Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Okay Kids, It’s Over

I found this Blondie cartoon a few weeks ago and I've been saving it. Alexander and Cookie are obviously reacting to their parents cutting a rug in the same way that kids react when they discover Mom and Dad necking and realize that they are still probably still having sex. Of course in the case of Blondie and Dagwood, the strip was created back when the Foxtrot was the latest dance and the Tango had been popular since Valentino did it in Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse a few years before.

Fear not Cookie and Alexander, your parents will now stop behaving in this disgustingly unparental manner – the latest season of Dancing With The Stars has ended with the triumph of Apolo Anton Ohno and his professional partner Julianne Hough over Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson, and Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy – announced at the end of a two hour finale that followed and hour long wind-up of The Bachelor.

So did the right people win? Not according to my mother! She was cheering for Laila Ali throughout the whole competition but then again she liked Billy Ray Cyrus (not as a dancer mind you but as a personality – I thought that Heather Mills and even John Ratzenberger were better than him). I liked Laila too but there were a couple of moments when the wheel came completely off. Number one was a couple of weeks ago when her dad was in the audience of the live show. Laila's strength was always a sort of sexy elegance epitomized by her performance in the Latin dances, but Muhammed Ali didn't like to see his daughter doing those sexy moves, so her performance was far more demure than in other weeks and the judges called her on it. The other time was when it counted, on semi-final Monday. Her freestyle performance totally lacked the elegance that the judges wanted to see from her and again they called her on it.

Both Joey and Apolo had stumbles in their semi-final performances, both during their "Judges Choice" dances. The choreography on both dances veered radically from the stylistic norms of the dance that the people were told to do. Their marks were reduced significantly. They made up for it on the Freestyle performances though. Apolo & Julianne put together a hip hop number that fitted their youth and which earned 10s from all three judges. Then if anything Joey & Kym out performed them with a dance that started with Joey leaping off the stage over Kym's head and landing on the stage and culminated with a sequence of lifts and spins that had judge Len Goodman saying that it was a shame that they could only give out 10s. It was showy and entertaining which was Joey's greatest strength.

The two hour finale on Tuesday night was more than a little anticlimactic when it came to judging. Each team was allowed to repeat one dance they had done from the previous episodes. Julianne & Apolo opted to perform their Pasa Doble a second time. It was one of two dances that the team had received a perfect score of 30 on – the other was a Samba in week 5 – and Apolo felt that it was his best dance. He earned a 30 on it the second time as well. On the other hand Joey & Kim decided to do the Tango they had done in the first week to the music from Star Wars. The movie is a favourite of Joey's and it was a dance they had done early in the season when he was unused to dancing. They earned a perfect 30 this time around with the biggest improvements being to his posture. Laila & Maks did a Mambo they had originally done in the second week of competition and they too earned a perfect score of 30. In other words the positions set on the first night hadn't changed in the second. The judges' votes, when combined with the votes of the viewers at home, which were cast after seeing only two of the dances, placed Laila Ali in third spot with Joey finishing in second

The two hour finale could have easily have been packaged as a 90 minute show without losing much of significance. There was a review of the history of the American Dancing With The Stars which acknowledged – albeit briefly – the show's origins as the British series Strictly Come Dancing but which implied that the series' international expansion was based almost entirely on the success of the American show when this was at the very least suspect if not mostly false. Previous results shows this season had been notable for the presence of several major musical acts and guest dancers. The series finale had the dancers eliminated in previous episodes doing samples of their dances, and given the length of time some of them had been off the show doing them even worse than they had when they were practicing every week. In short, even though there was considerable excitement as a result of the final results viewed objectively, the finale dragged more than a little. But of course in terms of ratings, that's isn't going to matter: the two episodes of the Dancing With The Stars finale are going to draw huge ratings, probably at least as good if not better than the ratings for the finale of Lost although probably not quite as good as the ratings for the finale of American Idol. It is ABC's big ratings winner of the year.

All of which leads to a final question from me. Dancing With The Stars appears in 32 different countries in addition to Britain (where it originated) and the United States. Greece, Lebanon, Thailand, Brazil, and Hong Kong are reported to be getting ready to do their own shows. One of the 32 countries is not Canada (or at least not English Canada – there's a show in Quebec called Le Match des etoiles which is similar to Dancing With The Stars in a number of ways but not a copy) and I guess my question is why CTV, which has adopted the Pop Idol/American Idol model with Canadian Idol – and done so quite successfully in terms of ratings and discovering talent – has not come up with a Canadian version of Dancing With The Stars? The show gives the network huge ratings (although apparently not huge enough for them to broadcast the finale live or in prime time – it aired here on Wednesday morning between 10 a.m. and Noon) and in the past we've seen Canadian specials for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Deal Or No Deal (on Global) so why not Dancing With The Stars – Canada?

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