Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Skating With The Stars: A Second Try

Skating With The Stars made it to a second week.  As a good blogger, I'm going to cover.  I put myself through the pain of watching this week's episode for all of you.  Many in skating have hoped that this show would prove to be a surprise hit.  The more successful skating shows and tours are, the better the opportunities and money are in the sport, the more kids will be inspired to skate, etc.  Unfortunately, it will be a semi-miracle if this show makes it to the end of its season.  One thing the show has going for it is that the production costs are very low.  The network is not having to shell out big money for the pros or stars.  Skating With The Stars finished fifth in its timeslot, behind reruns on the other networks.

One question that has been showing up on formspring and message boards is whether or not Johnny Weir, Brooke Castile and Keauna McLaughlin will be able to retain their eligibility by doing this show.  The USFSA has signed off on it, so they are able to.  Brooke Castile confirmed that her competitive career is over, but the producers of the show had to be sure to protect Keauna and Johnny.  That meant that they could not hire any non-American skaters as per ISU eligibility regulations.  Had they cast non-Americans, they would've had to be sanctioned by the ISU (AKA, pay them a shitload money.)  Producers were interested in some bigger name international skaters.  Tanith and Ben would be natural choices for partners, but they are not able to do it due to the Stars On Ice schedule.  The show, which was already a risky sell, has much working against it as it tries to be young and current.

Taking a cue from Dancing With The Stars, the producers tasked the skaters with performing a tango or swing dance for their second week.  Oy.  First things first.  One needs to learn to be able to skate before they can learn how to perform a tango on ice, let alone footwork sequences and lifts.  This winds up creating an art form that is not dancing, but it is most certainly NOT figure skating.  Maybe they should be required to learn back crossovers before they try for a mid-line step sequence?  Just a thought.

The biggest improvement from last week to this week has been Tanith Belbin.  Ms. Belbin is natural as a Samantha Harris figure and is eons better than Brooke Burke.  If there is one good thing that comes out of this show, it will likely be an enhancement to Tanith's commentary and television hosting career.  I still think she should change dresses between commercial breaks, but she remains outrageous eye candy for television viewers.  Tanith also stopped announcing the names of the hosts in dramatic fashion.  She is not getting any help from her creepy co-host.  This is experience in the making.

Producers clearly told the judges to inflate their scores between weeks one and two.  Laurie Ann Gibson remains an utter cluster fuck of brain cells.  The only thing she adds to the show is her potential for delivering sound bytes that will wind up on The Soup.  If the show had any hope of a second season, Tanith would make a much better judge.  The judges don't actually comment on any of the required elements.  There is also no correlation between the skating, their comments and their scores.  They'll be nice to Vince Neil and then give him a three.  It is all confusing.  Johnny, dressed as a clown from Corteo, seems to be spending more time on his hair than his critiques.  The producers cast Johnny to be the outrageous persona he has created in the media.  The actual Johnny is somewhat quieter.  He is actually being more thoughtful than he was likely cast to be.  Unfortunately, that doesn't add to the appeal from the show.

Dick Button remains a bit off.  He was good on last season's Battle of the Blades, but Dick seems to be trying to know who these people are.  His puns just aren't working.  Frankly, he needs to unleash his inner cranky old man.  (For the record, I also have a hard time pretending to know who Vince Neil is.  When I see an '80s metal rocker on a reality show, I like to have seen them in a sex tape with Pam Anderson at some point during my formative years.)

Johnny Weir's taste has always been a bit questionable.  You've seen his outfits and can judge his Slutskaya/Plushenko love for yourselves.  It remains a bit curious that he is treats the temperamental Sean Young with kid gloves and then unleashes the fangs on Bethenny Frankel.  One knows that Johnny is obviously Team Jill, but it doesn't help the viewer when he is nice to one and nasty to the other.  Both are absolutely horrific skaters.  The question on my mind is how much the producers are paying Bethenny and why the hell her power agent couldn't get her on Dancing With The Stars.

If there is one cringe-worthy contestant, it is Brandon Mychal Smith.  Going by the spelling of his name, I know to white-knuckle his packages and interviewers.  Disney is quite curious with their casting.  If you notice, the Mouse Ears cast all (allegedly) heterosexual male pros for SWTS.  Their casting for the Disney Channel ushers in stereotypical images of a modern recreating of Our Gang.  They'd surely have Brandon go by Buckwheat if they could get away with it.  Ever seen how they have Raven Symone act?  Enough said.  Brandon may just be the most successful roller skater since Tootie on Facts Of Life.  I tried my best to behave when he kept yelling "I'm A Matador."  'A' for enthusiasm, but there is one inherent problem: Matadors perform the Paso Doble.  Gouchos dance the tango with Argentine hookers. It could certainly explain his performance.  Keauna doesn't seem like the brightest bulb either.  The judges didn't seem to notice that the performance was neither a tango nor swing dance.

Sean Young said goodbye this week.  We all embraced her vulnerability, though it is sad that we never saw her pounding shots in the Kiss and Cry.  Denis Petukhov remains a Saint and is on the list of people we'd marry if we could.  Sean gave the television audience two falls and wasn't able to get right back up like Alissa Czisny.  Dick Button told her that every Olympic Champion has had a splat fest.  Johnny Weir also let her know he's been there.  Sadly, Tanith did not share any anecdotes about falling during a compulsory dance at a competition your coach had all but fixed for you to win.

