Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Skating With The Stars: A Rough Draft


Skating With The Stars premiered last night and was very much a partial success.  It was a decent pilot that needed tweaking.  While the BBC was hoping for an American hit, it is clear that ABC wasn't willing to invest too much money on a potential flop.  The show was given a half-season to prove itself and after week one, it is already obvious what needs to be reworked should the show be renewed for a second season (or in the case of Sasha Cohen's last reality show, brought back for a second episode.)

Given the immense popularity of Dancing With The Stars and the even greater stupidity of the American public, one could worry that Dick Button would be perceived as some sort of Len Goodman wannabe.  That proved not to be the case, as Dick took all of fifteen seconds to warmup before he was off yelling at contestants to Straighten Their Posture!  Point Your Toe!  Loosen Up!  Or my personal favorite, "get out of your girdle and get on with it!"

Skating With The Stars has introduced us to a new hot mess in the name of Laurie Ann Gibson.  With the sides of her head shaved and outbursts reminiscent of Little Richard, she is one SNL skit waiting to happen.  The best part about Laurie Ann is that she seems to think that she is judging a dance competition.  The more Laurie Ann brings up "the dance," the more Dick Button subtly dismisses her and mentions how "dancing is very different from skating."

As a judge, Johnny Weir is less annoying than one might fear.  Given his random poor taste and Slutskaya/Plushenko love, one might worry about him.  I was pleasantly surprised with how he conducted himself.  He "almost sweat off his weave" after the performance of Rebecca Budig and one hottie named Fred Palascak.  Mommy Dearest does NOT like Johnny's speech affectation one bit.

One eye-rolling moment was Johnny's latest rendition of Poker Face.  Just as the single was overplayed on the radio, this is one exhibition that quit being interesting a long time ago.  In order to add some spice, the production company looked like it paid for a new outlandish costume that Johnny designed.  Unfortunately, Johnny's talent as a designer has always been debatable.  The sparkly onesie is no longer attractive for Johnny now that he eats regularly and practices even less than before.  In fact, Johnny Weir and Tara Modlin are oddly reminiscent of Romy and Michelle dressing for their high school prom and telling one another "we look fabulous!"

It was impressive to see Johnny pull off a triple toe on the puddle-sized ice rink.

The cringe-worthies cast member may be Tanith Belbin, whose delivery is "scripted at best."  The show is aiming to appear technical, but Tanith's explanation of the elementary elements came across as downright condescending.  "The two foot spin!  To add danger, they may even take One. Leg. Off. The. Ice!"

Each week, the stars are tasked to master new elements.  Following each performance, Tanith analyzes the elements, which the judges largely ignore.  It is unclear whether failing to perform an element has any correlation to their score.  Tanith sort of rambles and then announces the judges' scores.  It is unclear why Tanith is commenting, because Polly Positive does not have a judging paddle.  For next week, they could ditch Laurie Ann (must every fly girl have an Ann in her name?) and put Tanith at the judging table.  Her commentary is unnecessary.  Surely, the token British host could manage saying "Johnny! (paud) Weir! (pause) Dick! (pause) Button!"


As Tarasova's Mink put it best, "Tanith is an experienced best scene to be fully appreciated."  While her Stars On Ice commitments have her unable to be a skating pro, we could at least have the pleasure of seeing her change costumes between commercial breaks and channel her inner Vanna White.


In terms of the actual skating, it was as best as could be expected for just five weeks of rehearsals.  While  Laurie Ann couldn't believe they'd only been skating for five weeks, I sure could.  Some of the stars were much better than others.  Sadly, Bethenny was positively stiff on the ice.  Her rigid shoulders and stiff knees kept her from unleashing her inner ice diva.

Rebecca Budig is the token 'plant' of the group.  She already performed back crossovers her first day on the ice and looks positively ravishing with her sexy partner.

Brooke Castile is much more interesting on this show than she was as a rather conservative competitor.  She finds Jonny Mosely "pretty sexy."  Brooke tried to give Jonny tips on "performing at his best when the pressure is the greatest."  To his credit, he reminded her that he is the Olympic Gold Medalist in the duo.

