DWTS: Motown Night Week 6

24 04 2012

Last night’s week 6 of DWTS featured Motown  and the Dance Marathon.

You know the producers were scrambling. The task was to find Motown acts, still alive, still living in LA, and willing to come out of retirement to sing on a reality show of D List dancers. The set is impressive, the viewership massive… so the appeal is there (and the paycheque). But the BIG problem still remains… how do you FILL a show with live Motown performances from the original artists? You call Smokey Robinsons agent, you call The Temptations and you scratch your head for awhile, then call Martha Reeve. What happens next? Smokey Robinsons agent finds him at Tussauds Wax Museum, The Temptations work on a few moves, and Martha Reeve gets a doctors note to attend.

Sorry, but it’s hard to watch a man’s face so tightly strung that his eyebrows, eyelids and cheek muscles don’t move while he sings. It’s just as hard to watch The Temptations attempt choreography they havent rehearsed, or Martha Reeve scream and convulse her way through old hits.

The music was perfectly suited to the dancing. I like that DWTS has decided to adopt the ‘Theme’ format that all other competition shows seem to have perfected. Motown was a far better theme than KISS headlining Rock Week. I just have to think that sitting around the production table wouldve been a struggle… because Gladys Knight (arguably the move well known and well… preserved of all the MOtowners) was unavailable.

Begs the question – SHOULD she have been eliminated last week, WOULD she have been one of the headliners?

Hmmmm…

either way, Glaydis Knight was GOING to be a part of Motwon week – the conspiracy theorist on my left shoulder tells me they kept her around JUST to dance in week 6, Motown week.

So they started off the night, with Knight. Gladys is a pleasure to watch, her facial expressions and performance quality are so endearing. It was definitely cool to see her dance to the music she helped create and make ‘classic’. The judges were cordial, but we all know that Gladys’ days on this show are numbered with the standard of dance that is required to win.

Next, Maria Menonous shares Karina’s wardrobe, and foxtrotted herself into a top finish…again. She had a minor mistep, and did not perform very well during the Dance Marathon, adding only 4 bonus marks to her total.

Roshon Fagan tried to pretend that he hasnt JUST hit puberty with a ‘sexy’ dance to Smokey Robinsons Cruisin’. The judges hit the nail on the head – his movement are far to ‘herky jerky’, like he’s trying to pop hip hop moves into a foxtrot… and it comes across as jarring and overdanced.

Katherine, the Welsh Wiggler, was spot on again this week. She wiggled and shook ‘her bits’ to a rousing, crowd and judge pleaser . It can be difficult to have a partner like Mark Ballas who will dance circled around you effotlessly – but in this case, katherine is rising to the challenge and matching him step for step. The pair also won the dance Marathin, catapaulting them into a sound first place.

Donald Driver came out with his best dance of the season, receiving his best scores to boot. I had become a bit bored of Donals, he wasnt bringing anything unique or different to the dance floor , but he could be a contender if he continues to perform the way he did last night.

Melissa Gilbert (needs to look at Smokey Robinson and make some life changes…faces are meant to move) Her dancing tends to err on the side of awkward and wooden. This was a better effort, and she received some very high praise (yet mediocre marks) from the judges. I like her better in the smooth dances where she can show control… she runs off the rails very quickly in fast step dances.

Jaleel (Urkel) is quickly becoming one of my favourites. He had a bounce back week, performing the SOCKS off his cha-cha adding boatloads of personality. He also had a new easy quality that made the dance look effortless. Great scores, great dance, great week for Urkel.

William Levy relies heavily on his oozing Sex appeal. The ‘sexy dances’ are right up his alley, and he sizzled through another one last night. It’s going to keep him around for a long time, but I hope that he gets a chance to show off some high octane dancing in the future too!

Thoughts?

Did the Dance Marathon help you decide who the best dancers in this competition are? I read pretty deep into the judges picks and placement – Gladys went first, Katherine went last. Does this predict the order of elimination?





DWTS Season 14: Top 11

3 04 2012

It was Lights, Camera, Waterworks in an emotional DWTS Week 3.

It didnt HAVE to be emotional – the theme was ‘Most Memorable Year’ – but of course it WAS emotional because obviously, the best sotry wins the night … am I right? You know I am.

