the main challenge is if he can stay on two feet and not become a deer in the headlights.

He comes out in a gaudy ruffled outfit and banging a drum. Some Latin number starts playing. Then he hits the floor, and…oh. Not good. He can pivot, he can sway, he can flail his arms a bit, and that’s it. Remember that Dave Barry book where said that Republicans have no rhythm? Prime example here. The judges know that reactionaries get a freakish amount of fan support on this show and treat with him kid gloves in their comments. But they don’t hold back with the paddles: 4-4-4. Exactly what he deserved, and this sent a powerful message to the rabid right-wing fandom that’s been plaguing this show for years: We don’t give a damn what you want, and we won’t be bullied. We will give him the scores he earns. So go right ahead, waste hours and hours of your life propping him up with thousands of bogus e-mail votes, and let’s see who cracks first. Oh man. Crowning. Moment. Of. Awesome. :smiley:

Our #12 and final contestant is James Van Der Beek, who’s acted in a bunch of TV shows I didn’t watch. (I was a sitcom guy! Sue me! :)) He has a bit of an ego problem but seems to be genuinely enjoying the experience so far. He’s in a classy vest and dancing to Imagine Dragons’ “Whatever it Takes”. (Finally, a band I actually listen to! :)) And…well now. He looks graceful. No stiffness, no awkwardness, just fluidly moving from one step to the next. The judges, needless to say, love him and proclaim him an early favorite. Given what he’s up against, I can’t disagree. Scores: 7-7-7, the best of the night.

So, there you have it! A nice range of styles and skills, an almost completely polite crowd, honest, sober, pull-no-punches judging (aside from a little rah-rah from Inaba), a genuine feel-good story in Sailor Brinkley-Cook stepping up, no truly awful missteps, and Erin Andrews being completely ignored liked the empty-headed bloviator she is. Wow. :slight_smile: Just…wow. :smiley:

Of course, episode 2 would turn into a complete meltdown. Apparently NBC freaked out at the prospect of a fun and entertaining season and so brought all the moronic howler monkeys back in the stands, spiked the judges’ drinks so they’d turn back into total spazzes, and enforce happy-happy-everything-positive with bazookas. We all know what’s going to happen now: The useless right wing clod will last at least 4 episodes longer than he should thanks to a mob of degenerates whose literal sole purpose in life is flipping the bird to everything in the world that isn’t them, the order of eliminations will make no sense whatsoever, the judges will realize that their scores mean diddly-squat and grow increasingly pitiful in their comments, and the winner, of course, will be the one whose partner has the biggest fanbase.

But for one beautiful, magical night, Dancing With The Stars reminded me that reality TV could be good, and entertaining, and even riveting. Enough that it gave me hope for the future. For the world, if not reality TV. :wink:

Well, that’s a much more detailed analysis than I can offer, but I will say this: The missus got me into watching this a few years back and I have to admit I really enjoy it.

I actually don’t care that much about the dancing per se, but watching amateurs learn and struggle and improve week to week can be quite interesting. It’s also fun to peek into the actual personalities of famous people (though I’m usually familiar with about 50% of the “stars” at each season’s start).

But - and it sounds corny, but so what - the thing I really like about DWTS is its unrelenting positivity. The contestants are all competing against each other, yet they’re cheering each other on, and it truly seems genuine. Everybody has everybody else’s back, which is unheard of in reality competition shows.

And all of the female pro dancers are… easy to look at.

So yeah, better dancers will get booted too early and poor ones will stick around too long. But that’s not really important; it truly seems to be a positive experience for everybody involved. I’ll probably keep watching as long as the show stays on the air.

Would like to note that Lamar Odom has one leg which is an inch longer than the other.

Excellent, excellent OP, OP!

Whoa…you thought this was excellent? That’s… :smiley:

Seriously, the only reason I did this was after spewing out so much negativity in the American Ninja Warrior thread, I desperately wanted something nice to talk about. It doesn’t seem like it sometimes, but I hate wallowing in gloom and doom. Since my family watches all the SIIINGINGGG!! and DAANNNCINNGGGG!! shows, there’s no avoiding them…and wouldn’t you know it, the premiere of a show I’d all but given for dead turned out to be…gulp…good! So good, in fact, that I considered turning this thread into a weekly diary! And then the second episode came along and everything fell completely off a cliff, and the third episode was more of the same…I don’t remember anytime a show gave me such a gut punch. But I still remembered how good the opener was, how it reminded me of the potential for this medium to be truly fun and entertaining, and I had to do something. And this was it.

