Dancing with the Stars – History of the Judges Scores, Part 3

Okay, folks, it’s been a while but here is part three in my series about the History of Judges scoring. As you may recall, from Part I and Part II, this series got started in response to the judges over-scoring of Bristol Palin in Season 11. The question was – were the judges always like this? Did they always over score some (young) people while underscoring true condenders? Have they always tried to make it into a horse race? It has also morphed into trying to also answer the question “have they always been extremely nasty (see Michael Bolton) to some, seemingly without reason??” Season 12’s example was Ralph Machio – their displays were often disgusting. But more on that another time. This post is looking back on the judging of Season 7.  I think you might find a couple of very interesting things happened in this season that may have been a harbinger of things to come – but we can’t be sure until we also watch subsequent seasons. :-)  One thing I can say – I did NOT see as much commentary about “we are going into the semi-finals and this isn’t good enough” as we did in Season 5, but the scoring still seemed reasonable and not over the top.

Here were the scores from Week 5, onward:

Season 7 Weekly Scores (Part I)

Celebrity Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
Brooke 29 (Jitterbug) 26 (Rumba) 30 (Foxtrot) 28 (Tango)
29 (Team Tango) 27 (Mambo)
Warren 25 (Hustle) 25 (Rumba) 21 (Foxtrot) 28 (Tango)
29 (Team Tango) 26 (Jive)
Lance 21 (WC Swing) 27 (Jive) 25 (Rumba) 26 (Foxtrot)
20 (Team Cha Cha) 24 (Samba)
Cody 28 (Jitterbug) 23 (Samba) 22 (V. Waltz) 24 (Foxtrot)
20 (Team Cha Cha) 24 (Mambo)
Maurice 27 (Salsa) 21 (V. Waltz) 25 (Cha Cha) 24 (Quickstep)
29 (Team Tango) 24 (Paso Doble)
Susan 22 (Hustle) 23 (Mambo) 24 (Paso Doble)
20 (Team Cha Cha)
Cloris 21 (Salsa) 15 (Cha Cha)
Toni 22 (WC Swing)

Season 7 Weekly Scores (Part II)

Celebrity Week 9 Week 10 Week Finale
Brooke 21 (Jive) 28 (Samba) 30 (V. Waltz)
28 (Salsa) 30 (Freestyle)
Warren 24 (Mambo) 25 (Samba) 27 (Hustle)
25 (Jitterbug) 28 (Freestyle)
Lance 28 (Mambo) 26 (Samba) 28 (Jitterbug)
29 (Jitterbug) 27 (Freestyle)

Week 5 – What is significant this week is that they really took Lacey to the woodshed, with comments similar to “we know you’re a pro at West Coast Swing, you need to feature your partner”. Lacey said she wasn’t upset, but I think she was ready to cry. While the judges were a bit over the top, I didn’t think it was too extreme – mainly it’s hard to watch a pro get raked, even if they deserve it. Really, this week the judges were critical of Toni and Susan in a way that was reasonable, and slightly overscored Cody – but not in a huge way. Mainly because I think Julianne overdanced him a bit and didn’t get called on it. But their Jitterbug was very good, regardless. But then I remember at the time thinking that Brooke was also overscored a bit, maybe by a point. That said – who’s to know, we’re talking Jitterbug here. Also overscored? Maurice – I don’t think Maurice ever did a “27” dance while on the show, but they scored him on improvement.

Week 6 – This is the week of Michael Flatley as guest judge and just about everything was out of wack. Michael seemed to be scoring with the wrong part of his anatomy, and Carrie Ann was having…well, at the risk of being sexist – PMS. So, she raves over Susan (who always dances like a china doll), then she kinda harshes on Cloris saying “We lost Toni for this?” Okay, so Cloris is insane and can’t dance –but take it up with the voters, sweetheart . Not to mention the judges gave her a 21 the previous week!! Then Carrie Ann turns around and is a bit over the top (perhaps to compensate for Michael Flately) on Brooke’s Rumba. No, it wasn’t Brooke’s best dance but she acts like it’s a disaster – then gives her an *8*! Crack is wack. Michael gives her a 10 which even Derek is stunned by. I think the 8 score was actually fine, it’s just CAI’s comments that were really out of line with how she actually scored it. My other gripe was Warren – this was a week where he really didn’t seem to do much dancing, and made some mistakes the judges called him on, but still got a 25 – which would have put him ahead of Brooke if not for Michael’s 10.  It’s weeks like this one (which had been rare up to this point) where you really wonder what is going on in the judges brains.  Can you seriously give a contestant a 21 and then be pissed when they’re still there the following week and do a crappy dance?? Try using the right paddles, sweetie.

