You could hear the gasps in the ballroom when Dancing With the Stars head judge Len Goodman flashed his “5” paddle for Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus on Season 14, Week 2: Performance Show. Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli both gave the Quickstep a “7” so it was surprising enough to see Len go so much lower. But it was also the first 5 of the season, since there had been no scores that low on Week 1.
It’s hard to upset the affable Tristan but even he was frustrated about the score and vented about it in a chat with Entertainment Weekly after the show.
“Yeah, I was surprised he scored us that low,” Tristan said. “I know it’s not personal. I understand where Len was coming from with his comments. All of the judges’ comments are things we can work on for next week; it’s all constructive. Anything they say, we can use, and we will. But I was a bit annoyed that he gave us the 5. If you consider the dance on the whole — he was complainin’ about the frame falling apart, that she needed to work on her frame. But that’s just one part of the whole dance. I thought we deserved higher.”
It was especially annoying to see Len give Gladys the same low 5 as Martina Navratilova, since Martina openly forgot her steps. “That’s what I mean. It doesn’t really seem fair, yeah?” Tristan said. “But like I said, it’s not a personal thing. And when he gave us a five, the fans started in on booin’. We can use all of that.”
True. As Maksim Chmerkovskiy put it earlier, this season will probably come down to the popular vote over the judges’ scores. The more the judges appear to underscore someone, the more fans are likely to rally behind them with votes.
Not that the criticism doesn’t sting. Gladys told On the Red Carpet there's no way the celebs are going to learn something in five days that Len has been doing his whole life. "I don't know whether it's fair to always judge on the technical, if the people are pleased — but hey, I respect him. I really respect him.”
What do you think? Were Gladys and Tristan underscored? Vote in our poll below.
Sources: Entertainment Weekly, On the Red Carpet