Keauna McLaughlin may have found a new boytoy in her partner.  It didn't take long for him to rip his pants off.  One needs to root for Keauna, as she comes across as a lost puppy beaten down by competitive skating.

Denis Petukhov may already have been the perfect husband.  He is a dreamy Russian who thinks nothing about performing a menage-a-tois with his wife's flamboyant friend on tour.  Now, we need to put him up for beatification, as he is dealing with a noted mental patient.

True Story: I once went mini-golfing with someone who threw a random tantrum like Sean Young.  That friend attempted suicide two months later.

Sean Young is the train wreck who we won't be able to take our eyes off of.  We'll need to keep her around a bit for maximum entertainment.

WestPalmBitch predicts that Denis Pethukov will appeal the the mass of midwestern women who lust after Todd Eldredge.

Overall, the show is engaging enough to deserve a second viewing (though they could really pick up the pace, take fewer commercial breaks and squeeze the show into an hour.)

51 comments:

  1. I'm a fan of your blog and have been following for quite some time. Laurieann Gibson isn't a newbie, she was on 3 or 4 seasons of P. Diddy's "Making the Band" from MTV. She's known for counting steps with "Boom Boom Kat."

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  2. The whole thing was a wonderful trainwreck. But, the two biggest problems:

    Battle of the Blades at least has name recognition (and injuries! But we shall get to that). But SWTS has very minimal name recognition. F list "stars" with D- skaters is not a recipe for pulling in viewers. They need better names, on both sides.

    The ice rink is waaaaaay too small. Much too small to allow any of these pairs to build up enough speed to induce a spectacularly gory crash.

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  3. "or in the case of Sasha Cohen's last reality show, brought back for a second episode."

    Did she really have a reality show that only lasted one episode? I must have missed it. lol.

    I agree about Tanith's scripted lines. I know a one foot spin is very challenging for a beginner, but trying to pass it off as some ultra-dangerous move made it even harder to take this show seriously. You are right that there seemed to be no correlation between what she said and what marks were given.

    I know the producers hope for chemistry amongst partners, but maybe they should back off a little with people have significant others. For example, last time I checked, Brooke has a long time boyfriend... Jonny Moseley is married. All of the "celebs" are apparently taken. Enough with the emphasis on the flirting. If I was the significant other of one of the cast members, I would have felt a little uncomfortable watching at times. This show is bad enough without making it trashy.

    Next week's episode is an hour and a half, so no luck speeding it up so that it doesn't drag on so much. I know ABC needs to fill their air time, but if I can watch 6 men's long programs that are almost 5 minutes long each in an hour, then this show shouldn't go past an hour either.

    I liked the opening performance of the skaters. I was amazed that anything that entertaining could be done on an ice surface the size of the frozen puddle in my driveway. SOI should work with the choreographer. Honestly, I wouldn't watch another episode of this if I didn't like the skaters (well, two of the skaters at least). It was awkward all around!

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  4. I don't think Johnny looks as good as Romy or Michelle.

    A recent observation by Aunt Joyce is apropos that Johnny's style of late has been a sex change waiting to happen. In his new and now unflatteringly tight poker face costume, he skated fabulously, but his new found curves certainly add fuel to the joke. Maybe he should wear a "moo moo" like Nastia and Shawn Johnson?

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  5. The Vegas showgirl addition to the costume in the first part of Poker Face was not an improvement.

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  6. Concept of the show was weird. It started off with the 18 yr old Keauna and Disney kid and then went to 30 year old Denis and 50 year old Sean Young wearing an evening gown. Then they got judged by the crazy lady and Dick Button, who I like, but is on the opposite side of the spectrum from crazy lady. I couldn't wrap my brain around the oddities of it all, so I started thinking about real skating.

