Sequins and Spandex

The best bit of television these days is Dancing with the Stars. B (and C and D) list celebrities are paired with professional ballroom dancers and the results are astoundingly entertaining. It’s cheesy, it’s funny – both almost-intentionally and not – it’s got great dancing and horrible dancing and it is the perfect cure for a bad day. If you haven’t watched yet, tune in to ABC on Thursday at 8pm, bring popcorn, chocolate and a feather boa and prepare to go on a vacation from it all.

The hosts are incomparable. Tom Bergeron’s naughty jokes are oddly funny and if you had a drinking game around the times he says “very nice!” to the couple coming off the dance floor, you’d be slurring halfway into the show. Samantha Harris is a mesmerizing trainwreck with her flapping arms, oddly booming voice and agonizing, absolutely cringe-inducing interviews.

The judges? Well, the judges add to the perfection. Len Goodman’s British fussiness, Bruno Tonioli’s excitement (I swear one of these days he’ll explode with exuberance) and Carrie Ann Inaba? Well, actually… let’s sidetrack a moment. In the first season, Inaba was DSW’s Simon Cowell: harsh, blunt and always right. Apparently the focus groups didn’t like that in a woman, so now she’s all about the feelings and being nice to the contestants. Blatant bit of sexism, but I don’t care enough to stop watching.

And the “celebrity dancers”? Oh, my… I used to think Drew Lachey and his partner were good in a bland way, but then last week, they did a sizzling paso doble. Tia Carrere is a vision of elegance and loveliness (and the bastard producers have it in for her), Stacy Keibler (professional wrestler) is being set up to win – yes, it’s probably fixed, but again, who cares? She’s technically great (although I wish they’d stop with the “stretch-Stacy’s-long-legs” pose), but dances too much with her head and not at all with her heart. Lisa Rinna is high on life, a hoot to watch and a surprisingly good dancer, Jerry Rice is still geriatric and George Hamilton makes me laugh every time he’s on screen (and at 76, he’s giving some of the others a run for their money). Thankfully, last week Master P got voted off after 4 weeks of lumbering around the dance floor like Frankenstein’s monster (but with less rhythm) while his partner Ashly DelGrosso worked so hard she managed to make him look… well, not good, but less catastrophic.

As for the professional partners? Wow. Incredible. I took ballroom dancing lessons as a child (before the wheelchair) and let me tell you… these people ROCK!

And then you get to do it again on Fridays for the result show, which is an hour’s worth of the most inane filler, interspersed with stunning professional demonstrations of how dancing’s supposed to look, before the last 5 minutes of booting off a contestant. Last week, The Pussycat Dolls were on. I think they’re supposed to be a girl group – singers, y’know, but to me, they looked like more like one sort-of singer, with a backdrop of gyrating exotic dancers occasionally moaning into microphones.

How much do I like this show? Not only do I not answer the phone on Thursdays from 8-9:30, except for when my mother and I talk in commercials to discuss the performances (sorry for outing you, mor), but – get this! - I’ll be taping Survivor.