This night always exposes parts of the ‘storyline’ the Stars want you to follow. For example, Sherry Shepherd is the dutiful, beaming proud mother. Her story was probably one of the most heartfelt of the night, talking about her baby being born with serious health complications. We heard about Melissa Gilberts ‘back problems’. We heard about Urkels struggle to break form his Urkel character (what a first world problem…) We heard about Maria’s hardworking parents and her obsession with Madonna that gave her ‘the dream’. We heard about Gavins ever-loving parents who have supported him even when NO ONE else did.

etc…

If you were asked what your most memorable year was… would you come up with a sob story, or a happy story? I feel like I might NOT choose the death of a family member as the quintessential moment in my existence. But then, I’m not campaigning for votes…

Let’s talk about the dancing!

Jack Wagner – had a daughter he didnt know about, and now he cant even say her name without whimpering. He’s dancing for her. To HIS song. Shameless. I still dont know who this guy is, but his dancing is nothing to write home about.

Maria – apparently has broken ribs, but continues to do wrestlemania and practice 8 hours a day. Maybe its the tenacity she got from her immigrant parents who made her sweep floors with them on weekends. Although, she wouldnt have been much help is she was watching Madonna videos and daydeaming. Either way, she and Derek danced a pretty steamy Rhumba worthy of her high scores.

Gavin – has hustler parents who used to go door to door to land him gigs? Wow. Gavin is exactly the kind of person I watch this show to see. A ‘name’ that has NO dancing experience, and is dedicated to learning and progressing every week. I dont expect that everyone is going to get 10’s and standing O’s in the first week… it’s not a professional dance competition. He gets better and more confident week after week, and this was his best week so far!

Roshon – Has been practicing MJ moves infront of a mirror and adoring familiy members since he was 3. Now, he gets to do those same moves on stage and call it ‘ballroom’. I was pretty ticked about Roshon being a member of this cast from the start – he dances. But what really grinds my chops is when stars with previous experience a) pretend it means nothing in this competition and/or b) put every move they know into their dances, no matter what the style is.

Gladys – I could listen to her talk about the ‘Pip’ days for hours. She did NOT use a sob story, instead she interpreted the theme the way I wouldve interpreted it… a memorable year in your life. She used the year she broke into the industry at the Appollo theatre. Her dance was elegant and and heart warming. She used a good ole Sam Cook song and danced to it beautifully. No tricks.

Urkel – I guess I really should be calling him by his ‘real’ name, but I cant bring myself to remember it. I’m partly responsible for his ongoing struggles with identity. Guilty. This may be one of the last chances this guy gets to shed the Urkel iconograpy and move on. If he gets far enough, that’s possible. He might even get a JOB after this. I’m not being mean, I can understand that he would have serious trouble shaking that Urkel character. Last night was not his best dance, and I worry about him fading into the background in this competition. He might need to fall back on Urkel to revive his status on DWTS.

Sherri Shepherd – told the gut wrenching story of a mother who is helplessly watching her newborn suffer. It’s very sad, and she choked me up a few times. She really is just a massive fan of the show, and a proud mother. That’s a winning combination. If Kate Gosselin had a shred of personality, she’d still be famous, and she mightve won DWTS despite her dancing. Sherri Shepherd also happens to be a confident performer and has nailed her dances 3 weeks in a row.

William-Finally showed his famous latin chest and mid section. Cheryl is a pro, she knows what she’s doing! William can certainly move his hips, which is all he really needs to do at this stage in the game. A good dance, he was very much in command and confident with the rhythms and the movements. His PR team is highfiving all around.

Melissa – NO, she didnt say anything about her drug dependancy or those dark years during Little House. Instead, she chose to tell us about her broken back. She’s trying. But with that story, she’s not winning anyone over… unless her dancing is great. But it’s not. The judges gave her a little more praise and adulation than I wouldve given… but in a night of fantastic dancing, perhaps they were wearing rose coloured judging glasses.

Katherine – Needed to work the hardest to connect, so she chose the story of her father dying. It was a very weepy tale, and her dancing was superb. She got the seasons first 10’s. She deserves them, and after last night, she will probably win over some more of the voting public.