    I know they had to work their asses off to afford training, but too bad Brooke and Ben didn't gave it one more year. She was hardly healthy enough the past few seasons to get much competitive experience or even training time. And what Brooke didn't have in natural talent, she made up for it with willpower. And don't get me started on Keauna... Hope she still has her eligibility. After this show, she should pair up with that tall dude again and train for Nationals. Granted, he's half as talented as she is, but it could work. :) jk, but I was thinking about it as a I saw them skating next to each other in the opening number. The best way to get over disappointment is to compete again. I don't blame her for feeling bad.. Who wants to end on a short program like that. Speaking of the skaters, good job to Johnny doing a triple toe on that claustrophobic ice surface. I'm sure that will be the highlight element of the whole series.

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  7. Ol Demon Eyes was a pleasant surprise.

    Tanith was unintentionally hilarious, per usual.

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  8. Keauna is not planning to return to competitive skating, as she does not have the inner makeup to handle it.

    Brooke Castile did not have the technical content to contend on the senior international level.

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  9. Dave, you are an arrogant asshole.

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  10. I still can't believe I watched the WHOLE. DAMN. THING.

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  11. I knew all the judges including the choreographer from Making the Band with Diddy. She's also choreographing numbers on SYTYCD now. However this show was a trainwreck that I couldn't stomach. The people are acting like they are stars....not the case. I know a couple of the skaters. Plus it was just too cringe worthy after seeing Battle of the Blades. Won't be tuning end. Will it even last.

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  12. Wanted to add...I like Todd but never thought he look like he was on the level of a Denis. I actually think he has a slight elf look but I did enjoy his skating until I realize always skates to the same program in all of his competitions. Still enjoy him on some level and wish that he had an Olympic medal.

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  13. "Keauna is not planning to return to competitive skating, as she does not have the inner makeup to handle it.

    Brooke Castile did not have the technical content to contend on the senior international level."
    ___________________

    Sorry to get woefully off topic here, but these skaters ARE the most interesting part of this show, so whatever, I'm talking about them...

    I don't know if a source has told you that specifically, or if it's just an inference you (or a source) has made, but regardless... I don't think it's fair to pigeon-hole somebody into a specific "inner makeup". I think Keauna was reacting to the situation the same way most skaters would have. Very rarely (never) does a young pair team win Nationals, never mind expect themselves to win year after year. Pairs is too hard to do that. Then their programs got way too hard because they expected themselves to contend for a World medal immediately. They weren't ready for that. Of course she was overwhelmed. I question the people around them for allowing them to push themselves so fast because I don't think it did anything to help prepare them for the competitions where they would fail. Programs that are too hard can kill your confidence. That's one area that I think Sappenfield could have handled better.

    It's no coincidence that pair teams who hang around the middle of the pack for a while gaining more experience seem to have better "inner makeups". They probably aren't any better mentally, they are just in a different situation. So whether Keauna has labeled herself with a specific "inner makeup" or whether someone else did, I don't think it's fair to her. In fact, she might even be selling herself short. She's a teenager and obviously doesn't want to skate right now, but that doesn't mean in a couple years she wouldn't feel differently about herself and the sport. My point is, it's good she still has eligibility (maybe).

    As for Brooke, I do agree. But just her own personal satisfaction, I think it would have been cool to see her another season. I think they were a better team than got to show. Last year was the first year they started landing side by side triples, and I'm wondering if that could have happened a little earlier for them had she not missed so much training time.

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  14. This show was so unbelievably cheesy! It's almost like ABC didn't even try to make it decent. Because I love skating, I won't be tuning into this mess again.

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  15. I'm surprised how much I loved the show. Hate DWTS, but enjoyed every minute of this.

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  16. The hair styles and outfits were so over the top. You could tell the hairdressers had hours to concoct whatever bizarre hairdos they could think of.

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  17. Cheap looking set, turned in just to see what Johnny would wear, how much make up he would have on and how high his hair would be.

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  18. I set my bar pretty low, but the show was much worse than I even expected. You're way too generous on this one AJ.