Week 7 – Again, the judges rave over Susan for a dance that was weak, not sharp or aggressive and boring. They’re on crack again. All three of them. On the other hand, they pretty much crucify Warren – not sure that I agree with that. Cody also did a better dance than Susan to my eye and they were actually rather harsh on him, saying he was plodding, or like a “fledgling bird that can’t take off”. This is also the week that Len goes insane over Lance being barefoot, although he still ended up with a 25, and Lacey smarts off to the judges. I thought they underscored Cody and overscored Susan. The rest of the scores I rather agreed with, for the most part. This was also the week of the Team Cha Cha and Team Paso – the first season of Team dances – and Team Paso lead by Derek was miles ahead of team Cha Cha to an embarrassing degree. Of course, they learned that it’s not really fair to put a Paso against a Cha Cha and Len acknowledged that. IMO, Team Paso’s team dance is the best team dance to date.

Week 8 – Remember when Len went insane and called Brooke’s Tango not up to a professional level, essentially judging her as a professional because CAI said she was getting that good the week before? That was this week. I have to wonder if this is the start of the purposely underscoring the frontrunner to make it look like a more even contest, because this was crazy. HE was crazy Of course, he gives Brooke an 8, and a few minutes later gives Maurice an 8 and Cody an 8….sure, that’s logical. Not. Not that Maurice and Cody were overscored, but that Brooke was purposely underscored. The rest of the scoring is pretty on target, although you start to notice that Warren is getting great scores but not getting the footwork – and they call him on it then give him great scores anyway.  Charm goes a long way and people loved him – don’t want to lose that!

Week 9 – This is an example of how the last third of a dance being totally screwed up affects the view of an entire performance. I remember Brooke’s Jive being a disaster. But when I watched it for this post, it really didn’t become bad until the last third. The judges comment on technique going down the toilet – but I think she just forgot the steps. Hence, no technique. What really bothered me though, was what appeared to be some very poor sportsmanship in the background while they were talking to Brooke. Gee, who on this show would be a poor sport?? Anyway, CAI gets all hoity toity about a deliberate lift and Derek’s saying something to Brooke about some style, blah blah – watch the background.

Anyway, after that, everyone gets hosed in the first round except Lance, and I pretty much agree, over all, with all of it. Second round everyone does much better and my only complaint, again, is Warren. No technique but pretty decent scores. Round two, Brooke comes roaring back, and Cody gets pretty critical comments again. Warren, on the other hand, gets great comments but only an average score.  Lance gets rave reviews.  I agree with all of this, including Lance ending up in first place at the end of the night.  I mention Cody’s critical comments because this is one of our metrics – do the youngsters get treated easier than their older competition. I would say no, in Cody’s case.

Week 10 – Ah, the finale, when the judges are pretty easy on everyone. :-)  They pretty much are easy, although they continue to comment on Warren’s lack of technique but infectious joy. He’s the Marissa of Season7. :-) They got as close as realistically possible to throwing it to the voters as they could while still maintaining credibility. I mean, Warren did have bad footwork, and Brooke was a step or two above the men in technique…and Lance’s freestyle could have been a lot better.  The only critical comments handed out go to Lance for that freestyle.  So, if you have a chance, watch the Season 7 freestyles on YouTube and we’ll continue to debate the age old question – does a bad freestyle cost you the competition? Think about the 3 points Lance could have gained had he done a better freestyle – it could have been a game changer. Would he have won? Probably not – he couldn’t beat Warren and they were essentially tied. The best it probably would have done is MAYBE handing him second place.

So, is this the season where the judges go all crazy and start getting fame hungry and mean to dancers?? I have to wonder. Could Cloris’ lengthy stay have made them snap, as seen by CAI’s attitude in week 6? And did they realize that if Brooke kept scoring well above everyone else the drama would be done (these observations coincide with the birth of “in jeopardy!), so they under score her and over scored others?? I guess we’ll see when I get around to the next installment.  I think we can safely say that they don’t overscore all young dancers. I thought there were a few occasions where they underscored Cody. I also think that, barring that one week where Len was insane and the week when Michael Flatley too Len’s place, Brooke was fairly scored the whole way. Overall, I didn’t have too much of a gripe with this season – all complaints were relatively minor. On to Season 8!! Can’t guarantee I’ll get to it before the hard work of Season 13 REALLY begins (really, it began a couple weeks ago). :-)

 
Notes: Week 5 had a real bottom 2. But there was no bottom 2 revealed in week 6. In week 7, we have “jeopardy!”. I think this was a relatively new concept at this point.

Ever notice how Mark always manages to make it back on the results shows with his partners?? I don’t think anyone else has ever managed it to the degree he does. Well, good for him, I guess.

Brooke only went last once (but it was before a team dance) and never had the encore (that wasn’t a team dance). Warren, on the other hand, went last Four times and had the encore 2 times. Lance had one encore. As we’ve often discussed on this site, running order is pretty important, as are encores – that Brooke managed to win with little to no pimpage is pretty amazing.

For those paying attention to me and Courtney griping in recent seasons about random ass dances and no pattern, this is for you.  Back in the day, it WAS reasonable and was easier to compare dancers. TWO dances per week for the first 4 weeks. Four dances in Week 5.  I vote we go back to this very sensible formula. Here’s the dance schedule, from Wikipedia: