Monday, September 28, 2009

DWTS: Do it yourself edition

Last weekend, Mrs. High Lord and I took a road trip to Cincinnati. We cashed in some of the Marriott points I've been racking up going on travel and paid a visit to Ikea, the Cincinnati Premium Outlets and Jungle Jim's. Since my youngest stepson moved out, we've now got a bonus room in what used to be the basement.

Much to the consternation of the kids, we're keeping the big TV and replacing it with a new LCD flatscreen. Mrs. High Lord calls it "her TV". The old TV is going downstairs where we're going to hook up the Wii and stereo receiver. We got a stand for the new TV, plus a futon for the basement and some early Christmas gifts for people. It was a good trip; now I just need to teach some more centralised training so I can pay for it . . .

Now back to the dancing.

Last week, we were introduced to the sixteen couples, and to no one's surprise, Ashley Hamilton and Macy Gray got whacked. Why are we being subjected to so many dancers? Do we really want to see a bunch of people who have no chance at winning plod through week after week? (The answer is "no", by the way).

How many more celebs will injure themselves over the next three months? I'm betting on at least four injuries that feature someone being treated by paramedics and/or getting carted away in an ambulance.

On the DVR, I saw that Leonard and Penny ended up in bed. This, of course, is a major mistake. "Friends" was never the same after Ross and Rachel did it (the first time) and BBT just lost a major source of jokes as well as the odd sexual tension that made the first two seasons tick.

The show starts and Grumpy Len is gone!!!! Woo-hoo!!!!!!! I'm feeling better about tonight's show already.

First up are Joanna (who?) and former champ Derek. If anyone get get a model to win, it's Derek . . . no, wait, he already did that. Their jive is filled with big hair and skin (not a complaint). As always, he doesn't ask Joanna to do too much. They have some good chemistry and despite a couple of missteps, they will stick near the top of the leaderboard.
The Judges's Scores: 6-7-7
The High Lord's Score:

Going second are Natalie and Alec. They draw the quickstep. Hopefully, having two fast dances tonight will keep the show moving. God knows they need to get everyone in quickly. She's doing the counting thing. Technically they were okay, but she's still very nervous and it shows. I think they'll definitely hang around for a few more rounds. Natalie has a lot of potential and she's solidly in the middle of the pack, which lots of room to improve.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

Baz is much better in the middle seat than Grumpy Len. Can we replace Len with Baz and Samantha with Drew? Is that really too much to ask?

My fan faves this season are Chuck and Anna. He strikes me as this year's Ty. I appreciate that he is way out of his comfort zone and is trying really hard. Does he have a lot of talent? No; in fact, he's probably got just a shade more natural dancing ability than me. Is he going to win? No, but given that he has lots of room to improve, he could go far (like Ty). They're doing the tango (dance #3 for the night). This reminds me of Warren and Kym's Matrix-inspired Paso from a couple of years ago. It suits him very well and Anna has gone back to her Jerry Rice playbook and choreographed well for him. They have a some timing problems, but overall, it was pretty good.
The Judges's Scores: 6-7-6
The High Lord's Score:

Sabrina and former two-time champion Mark are also doing the jive. She's not as cute as Shawn, but if anyone can coax every ounce of potential out of her, it's Mark. Are the polka-dots there only to distract us? He's doing more dancing than she is. I put her solidly at the top of the bottom third of the field. It wasn't as good as Carrie Ann said. Bruno hit the nail on the head.
The Judges's Scores: 7-6-6
The High Lord's Score:

My fantasy football teams officially suck. I guess I'm due. I think I'm 2-3 going into tonight's game. The one league I'm dominating is my work league. Even so, I was struggling going into the late game yesterday when Peyton Manning caught fire and brought in close to 50 points. If only I could spread a little bit of that magic around to my other four fantasy football teams.

Getting paired with the newest DWTS pro, Michael needs to step it up to finish close to where the other football players were in the past. Anna is trying, but like a lot of first-year pros, she got a dud for a partner. His quickstep is serviceable, but his footwork is clumsy and heavy. His posture isn't bad, but the counting thing is holding him back. I'd like to see them stick around only because she's so hawt.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-6
The High Lord's Score:

The first crying spat of the year is had by Debi who doesn't respond well to Maks's yelling. Hey, Harold Wheeler, Gordon Sumner just took out a hit on you. Their tango is a big aiiiiiiight for me. Not great, not awful. I'll just say it was meh. The judges are certainly low-balling the scores tonight, which is good.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

Do I really have to sit through another hour of this? These two hour performance shows are way too long. Have I mentioned that there are too many couples this season?