Donald – told another sob story about death. So much death in one night, t’s starting to get nausiating. This is monday night, prime time, mirrorball trophy, sequins and open chest vests, Dancing with the stars. geez! Anyways, Donald had a solid effort, you can tell he is another one that needs the time to really master the steps and his performance will get better as he moves forward. However, with such a strong cast and a night of great dancing, he might not be given that chance.

Thoughts?





DWTS: Season 14 Week 2

27 03 2012

Round 2 on DWTS – could week 2 top week 1?

I think…. it did!

I’ve had this conversation with anyone who’ll listen. This show isnt just a ‘fun thing’ to do between gigs for these celebrities. It has launched careers, movie deals, magazine covers, hosting jobs… it’s a cash cow for all involved, if they play it right. If you want it, you gotta take it starting week 1. It’s taken 14 seasons for the ‘Stars’ to realize that, and it’s showing VERY early on.

It hardly matters WHO you are – the show has evolved from the NAME to the GAME.

There are a few key factors – you’ll need at least one or two to win this competition:

1. A good partner – Derek, Maks, Mark have statistically won the most trophies. Cheryl and Julianne have won the most for the men.

2. A good attitude in practice – no one likes to see a prima donna celebrity NOT working their tails off in practice. We want to see sweat, ugly hair, and tears. lots of tears.

3. A story – We love a good backstory – so make sure you tell it BEFORE you get axed.

4. The Moves – because most celebs have mastered the ‘tricks’, it comes down to dance ability. A good dance will be rewarded…

So let’s get to the dancing shall we?

Katherine Jenkins – Remember her? She’s the blonde Brit (don’t they have their own version of this show?) I have nothing against her, I just feel like within the current roster, she’s a bit of a head scratcher. Not that it matters, her PR team is genius because she is knocking the SOCKS off this competition in the early weeks! She was strong last week, and this week she absolutely nailed her jive… maybe it was in small part her partner, the showman Mark or the tiny tassled dress giving the illusion of movement… but this girl can dance, and her career might’ve just hit an American launching pad.

Roshon – is a Jonas Brother, except about 3 years too late. He’s just a bit ‘too much’ for me. Too much Disney Factory personality and look. But because he has youth on his side, he’s got the body and the energy to take on high tempo dances… like the quickstep. This was a good dance for him, it will be interesting to see if he can mature and scale it down for a Viennese waltz in later weeks.

Maria Menenous – continues to polarize herself. She could be the’ hot n sexy young thing’… but then she opens her mouth and she’s looses her ‘sex appeal’. Let’s not even begin to talk about her laugh. *shudder*. She would be considered a front runner in this competition because she has the RIGHT partner, the RIGHT body (to fit into any sequin bra) and she’s GAME. Their performance was probably my favourite of the night – it had a Bonnie and Clyde theme and Derek’s creative fingerprints all over it.

Jaleel White (Urkel) – another good routine, probably not as sharp and surprising as his first. But he’s got massive potential if he lets his personality shine and attacks dances like he did week 1. He’s still a favourite…

Sherri Shepherd- has great chemistry with Val, she couldnt have gotten a better partner for this experience. She is LOVING this…can you tell? It’s infectious, it’s fun to watch and she represents alot of demographics who watch and vote on thsi show. Her dance last night was great, she kept great pace and didnt let her ‘thickness’ hold her back from any tricks and kicks. You know, she will be the first on People magazine talking about her ‘dance diet’. it’s coming.

William Levy – Has a lot of fans for someone I’ve never heard of. HE will be a contender, Cheryls got a good one this year. This week, he was working on his form, which probably led to a slightly wooden performance overall. However, he aint going anywhere, his scores are great and Cheryl promised he’d take off more clothing.

Jack Wagner – overdanced it. Probably trying to ompensate for the fact taht he’s irrelevant and has no real shot at winning in this competition. That may sound hardsh, but t’s true. He’s not good enough, nor ‘famous’ enough nor personable enough.

Donald driver – might turn into a sparkplug dancer… he’s quick to a fault at times, he lacks precision and hold, but he’s got the fire in his belly to make it happen. I can see him getting batter, even in week 2, so I think he’ll be a contender in this show.

