Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Season 10: Elimination 1

Interesting events have transpired in the second week of this season of Dancing With the Stars, to include a near fistfight. Can’t imagine who could have brought THAT much drama to the show? Let’s break it down.

Shannen Doherty danced a jive to follow last week’s waltz. It was okay, not great. But it was about on par for someone who’s never had professional training and had a week to learn. She did all right.

Buzz Aldrin: American Hero. That’s how I’m going to refer to him from now on in this blog. He was a little stiff, a little ridged, he postures were not so great…the man is 80! I thought he was great considering the whole, lack-of-youth thing.

Aiden Turner did a little better this week. His foxtrot was a little choppy and kind of lackluster. He looks uncomfortable, like he’s forcing his chin up and shoulders back to the point where he’s almost looking straight up. Aiden fans get your fill now. He’s only going to be around by default.

Niecy Nash turned in a very nice foxtrot this week. I think that she wasn’t sure how seriously to take this competition a week ago, and has now realized that people, even the stars on this show, are for real. They want to enjoy it, but they all still want to win. She scored right in the middle of the pack, but unlike Aiden, she should probably be around for a little longer then default votes.

Evan Lysacek looked pretty good, but there’s still something uncomfortable about the way he moves? In any event, I still think there’s a lack of connection between himself and his partner, and that’s going to end up being their undoing.

Jake Pavelka…well, I still think he’s a dork, and I still don’t like “The Bacholer”. But from a dancing standpoint, he did pretty well. I still think he’s sorting out a level of comfort balancing his fiancée, or whatever she is at this point, and the time he’s spending with his rather attractive dance partner. One of the highlights of the week was when he said “no Chelsea, I’m not asking you, I’m telling you…we’re not doing that” whatever move it was. And that was promptly met by her telling him “tough shit, I’m the pro here.” Atta girl.

Erin Andrews looked very good, although having her hair up does nothing for her. Her behind the scenes stuff with Maks are going to prove to be entertaining. However, for a woman who looks so elegant, she has kind of masculine motions when she’s not moving in holds. If she irons that out, I think she’ll be dangerous long-term.

Chad…poor Chad. Chad did not look so good. He looked uncomfortable and his posture was really bad throughout the whole routine. What really impressed me though, was that when taking pretty poignant criticism from all three judges, he kept his mouth shut and listened. He knew he didn’t do well, and though never at a loss for words, buttoned up and listened to the experts. He’s not done yet.

Pamela Anderson did a very nice foxtrot with a great homage to Marilyn Monroe. She wasn’t the over-the-top sexpot we’ve seen in the past. She was elegant and graceful, and the judge’s marks, while they could have been a little higher, showed it. She still ended up in the bottom two, though, conclusively demonstrating that her “target audience” clearly doesn’t watch this show.

Kate Gosselin…what a bitch. Usually partners don’t start arguing until week four or five at least. Nope, not Kate. Week two was long enough to wait, complaining, arguing, generally not listening, critiquing Tony on his teachings, etc. Tony is a world champion. He’s taught world champions. He’s taught teachers how to teach world champions. Translation: SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO HIM! Hey, if the show was “How to be a money-seeking media whore” I’m sure he’d listen to you. And apparently, what was shown on TV wasn’t half as bad as the fight actually got. Rumor has it, she started barking at the producers demanding Tony be fired. Woman, get for real.

Nicole Scherzinger was just awesome. With two “10’s” from Carrie Ann and Bruno, and an “8” from Len, she just blew away the competition. Len’s only real critique was that he wanted to see a jive that was a little more classic. This might have been exactly what he got if the producers didn’t change the music on Derek. That said she still blew it up. I think she’s going to have to go down to injury before anyone else really has a shot.

In the end, it was Shannen that received the dubious honor of joining the loser’s club, proving that almost 20 years later, everyone still hates Brenda. However, Kate, Aiden, and Buzz Aldrin: American Hero are sleeping with angels.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Season 10 Baby!

