Monthly Archives: October 2007

Ox Notes: October 31, 2007

There are two big stories in TV-land today. First, of course, is Sabrina Bryan’s elimination from Dancing with the Stars. After Marie Osmond and Jane Seymour spent Monday night complaining to the press that the older competitors were being judged unfairly, they have to be pleased with the results.

Jane, by the way, is recovering from her bout of food poisoning after a trip to the hospital.

Many of Sabrina’s other cast members were outraged by the results. Melanie Brown told OK! that she was demanding a recount. Helio Castroneves told TV Guide, "I couldn’t believe it," and former DwtSer Lisa Rinna said, "It wasn’t the right time for her to go. This season’s all messed up."

But perhaps the strongest response was from Carrie Ann Inaba, who cried as she told People, "This is an outrage and an upset. It’s so disappointing and heartbreaking, not to mention complete shock. How do you explain Sabrina leaving? She’s been at the top of the leader board from week one. Everyone assumed she’d be in the finale."

In the same article, Anna Trebunskaya, also crying, said, "She was one of the best performers on the show ever. I think the show might suffer a little bit because the level of dancing will go down. It’s so sad that America didn’t vote for the best dancer. She was so clearly the best."

Sabrina tried to look at the bright side of her experience during her interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live: "I was at a Spice Girl’s house last night!" Apparently, Mel B had gotten bored after Monday’s Performance Show and asked Sabrina to come over and hang out.

The other big story out of Hollywood is the looming writer’s strike, which could go into effect tomorrow. Variety has an article giving a thorough explanation of how a strike will affect viewers and what the networks’ contingency plans are.

The shows that will be affected most immediately are the late night talk shows. Not only will Jay Leno and David Letterman have to turn to reruns, but a strike would also mean no new episodes of Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, or The Colbert Report.

DwtS 5, Week 6: Results

On the most shocking Results Show ever, one of the best dancers was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars.

At the start of the show, Tom Bergeron announced that Jane had contracted food poisoning 15 minutes before the show went live. So when the judges announced that they wanted to see an encore of the Group Rock N’ Roll dance, Tony had to dance without a partner. But he was a good sport about it.

Then the evening’s musical guest, Barry Manilow, sang "They Danced" as Cheryl Burke and Louis van Amstel took to the floor. Cheryl & Louis looked great together, and kudos to Barry for being secure enough in his celebrity to let the camera linger on the dancers, and not him.

The performance was followed by reactions from last night’s studio audience, which was surprisingly devoid of celebrities. One member summed up the audience’s feelings about Jane’s and Marie’s performances: "Your dances are dull and you’re out the door."

Then it was time to announce the first two safe couples of the night. Mel & Maks were given the good news first and, to Tony’s surprise, Jane & Tony were also announced as safe. Since Jane wasn’t available, Tony had to hug Maks.

With January right around the corner, ABC decided it had better act quickly to hype Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann. A group of dancers performed a routine that exemplified the type of choreography that will be featured on Dance War. The style was more contemporary and hip-hop influenced than anything on DwtS, and the performance was pretty cool.

Len sat quietly in the middle As Carrie Ann and Bruno taunted each other. Tom jokingly encouraged the audience to watch for promos for Len’s new show, "It’s Only Len."

Then Barry Manilow was back to perform his hit, "Mandy," accompanied by a lovely performance by Jonathan & Anna. (Video below contains both the Dance War performance and "Mandy").

The performance was followed by footage of the celebrities asking the judges questions. Jane asked Carrie Ann, "Can you explain to us what exactly constitutes a lift, because Edyta seems to be flying all over the place?"

Carrie Ann stated that she took a point off of Cameron & Edyta’s scores on two occasions when she caught them doing a lift. She explained the rule again — two feet off the ground in a move that couldn’t be done without the assistance of a partner — and hopefully that will put an end to the lift controversy.

Len had some words of encouragement for his fellow Brit, Mel B: "We know one thing about the Americans: they believe in truth and justice. The truth is you’re a great dancer. And justice will not be served unless you make it all the way."

Another video segment focused on the congenial relationships between all of the couples. In what could’ve been foreshadowing, Sabrina talked about what Cameron says to tease her when she looks nervous backstage at Results Shows: "You really should be nervous… [whispers] because you’re going home tonight."

Then Tom told Helio & Julianne that they were safe. Samantha dramatically paused before telling Marie & Jonathan they’d have to wait until after the commercial to learn their fate. Tom protested, "That’s NASTY! That’s nasty."

