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The Guide to DWTS

August 31, 2010

wait, there's a game too??

Blah blah it should be called Dancing with the Moderately Famous blah blah yeah, we know.  Dancing with the Stars has often been a stretch of a name for many contenders on this television show, but get over it already.  The point is that the name sounds old Vegas classy, and to be honest, they are finally, with 10 seasons under their belt, starting to pull in some legitimate stars.  Last season had Pamela Anderson, their biggest celebrity, and of course David Hasselfhoff couldn’t take that lying down (while eating a cheeseburger), so he’s starring in season 11, the cast of which was announced last night.

Here’s the thing about Dancing with the Stars — the longer you stay on the show, the more you get paid.  (Also, the more screen time to promote your upcoming project.)   But this isn’t two weeks of filming in a house for a whole season of “The Surreal Life.”  No, you have to clear your schedule of all work for 2 months or more, and anyone who is an A- or B- list working star does not have time for that isht.  Also, they don’t need the money.  As a result, the cast in the past few seasons has started to shake into 3 categories:  the Formerly Big with Nothing to Lose, the Formerly Middling Seeking a Comeback Boost, and the Temporarily Famous Stretching Out Minute 14.

So in the first category, you have your Baywatch cast members but also the beloved Old Guard spokesmodels, your Buzz Aldrin and Cloris Leachman or this year’s Florence Henderson (who continues to show the world what she can do with a bottle of Wesson oil, and I’m not mad about that).   Also, every professional or Olympic athlete.  I mean, those people have nothing to do all day but watch their sponsorship checks collect interest and try not to thing about spending money to cause it to dwindle, so what have they got to lose?

The second category of semi-stars in this season includes Brandy, Margaret Cho, Jennifer Gray, and Michael Bolton.  Not bad for a mall sighting, you’d tell your friends about it anecdotally.  The third category features people who are recognized by their show franchise, not their name:  the guy from Jersey Shore, the girl from The Hills, the brother from That’s So Raven.    Their stars should have asterisks next them, like equity actors.  Also, Bristol Palin will be dancing.  Um, yeah.

But there are also different categories of audience of Dancing with the Stars:  fans of the specific stars and fans of the show itself, who like to watch competition ballroom dancing as performed by amateurs and professionals together.   Every week, I like watching people in ridiculously loud costumes circle the dancefloor to karaoke style renditions of today’s hits, then listen to a flamboyant gay man, a cartoonishly pompous old brit, and an smartly incisive (and sexy) dance anthropologist explain what was right and wrong about it.   In fact, I’m pretty sure, it could be a room in heaven for me.  I’ll be in there with your grandmas, having a blast.  Come join me whenever I watch it live.…or just wait for me to do the legwork and post recaps and clips.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2010 10:44 am

    I’m hoping for the Hass to go all the way! He’s actually surprisingly light on his feet. Excellent recap. I do appreciate DWTS’ lofty and virtually unreachable ambitions. This show screams for Ian Ziering! Has he already done it? I can’t believe this thing has been airing for TEN YEARS. where have I been?

  2. August 31, 2010 10:47 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he made it to the finals! Pamela surprised a lot of people with her dancing, but almost went home the first week because she forgot to vote or tell anyone she knew to vote. I bet once the Pamela Anderson Fan Club got an e-mail alert, the phone lines picked up.

  3. August 31, 2010 10:49 am

    Also, it’s only been about 6 years, because the “season” happens twice a year, fall and spring. Lofty aspirations indeed!

  4. August 31, 2010 10:51 am

    here’s Ian! he danced with one of my favorite, Cheryl Burke.

  5. August 31, 2010 10:52 am

    Oh that’s even better. it’s on more Battle of the Network Stars or Laff-o-Lympics schedule!

  6. August 31, 2010 10:52 am

  7. August 31, 2010 10:53 am

    LOL. Of course Ziering was on it. I mean you told me so with your description of the categories! He clearly didn’t do it for the money (he’s got tons) but because he’s still as fame hungry as always. Maybe if he had some talent and wasn’t so smarmy people wouldn’t recoil from their TVs when his smug mug was on it.

  8. August 31, 2010 10:56 am

    She, of course, is flawless, but he’s terrible. I keep waiting for Brandon Walsh to jump into frame and do some dudebro stuffs.

  9. August 31, 2010 11:41 am

    It’s all about watching for the professionals!

  10. August 31, 2010 11:43 am

    Burke has MOVES. I watched a bunch of videos of her dancing. Wow, she’s really good. Blows Finola Hughes right out of the water. Is Hughes ineligible because she’s a former professional dancer?

  11. August 31, 2010 11:55 am

    I think because she hasn’t danced ballroom professionally (and she hasn’t professionally danced period in awhile), she could get away with it!

  12. August 31, 2010 12:06 pm

    In one sense, DWTS is good because there are quantifiable elements that can actually be measured… how well was that step done? How in synch were the partners? So the judges definitely can help the audience choose who did best in any particular week, and that makes them valuable as a resource. I heard that American Idol still doesn’t know who their judges will be and they need to figure that out in the next two weeks!

    But back to the Dancing. Yes, you can’t have anyone who is actually employed by any film or television program doing this show. It’s a live performance, so there’s always the chance that you’ll completely embarrass yourself on national tv. That definitely narrows the field of potential contestants.

    And yeah, it’s actually WORK to get into shape and rehearse these paso dobles and quick steps! Just ask Master P!

    And really Nicole Scherzinger was a pro dancer with the Pussycat Dolls prior to her winning last year’s Mirror Ball trophy, so I don’t think anyone is ruled out from this competition!

  13. August 31, 2010 12:09 pm

    Yeah, I wondered about Nicole Scherzinger! She’s a really good dancer. It’s like Kenny Ortega (oh no I didn’t!) going on the show and getting away with it because the audiences aren’t familiar with his name or work.

  14. August 31, 2010 12:10 pm

    Or Toni Basil.

  15. August 31, 2010 12:12 pm

    Hey… Paula Abdul is looking for a new gig…

  16. evmaroon permalink
    August 31, 2010 7:16 pm

    I loved this post, Raymond! First, I love little categories and observed patterns. Second, I love any writing on hokey reality competition shows that genuinely enjoy them but don’t take them too seriously. Third, I’ve only watched something like 3 minutes of DwtS, but your pronouncements hold true, lending to their authenticity! Awesomeness.

  17. September 1, 2010 8:43 am

    awww, thank you for your kind words, Ev. I love reading people’s passionate posts about shows I don’t watch either — I’m only a fan of original CSI and Medium and The Wire, but I am fairly versed on all other police and crime procedural shows out there because of you and Snarky’s posts!

  18. September 1, 2010 9:02 am

    While not a dedicated fan, I kinda like this show. It appeals to me in the same way Olympic ice skating does: it’s both athletic and artistic, two qualities I sorely lack.

    My favorite season was Season 4 not just for Ziering or because Apolo won, but also for the surprisingly impressive work of John Ratzenberger and Billy Ray Cyrus.

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