Luck shone good fortune upon me. The Gambling gods were kind in my first experiences with craps, and I was lucky enough to be near a TV to watch the opening night of Dancing With the Stars. Yes, that’s right, I care so little about anything relating to NCAA basketball that I watched DWTS. Let the “you know how I know you’re gay?” jokes begin. And while we’re at it, let the handicapping of the field begin…

Chad Johnson (I just can’t call him Ochocinco): Chad looked pretty good. He and Cheryl “Spins-too-Much” Burke did themselves a nice little Cha-Cha-Cha and scored an 18. The crowd wasn’t thrilled with three 6’s, but it’s the first week. As I’ve said before, football players have done very well in this contest, one of them having won with Cheryl in the past. I’m betting we see him deep into the contest. (Side note: Can you imagine the ass-whoopin’ this guy is going to take when camp starts back up?)

Shannen Doherty: She was okay, but I gotta tell ya, she was looking a little hefty. She kept gushing about doing this for her father who’s recently had a pretty major stroke, but I hope he’s not pinning his hopes and dreams on her bringing home a Mirror Ball Trophy. She wasn’t bad, but she wasn’t much more then “just okay”. Too bad too…I really like Mark Balas.

Evan Lysacek: He looks good. He’s going to be a strong competitor. Right now, his biggest issue is probably his partner. Anyone notice what she said to him when they showed their first meeting? Basically she told him how he stole the gold medal from her countryman. I don’t care if you’re kidding or not. Don’t be a bitch. And then after they danced and Brooke Burke was complimenting Evan, Anna took the that opportunity to say “we haven’t seen everyone dance yet, so we’re not sure how well we’re actually doing.” Again, don’t be a bitch. Is it any wonder that Burno and Len said they needed to work on their chemistry? Can someone PLEASE get Julianne Hough on the phone?

Jake Pavelka: This guy is already starting in a hole in my book. I don’t like the show “The Bacholer”. It’s always the same. He picks the wrong girl. We get it. Anyway, for the first time in three seasons now, Chelsea Hightower came off like a little snot, while Jake’s fiancée was sitting in the front row forcing an uncomfortable and territorial smile at them as they danced. He was pretty decent. He’ll probably be around past the halfway mark.

Erin Andrews: She looked pretty good…literally, and dancing-wise. She and Maks make one good-looking couple out there. (See my previous DWTS blog for comments on Maks) The only thing that may hurt her is not a whole lot of people know who she is, so she may lose out on the fan vote.

Buzz Aldrin: God bless Buzz for trying at 80 years old. Too bad he’s easily the worst one. Personally, I think he should be grandfathered straight to week three. If there was a DWTS: Seniors Edition, he’d kick ass. As it is, I’m afraid he won’t be around too long. But give the guy credit; he probably has grandkids older then his partner.

Niecy Nash: The woman snarffed down a cheeseburger before she went on stage for crying out loud. And she’s definitely the only competitor to go on that show and say “I don’t want to lose weight while I’m here.” Are you kidding me?

Aiden Turner: I’m comfortable enough with myself to say when a guy is attractive, and I guess he’s not bad looking. But when you introduce yourself and say “I’m probably best known for being a heart-throb” on whatever soap opera he’s on, you kinda sound like an ass. Not that I’m worried about it because I don’t think he’ll be around too long.

Kate Gosselin: I hear Webster’s is going to make “Gosselin” and entry. It will read like this; Gosselin (GOSS-lin) 1. a no-talent ass clown 2. a media whore 3. an opportunist. True story. I can’t stand this woman. For the record, I don’t think much of her now ex-husband either. I hope she doesn’t last long, but she should make it a few weeks just by default. But if she tripped and fell on live TV, I wouldn’t be too upset about it.

Pamela Anderson: I gotta say, Pam still looks pretty darn good. Her dancing wasn’t too bad either. She looked like she was right on the edge of being out of control, but never seemed to go past that point. And she has two secret weapons; the “Hot Chick Corollary” and the “Rookie Bonus”. (See previous DWTS blogs for explanation) I think she could do some damage.

Nicole Scherzinger: Wow…that’s a pretty lady right there. Now, a lot of people think it’s unfair for her to be in this competition because choreography is a part of her job. Others think that this is an entirely different style of dance, all together. I think both parties are right, but she certainly has an edge. Not to mention she’s dancing with Derek, who probably has the biggest fan base of any male dancer on that show.

Right now, I think it’s a two-horse race between Nicole and Evan. At this point, everyone else is playing for third.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Scores of Scores

I watched the Academy Awards this past Sunday, and all too often I found myself saying aloud “Wow, that’s a really pretty women to wear such an ugly dress?” Seemed to happen a lot. I just don’t get “fashion”. Anyway, one of my favorite categories is “Best Original Score”. This year, the winner was the score from “Up” by Michael Giacchino. Well done.