After the commercial break, Cameron & Edyta were told they were in the Bottom Two. Jennie & Derek were safe, and so were Marie & Jonathan.

That left Sabrina & Mark in the Bottom Two, looking confused, scared, and sad.

The judges were all stunned. Len said, "There have been some bizarre things that have happened, but this takes the biscuit. This girl should be in the Finals! They are absolutely fantastic dancers." Bruno said that the viewers’ votes were "madness! It’s total madness! Sabrina: the most consistent. Cameron: the most improved. You’ve got to vote. Nobody’s safe."

As the couples waited, Cameron & Edyta looked stoic, while Sabrina & Mark looked positively miserable. Finally, Sabrina & Mark were told that they were out. Boos erupted from the audience, and Carrie Ann started to cry.

Tom said, "I don’t usually tip my hand here: I had you so pegged for the finale." Sabrina kept her composure and said DwtS was an "amazing opportunity" that helped her to grow as a performer. She turned to Mark and said, "Thank you so much, baby." Mark told her, "I had a great time being your partner. I love you."

Tom said, "This feels weird to say this, but head on out there for your last dance." As the couple made their way onto the floor, Tom repeated, "We are all shocked here."

Barry Manilow serenaded Sabrina & Mark with "My Eyes Adored You." As they swayed, Sabrina could be seen mouthing, "I’m sorry," to Mark, who kissed her forehead.

Sabrina, you’ve got nothing to be sorry about.

Ox Notes: October 30, 2007

Jane Seymour & Tony Dovolani seem to have run out of nice things to say about the judges and their fellow Dancing with the Stars competitors. Yesterday afternoon, People ran a story in which Tony says he recently gave Carrie Ann Inaba a book on professional ballroom rules. He claims that Carrie Ann retaliated that week by giving Jane’s Rumba a low score.

In TV Guide’s backstage report from last night’s Performance Show, Jane accused the judges of wanting to "get rid of the old one." She went on to criticize Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Rumba: "You get higher scores in this competition if you just walk around. Or you go up to the judges and you go pat, pat, on the cheek and you get ‘tens’ for that."

So, Jane & Tony have accused Carrie Ann of not understanding the rules and retaliating against them in her scoring. And they claim that the couples that score higher than them don’t deserve to do so.

Tony’s long been one of my favorites in professional competitions. But he’s had a weird persecution complex every season he’s been on DwtS, and he usually passes his paranoia on to his partner.

For better or worse, DwtS doesn’t operate under the same rules as professional ballroom dancing. The judges are inconsistent, but I’ve never gotten the feeling that they’re trying to submarine someone’s chances because of some personal vendetta. They really do try to judge based on what they see on the floor. If anything, I think the judges would love for "the old one" to give the younger competitors a run for their money.

As for me, I’m fine if Jane & Tony go home tonight.

In other DwtS news, Jennie Garth somehow already knows that, if she survives tonight’s elimination, she’ll be dancing the Rumba and Viennese Waltz next week. Helio Castroneves says of the praise his "Latin booty" earned last night: "This booty is small, but it is strong." He’s also postponed his wedding to fashion designer Ali Vazquez until January.

Rapper Coolio is getting his own reality show, on Oxygen of all places.

Fox is importing the British TV show Spaced, which will be reinterpreted for America a la The Office. Since the original was created by Hot Fuzz’s Simon Pegg, I’ve got high hopes for the US version.

And a study showed that, if you relied only on mainstream media for coverage of the 2008 presidential race, you’d think there were only five candidates running for the office: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain. I’ll be taping the Democratic candidates’ debate tonight on MSNBC at 9 ET to see if they’re still letting guys like Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Dennis Kucinich even stand on the stage.

DwtS 5, Week 6: Performances

Mel & Maks topped the Dancing with the Stars leaderboard for a second week in a row.

Sabrina Bryan & Mark Ballas — Fox Trot
Sabrina’s high energy and sharp moves were present even in this more traditional dance, but they felt appropriate, given the music to which they danced. And even though Sabrina still can’t totally mask her hip-hop background, she did execute some softer hand gestures.

Len said, "Although the performance was excellent, it was all too hard. It was too aggressive." Bruno agreed: "Now you have to work on the finesse." Carrie Ann told Sabrina, "Don’t listen to them. You were feisty when you needed to be feisty, and you were smooth when you needed to be smooth."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 25/30

Jennie Garth & Derek Hough — Mambo
Jennie’s still struggling with some performance anxiety issues, and her sexy cut-out dress couldn’t have made her feel too comfortable. But she looked more confident than she did last week, and Derek’s fun choreography seemed to help Jennie cut loose.

