September 18, 2006

Cha-Cha and China

Well week 1 of season premieres has passed, and so let me discuss them! First up we have Dancing with the Stars. I wondered if the bloom would be off this rose, but clearly it's not. It was still great fun. Seeing people doing elegant and romantic dances on TV is still a thrill for me. Shut up! That doesn't make me a dork, it just makes me CULTURED.

There is a bevy of stars this year that range from B-list (Vivica Fox) to "Who's that?" (Shanna Moakler). This first week the women danced the Foxtrot, and the men did the Cha-Cha.

Some real pleasant surprises and strong contenders emerged. Emmitt Smith (NFL star) had great charisma, solid rhythm, and a surprising dexterity. I'm willing to bet he had some ballet training back when he played football! He was by far the best - so adorable! Also impressive were Vivica Fox (sleek in a purple gown) and Mario Lopez (could he BE anymore gay?). The judges also liked Joey Lawrence, but I thought he was just OK. (And what's with the shaved head? I swear, I'm expecting any minute he's going to change his name to Joseph Lawrence, a'la Deborah Gibson.)

Jerry Springer will be filling the "suave old guy" role this season. He was actually not terrible.

But there was some bad stuff out there. Harry Hamlin (who should have learned something from wife Lisa Rinna last season) was stiff as the Tin Man. Sara Evans was pretty dull. The worst, though, was Tucker Carlson, and he received the much-deserved boot the next evening. I guess America likes their conservative pundits on news programs and not the dance floor. Also if I may be catty for a moment, Tucker has tucked away one too many cream puffs, if you catch my drift, and I think you do.

Meanwhile, last night was the exciting premiere to The Amazing Race! As soon as it started I got a little giddy and forgot how much I missed it. I think the ending last season was so disappointing for me I needed to fall in love again. Done!

One thing I love about the casting this time around is they took the opposite approach from Survivor - there are plenty of people from various ethnic groups, but they all just get to interact on their own. Novel, no? So here's a rundown of the teams as I see them so far:

Bilal and Sa'eed are best friends and devout Muslims (longish beards and all). Bilal is a bit louder and more aggressive. They mention that they will stop to do their prayers daily, which you could see would be risky race strategy, but you can admire their devotion.

David and Mary - oh my. Well, they (on the surface) could appear to represent the redneck population. He's a coal miner, she's the supposedly submissive wife. Biggest issue for me with these two is their teeth! Pretty scary. I found myself hoping a challenge would involve seeing a foreign dentist for a cleaning.

Duke is the father of Lauren. They had been estranged because she came out to him as a lesbian. But they are rebuilding their relationship, and how better to do that than travel the world together?

Dustin is a woman and the reigning Miss California. Her friend is Kandice, the reigning Miss New York (and a Rockette). They are very blond and smile a lot.

Erwin and Godwin are Asian-American brothers from California. They are both Ivy League educated.

Friends Kellie and Jamie are cheerleaders, and reinforce quite a few stereotypes from the get-go. I'm waiting for when they land on the mat and do a cheer - "P-H-I-L spells PHIL!!!"

Lyn and Karlyn (that could get confusing) are African-American single moms and friends. They are a bit too grumpy and angry this early on for my taste.

Peter and Sarah have a rather odd relationship. She was born with one very short leg, so she wears a prosthesis. He's her clinical prosthetist. And they recently started dating. It really sounds like she's more into him than the other way around. We shall see.

Rob and Kimberly are my least favorite type of couple on this show - the ones that aren't sure if they should get married - so they go on a high-pressure reality show. Brilliant, no?

Tom and Terry are gay boyfriends from New York City and they also are enforcing some stereotypes, as their introduction shows them getting manicures. As long as neither of them screams "Mother!" and throws confetti, I guess we'll be OK.

Tyler and James are pretty boy models, but they originally met because they were drug addicts in recovery. Now they are friends. So expect them to tell you constantly how they have overcome so much.

Vipul and Arti are the other married couple and are Indian-American. They are pleasant and non-threatening. She is gorgeous.

So...on with the Race! This season they began in Seattle and made their way to Beijing. It's surprising how hard it was for many of them to find the airport. I can tell you from being there that although Seattle is pretty big, there is like one main highway, and it runs right through the middle of town, so it's not hard to find. At the airport, everyone is surprisingly very nice to each other! We do learn that although Bilal is friendly, he can't shake a woman's hand because of his religion. You'd think that would have off-put Kellie, but she was very good-natured about it. What's with these people? Where's the indignation? (Not that she SHOULD be upset, it's just odd to find a reality show contestant to be so open-minded.)

Ah, indignation of another kind shows up in China, where Karlyn is irritated with Sarah - one minute she plays up her disability (like in getting a cab), other times she's "just like anyone else." Although Karyln is rather bitchy about it, she has a point, and you can see Sarah acting like that throughout the episode.

Speaking of Sarah, she runs into a major snag right away - her artifical knee is leaking hydraulic fluid. Where does one buy that in Beijing?

At the start, Phil warned that there would be twists, turns and surprises. Boy, was he not kidding. At the end of the first day, the last one to arrive was eliminated, even though it wasn't a pit stop! Sadly that ends up being Bilal and Sa'eed, so we won't get to see them anymore. I was definitley disappointed.

The girly-girls performed pretty strongly, which is nice to see. Although the beauty queens had a real struggle finding the restaurant for the first Roadblock. The place was called "Gold House," and they run around all over asking people where it is. ScottE and I joked that asking for a Chinese restaurant with Gold in the name is like finding a needle in a haystack - Gold Chopstick, Golden Bowl, Golden Wall...

What was most surprising was how David and Mary got along very well with the other teams, and were not really annoying! Sure, they bickered a bit. But I was happy to see that I wanted them to do well! Go Kentuckians!

And can we just say - scaling the Great Wall of China? Sign me up!

Sadly at the end there was another elimination, and Vipul and Arti were the victims after it took them far too long to find a pedi-cab station. They were good and drama-free about it.

So that's the fate of this Race - you never know who will do well and who won't! I guess I'm just hoping that this isn't another season where the final teams are people that are pretty and young (e.g. Tyler and James).

Next week - fun with hooved animals!

Also a programming note - for some reason Project Runway will not have a new episode this week. I know - I'm sad, too! But I guess that means I can put my focus on the Top Model premiere.


DC Food Blog said...

I totally forgot about the premiere of Amazing Race. Thanks for the recap. I was SOOOO pissed that Tucker Carlson just sat there for half trhe dance. Is that indicative of how he is in bved?

ScottE. said...

I fell asleep...oops...I was tired, not of the show though...just tired.

Only major comment I have to make...HOW EFFING STUPID DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO PULL OUT PLASTIC WATER GUNS AT A FREAKIN' AIRPORT????? Harvard, huh? Silly boys!

Stef said...

I've totally missed all of Dancing with the Stars so far. When is it even on???

TAR was great! I was really sad at both teams that got eliminated, cuz I thought they would be interesting to watch for a lot longer. I really don't like Rob and Kimberly either, and though it makes me feel bad to say it, I see why the Alabama moms were complaining about Sarah. The rest of the teams are okay with me so far - I figure it will take some more time for the really annoying quirks to come out!

Dancer in DC said...

Dancing is on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. The results show is the same time on Wednesdays, but I won't be watching it anymore. (Top Model time.)