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  19. Sorry to say girl but you need to be schooled in a big way. I'm as queer as a 3 dollar bill and Johnny Weir's body makes me quiver. There's not a single inch of it from what I can see in that onsie that I don't love and wouldn't devote my energy to. He has a smooth, slim torso with a tiny waist. His ass is huge and mind boggling. It would be a bummer if he actually reduced that, but he's in no way close to fat. You're either jealous or just never get laid.

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  20. Tarasova's MinkNovember 23, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    Anon at 5:07 PM: Honey, if you're gonna pose as a gay man, first rule of thumb is all your "girl" references must be spelled "gurl." This is Katy Perry's world, and we're just living in it. I'd also suggest you stop relying on your "Will & Grace" boxed set DVDs for tips on how to write like a 'mo.

    You and your vajayjay are well within your rights to quiver at the sight of Johnny's body, but let's not pretend to have a penis when we both know you don't.

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  21. I have a penis without a doubt "guuurrl" which you are more than welcome to service for me here and now. I sweat and grunt and can assure you my testosterone is in place.

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  22. Anonymous 5:07 PM, weird. But I agree Johnny looks completely fine. His sparkly onesies are ugly regardless of what percentage body fat he is.

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  23. Sparkly onsies RULE!! HAHA. I'd eat Johnny Weir for hours and not stop til my jaw locked in place. His azz now is more amazing than ever!

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  24. Johnny. A new agent. Pronto.

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  25. Yes Johnny needs a new agent because this year has been one big flop for him. She's doing absolutely nothing for him. A busy exhibition schedule, renewed reality show on a popular network, book deal, song recordings, endless modelling shoots, two modelling books, NY Magazine profile, Hollywood red carpet invites, charity benefits, a developing fashion line, and a weekly prime time television slot is totally crappy. He could be doing SO much more.

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  26. Yup he's doing all that and building a rep of dressing like a fool.

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  27. No kidding anon 8:41pm, I was not the biggest fan of his and I still don't consider myself. I do have to hand it to him. He's taken his 15 minutes of fame pretty far and perhaps will become a permanent fixture on the pop culture scene. You have to give him his due, he didn't win an Olympic medal and is by far the busiest, most popular athlete and has created his own little Johnny Weir brand. I really don't even know how much more he could be doing now. GET IT! GET IT! GET IT! Johnny!

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  28. anon 8:47: Regardless of what you think is dressing like a fool, people are enthralled by him. I always thought he was the biggest attention-seeking goof. It seemed like everything he did was just for the reaction. Last night was the first time I sort of "got it." In the right light with the right atmosphere his avant garde interpretations are kinda cool and hard to take your eyes away from. I liked the queen of hearts with the cagey vest thing and the way he took it off in the middle. Found myself looking it up again on youtube just to view the impression it made against the lighting and the way he moved his body. (must not get sucked in to johnny's wack)

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  29. AJ Johnny Weir's tight little body looked bloody fine in that onsie. Did you not SEE those curves, hips, waist, etc. etc. He's still quite small though not as alarmingly thin as before. A definite improvement. If you actually think that makes him fat and in need of Jenny Craig then you are broken and need to be fixed. Bony, starving bodies are NOT sexy!!!

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  30. I didn't say Johnny needed Jenny Craig. He is no longer emaciated and the onesie tends to make him look wider. He could wear a more flattering outsit. Shoot me for my opinion.

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  31. Thank god he's healthier now. I hated hearing him talk about his "coffee" diet. Coffee to get him through the entire day. What dietitian was he seeing?!

    Anyway, I saw a commercial for next week's SWTS during DWTS... It tried to convince people to watch next week by saying that "millions watched" last night. Even the lowest rated shows get millions of viewers. Can't say ABC isn't trying...It's just not a great product they are pushing.

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  32. "Shoot me for my opinion."

    Spoken like a 10 year-old. Gladly. You seem exceptionally skewed.

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  33. He's definitely in need of a good tossed salad. I can make him a really great one... ;p

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  34. To anon 8:41 PM

    You give Johnny's agent way too much credit for all the things happening to him this year. His busy schedule is due to "people" contacting his agent, not the other way around. She (agent) looks more like a PA organizing his diary than well an agent.