Bruno raved, "You’ve got steam heat tonight, Jennie! That’s dirty dancing!" Carrie Ann told Jennie, "Finally, you totally unveiled yourself." Len said, "To progress, you’ve gotta come out with an exceptional performance. You did that."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 27/30

Jane Seymour & Tony Dovolani — Jive
Everything about this performance was awkward: Jane’s too skimpy outfit, her ballerina arms, her lack of bounce, and the super slow version of David Bowie’s "Modern Love." Jane & Tony’s Jive was as cool as my old Junior High science teacher trying to use contemporary slang: "Boy, that Jane is a fine-looking shorty. She can really get jiggy with it."

Carrie Ann told Jane, "You brought the energy to the floor. Some dances don’t bring the best out in people. I think that you’re better than this dance." Len said, "It was a little bit like a ballerina Jive. It wasn’t down and dirty." Bruno agreed, "It wasn’t your most comfortable dance."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 22/30

Cameron Mathison & Edyta Sliwinska — Samba
Edyta’s fondness for Pocahontas surfaced again as she and Cameron dressed in a Native American theme that required an explanation. Their dancing didn’t offer one, and neither did their song’s Portuguese lyrics (as far as I could tell), so the costumes just distracted from a slow but otherwise solid Samba.

Len said, "It was good in parts… but for me, for some reason, you didn’t do what you set out to do." Bruno said, "I’ve never seen Captain Smith and Pocahontas doing a Samba." Carrie Ann appreciated the thematic choice: "I felt that it was really primal. I got it, and I loved it."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 25/30

Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Rumba
Mel said she liked the love-hate nature of the Rumba, as it seemed to describe her relationship with Maks. On the floor, it seemed like more love than hate, and both of them grinned through most of the dance. The romantic performance ended with Mel sitting on Bruno’s lap, Maks whispering in Carrie Ann ear, and Len left alone in the middle shrugging his shoulders.

Bruno said, "That wasn’t a dance; that was a cliffhanger. Excellent." Carrie Ann said, "Mel, I was mesmerized.That’s the Rumba I’ve been waiting to see all season." Len said, "That routine was perfected, inspected, dissected, and, as far as I’m concerned, it won’t be rejected. It was fantastic."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

Marie Osmond & Jonathan Roberts — Paso Doble
In case you’d forgotten that Marie fainted on last week’s show, Jonathan choreographed a number of moves that required Marie to lay motionless on the floor. As a joke, it wasn’t that clever, nor did it make for an exciting performance. When she was upright and mobile, Marie did a good job embracing the spirit of the Paso.

Carrie Ann confessed, "It was a little uncomfortable to see you down again. But it was still a nice performance." Len said, "It was a very dramatic start. Then there was a pause, like you were a gypsy around a camp fire, cooking your sausages." Bruno told Marie, "You started out like Catherine Zeta Jones, and you ended up like Catherine Zeta Cranky."

Tom Bergeron told Bruno, "Catherine Zeta Cranky? I’ve never seen you reach that far."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…7 = 23/30

Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough — Cha Cha Cha
After last week’s attempt at drama, Fun Helio was back, dancing to James Brown’s infectious "Get Up Offa That Thing." Helio & Julianne’s routine was pure entertainment, and in their ’70s-inspired outfits, it bordered on goofy. But this is the realm in which Julianne does some of her best choreography — and in which Helio is most comfortable performing.

Len told Helio, "Last week, you tried to be something you’re not. This week, you’ve come back as the Helio we all love." Bruno said, "You’re back in the race." Carrie Ann told Helio, "The Latin booty was working overtime."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…10, Bruno…9 = 28/30

Group Rock N’ Roll
Christian Perry choreographed what he called a "Rug Cutters Rumble," in which the Greasers (Helio & Julianne, Mel & Maks, Jane & Tony, and Sabrina & Mark) faced off against the Jocks (Cameron & Edyta, Marie & Jonathan, Jennie & Derek) in a good, old-fashioned dance fight. Too bad most of the blood that was shed in rehearsal came from the dance partners injuring one another, and not from members of the opposing clique.

Dressed like extras from Grease, the couples danced to "Rockin’ Robin." Helio & Julianne executed the best trick, which I guess means the Greasers won the dance fight. The routine ended in a weird position with the girls hanging from the guys’ waists, staring up at their butts.