I love movie scores. To clarify the difference between scores and soundtracks; soundtracks have songs with words, scores generally do not. Most people appreciate scores weather they realize it or not. If you’ve ever seen any behind the scenes stuff on movies being made and seen epic scenes without the score attached to it, everything is lost. Well, maybe not everything, but a great deal. The score ties everything together in a solid and emotive way.

The American Film Institute has a list of the top 25 scores of all time. It’s a good list to be sure, but like so many films on any of AFI’s lists, they’re mostly from movies that a lot of people have never seen. Well, at least a lot of people around my age (give or take a decade) have never seen.

Here then, are two lists I am offering for consideration. I’m going to pick what I think are the ten best overall scores from any movie I can think of, and I’m also going to pick what I would consider to be some of the most recognizable pieces of music from a movie score.

10. The Power of One by Hans Zimmer. This is one of the rare cases where there are some words in the score.
9. Driving Miss Daisy by Hans Zimmer.
8. Jurassic Park by John Williams.
7. E.T. by John Williams.
6. Star Trek by Michael Giacchino. Glad he won for “Up” this year, because he sure got snubbed with Start Trek not at least getting nominated.
5 Indiana Jones by John Williams.
4. Jaws by John Williams. He just owns this category, doesn’t he?
3. Schindler’s List by John Williams and Itzhak Perlman. John, just stop it already.
2. Star Wars by John Williams…yes, again.
1. Titanic by James Horner. This movie is a little over two hours long, and there is wonderful orchestral music playing the entire time.

My wife will disagree with me. She’ll insist that Star Wars should be in the top spot, but she’s somewhat biased. But for quality and duration, I just don’t think you can beat Titanic.

The best individual pieces of music, on the other hand, may or may not be on the list of best scores. What I was going with here are the single most emotive pieces of music that I can recall ever having seen in a movie. It’s the piece of music that makes your eyes widen as you watch the movie.

5. The Launch from Armageddon by Trevor Rabin. This might be one of my favorite pieces of music from anything, ever.
4. Arrival to Earth from Transformers by Steve Jablonski. Very impressive.
3.The Imperial March from Star Wars by John Williams. This was a close call with the Star Wars theme. But you only really hear the theme at the beginning and the end. You hear the Imperial March throughout the movies, and it’s always kind of chilling. You know that shiny guy with the funny powers and James Earl Jones’ voice is coming.
2. Leaving Southampton from Titanic by James Horner. It’s just beautiful.
1. The theme to Jaws by John Williams. I don’t care if you’ve never seen the movie. I don’t care if you’re sitting in an inflatable wading pool in the backyard of your suburban house in the Midwest, nowhere near a body of water. You hear that music, you will hop yourself right out of the water…Guaranteed.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Just when I think I'm out...

I said after last season of Dancing With the Stars that unless they either re-vamped the judging criteria to allow the judges’ opinions to carry more weight late in the season, or got some really impressive contestants, that I was pretty much done with the show. Yes, I’m still irritated that Donny Osmond won. Anyone who watched that show with full mental clarity could tell that he wasn’t the best celebrity turned dancer on the show. That said, I guess someone, somewhere felt my pain because while the scoring may still be the same, at least they came strong with some cool contestants.

That said, here they are;

Aiden Turner: Male soap opera stars have done well on this show. Just ask Cameron Matheson. He’s got a following of people who know who he is from his daytime exploits, and which are probably a similar contingent of people who watch DWTS. He’s dancing with Edyta Sliwinska who’s the only pro to have been on every single season thus far. Incidentally, she was the one who danced with Cameron when he was on. He’ll probably be around for at least a little while.

Buzz Aldrin: If you don’t know who he is, get your bum-ass back to high school, or even grade school, history class. This guy was famous more then 10 years before his partner was even born. Speaking of his partner, he’ll be dancing with Ashley Costa, who hasn’t been on the show for a few seasons now. Older guys don’t generally do well on this show. Just ask Tom DeLay. I don’t expect he’ll be around too long, but he’s still one hell of a model American!