I honestly didn’t think my analysis was that in-depth or sharp or anything. Seriously, I don’t have the foggiest idea what the elements of the dances are or what the judges are looking for, and I completely lost track of the pros by the time Derek Hough left. Just a bunch of observations, no more, no less. If you want to see intelligent, in-depth reviews, you should pull up the threads for the previous seasons.

I’m still trying to figure out 1. how ABC gets the crowd to behave and 2. why they don’t exercise this power a lot more often. The booing completely takes me out of it every time; having so little in the premiere made it about 1000% better.

Great analysis, DKW. DWTS is my guilty pleasure, having had taking five years of cotillion throughout middle and high schools.

One vast improvement this season has been the elimination. Finally the judges have more of a say in who gets axed. It’s only a matter of time before Spicer is in the bottom two.

I have also been impressed with Kel Mitchell’s improvement over the last couple of weeks.

So far my favorites are:[ul]
[li]Kel Mitchell - I’m a huge fan of The Mystery Men[/li][li]James Van Der Beek - Dawson’s got moves![/li][li]Kate Flannery - It’s just nice to see someone my age doing this[/li][li]Sailor Brinkley-Cook - She’s been showing steady improvement over the last couple of weeks, too[/ul][/li]
Of the above, I see Kate Flannery getting cut first.

Love your analysis and agree with most of it. The only thing I haven’t liked this season was the fake drama of not knowing who the dancers would be until the show. That was a great big who cares. The first few weeks are about booting the people who have no business being out there. I’ve read that there are Trump PACs that are urging all their donors to support Spicer, so he might be around longer than his dancing merits.

There are no obvious ringers this season, which should make it more fair.

Given that there are posters here who love my analyses (seriously, guys, that’s really sweet :D), I figure I can update this every so often.

First off, I read up a bit on season 27 on Primetimer, and they were absolutely furious at the result. What happened was that the final had three good-to-great dancers and one relative klutz who also had a bit of an attitude problem but also had a rabid fanbase, and the klutz won. Now, we all know about the “shark jump”, the one terrible decision or unpreventable disaster (the death of an actor, for example) that spells the beginning of the end for a show. I don’t think reality TV has this concern, mainly because it can always find new contestants, new judges, new angles, and once it gets a few seasons under it belt and develops a following, it becomes nearly indestructible. “Nearly” does not mean “completely”, however, and even a red-hot reality show can only take so many hard shots. The season 27 finale was one, and now there are gripes about the new voting system, which looks like a complete mess and is drawing scathing criticism. I have no idea if the show’s going to be in trouble, but the signs are there and none of them look good. Bottom line, if you have anything to discuss about DWTS, may as well do it now while you can.

October 14 was Almighty Titanic Global Family Entertainment Mega-Juggernaut Which Happens To Own The Network Night, the customary once-a-season overproduced glitzfest which is even more happy-happy-everything-is-awesome than the usual show, and as such could bear to bring itself to do an awful, awful elimination of one of the contestants, sniff sniff. I continue to be mystified as to how one of the most basic mechanics or the whole genre, which has been absolutely ironclad since it Survivor enacted it in '00, continues to get treated as this great tragedy. As of right now, I have no idea if there will be a double elimination next week or if ABC is just going to make the season incredibly long in an increasingly Sisyphean bid to turn the ratings around.

In any case, we have the exact same group next week, so I figured I’d give it a whirl with my usual horrendously-inadequate-and-sure-to-be-wildly-off-the-mark observations (even more so since I watched the episode on mute, which I’m finding to be a disturbingly frequent necessity with reality TV) of each contestant’s chances of winning the coveted Glorified Internet Poll Trophy. (Note: No scores given because 1. Season 27 proved that they’re utterly irrelevant, and 2. The judges inflate everyone’s scores anyway. Tifa Lockhart’s shoulder pads, it’s practically at the level of rubberband AI now. Should I be concerned that there are now two reality shows that I’ve used the word “entropy” with?)