Leaderboard:
30 — Mel & Maks
28 — Helio & Julianne
27 — Jennie & Derek
25 — Sabrina & Mark, Cameron & Edyta
23 — Marie & Jonathon
22 — Jane & Tony

I agree with the judges that Mel & Maks had the best performance of the night, although I’m willing to toss a couple of votes to Helio for returning to his old self. Marie & Jonathan and Jane & Tony will probably wind up in the Bottom Two, and it’s a toss up which pair will be eliminated.

Ox Notes: October 29, 2007

Here are the dances you can expect to see on tonight’s episode of Dancing with the Stars: Jennie’s Mambo, Marie’s Paso Doble, Mel’s Rumba, Sabrina’s Fox Trot, Helio’s Cha Cha, Cameron’s Samba, and Jane’s Jive.

Jane, who insists she’s "so over" Carrie Ann pointing out her illegal lift two weeks ago, worked a dig at the judge into tonight’s group Rock N’ Roll routine: "I decided, especially after the incident with Carrie Ann, I wanted to lift higher than anyone else." Time to let it go, Jane.

Former DwtS contestant Joey Fatone will be dressed at Dracula when Ray Parker Jr. stops by The Singing Bee on Tuesday night to perform his Ghostbusters theme song. And OxPal Imee pointed out an E! poll where you can vote on who’s wearing the better dress, Cheryl Burke or Stacy Keibler.

TV Squad has a list of its 10 All-Time Scariest TV Characters. I find the organ-harvesting Vidiians on Star Trek: Voyager particularly terrifying, although the opening theme music from The Twilight Zone was enough to send me running when I was a kid.

Brian Lowry from Variety wrote about the difficulty of writing about TV without spoiling the plot for readers in the age of DVR. Avoiding spoilers is especially challenging for viewers like me who don’t like to watch episodes on the computer and have to wait forever for shows to be released on DVD (I’m looking at you, Battlestar Galactica and The Wire).

Ox Notes: October 26, 2007

According to an article at TV Guide, it sounds like everyone in the cast of Dancing with the Stars is very fond of Mark Cuban. And while Jane Seymour says in her most recent blog post that she’s "so over" Carrie Ann Inaba pointing out a lift in her Tango, the rest of the post — and the fact that she’s still writing about it more than a week later — indicates that she’s still pissed.

If Dancing with the Stars gets its own video game, why not make a video game of Hell’s Kitchen?

Lindsay Lohan’s mom, Dina, starts filming her reality show on October 30. Get out while you still can, Ali!

ABC has ordered more episodes of Dirty Sexy Money, and the CW has ordered more Reaper.

TV Guide posted the rest of their interview with Jensen Ackles.

AMC is jumping on the sci-fi horror bandwagon with 99 Stories, while SciFi is developing the supernatural dramedy Warehouse 13.

And fans of House can spend the weekend wondering if Hugh Laurie abruptly leaving the set is a sign of trouble for the show.

Survivor China: Episode 6

Last week, the Zhan Hu tribe hurt the Fei Long tribe by throwing a challenge. And this week, they unwittingly saved themselves by trying harder than anyone thought they would.

After Aaron’s ouster, James tried to make the best of his time with Zhan Hu, before his seemingly inevitable elimination. He tried to ingratiate himself to the tribe, hoping they might have a change of heart and decide not to throw the next challenge.

Meanwhile, at Fei Long, Todd enlisted the help of his henchwoman, Amanda, in the search for the hidden Immunity Idol. He confessed that he had several clues about its whereabouts, but hadn’t had any luck locating it.

Both teams met at the Reward Challenge, where the original members of Fei Long learned that they’d lost one of their own, Aaron, at the previous Tribal Council. For the challenge, team members had to take turns searching empty buildings for eight puzzle pieces that, when arranged properly, revealed a Chinese proverb.

For some reason Fei Long decided to sit Courtney, Amanda, and Denise in a challenge that required neither speed nor strength and was only for reward, anyway. That meant that all three women would have to perform at the Immunity Challenge, later. It was a strategic blunder that they’ve made before, and this time, it would come back to haunt them. (Seriously, I can’t understand why her teammates ever let Courtney participate in the Immunity Challenges, when they know — heck, she knows — she’s the biggest liability on the team.)

As the Survivors searched for puzzle pieces, Peih-Gee and Sherea wound up in the same room together. When Peih-Gee told her former tribemate that Zhan Hu had thrown the last Immunity Challenge in order to save Frosti and her, Sherea ignored her.

