Monday, September 24, 2007

DWTS: Good to the last drop

The fact that Dancing With the Stars (hereafter referred to as DWTS) is going to be on for three consecutive nights each week for the early part of its season has made it official: I will not be taking on any new television shows this Fall. That’s right, you heard me. I’m going to enjoy the television commitments I already have which are, in order of importance: The Office , DWTS, 30 Rock, Ugly Betty, and The Biggest Loser. I am pretty sure I will be dropping Desperate Housewives and, due to a DVR scheduling conflict, have already made the tough decision to give Beauty and the Geek the ax. I will add Project Runway when it begins again and hope that October Road returns at some point.

But this post is about DWTS and the many reasons, in no particular order, that I love it. People who have not “gotten into” DWTS have often expressed to me the concern that it would be uncomfortable or embarrassing to watch “celebrities” try to dance. While there are always a few semi-painful performances in the early weeks, for the most part, the dancing gets pretty good, pretty quickly. Others worry that the show is too corny. Hell yes, it’s corny, and that’s part of the charm. I’ve heard people say they’re not interested because the people on the show aren’t famous enough. Again, that’s part of the appeal. While it would be entertaining to watch Brad Pitt learn to foxtrot or Hilary Clinton take on the cha cha, it’s never going to happen. DWTS chooses C and D list—sometimes lower and sometimes higher grade--celebrities who have a lot to gain without too much to lose. Every season, I think I’m not excited about the new crop of celebrities, but I grow to love them all. Take tonight’s premiere, for example, when I found myself charmed by Marie Osmond and really excited to see more dancing from Sabrina the Cheetah Girls. Cheetah Girls is on the farthest fringe of my pop culture radar screen (even beyond the outpost where I try to banish references to High School Musical and The Hills) and yet I cannot wait to see Sabrina dance again. The US Weekly subscriber in me is rooting for Mel B to rock DWTS as some sort of f-u to Eddie Murphy. And, will the Beckhams show up to watch her? And, speaking of British people, does Jane Seymour really live in that castle where DWTS interviewed her? There’s still so much to see and learn. . . I’ll be tuning in tomorrow night to find out who Albert Reed is. He seems pretty hot to me.

I know some people who watch DWTS on DVR, fast forwarding through everything but the performances. Not me, though I DVR the show, I watch every second. NTB. I hum along to the theme music. I watch the celebrities and their partners line up and dance in place to its beat at the show’s opening. I enjoy the video excepts of the celebrities and their partners during practice and the corny outings they stage later in the season. I eagerly scan the audience to see what other “celebrities” are in attendance (Look, it’s Suzanne Whang from House Hunters! Lance Bass, here again! And Alfonso too!) I love how ABC unabashedly uses DWTS to pimp its other shows. I love the music, the costumes, and the spray tan. I enjoy the judges, two of whom have excellent accents and none of whom appears drunk or stoned at any time. I watch the post-dance interviews and look in the background to observe how the other dancers are interacting in the waiting room. I look forward to watching the contestants befriend one another (they honestly seem to get along and it’s fun to watch). I enjoy the professional dance performances on the night of the results show. After watching four seasons of the show, I enjoy the professional dancers in general and have my favorites among them, namely Maksim (so hot and the most charming smile) and Julianne (so stinking cute). The only things I have ever fast-forwarded through are some of the musical guest performances on results show night.

DWTS truly has it all. There’s laughter. Tom Bergeron is hilarious, seriously very witty. And, as an added bonus, season two DWTS champion Drew Lachey is temporarily replacing Samantha Harris as co-host while she (and those bionic arms of hers) are on maternity leave. There are tears. I cried when Jerry Springer talked about dancing with his daughter at her wedding. I well up when favorites get sent home late in the season and all the celebrities and professional dancers hug them as the credits roll. There’s great dancing. Plus, I am not ashamed to admit it, there’s an inspiration factor. Most of the celebrities take the competition really seriously and work their asses off to learn a new skill. That takes guts, and it’s cool to watch the transformations that happen. It’s also nice to see people who are not too cool or too jaded to admit that their performances and scores matter to them.

DWTS is the show that motivated my mom to finally stop spending her evenings flipping through magazines while my dad catnapped his way through hours of sporting events on ESPN and WGN. As a result, he now watches DWTS and has developed an uncanny ability to predict the judges’ scores with alarming consistency and accuracy. Wonders never cease.

