Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Dirty ''Dancing''?

Well, Rachel Hunter had to say goodbye on ''Dancing With the Stars'' tonight, and I can't say I disagree. Even as the judges raved about her performance on tonight's telecast, I thought she wasn't that good -- that she was getting away with posing more than dancing.
But I was watching, and judging, and judging the judges. Also, dancing aside, I was fascinated by Kelly Monaco's attempts to keep dancing vigorously while trying to keep her top up after a strap went astray. (She did very well at the dancing, too, although many viewers probably weren't watching her feet.)
But I still came to the end of the show thinking that Hunter was not treated well -- that, in fact, anyone who ends up being eliminated has to feel as if a lot of time and energy has been wasted.
Hunter, like the other remaining contestants, had to train, practice and perform with the knowledge that the performance might be moot. The votes for elimination had been cast based on the previous week's effort. Anything done tonight mattered only if you lasted another week. Then, as if that wasn't cruel enough, you have to do that last little dance bit after getting the news that you're done.
I've never liked ''American Idol's'' asking just-eliminated singers to perform one more time; after all, they're reprising a song that most of the voters didn't like. The last dance on ''Dancing'' is even more cruel because it's also preceded by the bruising effort that may have been wasted. (And on tonight's show, with the field down to four couples, everyone had to dance competitively twice.)
If ABC and the producers had had more confidence in ''Dancing,'' they would have scheduled it on consecutive nights a la ''Idol,'' with the performance one night and the results the next. Barring that, if they had a little compassion for their contestants, they'd let them know who was eliminated at the beginning of the show. Only compassion takes a back seat to keeping the audience around.

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