Chad Ochocino: He’s in great shape, agile, knows good footwork, coordinated. I’ve always been a fan of Chad’s and as long as he can keep his head right and not screw around, I think he’ll be dangerous. He’s dancing with Cheryl “I-Tend-To-Spin-Too-Much-And-Outdance-My-Partner” so we’ll see how that works. Not only has she won this thing before, but football players have a strong track record here, including Cheryl’s partner for her repeat win, Emmitt Smith.

Erin Andrews: Erin’s an ESPN correspondent who probably gained the bulk of her notoriety a few years ago when someone managed to videotape her naked in a hotel room. But she does have the Hot-Chick corollary working in her favor. A refresher, randomly hot women tend to do well in this show. The outlying variable, Kathy Ireland who might as well have tripped, fallen, and used ethnic slurs. She’s dancing with Maksim Chmerkovskiy who has a tendency to be a little hot tempered and impatient, but her knows his stuff. Sidenote; A few years ago when he was slated to dance with AVP star Misty May, my wife and I saw him live and in person at an AVP event in Cincinnati. And with an unblemished record of heterosexuality, I can say yes, he is every bit as good looking in real life as he is on TV.

Evan Lysacek: Come on now, this isn’t even fair. He just won a gold medal so everyone knows who he is, and he’s a figure skater! Didn’t we learn enough from the year Kristi Yamaguchi made everyone else look like children from week one? I guess the producers went to Anna Trebunskaya and said “Hey, sorry about putting you with Chuck Liddel. Here’s a slam dunk.” Look for this guy to be in the finals if not just outright smoke everyone.

Jake Pavelka: I’m really sick of the show “The Bachelor”. More then that, I’m tired of people complaining about how the guy in question always picks the wrong girl citing rationales like “she’s just on here for publicity” or “she just wants his money” or whatever. These women are on a reality TV show to find a husband. Are you at all surprised about their character? He’ll be paired with Chelsie Hightower who’s proven to be a very talented addition to the cast of pros in the past two seasons.

Kate Gosselin: As if she wasn’t overexposed enough already. I’m pretty sure there’s not a person left in the country that can stomach this woman? I’m pretty sure even her kids will have to change their last names to make anything of themselves later in life. She’ll be with Tony Dovolani, which is too bad, because I really like him, but would love to see her trip and fall down the steps the first week. It could be an Allstate commercial..."life comes at you fast." There you go Kate. There's your next payday.

Nicole Scherzinger: The lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, she can sing, dance, understands choreography, and she has the Hot-Chick corollary in her favor as well. She’ll be dancing with Derek Hough, quite possibly the most popular male dancer on the show. He’s got experience, and has won this thing before, so look for her to challenge Evan late in the season. Sidenote; Derek has now been paired with Shannon Elizabeth, Joanna Krupa, and now Nicole Scherzinger. Think he loves his job?

Nicey Nash: You know her from Reno: 911 and Clean House. But she’s got the Melissa Jarret-Winoker thing working against her; bigger people, particularly women, no matter how well they learn the techniques, never look as good doing them as the long and lean people. She’s with Louis Van Amstel who worked wonders with Kelly Osbourne, so maybe he can pull another rabbit out of his hat?

Pamela Anderson: Don’t know who she is? Apparently you’ve been living under a rock, in a cave, with your eyes closed, and your fingers in your ears…for more then 10 years now. Again, Hot-Chick corollary in her favor, not to mention a huge fan base. Of course, the bulk of that fan base is male, so that might prove to be a wash. She’s paired with Damian Whitewood, who I think is a rookie this season. Rookies, though, tend to have reasonable levels of success. She’ll hang around a while I’m willing to bet.

Shannon Doherty: The whole “I hate Brenda” movement was what, 15+ years ago now? In her pictures, she still looks like she just sucked on a lemon and got kicked in the shin. I have no idea how to handicap this one? She’ll be with Mark Balas, who also has some experience having won this contest before. So we’ll have to wait and see what they can do.

Other additions and departures: Co-host Samantha Harris will not be backstage interviewing the contestants this season. Instead, two-time realty show runner-up Melissa Rycroft will be working with Tom Bergeron. What? Too soon to make “second place” comments about Melissa? Well, too bad because she annoys me. Also, it would appear that Lacey Schwimmer, the self-proclaimed bad girl of the ballroom, will not be a professional on this season’s contest. I wish I could say I was more upset about that. Can someone get Julianne Hough on the phone please?

The new season starts March 22nd.