Dancing With the Stars 2014: How the Show Can Improve in Season 18
Dancing With the Stars is a great show — obviously you love it too or you probably wouldn’t even read this far — but there’s always room for improvement. Now that Season 17 is behind us, let’s dig into some ideas for DWTS to consider before the spring 2014 Season 18.
Easier said than done, we know! Showrunner Conrad Green explained that ditching the Tuesday Results Show was an ABC decision to showcase some new TV series, but maybe they will change their minds for the spring 2014 season. (Pretty please?) Even just a half-hour on Tuesday would make a huge difference. No one likes the current system, including The Powers That Be themselves, but ratings probably have to tick back up in order for the network to justify two full nights again.
Every season has complaints about this or that, and in 2013 one of the loudest debates was about previous dance experience. We fell in love with the Season 17 cast, but it doesn’t seem fair to ask, say, Bill Engvall and Valerie Harper to compete against talented dancers like Corbin Bleu, Amber Riley or Elizabeth Berkley. In some ways, that dance talent diversity is great, but it tends to drive fans crazy on both sides. If they could find a way to cast stars with relatively equal dance abilities, that would at least remove one complaint. That extends beyond prior dance training to the kind of natural talent you tend to see in young, fit athletes and professional entertainers. It doesn’t mean everyone has to be a struggling newbie, just all starting from roughly the same level.
There’s no easy way to fix the scoring/voting system, especially with DWTS down to one night, but here are some suggestions. It’s just about trying to counteract any bias — casting people on the same dance level should help to not punish anyone starting from scratch, but giving the judges’ scores more weight would help prevent the season from becoming a pure popularity contest.
Whoever The Powers That Be were planning to give to Tristan MacManus or Tony Dovolani, just give that person to Derek Hough (if he doesn’t leave us behind for Broadway or Hollywood). It’s about time Derek tried his magic on the kind of challenging partners DWTS tends to give to Tony and Tristan. Tony has shown what he can do when he gets a partner like Melissa Rycroft and it would be nice to see what Tristan could do with a celeb like that too. If DWTS casts on a more even playing field it might not matter, but just take an objective look at the celebs, decide who could use the most help and give that person to the five-time champ. And maybe switch things up during the season — have the celebs draw names out of a hat for their new pro partner that week, just to see what a new perspective could do.
As much as we like to grumble about the judges’ scores, it might be too much change to remove any of the three original judges. They are family! But Season 17 did some interesting test runs with guest judges. Julianne Hough and Maksim Chmerkovskiy showed that our beloved pros can be good judges, if maybe a bit soft. It’d be nice to see more guest judges — other past pros or celeb dance experts out there, as long as they promise to sprinkle more constructive criticism in with the cheerleading. They’d bring fresh eyes, different tastes (we’re very familiar with what the standard three like) and probably high ratings.
We’ve read the rumors that 69-year-old head judge Len Goodman may want to retire from DWTS, since his London to L.A. commute is exhausting; if it’s true, we’d be sad to lose him but understand. Ideally he could continue to judge both the U.S. and U.K. dance shows, but maybe with the compromise of a few more breaks, like he did this season when Julianne and Cher filled in. Maybe Len could judge DWTS every other week, with various guest experts to fill in around him? Just not Cher again. No offense!
What would you change about DWTS, or do you think the show should just keep on keepin’ on as it is?