I'd really, really hoped that Wednesday's elimination round of Dancing With the Stars would be simple. It's only an hour instead of the two for a contest ep; how much could they really do? Dance, count the votes, send a couple people packing, what the hell let's end at 7:30 so I can walk the dog. But oh, do I have a lot to learn. Not only was the results show as excruciating as I'd imagined, it was also a tribute to -- you will wait for it -- Patrick Swayze! Yes, that performer and Houston native whose film and TV career, as well as personal life, seemed to indicate that he was a good guy and way too nice to be posthumously subjected to such treatment. Did you know he met his wife when he was 18, married her at 23, and that was that? Family man! And he gets feted by a dancing Tom "Dazzle Me Dreamy" DeLay.
Oh yeah: There was also a world premiere (ZOMG) of a Miley Cyrus video.
Sometimes I really wrestle with theodicy.
The show opened with the judges requesting to see a repeat performance from a dancer they'd enjoyed earlier in the week, which is a pointless time filler, but they asked to see Kelly Osbourne do the Viennese waltz again, so that made it okay. Seriously, she better stick around, and the swimsuit model better bite it.
Clips of how they women performed the night before. You know what that means? Yep. Time to fast-forward. The only helpful part was the scoreboard, which reminded me that Joanna and Aaron are the respective team leaders at this point.
After that, Tom Bergeron and Lady Co-Host talked about how judges scores were tallied with viewer votes to determine ranking. Is there any remote possibility it's actually empirically measured? TV shows need characters as much as winners, and it's in the producers' interest to keep around those characters with the greatest potential for upheaval or failure, whether it's the underdog coming from behind or the golden child taking a tumble. So really, who out there thinks their text message, you know, matters?
Anyway: They revealed that Snowboarder and Aaron Carter had escaped elimination, and it became clear that they have no real way to kill 45 minutes of primetime with a results show and will just keep dragging this thing out for both teams all night. But I'm not gonna run down every contestant that gets spared one at a time.
Sean Kingston performed. So, um, that happened. Yay? John and Lady looked way too excited.
John also took a moment to toss to a shot of Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton on the front row, there to smile while John told audiences of their new comedies -- Grammer's Hank and Heaton's The Middle -- premiering next Wednesday on ABC. Disconcerting trivia whose meaning remains murky: Grammer and Heaton are back in separate comedies after starring together on Fox's failed 2007 sitcom Back to You. Do with that what you will.
First cut of the night: Ashley Hamilton, who's the big gangly dude version of Lady Co-Host. He can do nothing else at all with his life but look good on camera. Later.
Miley Cyrus video time! Herd to tip when I'm shuving fork in fingr
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The touring cast of The Lion King then came out and did "Circle of Life," which come on. Will the results shows always be padded with content from ABC's parent, Disney? Yeesh. This whole affair is shamelessly aimed at the broadest, oldest, dullest demo out there.
Then it was Swayze tribute time, which was as cringe-worthy as I'd feared. Yes, the guy made some cheesy movies, but watching a pro dancer with a waxed chest cavort to "She's Like the Wind" is way worse. It's because there's no story. You're not watching two characters dance in a movie, but two pros lead some macabre dance-along. One guy even kissed his finger and pointed it toward the heavens! Ugh.
Second cut: Macy Gray, which makes me two-for-two calling it, a fluke I probably can't repeat. Those two were by far the worst dancers on their teams, and the least interesting characters.
And that's that for the first week. What happens from here? A lot more of the same until the final couples are forced to battle in Thunderdome for the right to rule California. (I'm guessing.) But if you learned nothing else, know this: Tom DeLay is damn creepy.