TV Series Review

My parents, despite being in high school when Elvis Presley was in his prime, didn't listen to a lot of rock 'n' roll when I was growing up. Their record collection was filled with waltzes and sambas and old musical soundtracks. So, deprived of "All Shook Up," my sister and I would dance around the living room for hours, pretending to be Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

We'd never seen Fred or Ginger dance, mind you. But we'd heard stories about them from my mom—how light they were on their feet, how they spun and twirled and made music out of movement. My sister and I wanted to be just like them.

My sister now teaches dance for a living, while the only dancing I do these days is a little victory jig when my editor doesn't cut my copy. Still, when it comes to reviewing Dancing With the Stars, I bring a little more history to the project than most.

Not that I really need it that much. Because Dancing is pretty straightforward: Well-known personages, ranging from sports superstars to D-list celebrities, are paired with professional dancers and made to dance their little ankles off—performing everything from intricate jives to backbreaking paso dobles. Each week someone gets voted off, and the last celebrity standing (and, by that time, likely gasping for air) wins.

And the thing is, many of these celebrities—despite being rich and famous already—seem to really want to. While some stars dance about as well as the average garden vegetable, by the time the contest advances, the dancing is really quite good. My sister and I certainly would have thought so. Stars who reach the final episodes push themselves hard to get there, and along the way we're given a glimpse of how some of these folks became famous in the first place—most often through dedication and hard work. At times it can be quite inspiring.

Still, Fred and Ginger this is not. While some of the traditional ballroom dances might be pulled right from a 1930s musical, the show turns more salacious when the music turns spicy. Some of this is, frankly, obvious: Tangos, mambos and other Latin-style dances have historically been more sexually charged than the average waltz or foxtrot. But I have a hard time imagining that folks in 1940s Havana wouldn't raise an eyebrow at all the clothes-shedding, leg-grabbing, floor-crawling maneuvers seen here. It can edge far closer to Dirty Dancing than Top Hat.

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Episode Reviews

DancingWiththeStars: 5182010
DancingWiththeStars: 5172010

Credits

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Cast

Hosted by Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke; judged by Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba and Len Goodman

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Network

ABC

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Reviewer

Paul Asay

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