Yes, we are going there. We’re grading just about everybody in Season 17 except for the celebrities. That will come later and besides, it made this post so ridiculously long that we had to stop somewhere. Here are our random thoughts and musings about the whole shebang – minus the celebrities.
Tom, Brooke, and the Judges
Tom Bergeron – You can’t improve upon perfection, but he seems to do it. Every season, his humor gets better and better, he smacks down the judges with sarcasm and caustic wit. He also gets more laughs than Bill Engvall, and that’s not easy. We call it unscripted craziness. We’re not supposed to play favorites, but we can’t help it. He is one. Grade: A+
Brooke Burke –We have to admit it - she’s a little better this season. Maybe it’s because she now has less time to make inane conversation or offer to help translate for Tristan, but it’s a slight improvement. We still think Tom needs a sidekick who is really a sidekick instead of somebody we want to kick, but she’s better. That’s good. Grade: C-
Len – Cranky Len is pretty funny, and he cracks us up. He has been a little more inconsistent than usual, but honestly he is the one who is most consistent overall around the ballroom. Did Derek deserve to get his scores knocked for the Foxtrot? Absolutely. There was great dancing, but it was not a proper Foxtrot, and like his dances in the past, you can’t get away with murder just because the music just isn't speaking to you or some such nonsense. Conversely, for Len to say that the Samba was repetitive and deduct for that was craziness – probably ABC inspired craziness. Scripted craziness, if you will. Do we think that Amber and Derek deserved 10s? Not a chance, but it was still the best dance in Week 6 and should have received 9s. That said, the 10 he gave Brant was stupid and the 10 for Val and Elizabeth was more stupid. When you have mistakes, you don’t reward that and call it perfect. Again, scripted craziness. He would have had a B- but when he took Derek to school for the Foxtrot and then decided to issue a little warning to everybody else in Week 6, well, we think he might need medication for that. Grade: C
Carrie Ann – We’re not sure that there has been much change since Season 16 and she is still wildly inconsistent with her lift/no lift policy but for some strange reason, she seems to make sense these days. Oddly enough, she just might have had the best criticisms of the dances so far this season. We are surprised too. Grade: B
Julianne Hough – It was nice seeing Julianne speak up, but unfortunately, there was so much more to criticize besides Mark Ballas. Yes, her criticisms were justified but there were more couples that deserved a similar kick in the backside She also needs to develop a mind of her own and quit scoring like everybody else. We are used to Bruno and Carrie Ann being the bookends but we don’t need another one because you only need two. Grade: C
Bruno – His hormones have been mostly under control, and even though he has left his chair a few times, he has been mostly properly behaved. Now if we could just get his crazy and inflated scoring under control. Perhaps he should write the following 100 times: “I will not give undeserved tens, and I will not give a ten when the rules are broken and I will not give low scores especially when I offer no constructive comments to go along with my scoring.” Grade: C+
Witney - Witney is very pretty, talented, and energetic. Her strengths lie in her stamina and a strong dance floor presence even while dancing among more seasoned pros. She needs improvement in not being such an airhead and needs to realize that the camera doesn't want to see "her"....they want to see "her" canoodling with Tristan at the end of a dance that the MacManiacs have been dying to see. She kind of ruined the experience for everybody and that was a major offense. You don’t look into the camera when Tristan has you on the floor. That’s just not normal. Grade: C
Lindsay – Lindsay is a great dancer with loads of talent and unfortunately, with the bevy of blondes infiltrating the DWTS ranks, she is getting lost. She was lost as a pro, and now she is just another troupe member. Sadly, with the reduced role of the troupe, she’s dang near invisible. Grade: Who knows? We forgot about her. Okay, maybe a lukewarm "C".
