Put off some basketball viewing to get through "DWTS." (Well, aside from tracking the score on my phone.) Stand by for a rant . . .
If you want to understand why I think the "DWTS" judges have their heads up their tutus, consider tonight. Kirstie and Maks had a fall. And Maks-on-his-backside fall. He proceeded to grimace and struggle with other parts of their performance. And the judges still gave them straight 7s, the same scores they gave Ralph for a nicely done dance, and more than they gave Ray, Romeo or Wendy, none of whom fell. Yes, Wendy is awful and deserves to go home. But Maks fell! Don't tell me there's not something wrong with the judging.
Beyond that, it was a night with a lot of smoke-machine and grabbing for audience emotion, since each dancer had to come up with something personal. Wendy's weakness showed here again as she chose to talk about her radio career when Chris, Romeo and Kirstie spoke of dead relatives; Petra brought up Thailand and a tsunami; Hines talked about his mother's devotion, Ralph paid tribute to his wife, Kendra to her husband and Chelsea to her "first love" -- all really personal stuff. The only one was career-centric as Wendy was Ray, talking about his fighting comeback, and that didn't play all that well, either.
To recap the dancers in the order of performance:
Wendy. Bad. She's just not graceful, and painfully slow in places, and is always uncomfortable when trying to go up or down stairs. Time to leave. Judges score: 15.
Chelsea. Very good, but the judges still seem grudging about her. I thought she was one of the best of the night, maybe the best. Judges: 23.
Chris. A lot of evident emotion but he didn't do much, content to let Cheryl move around him too much. Judges: 21.
Kendra. I like her as a person; she seems genuine and far less artificial than Holly did. But her dance was a bit clumsy, too slow in spots. Still, the judges gave her the same 23 as Chelsea.
Romeo. I saw a stumble early, and he seemed lost at times. He certainly tried to do more than Chris, and I thought it was better than Chris, but the judges gave him 20 -- significantly and unfairly worse than Chris.
Still, Len's fussiness led to Bergeron's best line of the night -- that "Len is going to the Wizard for a heart."
Hines. Man, the judges love him; he was second overall after the first two weeks, and got a 25 tonight. I don't see it. He looks awkward to me much of the time.
Petra. Yes, she's beautiful. But she has not figured out what to do about her height and wingspan still. Lots of back-arching so as not to tower over Dmitry, and it seemed as if she had to curl her legs a bit to avoid scraping the floor during a spin. But, again, much judge love: 25.
Ray. Heavy on a boxing theme, including an introduction by Michael Buffer. Since when do dancers get to include a entourage in their bits? Could Ralph have reunited the surviving cast of "The Outsiders" for his number? Awkward start, sluggish dance. Judges: 20.
Kirstie. They fell. They struggled. They still got a 21.
Ralph. Closing the show. Clearly one of the most adept dancers on the show, and logic right now would put him against Chelsea in the final. But the judges either don't like him or they don't want this to look like a runaway too soon. So they nitpicked him down to a 21. Worse than Chris? Worse than Kendra? I think not.
And I am going back to basketball.