Guest blogger, Lois Troutman, writes a review of the Dancing With The Stars Season 18 seen from her eyes….
DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 18 R-E-W-I-N-D
Written By Lois A Troutman, May 24, 2014
Season 18 of DANCING WITH THE STARS is now history! Archived in the ABC computer memory banks. Trillions of tiny pixels have captured every dance step, every word spoken, every movement! Please come with me as I R-E-W-I-N-D and review the tiny pixels in that memory bank! With a click of the mouse, those memories come back to life!
We waited in anxious anticipation of the Cast Announcement! Where and when would we discover the next group of celebrities willing to take on the arduous challenge? We always have cast leaks but they are not necessarily exact. Every season begs the answer to this question – would The Blushin’ Russian or the Prowling Lion, whichever one shows up, return? You know exactly who I mean! Wink! Wink!
Wah Lah! The magic begins! On March 4, 2014, the Cast Announcement took place in Los Angeles, Californina, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA! A lucky audience witnessed the reveals.
ERIN ANDREWS debuted as Co-Host, ably taking the stage with Host Stalwart, Emmy Winner, TOM BERGERON. The first of many changes which I will cover as I R-E-W-I-N-D those pixels.
THE CELEBRITIES AND PROS IN ORDER OF. THEIR ENTRANCE ON THE STAGE:
DANICA MCKELLAR AND VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY
CODY SIMPSON AND WITNEY CARSON
BILLY DEE WILLIAMS AND EMMA SLATER
DIANA NYAD AND HENRY BYALIKOV
NENE LEAKES AND TONY DOVOLANI
JAMES MASLOW AND PETA MURGATROYD
SEAN AVERY AND KARINA SMIRNOFF
DREW CAREY AND CHERYL BURKE
CANDACE CAMERON BURE AND MARK BALLAS
CHARLIE WHITE AND SHARNA BURGESS
MERYL DAVIS AND YES FOLKS HE CAME BACK – MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY
AMY PURDY was announced via tape with DEREK HOUGH
March 17, 2014, Season 18 debuted for the DANCING WITH THE STARS faithful television and in-person audiences! WOW – Season 18 already! I remember the very first show of Season One! The show has evolved into a juggernaut, a dancing dynasty! If I had my wish, and I believe I speak for the majority, we will have 18 more seasons! Oh pshaw, I would love to be in the Old Folks Home Rockin To The Dancing Beat in my rocking chair! If I can still pull words out of my brain, I’ll still be writing about the show!
SEASON 18 CHANGES:
The change that generated much chatter and confusion was The Switch-Up. Derek hinted at this change during the Cast Announcement broadcast. Everyone seemed confused if this was a one-week occurrence or would actually go further. Votes were cast for the switched celebrities and pros. The confusion was cleared up in Week Four as Week Five would be the only week for the switched partners. Phew, wiping of brows spread throughout the studio! The original pairs would resume in Week Six.
My Grade For The Grand Switch-UP! – A-
I had actually thought of this before. What if they danced with another pro? Since it was a one-time occurrence, why not sit back, relax and enjoy what could be done with other pairings. Sure it wasn’t the same vibe, but the vibe was still pretty darned entertaining!
ADDITION OF MORE GUEST JUDGES:
Guest judges were the rule as most weeks there was a fill-in with a guest. Returning was JULIANNE HOUGH. Joining In the guest judge rotation were ROBIN ROBERTS, RICKY MARTIN, ABBY LEE MILLER, REDFOO, DONNY OSMOND, and renowned Director/Choreographer KENNY ORTEGA.
ORTEGA, as an expert, offered the best commentary. I enjoyed the different takes and views of ROBERTS, MARTIN, REDFOO, and OSMOND. HOUGH really rubbed me the wrong way this season. Yes, her commentary of Maks phoning it in didn’t help. But quite honestly, she need not return if they have guests for Season 19. The wrong way rubbing continued with me big time with MILLER. Again, her comments about Maks didn’t sit well with me. But, her entire appearance left me colder than an iceberg in Alaska!
My Grades for Guest Judges – A for Entertainment! D- For the inclusion of HOUGH and MILLER!
Should there be guests next season? Sure, why not, but how about being consistent and using pros each guest shot who are not dancing on the show. For example, if LOUIS VAN AMSTEL isn’t dancing, have him be a guest judge.