Sailor Brinkley-Cook: She definitely looks more at ease now and can get through a routine without any trouble, which means that everything depends on making the voters love her. She’s been riding a feel-good story, but that’s not going to last forever, and there’s even the risk of a backlash if the camera fixates on mama Christie too much. Also, maybe it’s just me, but do stunningly beautiful, glamorous women really get hammered in anything with a voting component? I don’t even know how many times it’s happened on American Idol. Definite contender for the final, but it’s going to be a shocker if she wins this.

Karamo: He reminds me of nothing less than an annoying co-worker who thinks that acting all cheerful and energetic and positive will hide his incompetence. Pretty sure what I saw was as good as he’ll ever get, and I can’t imagine a cable TV show audience having the massive voting clout needed to propel a mediocre contestant to victory…and even if they did, he’s not their hero (see below). He has a great attitude and looks like he’s having fun out there; I’ll enjoy his company for as long as he remains.

Kate Flannery: Classic “not bad, but not good either” also-ran. She can do the little things all right…the kicks, the bends, the head-shakes…but when anything requires actual physical ability, she struggles. She looked really awkward in that lift. Her chances all depend on how big “The Office” was, and given that I didn’t even know about it until that bizarre music video (You know the one! :))…eh. Not sure whether I should root for or against her; have the sinking feeling I’m going to get burned either way.

Sean Spicer: All right, let’s get one thing perfectly clear. Bristol Palin was lightning in a bottle. She was young, ambitious, energetic, and beautiful, and at the time her family connections made her a veritable princess within the GOP. Also (and this is something that I don’t think gets mentioned nearly enough), even though she wasn’t a very good dancer, she at least made things interesting. From a Gong Show knockoff to gorilla suits, you never knew what nuttiness you could expect from her next, and the voters just ate it up. Spicer has none of these advantages. He’s old, slow, stiff, and boring, and, most damningly, the man the Republicans have been slobbering all over the boots of for the past three years fired him. Unless his name is Ronald or George, the right wing doesn’t give a crap about has-beens. I mean, look at how quickly they dropped Bob Dole like a bad habit after the '96 election. And remember, it’s rock bottom plus two now. I’m sure that somewhere there’s a group of true degenerates who are willing to throw their whole support behind any Republican whatsoever to throw a gigantic middle finger to everyone on the planet who isn’t them and can do plenty of lunatic powervoting within a much more limited timeframe, and they’ve done a good job so far. But can they keep it up for the entire duration and overcome every other fanbase and what’s sure to be a lot of desperation spite votes against him? Bridge too far. He’s living on borrowed time; the cold justice of anuddah wun bi da dus will catch him soon enough.

Ally Brooke: It’s rare that I use the word “lithe” to describe anyone here, but she definitely fits the bill, and that’s going to give a big advantage as to stuff she can do the rest of the way. A definite lock for the finals IF there isn’t a backlash from her split with Fifth Harmony. If she has any sense, she’ll spend some time on Twitter making nice-nice with the group.

Lauren Alaina: Not quite sure what to make of her. Another contestant who has to use “humor” to substitute for limited physical skills. Country music fans are a closeknit bunch, but I don’t think they’re a fanatical monolithic bloc who’ll work their fingers to the bone to help someone win some dumb dance contest. Could sneak into the final, could flame out in two weeks, who knows.

Kel Mitchell: Well, he has stamina, I’ll give him that. My question is, can he do elegant, refined, stylish, coordinated? He seems to be doing his own thing for the most part, and that’s not going to cut it in crunch time. I’m thinking he outlasts Karamo and then quietly bows out soon afterward, unless family movies are just that huge.