Gladys Knight – Is a revelation. She has poise, she has elegance, but she also has sass, determination and and boatloads of  ‘can do’. She has nailed 2 dances in a row, last night was even better than her first week. She might also be the biggest ‘name’ on the show…doesnt hurt.

Gavin Degraw – Closely rivals Gladys Knight for the biggest ‘Name’ ont he show… but he has the edge in relevance. He has a number 1 record in the country right now, and he’s on DWTS?!?! It still boggles my mind. The guy doesnt need it, which might be a reason he wont win. He’s trying, he’s giving it a shot… but he doesnt NEED this in the same way Melissa Gilbert needs this. Are you with me? ANyways, he’s been mediocre, but he is a true NON dancer and there’s something charming about watching a kitten learn to walk…right?

Martina Navritilova – was hard to watch last night. It was a slow, painful, agonizing death march… once she went off the rails (I think it was the second or thrird beat) she was finished. There’s one every season, a person who completely forgets everything from a weeks worht of practice, and it’s pure live TV terror. I feel bad for her, but I think she’s on the chopping block tonight. As much as good dancing should be rewarded, bad dancing should be punished.

Melissa Gilbert – has resorted to good ole fashioned Hollywood name dropping. She used to date Billy Idol in the 80’s. That’s low. Yah? Well looks at the hosts of waitresses and Z-list models George Clooney has dated… it aint sayin’ much. Whats lower? Saying dancing is harder than childbirth.  Well, you cant fault her for the amount of ‘try’ she puts into this… but her scores are bottom dwelling at best.

Thoughts?

In this the first week of elimination, I believe the axe falls on Martina or Jack.

 

 





Get ready for… DWTS Season 14

19 03 2012

ABC doesnt skip a beat. The finale of the hottest show on TV, The Bachelor runs right into the Premiere of the ratings juggernaut Dancing with the Stars. It’s brilliant. Its virtually the same audience. And ABC makes it easy to fill that 8pm Monday timeslot without missing a beat. Monday night is PRIME primse time. NBC finally figured that out and has decided to face off with a legitimate adversary in their hottest rating monster, The Voice. Let them fight it out…it’s great TV on the worst day of the week.Monday is hard to get up to, but easy to stay up for with such fantastic TV filling the night hours.

So the Premier of DWTS airs tonight… let’s take another look at the cast lineup:

Jack Wagner, star of “Melrose Place” (pro partner: Anna Trebunskaya)
Melissa Gilbert, star of “Little House on the Prairie” (pro partner: Maksim Chmerkovskiy)
Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver (pro partner: Peta Murgatroyd)
William Levy, telenovela star (pro partner: Cheryl Burke)
Sherri Shepherd, co-host of “The View” (pro partner: Valentin Chmerkovskiy)
Katherine Jenkins, opera star (pro partner: Mark Ballas)
Gavin DeGraw, singer (pro partner: Karina Smirnoff)
Martina Navratilova, tennis star (pro partner: Tony Dovolani)
Roshon Fegan, Disney star (pro partner: Chelsie Hightower)
Maria Menounos, TV host (pro partner: Derek Hough)
Jaleel White, star of “Family Matters” (pro partner: Kym Johnson)
Gladys Knight, music legend  (pro partner: Tristan MacManus)

My innre 90’s child is geeking out at the thought of seeing Urkel on TV again. I think there will be some strong first performances by the obvious: Maria Menenous (how can she miss with Derek?), Hotty William Levy, an eager Melissa Gilbert, an exuberant Sherri Shepherd and solid B-lister Gavin Degraw.

There’s some big names on this list. Well, biggish, let’s not exaggerate. But as usual, there are names on this list even Google had a hard time placing. Those are the people that could benefit the MOST from this exposure and a great first performance. It’s always fun to see the Helios and the Gilles and the JR’s come out fighting in this competition and create a phenomenon with purely GREAT dancing.

Who will it be this year?

It wont be Gladys. It’s never the old ones.

Thoughts?

Who are you most excited to see, and who do you anticipate to come out of nowhere and knock our socks off?





DWTS Season 13 Finale

22 11 2011

Last night, the Final 3 danced for their shot at the title of DWTS Season 13 Champion.

