On last night's "Dancing With The Stars," an injured Pam Anderson was sent home, leaving the final five to fight for that oh-so-gaudy mirrorball trophy. Overall, I have mixed feelings about the show's elimination episodes. On one hand, I love that the pros get a chance to show their stuff and that we're constantly treated to special performances by various dance companies and shows. On the other hand, I could easily do without all of the fluffy filler they shove into the program so they can stretch it for an hour. I get that "DWTS" is ratings-and-advertising-gold for ABC, and, as a dance journalist, I couldn't be more ecstatic that a dance show is among the most popular things on network television. But I really wish the producers would make more of an effort to fill the show with exciting and interesting content. Either that, or cut it down to a half hour so everyone can get the results and move on.
I spend my days editing stories, but I'd love the chance to edit a "DWTS" results show. Here's a quick rundown of what I'd keep and what I'd toss, if I were ever given such an opportunity:
The Macy's Stars of Dance Performance. I LOVE this segment. It gives mainstream America a glimpse of so many different kinds of dance, and I find it really entertaining. During last night's performance. I was so impressed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo's fun, energetic choreography for Viva Elvis. That show is at the top of my must-see list for the next time I'm in Vegas!
The musical guests. I love that the show's professional dancers are given the opportunity to perform alongside the musical artists each week. It's so refreshing to see them each dancing with partners who share their high skill levels. However, if I were in charge, I'd try to give these dancers more time on camera. As much as I may like the musicians, I don't need to watch them sing in order to appreciate their performances. It drives me crazy when the cameramen spend too much time focusing on the singer, cutting the dancers out of the frame. I'd prefer more wide shots so that I can always see what's happening on the dance floor.
The extended elimination segments. Was it just me, or is this process excruciating? Last night was the worst it has ever been. It's bad enough that they slowly save one couple at a time, but to call Chad & Cheryl and Pam & Damien onto the floor, and then tell them that they're "still in jeopardy" and have to wait until the end of the show to find out if they're in the bottom two? That was ridiculous. My suggestion: just make all of the couples wait until the last segment and have a quick, tidy elimination. In my opinion, the drawn-out process fails to build up my sense of anticipation. Instead, it just irritates me and I spend the entire hour trying to convince myself not to change the channel.
The repeat performances. I loved Team Gaga's performance on Monday night, but I didn't need to watch it again on Tuesday night. This always feels like a waste of time, and the second time is never as good as the first. All of the competitive energy is pulled out of that second performance, so the celebrities rarely seem to put as much heart into it the second time around. Instead, the producers should just let the pros perform another number here.
The bizarre, tangential filler packages. Last night, Melissa Rycroft took us behind the scenes to show us what it's like to work on "Dancing With The Stars." She gave brief outlines of what various staff members, like production assistants, stage managers and makeup artists do all day, and attempted to fill in the blanks with bad jokes and slapstick humor. I thought the whole thing fell flat and I really had to fight my instincts to fast forward my TiVo. These segments are the most extreme examples of "fluffy filler," they are a total waste of the audience's time. If the show is ever cut back to a half hour, this is the first type of segment that should go.
Don't let the above criticism give you the wrong impression. I love "DWTS." I just think it's a shame that a show that's so popular and that has such great content, would water down that content at the risk of boring their core audience. Here's hoping for a more exciting episode next week!