Louie and Chelsie are perhaps the shortest couple to be on the show. They're doing the jive. I don't know what to make of him, but I know I hate the music for the jive. It's not as energetic as Melissa & Mark's, but it's not bad either. I guess I'm just underwhelmed by the dancing tonight. No one has jumped out and wowed me.
The Judges's Scores: 6-7-6
The High Lord's Score: 7

If next week's show seems to drag on this long, I'm going to wait until there are only six couples left to even think about live-blogging. I'm just happy Len's off this week. I can only hope that Tom wasn't joking when he said Len would be gone next week, too.

The leaders among the guys last week were Aaron and Karina. I'm not sure what it is, but he annoys me. Their quickstep starts with a Muppetts gimmick, which makes me laugh. The actual dancing is actually pretty good. I think we're about to see our first 8 paddle of the night, even if the pair has their share of problems (some timing issues, a couple of missed marks, etc.). It wasn't as good as the judges said, but it was still the best of the night.
The Judges's Scores: 9-9-9
The High Lord's Score:

Kelly and Louis made Ozzy and Sharon cry; let's see if she can do it again. They draw the tango. Plus they're in a bad spot, following the night's #1 performer. I think she'll definitely stick around for another couple of weeks, which will give her time to improve into the top half of the field. Kelly has her moments; in parts she looks confident. In others, she's clearly scared witless and is counting way too much. The stumble at the end won't help her.
The Judge's Scores: 6-7-6
The High Lord's Score: 7

The recipient of last week's elimination scare, Kathy and Tony get the quickstep. I hope he's been taking choreography lessons from Julianne. They seem to be moving at two-thirds speed. I thought it was short on content and missing something. If Simon were on this show, he'd call them forgettable. I'm yawning.
The Judges's Scores: The Satan Score
The High Lord's Score:

Is it good or bad when the lowest score of the night so far is 18?

With another quickstep, Mark and Lacey dance rings around Cathy and Tony. They're more athletic than the other couples and their routines show it off. I think he could be very good if he sticks around for a few weeks. His technique is good, but he needs to lighten up a little.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score:

The big Fuddy-Duddy didn't like Mya and Dmitry's Viennese Waltz, even if it was one of the best dances of the night. It's a good thing he's not here tonight. I liked it. She's definitely got a lot of natural talent plus she does a good job of selling the performance. If they gave Aaron 9s, they have to do the same for her. What are the odds that Harold Wheeler selects "Lady Marmalade" for her at some point this year?
The Judges's Scores: 9-9-9
The High Lord's Score: 8

If I were a Division I-A team ranked in the Top 10, I'd be really nervous right about now. How long do you think it will be before LSU, Texas, Florida and Alabama get assassinated by an unranked conference rival?

With two couples left, Tom and Cheryl get the 11th spot. I thought TPTB at ABC owe Cheryl big for sticking her with Wayne a few years back, but apparently, they didn't get the memo. Unless the virulent right-wing conspiracy works overtime to keep him around, I think he'll be gone within the next three weeks. His tango is stiff and slow, but it's not the worst of the night. At least until he almost drops Cheryl at the end.
The Judges's Scores: Satan again! Don't tell the Fundy Christians!
The High Lord's Score:

Drawing the Pimp Spot are Donny and The Future Mrs. High Lord 2.0. I think he's the frontrunner to win. There are a couple of people with potential (Aaron and Mya come to mind), but as of right now, he's the whole package: natural talent, dance background, and the best performer of the bunch. Of course, we've seen people plateau early and not win (Stacy Keibler). Let's hope Kym's choreography doesn't kill him like Tony, Maks and Edyta have done to some other celebs. They're doing the jive. If Mrs. High Lord ever leaves me, yeah, I'd hit that. And I'm not talking about Donny. The one downside of Mrs. High Lord's new TV is that I can see individual beads of sweat on Donny's brow. I like that he sells the dance more than any of the other celebs. His technique is not ballroom-perfect, but the jive doesn't have to be. I thought it was the best of the week.
The Judges's Scores: 8-9-8
The High Lord's Score:

My top three are: Aaron, Donny, Mya
My bottom three are: Kathy, Michael, Tom

My pick to go home is either Kathy or Michael. The order doesn't matter because the other one will get canned next week.