Fei Long squeaked out a victory by getting the puzzle pieces to spell out, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Their reward was a trip to the Charmin Tea House for some snacks, a bath, and access to as much quilted bath tissue as their chafed butts desired.

Fei Long kidnapped their former tribemate, James, to whom Jeff Probst had given another Hidden Immunity idol clue, which had to then be given to a Fei Long member. Todd quickly pulled James aside and asked him for the clue. James consented, after Todd assured him that it was part of a plan designed to save James.

With the next clue to the location of the hidden Immunity Idol, Todd finally figured out where it was. He and Amanda got to work probing the tiles of the bus-stop-shelter-looking-thing that marked the location of the camp. Unfortunately, Frosti joined in out of curiosity and noticed when Todd dislodged the Immunity Idol.

Amanda and Todd brought Frosti down to the river and threatened to kill him, before deciding that it was less messy just to trust him. And Frosti was happy to have a piece of information that made him part of the "in" crowd on his new tribe.

James, having noticed the commotion, asked Todd if they’d found the Idol. Todd handed the Idol to James and explained his plan: Fei Long was going to win the next Immunity Challenge — which shouldn’t be hard since Zhan Hu was planning on throwing it anyway (now with James’ help). When Jaime, Peih-Gee, and Erik inevitably voted for James at Tribal Council, he would present the Immunity Idol and use his vote to send Jaime home.

Just to make sure that everyone who mattered understood the importance of winning the challenge, Todd pulled Denise and Courtney aside and let them in on the plan.

There was just one problem with an otherwise brilliant plan. When Zhan Hu got back to camp after the Reward Challenge, Peih-Gee told Jaime and Erik about Sherea’s cold response. They’d noticed that Frosti wouldn’t made eye contact with them. The trio decided to scrap their plan to save Frosti and Sherea by throwing the challenge, and instead they decided to try winning.

As if Zhan Hu’s sudden desire to win wasn’t bad enough for Fei Long, they arrived to find the most dreaded of all Immunity Challenges: The Gross Food Challenge. The first team to four points would win.

It’s the kind of challenge designed for the most stubborn of contestants, and Sherea and Jean-Robert are about as stubborn as they come. But since they’d participated in the Reward Challenge and had to sit out, Fei Long’s hopes rested on the frail shoulders of Amanda and Courtney.

Frosti was first up for Fei Long, facing off against Peih-Gee. Their challenge was to eat ten chicken hearts as quickly as possible. Frosti earned a point for Fei Long and did a little victory jig as Todd’s plan went into effect.

Courtney was up next, doing battle against Jaime in a contest to eat three eels, with heads attached. The race was close, but Jaime proved the faster of the blondes. The score was tied, 1-to-1.

After two relatively tame offerings, the food items up for consumption started to get really weird. Amanda and Erik had to each eat three baby turtles, shell and all. Erik narrowly won, giving Zhan Hu the lead 2-to-1.

Then, James was up against Denise, in what should’ve been an easy victory for Fei Long. Only they had to eat the single most disgusting food item in the history of the world: balut, an almost fully-developed chicken fetus boiled in its own shell.

Denise screamed and took a bite of the feathery monstrosity, as James pretended to gag on his. But Denise really was struggling and couldn’t bring herself to swallow any of the baby chicken. She looked at James and said, "I’m sorry." Out of mercy for his buddy, Denise, James gave up on his disgusted act and easily downed the balut.

Frosti had one last chance to save Fei Long, by eating a "thousand-year-old egg" faster than Erik. But Frosti was a few seconds too slow, and Zhan Hu won Immunity. James hung his head, as he watched Fei Long shuffle back to their camp.

It seemed obvious to Todd and Amanda that Sherea should be voted out, and they told Denise, Frosti, and Courtney about their plans. But Courtney wanted to get rid of Jean-Robert instead, and Todd wondered if placating Courtney might be more important than getting rid of Sherea. But Amanda argued that it was important to make sure the original Fei Long had more members than Zhan Hu at all times, since the merge could come at any point.

At Tribal Council, Sherea and Courtney took potshots at Jean-Robert. Courtney also let the rest of her tribe know that she felt like an outsider, making her point by joining Sherea in voting for Jean-Robert — even though she knew he wasn’t going home, yet.

The rest of the tribe voted for Sherea, who consoled herself by saying she was eliminated because "they knew they couldn’t beat me." Not really, Sherea, but it’s always good to have a healthy self-opinion.

Next week, Courtney continues to pout, and the tribes merge.