Gleb and Henry – The diminished role of the troupe means less air time which means less of the glorious chests and swiveling hips. Alas, our troupe is almost invisible these days, as we mention frequently. Gleb’s prettiness has been lost in the flurry of commercial bumpers, and while Henry has clearly been spending too much time at the School of Hashtaggery, we miss getting to see him shine. The troupe has become expendable. Grade: B-
Sharna - The pro’s pro. She is what pros should be, and she is grossly underused. We can overlook her tendency to use props and excessive costuming because she is the best of the bunch. This season, her time was too short (she should have been partnered with Brant instead of Peta getting the free ride again), and what’s with the not having her dance with Tristan every week? There is some powerful chemistry going on there, and the fans want to see it. Grade: A
Tyne – Needs work, needs troupe time, and needs to stand out. She’s a lovely dancer but not particularly interactive when it comes to the fans. We don’t know who she is, and even with Bill Nye as her partner, we barely remember her. We never had a chance to get to know her before she was thrust into the limelight. They don’t do it often in school these days, but we think she should be held back another year so she can work stuff out. Grade: C
Mark – Needs to “lose the ‘tude.” There was a little too much whining about Julianne’s comments, and the sad sack face whenever things don’t go exactly as he thinks they should has worn thin. A season or two off would work wonders. Grade: C-
Derek – He gets bonus points for not bringing out yellow feathers (yet). Some great choreography, however, he needs to tailor it to what Amber can do. At time she struggles to keep up – just our opinion. Still she’s a great dancer and likely was before ever starting on DWTS so she can handle some challenges, but maybe easing up a little will bring on some 10s that we think are deserved. He would have gotten higher but we aren’t feeling the chemistry with Amber. That’s the only missing ingredient. Grade: B
Emma – Not too shabby for a beginner. Early predictions had Bill and Emma out first, and they are still hanging on. She’s a good choreographer, but she might improve on the storytelling. Also, she should have put up a big old fight to get “Cheeseburger In Paradise” changed to another song. That whole Cheeseburger/Salad storyline seemed a little, uh, weak. Still. She has more than proven she belongs. Grade: A-
Sasha – He stepped right in just like he was born for the job. He makes us like Snooki just a little bit. While we appreciate that he’s taking advantage of her ability to do side by side steps, we would love to see more in hold and more traditional ballroom. Sasha is a teacher; now he needs to get Snooki to connect to him and to us. So far, that’s the missing link. Grade: A-
Peta – Peta has done a great job with Brant, and he is learning to dance and progressing a little every week, but unfortunately, we don’t see the giant leap that might get him a mirror ball trophy, and we still wish she would soften things up a little. She is too hard, too edgy, too over the top. and too pouty when she and Brant aren't called safe immediately. We are seeing a little improvement over her previous seasons, but she needs a challenge. A big one. That’s the only way she will see what she’s made of. Grade: B
Cheryl – Cheryl is a superstar pro this season. Not having to rely on the sexy or the unwilling pupil, she has made Jack a dancer and she has made us love this team. We likey. Grade: A
Karina – Sometimes we think Karina does her best work when she has a less than apt pupil. This season she has the biggest ringer of the group (other than Elizabeth) but she’s overchoreographing. We want to see progress week to week and not a great dancer who gets a little better. In other words, fix the little things and make those perfect before making him walk the tightrope. Just think of what Corbin and Sharna might have brought us. Grade: B
Tony – He needs work in the costume department, needs more work in the costume department, and then needs to go to costume school for about 20 years. He also needs to realize that when you say one thing one season and another thing another season some might scream “double standard.” This has been the season of ups and downs, and we’re not quite sure what to expect from week to week. Perhaps a season or two off would be beneficial. Grade: C
Val – He needs to go to the fabric store and learn that yes, it is okay to cover up the shiny chest. He also needs to get a celebrity for once who will challenge him to do better and frustrate him because of her inability to dance from day 1. This boy has had it way too easy. Come back and talk to us after getting a few challenges that average about 60 years in age. We’re also concerned about the incomprehensibility of his tweets. Some might say he’s trying to be philosophical or thoughtful or maybe he’s just babbling incoherently. We’ll go for the grade of “C” on his tweets but we’ll go a little higher than that for his pro grade. Grade: B
Tristan – Okay, we admit it. He’s the Teacher’s Pet. He gets along well with others, follows directions, is always respectful of everyone, and we could listen to him talk all day. His strengths lie in the fact that he's incredibly sexy, smooth, seductive, and smoldering, but what is even more astonishing is his ability to work with anybody - and be brilliant every step of the way. He has a way of connecting with his partners no matter who they are, and men and women alike can't get enough of watching him dance. He's like Mary Poppins - Practically Perfect. Grade: A+ and then some.