Jonny Mosely continues to be one of the stronger skaters.  Remember, stronger is a relative term.  While I should focus on his whatever performance, I'm more intrigued by Brooke Castile's claim that a fractured heel ended her competitive career.  At what point did that fracture occur?  Juniors?  The girl never had any jumps.  Don't go around blaming Ben for that one!  At least we got to see some of her bitchy skater persona come out.

Rebecca Budig remains the only actually good skater on the show.  It is a bit confusing that the judges spent more time criticizing her lack of sizzle than her strong skating skills.  Rebecca is light years better than the other contestants.  She is so much better that it is obvious to the average viewer.

Laurie Ann did tell Bethenny Frankel "heavy is the crown."  Yes Laurie Ann, this competition is prestigious.  It is so prestigious that I'm not even sure what they win.  The hosts haven't mentioned a name for the trophy.  Is Johnny going to give away one of his tiaras?  That could certainly go for quite a bit on eBay.

Until next time...  If there IS a next time... (Truer words have never been spoken.)


  1. I agree--there should be more focus on basic skills. The routines should incorporate crossovers, turns and edges and that is what the skaters should be judged on in their technical score. Why is there a non-skating judge? Johnny should ditch the makeup and hair-grease. He looks ridiculous.

  2. Johnny's critiques are actually decent---they just are a bit inconsistent and not what he was likely cast for.

  3. Johnny gushed on Sean, I think, because of who her pro was. Denis, Melissa and Johnny are all close friends. That can be the only reason I see for him to give her a SEVEN for artistic impression teh other night.

  4. "One needs to learn to be able to skate before they can learn how to be performing a tango, let alone footwork sequences and lifts."

    Exactly. They are trying to make it like DWTS, but to do a tango on that show, all the contestants have to do is just have to pick up their feet. It's hard to do themed routines on ice if you still don't really know how to skate!

    The judges don't comment on the required elements, probably because 1) Laurie Ann doesn't know which elements ARE the required elements when she watches the routine and 2) because Johnny & Dick are just trying to come up with witty things to say instead.

    Thank you for addressing the eligibility thing since nobody else did. As long as this show has no permanent effects on anyone's career, it can be considered fun and something to give us a good laugh. Even if this show lasts just one season, it's still getting 5+ million viewers per episode, which isn't so bad for skating is it?

  5. Brooke fractured in heel in the beginning of the 2008-09 season. The video was on Youtube of her doing a triple twist and Ben falling without being able to catch her. It may not have exactly ended her career, but it kept them from earning money... They had to withdraw from Grand Prix events, which meant no chances for prize money. With no competitions came no show opportunities, so no income from that either. Brooke did mention before last season that they had to work very hard to pay for everything, so I'm guessing she was talking more about that. I don't think she was referring to her jumping, because she actually started landing some triples last season (even though the 2A was still missing). I found her slight hostile tone when talking about the injury to be one of the most interesting parts of the show. lol

    Oh it was supposed to be a "swing dance", not a jive. Not that it matters, because as you said, these people need to work on their crossovers first before they do ice dance. I thought the Disney guy looked the most comfortable, but I can't bring myself to like him because you know he thinks he's the shitt.

  6. To anon 11:51 AM
    "Johnny & Dick are just trying to come up with witty things to say instead."

    I don't think it's true. IMO if they don't comment on the required elements is because they were asked not to by the show's producers as Tanith already delivers her own technical expertise following the judges' comments.

  7. The show did improve because
    - it was shorter
    - it had fewer commercials
    - Tanith was out of the booth

  8. Laurie Ann told a contestant "heavy is the crown." on SYTYCD as well. She's a piece of work and takes these reality shows (and herself) too seriously. I literally cannot watch her judge on this show. I have to flip the channel. And I felt bad for Dick and Johnny when they goofed holding up their numbers. There's only three weeks left... I imagine ABC will just let it air regardless of the ratings at this point. The skaters are doing a great job doing the best they can with the celebs, I think, it's just the rest of the show that is a bit off.

  9. An article captioned one of their pictures of the fire in the kiss and cry area as this...

    "The sad flames on the edges of the sad ice patch inside the sad ice cave."

    Cracked me up.

  10. Vince Neil is the crud on the bottom of my shoes. He killed his passenger in a DUI, left two other people brain damaged, and is still drinking and driving. I won't even go into his multiple assault convictions. Way to go ABC! Pay that loser money for being a criminal.

  11. I can't stand Vince Neil either, especially because of his alcohol abuse. You'd think he would commit to living cleanly as a tribute to his little girl who died of leukemia.

  12. I only turned on the show in the first place to see Johnny Weir, but I'm actually enjoying the skating. I think the judging is ridiculous--very disjointed as Auntie pointed out. Johnny has made some cute comments but they sound scripted; he has also been kind of mean at times (which, seems odd for him, considering how often he has criticized his own judges). They were all nasty to Bethenny Frankel (and, no, I'm not a fan--never heard of her before this) both this week and last. This week, she looked stunned by their comments and I don't blame her. The tone was pure nasty, especially from Laurie Ann. Ugh. She's a nightmare.

    Tanith is cute. And so, of course, is Johnny. But I wish he would go for a more classy look in his fashions for the show. And get a new hair stylist.

  13. I'm enjoying the heck out of this show.
    I loved Keauna's costume, and think there is a real competition brewing between Jonny, Rebecca, and Brandon.