Hannah Brown: If you’re a betting man (I’m not, of course), you should definitely like what you see here. Graceful, fluid, flexible, in complete control of her body. She’s from The Bachelorette, meaning she’ll get a huge push from the ABC faithful every week. On top of that, she has that down-home, girl-next-door, beautiful-but-not-TOO-beautiful vibe that’s going to pull in a lot of non-bloc voters; the casual viewers, the undecideds, the bandwagon jumpers. In a contest with no one obvious favorite, that’s going to make a big difference. Barring a disaster, a mortal lock for the final.

James Van Der Beek: Yow. Ever see a first-timer in any competition you care to name who’s not like the other rookies, he’s completely calm and totally focused, he walks with a confident swagger and a tiger’s eye glint, and that’s because he learned the game inside and out and knows not only what it’s supposed to take to win, but all the little biases and prejudices and BS and monkey wrenches and dirty tricks that don’t show up in any book and never get acknowledged by any authority but absolutely exist, and master of which is what’s actually required to win? That’s this guy. I’m not saying he isn’t a very good dancer (he is!), but what he’s done so far, and brilliantly, is master the shadow game. Shots of his happy family, schmoozing, laughing along with the dumb jokes, playing nice with the judges, calling out tot he fans but not to the point where it sounds like desperation. He is the man, and no one else is even close.

It’s coming down to Brown and Van Der Beek. Granted, there’s always the risk that one of their blocs will moronically assume that (S)he’s Safe This Week or just miss the voting window that one time, but even if that happens, remember that the judges have the option of booting the second-lowest contestant, and they absolutely will in this case. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a variation of a Sanchez Rebound here, where the bloc slacks off for a week, fears the worst, gets bailed out by the judges, and then proceeds to light the afterburners. The only possible dark horse contender I can see is Brooke, with MAYBE Brinkley-Cook or Mitchell playing spoiler. If either Brown or Van Der Beek goes out before the final for any reason, I’m pretty sure the other is going to run away with it.

Dwts usually doesn’t eliminate anyone on Disney week. They should eliminate two next week.

There’s several people left that aren’t well known. I had to Google them again to remember what they’ve done.

I can see Kel Mitchell and Karamo being eliminated next week. Only because of their small fan base.

Sailor Brinkley dances well but does anyone know who she is? She’s just filling in for her famous mom. Sailor may not last much longer.

Spicer is a bad dancer. But I think his base will keep him around another week or two.

It’s hard to predict who gets the most votes in a popularity contest.

I just can’t watch this political shitstorm any longer. Same damn fine people giving damn fine performances have been shoved aside by rightwing yahoos in favor of Sean Spicer week after week after week. The judges and the hosts can’t even fake a smile any more when the results are read. If the man had any sense of dignity whatsoever…oh, who the fuck am I kidding-it’s Sean Spicer.

I ignore Sean and focus on the other talent. At least he was cast correctly as Frankenstein this week.

The Halloween special is always my favorite of the season.

Kate Flannery keeps getting better and better each week. Her Rumba with Pasha this week was very good. I got a scare during the elimination. Very happy Kate will be back next week. It’s fun seeing her improve and gain confidence.

James Van De Beek is Dancing at a different level. Hard to tell him from the pros. I enjoyed his Viennese Waltz with Emma.

I wonder if the judges will break with the voting and just eliminate Spicer next week. Len looked pissed at the results last night.

Here’s an interesting piece by Mark Cuban from his stint on DWTS, which explains why audience voting actually carries more weight than the judges’ scores, even though each accounts for “half.”

I assume they still do it the same way now. It’s kind of a double-edged sword; I was happy that Bobby Bones won, even though he wasn’t the best dancer, because he was so damn fun. But then you also get a stiff like Spicer going deep because the MAGA crowd wants to stick it to the Libtards.

I wouldn’t be mad if they changed it so that the judges’ scores were weighted more heavily, but I guess it’s one of those “it is what it is” deals. Spicer is actually somewhat less annoying than I expected, though.

