Thursday, July 07, 2005

The End Of Two Sumer Shows

I hadn't planned on writing anything today but then I remember that Wednesday night represented the finales for two popular summer series - Beauty And The Geek and Dancing With The Stars - so I figured I might as well do a quick recap.

I actually don't have much to say about Beauty And The Geek. The final episode seemed to drag a bit because there was no final activities. The challenges in previous weeks had been a major factor in the enjoyment of the show and something was missing without them. That's not to say that there wasn't something of interest. We were finally able to see Richard in a situation where he wasn't acting the fool. He actually seemed to be a pretty good piano player. Had he been able to show this side of his personality earlier in the series he might have seemed less aggravating to everyone else - both in the mansion and amongst those watching. That's not to say that Richard wasn't good TV and you have to wonder just how much of what he was doing was the real guy and how much of it was playing to the cameras. Certainly it was the combative Richard/Chuck relationship that became the principal area of conflict in the series rather than the male/female relationships. So I suppose it was fitting that the two big "stars" - and their female partners - faced each other in the final episode. There was a tremendous conflict in styles. Away from the piano Richard was doing an exceptionally good imitation of the young Woody Allen (I'd previously compared Richard to the character of Urkel, but I think the Wood-man is closer to the mark), obsessing over everything that possibly could go wrong and what they should focus on for studying. Meanwhile Chuck - always controlled and disciplined thanks in part to meditation and martial arts training - took the attitude that what happens is what is meant to happen. And that's what basically occurred. The final elimination was tightly fought and literally came down to Richard not knowing what Mindy's middle name was while Chuck knew what Caitilin's was.

As for Dancing With The Stars, let me just say that it grew on me to the point where, if I currently had a special lady in my life, I'd probably be willing to head off to Arthur Murray's for some dance lessons which would probably go better than the ones I had before my high school graduation - although anything would have been better than that. The truth is however that John O'Hurley and Charlotte Jorgenson were robbed, in part by the judges and in part by the scoring system which gave as much weight to audience opinion as it did to judges scores. There was no possible way that Kelly Monaco and Alec Mazo's free-style dance routine was worth 10s across the board while John and Charlotte's was only worth 9s. Monaco's footwork was suspect in my view and she seemed to stumble at least once. The three point difference in the scores for the freestyle was enough to give Kelly and Alec a one point lead overall in the night's voting which meant 2 points from the judges while John and Charlotte got one. The audience voting last week apparently was stronger for Kelly and Alec - why, I don't know although it might be that she's younger or that she's on an ABC soap and thus more visible - than for John and Charlotte. However it may not have mattered. If the professional judges hadn't been so blind (or, if you're cynical, hadn't been told how to vote) and given John and Charlotte two votes and Kelly and Alec one, a tie would have resulted which apparently would have been settled based on the previous week's audience vote, so John and Charlotte were screwed either way.

Suggestions: Since The WB has already announced that Beauty And The Geek will be returning (much to my friend Ian J. Ball's disgust - see his Summer Update - 06/23/05) and since ABC is sure to renew Dancing with the Stars although they're not quite sure yet when they'll put it into the lineup, I should like to offer the following suggestions.

Beauty And The Geek: Geekier looking geeks. Richard really was the "geekiest" of the males although Joe had his moments. On the other hand the network should also look for women who are also more the way the website describes them - intellectually impaired. Just as an example, Scarlett - eliminated last week - may be a model and actress but she also had a college GPA of 3.4, a degree on business and is considering going for her MBA. The same held true of some of the other women.

Dancing With The Stars: More stars, less Bergeron. That guy really started to annoy me after a while and it wasn't a very long while. The British, Australian and New Zealand versions of the show had 10 teams which would make the initial dances shorter but would extend the series a few more weeks. Also, keep it in the summer. It may have been a big ratings grabber in the summer but I don't think it would have fared as well against new scripted programming. Finally and most importantly, fix the scoring! Audience participation is fine but it was a disaster in the final episode to have the audience vote count equally with the votes of the professional judges. Why not have each judge's vote count separately and the audience preference count for a quarter of the final total. After all theyknow what they're looking for. Oh yeah, and bring back O'Hurley and Jorgenson next year for another face-off with Monaco and Mazo.

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