Now I'm going to watch BBT on the DVR. I'll be going no-filler for the results tomorrow. If I get Mrs. High Lord's new TV hung on the new TV stand, that is.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

DWTS: The longest season ever, Part 2

After last night's show, I'm still wondering why they have 16 celebs and why Grumpy Len is still on the panel. TPTB at ABC needs to send Len a memo to lighten up. He's seriously getting on my nerves for being such a jerk.

There were eight guys dancing last night, and these are my general observations.
  • There are only three and a half guys who even have a chance at winning: Donny, Aaron, Mark and maybe Louis. Chuck, Michael, Ashley and Tom are just taking up space.

  • Our friend Jennifer is surely overjoyed to know that Maks is both shirtless and single.

  • While I'm disappointed that the Future Mrs. High Lord isn't on the show this year, the ever-loverly Kym Johnson is.

  • The new girl Anna Demidova is pretty hawt, too.

  • I think Chuck (for whatever reason) really wants to win. He doesn't have a chance, but I think he could go far because he actually seems likable and he has lots of room to improve. Now, if only he can make it through the first two eliminations . . .

  • Macy Gray's head is frickin' huge. I'll lay the over/under at week 4 for when it causes her to fall over and knock out someone in the audience.

  • While a portion of the viewing audience might be Osmonded-out, I think Donny is the preliminary favourite to win. He's got a built-in fanbase, is (hands-down) the best showman who's ever been on, and he's got a lot of natural talent. A career in show-biz doesn't hurt him, either.

  • I'd still make out with Marie Osmond if Mrs. High Lord were to leave me.

  • Harold Wheeler needs to pick better music for the dancers. "Kung Fu Fighting"? Really? WTF? Yes, we know Mark Dacascos is Asian, but let me say that again . . . What the F?

  • Michael said he wants to do better than Jerry (Rice, not Jones). News flash: Not gonna happen. He's going to disappoint Emmitt. Now all we need are Troy, Moose and Deion to have an all-Cowboys DWTS HOF class.

  • Cheryl got screwed. Again. And not in the good way.

  • In one of my five fantasy leagues, I went into the Monday night game up by about 60 points. I was done. The other guy had two players left. Guess who? Peyton Manning and Desmond Clark. I lost by 2 points. Two freakin' points. What the F?

  • Will the usual culprits sabotage their celeb partners's chances with bad choreography? Tony, Edyta, Jonathan and sometimes Maks: I'm talking to you.

  • Is Louis still a diva? How long will it take to make someone cry backstage?

  • I didn't recognise Kelly Osbourne when she first came out last night. That's a compliment.

  • If Taylor Swift is on the show this year, do you think Kanye will rush the stage?

  • Ashly Delgrosso, we miss you!

  • This weekend, Mrs. High Lord and I are going to Cincinnati to visit Ikea, Jungle Jim's and the outlet malls. I got a gazillion Marriott points after spending half of my summer in Baltimore, so we've got a free night coming. We need a new TV stand for the new TV we just bought. The big TV is going down to the basement where we'll set up the Wii and we're going to replace it in the living room with a new LCD bigscreen. I'm very excited.
I'm sure I'll think of more, so I'll be back tomorrow for the first results show. Next week, I'll live-blog the dancing shows and FF through the results shows on the DVR.

High Lord. Out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

DWTS: The longest season yet

As we wait for Idol to start, it's time for another "season" of Dancing With the Stars. I can't understand how they can have two "seasons" a year and not think that they're saturating the TV market with celebrity dancing.

I also wonder how many C- and D-listers they can dig out of the woodwork who actually think they have a shot at winning. Don't get me wrong, but I think the show is almost to the point that I've had my fill of it.

Of course, I addressed some of this at the end of last year when I made the following suggestions:

1. Only have one season per calendar year.

2. Have fewer celebrities.

3. Open up the dancing styles to include non-traditional ballroom and latin dances.

Did they listen to me? Obviously not.

This time around, there are 16 celebs and their pro partners. That's right: 16!!!!!! That's twice as many teams as should be competing in a Division I-A college football playoff. You can't tell me there are 16 celebs we care enough to watch for a solid four months of ballroom dancing.

If they're going to do a Spring and Fall edition of this show each year, there should be 10 couples per "season". Otherwise, the other six people are just there to fill space and get kicked off. "Line 'em up and mow 'em down", as they say.

Each "season" there are two or three people who can win, two or three more who can string together a few good weeks or come on strong and then there's everybody else. These "TOGs" (The Other Guys/Gals) are only there to make sure ABC has a full run on the show. They don't have a shot at winning despite their feel good story (Ty), their good looks (Tia) or the fact that they do improve from week to week but still aren't a top tier competitor (Marissa).

