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Best and worst: 'Dancing With the Stars' Season 7

November 25, 2008 |  4:59 pm

Dwts_all_p1 As co-host Tom Bergeron’s booming voice will undoubtedly tell us when the results show opens at 8/7 Central, it all comes down to tonight on “Dancing With the Stars.”  We will at last crown the winner of Season 7, by which I mean that someone will take home the mirror-ball trophy.  I always imagine -– no matter who wins it -– that the trophy will someday undergo an adventure like the crystal egg in “Risky Business.”  Maybe looking into the fate of the various trophies can be part of a future series on VH1: "After the Sequins."   

So let’s look back at the extremes of Season 7.  I’m doing this by memory and by looking at my old Show Tracker posts, so I’m hoping that you will all weigh in with your own categories, reminiscences and winners.

Best Co-Host
I’ve watched only the past two seasons of “DWTS,” but I suspect that Tom Bergeron is on a streak of winning this title. Tom brings welcome wryness, intermittent heckles and an ability to ad-lib to the show. I haven’t been keeping track of all of his off-the-cuff witticisms over the season, but last night had a good example: After Kym shed a scrap of sequins from her costume, Tom held it up and said, “On Edyta, this would be an entire costume.”      

Worst Co-Host
When I give Samantha Harris this award, it is not from the perspective that I could do it better. Oh, no –- I certainly could not.  I’m no good at improv, and even if I spent my days walking on my hands, my shoulders would never look so toned. And I certainly don’t blame her for the recent hairstyling malfunctions that have transpired. But really, what does she add to the show? Couldn’t those post-dance interviews have a bit more content? That was one thing Cloris Leachman really brought to “DWTS”: the possibility that something interesting might occur in the red room.

Most Dramatic Injury
No surprise here: Misty May-Treanor looked at Cristian de la Fuente’s ruptured bicep from last season and decided to totally outdo him by rupturing her Achilles. That seems like a million years ago, doesn’t it?  Who knows what might have been if she’d remained in the competition? I bet she would have outlasted Susan Lucci at least. 

Least Dramatic Injury
I suppose this would have to be Jeffrey Ross’ scratched cornea back in Week 1. Now, I don’t doubt that a scratched cornea is debilitating and painful, but what a way to go out –- wearing an eyepatch. 

Most Noticeable Improvement
My gut is to say that Lance Bass is the winner here, but I think part of it is really improved choreography –- namely, that Lacey figured out how to showcase her and Lance’s strengths while also playing to the judges’ requirements. But Lance did at least stop talking about his tortured past as the worst dancer in NSYNC, and I consider that a big improvement.

Improbable Lack of Improvement
This award has to go to Lucci, who struck me as genuinely eager to improve and yet totally failed to do so. Sure, the judges sometimes applauded her for showing more tiger in her performances, but, really, she remained so careful, restrained and nonrhythmic that her final week wasn’t really much better than, say, Week 2. 

Most Surprising Elimination
The obvious answer here is Toni Braxton, who possessed the technical skill to go much further in the competition but who was eliminated before Cloris. This did not totally defy explanation, however, since she and Alec did seem to have a hard time really pulling it all together -– technique, charisma, choreography –- into a judge- and crowd-pleasing spectacle. 

Least Surprising Elimination
The week Misty had to withdraw, we learned that Rocco DiSpirito would have been axed if Misty had stayed on to compete. So it was hardly shocking when Rocco went home the following week.

Most Clever Results-Show Filler
I liked the fake political advertisements about each contestant just before the election. In particular, the anti-Cloris ad stood out: “Hasn’t Cloris Leachman cost this production enough?”

Most Tired Results-Show Filler
Do we really need to have so many trash-talking clip sequences that take place in underground, industrial, steam-filled settings?  Maybe if the writers of “The Daily Show” were making up the lines, it would be worth it. Otherwise, I beseech the producers and writers of “DWTS” to come up with something different for next season.

Most Ingenious Casting Decision
Based on the media coverage and on the feistiness of the comments on this and other blogs, the casting of Cloris brought new life –- and peril -– to each episode in which she remained in contention.

Most Reckless Casting Decision
If some comments are to be believed, the casting of Cloris may have driven longtime viewers away from the show since she stayed on well past the point where her technical skills merited it. Of course, as other commenters have pointed out, this isn’t the first time that someone has remained in contention based on personality and fan base rather than dancing abilities.

Best Dance(s)
OK, this was prompted by Monday night’s look back at each finalist’s best performances, but that was helpful. Brooke’s paso doble to the diamond-commercial music was indeed breathtaking, and, as I’ve mentioned, I really liked Lance’s tango. The best of all dances may have been Julianne and Derek’s jive –- designed by the viewers –- which made me feel a bit woozy with exhaustion just by watching it.

Worst Dance(s)
I suppose she just knew it was time to go, but Cloris’ final dance, the cha-cha, seemed like a rather weak effort for someone who had stayed in for more than half of the season. And Susan’s performance in the group hip-hop routine -– yikes. These stood out as worse than some of the merely inept dances by those who were eliminated earlier.

Most Welcome Innovation
I thought that the introduction of several group and team dances –- performed for judges’ scores, viewers’ votes, or both –- was a good call.  It was interesting to see which stars could perform well as part of a team. I’m not talking so much about who’s a good team player as who could manage to dance well in unison, which seems like a skill that’s relevant to choosing a winner. And these group numbers just provided nice energy and broke up what can get to be a very rote structure as the season wears on.

Less Successful Innovation
I don’t think this move was totally unsuccessful, but I had mixed feelings about the four new dances introduced: the West Coast swing, the hustle, the salsa and the jitterbug. In short, I thought the West Coast swing was kind of a dud –- it fell into the rumba and Viennese waltz category of snoozers. If they do these dances again, I think that the producers got something right on the second go last week -– namely, to have pros show us what the dances should look like before we see the competing couples perform them.

So that’s my take, fans. What do you think? What were the highlights and lowlights for you? What did I forget? 

-- Sarah Rogers

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