The $64,000 question for next season is whether LEN GOODMAN will return. If he decides to hang up his “A TEN FROM LEN PADDLE”, who would you choose for his replacement? Off the top of my head I could choose KENNY ORTEGA, KYM JOHNSON, and The Blushin Russian MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY. Both JOHNSON and CHMERKOVSKIY have now had judging experience. Perhaps they should be at the top of the list. Of course my preference is to stiil have GRUMPY GOODMAN, if he decides to give the paddles another whirl. But, whatever he decides will be the right thing.
THE INTRODUCTION OF DANCING DUOS:
All season long I was waiting for the Trio Dances! The season wound down to the final weeks, no trios, but dancing duos. My opinion is I find any dancing styles, combinations to be entertaining. But darned if I didn’t miss the trios! For example, I was looking forward to Henry, Sasha and Artem perhaps chosen for trios. No biggie, I suppose but perhaps next season the trios will be reinstated. Or some other combinations. I love the Team Dances and of course the highlights of any season, the Freestyles.
My Grade for Duos – A for Entertainment
NEW WAYS OF ANNOUNCING ELIMINATIONS, ETC:
Often on Season 18 the eliminations, who was in jeopardy, etc, were announced sporadically throughout the broadcast. Often expecting the couple to dance when they found out they were in jeopardy. Two eliminations were announced the second week of the show. I suppose they had to do something to keep within the time restraints of number of shows. But throwing two couples out the first eliminations had to sting.
Grade for This Category – B- – For the shock factor and seemingly being hard on the contestants to dance after finding out they were in jeopardy.
THE RE-INTRODUCTION OF THE SKYBOX:
Thank the Dancing Gods for bringing back the Skybox! It just simply made more sense to separate the dancers from the judges, than the ghastly glitter pit they had for Season 17. It is a much better place for ANDREWS to conduct the interviews of the dancers after their dances. And to get their scores. Plus the cast can gather together, watch from above, and show their support for each other.
Grade For Bringing Back the Skybox – A++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
My Grade for ERIN ANDREWS as new Co-Host – A+. I like her as a Sports Reporter. I am equally pleased with her on the show! She did fine work and I welcome her back next season!
FURTHER THOUGHTS ON SEASON 18:
The dancing was of high caliber and phenomenal! It was hard seeing couples who were excelling, doing superlative dancing leaving. Yes, it happens every season. But my jaw dropped at the eliminations of especially MCKELLAR and WHITE from finale consideration. The dancing was exceptional and the eliminations had to be. But it got harder to see dancers who were doing blockbuster work leaving the ballroom.
Personal stories unfolded that left us inspired, AMY PURDY’s spectacular, how-does-she-do-that dancing journey with DEREK HOUGH. To CANDACE CAMERON BURE overcoming nerves and fears with the help of MARK BALLAS. To MERYL DAVIS AND MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY intense, sweet, explosive, never before seen for Maks chemistry. To CHARLIE WHITE AND SHARNA BURGESS keeping us happy every week. To JAMES MASLOW AND PETA MURGATROYD taking us on a journey of intense passion. To DANICA MCKELLAR AND VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY making us happy we were her guests at the dancing ball. To all the rest of the couples for drawing us in to this very happy show!
I adore every pro! I am in awe of their astounding dancing talents! Even if they aren’t teaching, they work hard each season. Especially this season they were included in a lot of the couple’s dances. I loved that aspect! It added to the effect, offering a dance revue style, etc. I love each and every pro number from the openings to the re-instated Macy’s Stars of Dance! I don’t think there is anything these pros can’t learn and teach! They do it all with stupendous talents! I salute every one! They are all stellar and have their own unique qualities to bring to the dancing table!
Conrad Green, long-time Executive Producer at the helm, is hanging up his dancing duties. Rob Wade will be at the helm starting in Season 19. Perhaps many more fresh ideas will enhance this already brilliant show calked DANCING WITH THE STARS!
I was ecstatic to see The Mirror Ball Trophy hoisted by MERYL DAVIS AND THE BLUSHIN’ RUSSIAN, MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY! I am ecstatic to see him win his first! So well deserved!
The season meandered along at a clip faster than a speeding bullet! From their first introductions to the final crowning of the champions, it seemed like it was a blur of dance steps, sequined costumes, host chatter, judges scoring paddles, etc!
Season 19 will return in September with a new cast! I shall welcome this one with the same gusto that I have welcomed each cast! I have seen every season, every show! My hopes are to have the show continue twice a year for many seasons to come! Each season is unique and special!
As Bruno said about the Team Loca Dance, if there was a Results Show there could be an encore. I felt that way about many dances. And, I have not been shy about wanting the Results Show to return.
Thanks for reading my opinions and this DANCING WITH THE STARS, SEASON 18
R-E-W-I-N-D! We will be wound up again in September for Season 19!