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Season 11 — a season too far

| Last night was the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars (ABC), now in its 11th season. It's a season too far.

The premise of the show is a good one and led to the show becoming a cultural mainstay, like the Ed Sullivan Show, Milton Berle, Monday Night Football, etc. You had to watch it, if for no other reason than that everybody else did, and you didn't want to be left out of the conversation: Take famous people, known for their success at something else, and have them try something they're not good at. Dancing with the Stars gave us the satisfaction of being smug — OMG, look how bad she/he is! — and imagining we could do as well. And then we got to follow our favorites through the season as they mastered a new craft (or were voted off the show).

But the premise only works if the "stars" are really stars — if we know who they are and what they do, if they are household names. This year's cast hardly fills the bill:

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Who?

Most of us could no more put names to those faces than we could correctly identify all the _istans on an outline map. Or for that matter, identify the states of the US. That's a problem. DWTS has become the Love Boat of reality television. It's where the wannabe, has-been, and rapidly fading stars go for one last turn before the cameras.

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Florence Henderson, age 76
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David Hasselhoff, age 58 (born 1952)

This year, the geriatric slot in the cast is filled by Florence Henderson at age 76. And she looks pretty darned good!

But David Hasselhoff, whom we remember from Knight Rider or Baywatch has not aged well. He looks and acts like an old man, years beyond his calendar age. OK, age happens, he can't help that, and good for him for trying. At least we know who he is/was.

The same cannot be said for most of the others. Granted, I don't watch much television, but I do read the papers everyday, and you'd think a "star" would be someone whose name I have at least heard before, even if I'm not familiar with their career.

And what kind of person calls himself "The Situation"? He certainly has a high opinion of himself; me, not so much.

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Then there was poor Margaret Cho. Now Margaret Cho, as a stand-up comic, is someone I enjoy, but on last night's show she played her cha cha for laughs, with bizarre and menacing facial expressions and a costume with gossamer batwings in which she got all snarled up and had to be unfurled by her partner.

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Carol Burnett in her famous takeoff of Gone With the Wind

I fell out laughing, and not in a good way, because she reminded me of Carol Burnett's famous send-up of Gone With the Wind, in which she came down the staircase draped in the draperies — including the curtain rods!

 
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Let's not forget the judges! They're getting more obnoxious by the season. Carrie Ann now gushes, shimmies, and shakes; Bruno is completely out of control and mostly unintelligible; and Len is mostly cranky. For so-called dance professionals, they have very little to say about dance.

I watched the first episode live, something I rarely do, and which I'll certainly not do again. I don't know which is worse, the incessant commercials or the insipid behind-the-scenes segments. I mean, did they really have to chase a sobbing Jennifer Grey into the bathroom with their camera?

Of course DWTS is a cash cow for the network, and they naturally milk it for all the ad revenue they can get. Annoyingly they've done the same thing to the show's website, which automatically plays videos, all of which begin with commercials. The introduction to episode 1 begins with the announcement that it is brought to us "with limited commercials by Macy's". It's true that the Macy's commercial that begins the show is relatively short (1 min), but the other commercials interspersed between all the other segments of the show are quite long, not the 20-second or 30-second spot we'd see on TV. And there is no way to avoid them. Trying to fast-forward in the video unleashes another torrent of commercials! Thank goodness for the DVR.

Season 11? It's one season too many. They should have quit while they were ahead.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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