Hmm. This is…kinda perplexing, to be honest. As I mentioned before, Bristol Palin’s run wasn’t really all that shocking given the advantages she had. What exactly does Spicer bring to the table? It’s been over two years since he’s had any relevance in the GOP, much less influence, and self-righteous platitude spouting Bible thumpers are dime a dozen. America’s right wing doesn’t give a crap about figureheads. If you don’t have the power to ban abortion, install troglodytes on the Supreme Court, demolish the social safety net, overturn environmental regulations, or give more and more and more and more money to the ultra-rich…not support it, not talk a good fight about it, not throw hopes and prayers at it, actually DO it…you’re nothing to them. Of course there’s the contingent of wastes of oxygen who want to “piss off the lefties”, but honestly, how many of them are pissed off about this? Spicer’s yesterday’s villain, and even at the time a minor one at most. There are very bad people in positions of power right now who need to be fought far more than some doddering has-been on a cornball reality show.

Unfortunately, the ones who are getting pissed off are the ones ABC absolutely should not, the fans of the show. I forgot to tell my dad not to erase the recording, so I didn’t see the moment Spicer got called safe, but you can see the immediate aftermath here. That sound you are hearing is the studio audience having a big problem with this, which is pretty mind-blowing in itself. I remind you that the studio audience absolutely loves everyone and everything and does not tolerate the most microscopic conviction of anyone whatsoever. They epitomize the mentality of that annoying Lego Movie song. For them to not like a contestant is world-shaking, and here they are clearly having a very big problem with Spicer still being in this. I hesitate to use the term “death knell” for a show and medium that’s proven to be so astoundingly durable, but I really believe we could be seeing the beginning of the end here.

Len and Bruno were tougher on Spicer this week. The Criticism is well deserved but their timing is terrible. Spicer had to dance with a substitute pro because Lindsay Arnold had a death in the family. The judge’s strong criticism this week looked a bit vindictive The judge’s are usually sympathetic when an emergency requires a last minute partner substitution.

Well, my season favorite got eliminated. :frowning: I’ll keep watching but a lot of the fun will be gone for me.

The remaining dancers are good. Should be a great final.

It’s not unusual to see a poor dancer make the final. I couldn’t stand Bobby Bones dancing and he won. Sometimes the viewers popular vote does that.

The difference is that Bobby Bones, and Bill Engvall and David Ross, to give some more examples, were fun characters who added quite a lot to my enjoyment of the show.
Spicer, not so much.

How the hell did that “tango” get two sevens?

Glad Spicer is finally gone. All the remaining pairs are deserving.

Yes. The semi-finals should be exciting.

Ally and James are the top two left in my book. But all remaining contestants are doing great. Should be fun to watch the rest of the way.

Looking at Sean Spicer from start to finish, and man, nothing gives me more respect for Tom Bergeron than trying to stop this. In addition to the flaws I pointed out, he made zero effort to improve whatsoever. It honestly looked like he was doing the same things every time. This is why you do not invite right wingers on a show based around an art form. Right wingers don’t do art. Hell, they can barely tolerate it. Think of all the comics, movies, video games, and novels done by right wingers you remember. Ever notice how they always royally suck? That’s not a coincidence. Regardless of your physical abilities, if you’re not willing to be graceful, elegant, or beautiful, you’re never going to be a halfway competent dancer.

The worst part is that ABC has pissed off everybody. They pissed off everyone increasingly furious and horrified by the Trump Administration, they pissed off the viewers who wanted to see good dancing, they pissed off fans of the stars who unjustly went before Spicer, they pissed off survivors of the season 27 debacle who were expecting ABC to learn a few damn things, and they pissed off Tom Bergeron and the judges, the people they absolutely cannot to piss off. All to appease a handful of degenerates whose sole purpose in life is to piss off the rest of the world…and guess what, now THEY’RE pissed off too because all their efforts were completely wasted! Mark my words, this is going to go down as the single stupidest decision in the history of this show, if not all of ABC’s reality programming.

With ratings continuing to decline, this really looks like it could be the last hurrah. I wouldn’t be surprised if a key player decides that it’s just not worth it anymore, and then the writing will truly be on the wall.

All right, what do we have left? Brown in the bottom two for the first time. Brooke grossly overscored because the judges were desperate to keep her; the free ride probably ends next week. Kel, done very well to get this far, but still doesn’t have the look of a champion. It’s still looking like a duel between Brown and Van Der Beek, but at this point I wouldn’t mind a surprise. “This point” being post-Spicer, of course.