Honestly, I’ve only scratched the surface of my thoughts on DWTS. If there are any fans out there, please offer a comment with your early thoughts on the new season. Or, share a favorite moment of yours from a past season. And the rest of you, it’s not too late to catch the DWTS fever. Tune in Tuesday night to see if Mark Cuban can dance.


PITA said...

I could talk for hours about DWTS. I have been a loyal watcher for nearly the whole run. It personally provides me so much delight, I really cant stand it. I have so many favorite memories, to numerous to list. My friend Em and I used to watch and then try to replicate the moves. At one point, we had Cheryl and Drew's "Save a Horse" dance down-pat. Who am I kidding - we could probably pull it out if coerced. I have really never loathed any contestant - well maybe Master P for his pure lack of effort. Last night, I found myself smiling from beginning to end. I, too, was delighted to see Drew. Not that I dont like Samantha Harris, but sometimes her questioning sessions are uncomfortable to watch. Love the the judges, love the music (under the fabulous direction of Harold Wheeler), love the pros. Sadly, my favorite dancer doesn't participate in the competitions but does the choregraphy for the group numbers which are out of this world - his name Louis Van Amstel. Of course I love Maks as well - his arrogrance just makes him irresistable. MEP is right, you find yourself unexcited about the people on the show, and all of the sudden, you love them all. I was equally delighted about Sabrina from the Cheetah girls and her new to DWTS partner Mark. Cant wait to see Helio and Julianne tonight! DWTS for life.

LAP said...

Love it. I fought it at first. I told myself I could never get sucked into such a show. I never even watched American Idol other than the Justin/Kelly finals. However, I caught part of the Stacey, Drew, and Jerry action in season 2 and have been hooked ever since. Loved the show last night. I too find myself endeared to certain professionals. I feel for Brian...forever taking one for the team. Loved how excited Jane Seymour was that she got Tony for a partner. Looking forward to seeing if Julianne is as absolutely loveable even without Apolo by her side. Thought the judges were entertaining overall but a little harsh on Josie (described as "deceptively unfit" by her partner) given that it was only week 1.

Anonymous said...

My husband is away on business until Wednesday night, and while that can be difficult with a child, I secretly thought, "Perfect timing. He doesn't like DWTS." (The horror!) My mom hooked me on this show, and while I dragged my feet, I'm there with her and you and many other surprising watchers (your dad!), learning about clean lines and how to interpret Bruno's English accent.

I TiVoed it last night, and I'm embarrassed to admit I watched that Cheetah Girl cha cha more than once. Okay. Fine. Three times before I hit delete (can I still recover it?).

Let's see what the men have for tonight. I have noooo idea who those D-listers are. Still, who cares.

Sara G.

LAP said...

Sorry...meant Jonathan, "the gentleman of ballroom dancing", not Brian. Not sure where I got that from.

Anonymous said...

my heart goes out to Alec. not that they didn't deserve to go tonight, but it's not his fault he keeps getting paired with models that have no fan base. i loved the edyta hug at the end as she tried to comfort her new hubby.

MEP said...

I agree that is was tough luck for Alec. Plus, I thought Len was way too hard on Josie. Also, I felt that Floyd got screwed on his scores. He was fun to watch. Julianne and Helio are adorable already, and I am finding Albert delightfully in love with himself. All in all, I am pretty excited about the new season. It seems like the level of competition is pretty high. Why did Dolly Parton's face look so odd on the results show?

Anonymous said...

So fun to read your comments about DWTS. Made me almost want to recommit to watching, but I have made the opposite decision -- to check out far too many new shows and fill up my DVR, and thus, at least for a week or two, not be able to watch ANYTHING live because I'm almost always recording two at once (on two DVRs, no less). I did watch the results show this week, because my mom was here, and she has Dolly Parton radar. I'll check back in with the dancers once I've realized which shows get neglected on the DVR, or once the networks have cancelled anything I'm actually interested in. I really must recommend Reaper and Journeyman, two I had not expected to add to the repertoire of naptime viewing, but I am finding quite delightful. Journeyman has echoes of The Time Traveler's Wife, and Reaper has all the lovability, humor and quirkiness of a tenth grader to recommend it.
Looking forward to seeing you tonight!!

Anonymous said...

I am just thankful that I finally took your advice last season and started watching DWTS. My husband and I make it an evening activity. He is a good judge of the dancing (more of the techninal parts!!). I was almost giddy all day Monday waiting for the season to begin.

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