The fact of the matter is that once the first two weeks of dancing are complete, everyone pretty much know who's going to be in the top four. No one else has a chance. So why make us sit through eight extra weeks of bad dancing? The answer is that ABC has bills to pay and celebrity dancing shows are cheap to produce. Plus, DWTS consistently brings in higher ratings than the other dancing shows, especially that one on Fox.

My other problem with having sixteen competitors is that it's another four weeks when people can get hurt. Yes, SYTYCD starts with 20 dancers, but they eliminate two per week. Unless DWTS does the same, how many people are going to blow out a knee, tear a biceps muscle or have some other injury? You'd think the celebs signing up for the show would be concerned about this.

The group that is thrilled about having more dancers is the professional athletes. Misty May-Treanor aside, adding couples practically guarantees that a football player or former Olympian will win. Everyone else is fighting for scraps. Hear that, Über-MILF Brooke Burke? You were the last non-athlete to win.

I also wonder how much longer they can go on doing the same dances over and over without injecting the show with some fresh blood. I appreciate that fuddy-duddy Len wants to keep the show "traditional", but since a lot of the viewers like the non-ballroom dance styles (hip-hop, disco, lyrical, contemporary, etc.) it seems to me that they had better find a way to incorporate them into the show otherwise we (the audience) will grow tired of watching the same things over and over and over (which is how I feel some weeks).

I also think that the pros want to expand their horizons a little, too. Lacey is always on the edge of what Len likes, as are some of the others. Plus, I think Carrie Ann and Bruno want to move a little bit out of the box, too.

We'll see how this plays out over the next few months.

Having said that, I won't be live-blogging the show this week. I can make a bunch of excuses, but mostly I just feel like being a slacker tonight. Plus, I don't feel like investing in a bunch of celeb dancers who will be gone in two months and I won't remember who they were.

I will be back with the live blog for next week's DWTS (provided I get more sleep next weekend than I got last weekend).

How was everyone's summer? I spent six weeks in Baltimore doing centralised training for my agency. It was a lot of fun, although spending a month in a bed that's not my own gets real old, real fast. I did get to visit with my sister and uncle in New York City for a weekend and went into DC a couple of times.

I'm also happy that football season has started up again, despite the fact that my fantasy teams are getting slapped around left and right (and not in the good way). My Seminoles are up-and-down; they had a good game against Miami, only to lose on a dropped pass on the final play, they struggled against Jacksonville State (who?) and stomped BYU in Utah. While I am happy to see the Noles back in the Top 20, I was hoping to see BYU run the table and make the B(C)S hampionship game.

ABC, CBS and ESPN continue to confound me by showing three of my favourite shows at the same time: Monday Night Football, DWTS and The Big Bang Theory. I don't know why they do this to me. Plus, they move BBT to 9:30, which severely ticks me off. It's a good thing I'm getting a second DVR soon, so I can record all the shows I want to see.

Tomorrow, I'll post some general thoughts on tonight's show, plus some more unsolicited musings and random blather.

High Lord. Out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So this is Paula's replacement?!?!?!

In case you haven't heard, Ellen "Mrs. Portia DeRossi" DeGeneres is taking Paula's seat at the Idol judges's table.

I've only had a little bit of time to gauge the reaction of the blogosphere, but it seems lots of people are in full-on "WTF?" mode, including our friend Beckeye.

Since this news is only a matter of hours old (at least to me), I am a little ambivalent about the move. On one level, Ellen clearly knows nothing about the music industry. She's not a performer, producer or executive. However, being one is not necessarily an asset (see "No Boundaries" by Kara DioGuardi).

What Ellen brings to the table is some good, old-fashioned fan-girlism. I don't think that's a bad thing. Like Paula, she's a relentless cheerleader for the singers on the show, but she's also not loopy (that whole thing with Anne Heche, notwithstanding . . . and besides, most of that was Anne's loopyness, not hers).

I think TPTB at Idol were growing tired of Paula's unreliability (like showing up for the audition shows) and the audience has tired of her meandering blather. The only thing I question about this move is why they're keeping four judges.

I'm no fan of Kara, and I think the judges table should go back to three (as they're already pressed for time). I have no problem replacing Kara and Paula with Ellen (or someone else), but I think the four-judge panel is still too much. I'll have to cogitate on this move for a little longer before I pass final judgement, but I'd like to see how Ellen does before writing off the show altogether.