This title holds alot of weight… seriously. It may be bright and gaudy, but the Mirrorball means more than just a big bling-ball for your mantle. Past winners have gone on to catapoult their careers to new heights… you’re almost guaranteed your own show, hosting gig, morning/late night show rounds and a People Magazine cover.

Trust me, they all want this BAD.

and it showed… although not the Top 3 I wouldve expected, these 3 definitely rose to the ocassion and put on a great show. It’s truly amazing the tranformation from week 1 to the finals dances… it really validates the process.

Let’s get to last night – each dancer had two dances, one being the infamous ‘ Freestyle’ that can win or lose the competition, and one was ‘judges choice’.

Rob Kardashian– started with a lacklustre waltz. It was slow and pretty, but I think by the end he lacked the focus to keep his carriage and lines in full form. The judges though, were not so harsh giving him all 9’s to start with. His Freestyle was a real tribute to Cheryl Burkes genius. It started off graceful, and ended with booty shaking and energy. It was definitely a culmination dance… a dance that showed Rob’s transformation and skill level. Like at a recital, you give it your best shot…and that’s what Rob did. Kudos to Cheryl, it was a great Freestyle with tons of great moments and super high scores.

JR Martinez – Has been snake bitten recently, his scores have not been as solid, and he really needed a comeback week in a big way. It didnt start off well for JR (however, if you’ll notice, the judges reserved the high scores for the Freestyles) Not that the dance was bad, infact I thoroughly enjoyed it! The dance was not perfect. It was behind in parts and i guess there were some music issues… so JR received a mixed bag of scores. JR made his comeback in his freestyle, liek we all knew he could! He shimmy-ed and shook everything his mama gave him, and nailed some very dangerous lifts and spins. Wow. Just wow. Len is right, Karina is an unbelievable dancer/choreographer and she has been dealt some pretty rough cards… finally, she got an Ace and she deserves, as much as he does, to receive some recognition. Awesome Freestyle, it might be the ‘winner’ we were looking for.

Ricki Lake- Needed to stand out. She hasa been kind of quietly punching her card tot he finals, she needed a BIG final. She started out with a fast-paced, frantic dance in a sexy red number. She has been flaunting her new look Ricki (just in time for her new show…) just as much as her dancing…it’s her ‘story’, her ‘journey’. I get it. It was a good dance, and it showed the kind of personality and vitality this woman has had all through the competition. Her freestyle shouldve been amazing…she has Derek. But this time around, the dance Derek put on the floor lacked depth and character. Derek used the time to hoist Ricki, fling Ricki, spin Ricki … but i’m not sure Ricki really proved she should be the winner with this dance. Tough call.

Final Thoughts:

It is most certainly a tough call…. because having Rob Kardashian in the final should have me believing it’s really a Final 2. But the kid came out strong (and it doesnt hurt to have the whole family, yep even Kim, in the audience) proving he may actually be a contender. Listen, if Kris Jenner hs anyhing to do with it… we could see Rob K on the cover of People by tomorrow. It’s a possibility, a very real possibility… brace yourselves, because it could happen.

I think JR had the dance of the night with his freestyle, and I’m not sure having a Hero special on ABC hurts his chances either. The guy was the least ‘known’ Star at the beginning, but this exposure can be a career-maker… and I think JR is set. You’re going to see this guy everywhere, win or lose… but ezpecially if he wins. I don’t know what has been plaguing him lately, but we all know peaking at the right time is crucial. He was everyones favourite from the start, will he be able to carry that through?

Ricki was arguably one of the bigger names in the cast – and tehrefore had the most to lose. She already had a career, already had a ‘name’, already had a reputation. She didnt need the show to promote her, however, she needed to uphold her persona on this show. It wouldve been devastating to her, if she had gone in the first or second week… or if she had struggled, and not been able to get herself to the top of the pack. Lucky duck got Derek (who pulled those strings?) who was able to propel her through the early rounds and make her the dancer she is. She deserves the trophy as much as the next guy, she worked her butt off literally.

Thoughts?





DWTS: Semi Finals Results

16 11 2011

The semi final reslts were read on DWTS last night, that is of course after we saw performances by a group of pre-pubescent dancers, product placements, a performance by The Muppets, and the usual recapping that takes… a full 55 minutes to complete.

