Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fresh Dancing with the Stars -- Week 1

It's hard to believe, but I didn't know that this was the first week for the new season of Dancing with the Stars. But here we are, and week 1 can be both a joy and torture to watch.

The joy is knowing that we're starting the season. The torture is watching people who aren't ready to appear to international audience.

The first week there are always one or two sacrificial lambs, and that's hard to watch. For me this week it was Billy Dee Williams, aka Lando from The Empire Strikes Back.

Since I didn't realize that it was starting tonight I missed the first half hour of the show. I would love to do a recap of the show since my friend Travis is on a hiatus or sabbatical or deciding that he wants to do other things with his life besides blogging. I say good for him. However since I didn't see it from the beginning I can hardly do a recap.

(Travis is the real reason why didn't knows Dancing with the Stars with back on. I've always depended on him too provide some warning one or two weeks out at least. He spoiled me and I miss him dearly.)

I won't do a complete recap, but I can give you some overall impressions. One major change is that Brooke Burke-Charvet has been replaced as a co host with Erin Andrews from Fox Sports. Since last fall they've been trying to do some shake ups to revive the ratings (or cut costs), and this is one of them. The other is that they've switched bands.

Like Brooke, Erin is a former contestant on the show. She does look good in evening gown, and she's experienced at interviewing people. However, and this is not her fault, but I find her voice grating. I have heard her on Fox Sports before, and I never had a problem with her, ever. I must admit that her voice is probably quite helpful with the crowd noise a football game, but I wasn't enjoying it in this context.

We have the usual cast of characters when it comes to pros and the judges. Maks has returned after a season off. The only stars I knew by name were Billy Dee Williams and Drew Carey. By sight I recognized Meryl Davis and Charlie White, recent ice dancing gold medalists at the Winter Olympics. Can we say "unfair advantage?" (If last season is anything to go by, the judges will be scoring on a curve with Meryl and Charlie's scores being lowered at least in the beginning to make it fair ... at least in the ballroom in Latin dances.)

In this competition the people with the largest fan bases have the greatest advantage. Next in line are the people who dance really well. It can be hard for average dancers with moderate fan bases to make it through the first few weeks.

I usually don't vote for the first half of competition. I usually wait for things to kind of shake out and contestants to get good, or at least decent. However this week I had to vote for a hockey player, Sean Avery, who really impressed me for the first week.

Athletes often do very well in this competition. They have the competitive spirit. They understand about coaching and hearing constructive criticism to improve their game. They have the discipline keep going even after it stops being fun. I wanted to do my part to help Sean get a chance to find his groove. I kept calling until Tom Bergeron told me that all of my votes for used up. I think you get one for every contestant still in the race.

I saw a lot of good competitors tonight. One of them is a Paralympian who is dancing on two false feet. She was one of the best cha cha dancers of the night. We will see what next Monday brings.


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