    P.s.: As for his reality show BGJW, his agent has no say in it. For this, you can thank his two producers/cameramen at the origin of the project for its renewal.

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  35. I do feel a little bad for being critical of his current weight, because I do remember his coffee diet. I do suspect that coffee diet contributed to his inconsistency, inability to sleep, and general problems with preparation.

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  36. Anon 10:38pm, ha,omg you're gross. I suspect you don't mean the leafy green variety. Just be lucky most people didn't get that.

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  37. Yep, this show is cheesy all right but we MUST watch anyway. Who can resist the possibility of a Sean Young meltdown?

    All I can say about the interpersonal dynamics between the pros and the celebs on this kind of show is: Lloyd Eisler and Kristy Swanson. So watch out!

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  38. Johnny's jump technique has been a little odd. Instead of some pointless coffee diet, he needed more power and tighter rotation in his jumps.

    I don't think Sean Young is going to do crap in this show besides skate really slow and try not to fall down. People are desperately clinging to hope that there will be drama on this show because the rest of it is just awkwardly boring. I'd rather it be canceled than get to the point where we need to see Brooke Castile squeezing the chest of a married man just to keep our interest. Pathetic.

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  39. AJ, you are an arrogant wannabee know it all.

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  40. This show sucked even worse than I knew it would. How many times can you watch D-list celebrities hobble and slip at practice, then do an amateurish program on the studio ice? I just don't like them using such a serious athletic art form, that requires so much talent to succeed at, as a means to give these people TV time and media coverage. It demeans the sport.

    If you want to watch pairs skating, please! Go on Youtube and watch the real thing done by real champions! You can see crap close to SWTS at your local rink any day of the week.

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  41. "Go on Youtube and watch the real thing done by real champions!"

    LOL! Champions skate crappily too!!! Lots of vids on youtube to prove it.

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  42. 'LOL! Champions skate crappily too!!! Lots of vids on youtube to prove it.'

    So, you're saying that if the SWTS people were to put skates on Orlando Bloom and train him for a few weeks he'd be every bit as watchable as Johnny Weir? Hummm. I never even considered such a possibility.

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  43. What a train wreck. I won't watch again even though I've been a figure skating fan for almost 20 years. It reminds me of listening to third-rate copy bands butcher your favorite songs by major artists.

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  44. The concept of the show is awful to begin with, and the cheap, careless production of it made it even worse. Nothing nauseates me more than the possibility of Jonny Moseley, a skier who can barely skate, could become more "famous" than an actual accomplished skater. The general public sucks for caring about this crap.

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  45. this is no compliment to jwe or tara. eric should be let go for adding insult to injury http://twitter.com/EricAltSalons/status/8370847110668288 saboteur lefthanded compliment to tara not good idea

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  46. The first show was too long (2hrs) and had too many commercial breaks (annoying!). However, the celebs who are no skaters did better than I thought after just 5 weeks training on the ice and took their skating seriously. Get Tanith out of the booth, put her on the set with the host and don't let her read from a script! I don't mind the pro skaters being not or less known because it's skating with the stars and not skating with the skaters... The show is aimed to a general audience, not to FS fans. If you're not following FS, you won't know who the so called well-known skaters are! And haters gonna hate!

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  47. The whole show is scripted to an extent. It's phony just like DWTS. The performances are watched in rehearsals so that the judges know what to say before they even watch live. And while the public doesn't need to know the names of the skaters, they should be familiar with the "celebs" but they are mostly unknowns, and some are cocky as all get out.

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  48. To Latisha 5:21AM/9:56AM about my 8:32AM

    I've watched the Grand Prix events and I saw lots of crappy skating. And it's supposed to be the real thing done by real champ... It's on youtube now. Enjoy!

    You can't compare competitive FS to an entertainment show. Just too different things...

    Orlando would look great on skates. He doesn't have to skate. I'll watch even if he does nothing! LOL!

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  49. LOL, agreed 5:43 am! Orlando would look great on skates and I'd watch him do anything too, but this show is FAR from something gorgeous major actors like that would participate in!

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