We all know how i feel about these results shows.

IN any case… we found out fairly early that Hope was ‘in jeopardy’… no real surprise. And then we learned that, horror of horrors, JR MArtinez was also in jeopardy. The hosts are quick to point out taht this doesnt necessarily mean these dancers were both in the bottom.

This of course always gets me thinking… its a script. Obviously, JR had a hard night on monday (read my review to remind yourselves) but producers know jsut as well as we do… JR needs to be in the finals to bring legitimacy to the show. Also, who doesnt LOVE a rise from the ashes story. JR will get his chance to regain top form nex week because….

Hope Solo eliminated from DWTS last night.

again, not a huge surprise, and I’m personally very happy to see her go. I was not a huge fan (understatement).

So your final 3, who will dance for the mirrorball trophy are:
Ricki Lake
JR MArtinez
and Rob Kardashian. (wow…)

Thoughts?

 





DWTS: Semi Finals November 14

15 11 2011

The semifinalists took the stage last night on DWTS.

Rob Kardashian, Hope Solo, JR Martinez and Ricki Lake are the Final 4 ‘Stars’ in the Running… after 3 dances each last night, we should have a pretty good idea of who should take home the title…. right?

As they say (who?) ‘that’s why they play the game’. Because I could write you a perfect script for what I think could/chould happen… but in reality, sometimes people drop the ball, sometimes people surprise…and that’s why they play the game.

I definitely couldnt have predicted this Final 4 at the start of the season. And I definitely couldnt have expected what happened last night…

What i CAN’T figure out, is what is ‘real’ and what is ‘storyline’.

For example – we’ve been waiting for Rob Kardashian to peak all season, giving him lots of chances, lots of opportunity to have his family in the audience, lots of time probably not warrented, to improve and become  passionate dancer. Well, last night… he was on top of the game. He was smooth, he was entertaining, he seemed very focuse and confident. Being a cycnic… there was something still rubbing me the wrong way. Then it happened. When asked WHY he should be a finalist, he turned to the camera and said “Because I LOVE to dance”. Shuldve added the million dollar wink to his mother in the crowd. Because he has completed his story arch set out from the very beginning of his casting. Rob becoming a man. Rob finding his way without his sisters. Rob learning to become passionate about… something/anything.

Next Hope Solo, as unpredictable as it gets. Because she had potential on the first week, then she went flat, then she fell backwards, and now she’s just hanging on. I don’t know who is voting for her, I don’t know if I am seeing something differnt from everyone else, but the girl can’t dance and it’s the semi finals. You can see her following her steps in her head, and then getting occassionally thrown around by Maks and strategically wearing costumes that excentuate her ‘lines’ and figure. Those pants with the tassles? Those are specifically designed for people without hip action, because they mask the lack of movement underneath. Enough… sorry. She was not great last night, but has she ever been? She was the bottom dancer by a large margin… so if I was writing the story, she’d be gone (weeks ago).

Next, Ricki Lake, who has made quite an impression and become quite a good dancer in this process. I give more than half the credit to Derek… both for designing dances that will embellish her strengths, and for bringing in the ‘grandma’ vote (yes, my grandma still votes for ‘Derek’ without knowing his partners name). But Ricki is a pro at this point, she knows her body, she knows her technique, she has the personality and gets into character better than anyone else. The X Factor as they say. I think she has a larger appeal than any other dancer, and I think that her rise to excellence is commendable. She got great marks last night, and I dont see her NOT making the finals.

Lastly, JR Martinez, who was riding high after two perfect scores last week. However, here is where that saying rings true… you’ve got to play the game. JR faltered last night, and not just because his ankle was twisted. He was suffering, it waws obvious. But the problem is not the suffering, it’s the defeat. He looked defeated. He hardly looked at the camera, he hardly flashed his meg watt smile. He was not present, and I feel like he wanted the night to be OVEr so that he could rise from the ashes and make his triumphant rebound. The problem is, he may not have the votes to pull that off. I dont know for sure, but what I DO know, is that people dont like to see defeat… or a mope. JR is still an elite dancer, and outdanced Hope for sure.. but he might’ve been dethroned after last night’s performances.

We shall see…

Thoughts?

 








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