Former Knicks social media maven China is back to judge some DWTS action. This is the closest thing to competitive basketball we’ll get for quite some time. -Ed.
Greetings and Salutations!
Welcome to an exciting new frontier in Knicksdom: ballroom dancing.
Knicks legend, Garden favorite, Dolan-nemesis, and occasional loudmouth Charles Oakley is appearing on this season’s Dancing with the Stars and I, someone who has seen exactly one (1) episode of said show, will be recapping as long as the Oak Tree stands.
You will all be excited to know that I am uniquely unqualified for this task, since I know nothing about the show and have been living under a rock for years. Also! I thought it would be an hour or so of little dances but NO! It was over two hours long, this episode. Never mind! We are Knicks fans! We will not let logic get in the way of enthusiasm!
If you are a fan of Dancing with the Stars, I apologize for everything that will follow. If you are new to the show, a quick scouting report:
- Each “star” is paired with a professional dancer of the opposite gender, whose role is to teach them to dance and also, perhaps, to love
- Each couple does a dance. There are specific dances they must choose from, although they might not look like your idea of, say, “salsa.”
- There is a panel of three judges (Asian(?) lady, excitable older man, former-dancer-now-judge guy), plus a host and an English guy who couldn’t come to LA because of the ‘rona. These judges score the dances and give tips/encouragement.
- There are Outfits and Glitter and Confetti Canons
- Beginning next episode, fans can vote on their favorites to add to the judge’s scores
- Every week another couple is eliminated
- The prize is called the Mirror Ball
I am told by the internet that this is the 29th season of DWTS (that’s what we’ll be calling it), which is strange because I’m almost positive this show was not around in 1991, but perhaps TV years are very short. In this 29th season the host has been replaced by none other than Miss Tyra Banks, supermodel and reality TV sadist.
So let us begin.
Dancing with the Stars, Season 29, Episode 1
Tyra! Tyra in a giant fuchsia red ball gown! Tyra looking blonde and thicc. Good for you Tyra! (Fun fact: Tyra Banks and Chris Webber dated from 2002-2004.) Tyra is, as always, a little manic. Bringing that Iron Chef Chairman at Kitchen Stadium energy to the Ballroom.
This show is terrible, by the way. Coming in the middle of endless quarantine all the lights and costumes and glitter cannons feel very Hunger Games and I am repulsed and also fascinated. Everyone is turned up to 11, if not 13 or 14. It’s a lot. Hold me.
First up is a Backstreet Boy. AJ MacLean. MCClean? He’s a family man now (no one asked). He’s fine. 6/6/6
Next is a reality show woman with a somewhat immobile expression. Crishelle. There is a serious slit in her dress. She’s ok. 4/5/5
Tight end (& Super Bowl champion) Vernon Davis is next, he’s pretty good. 5/6/5, docked a point for an illegal lift
Now up is actress Anne Heche, sporting the glow of someone proven right about their ex. She seems very tightly wound but is quite good. 6/6/6
Just realized I should have been noting who the partners are. Next week!
Next is a woman named Jeannie Mai, who hosts things on TV. OK, why not? She’s Asian so I’m pulling for her. Represent! 6/6/6
Jesse Metcalfe, a handsome actor best known for being shirtless, gets 6/6/6. Judges like him but ironically I thought he looked uncomfortable in his skin.
Next is a Disney child with very large, anime-esque eyes. Skai. She is TINY. Teeny tiny tiny. And young! They keep mentioning that she is the youngest but do not say how young that is. 14-17 is my guess. But maybe 22! (Checks internet, answer: 18) She is also good! She pops down and up in a split and dances like a furious tiny mechanical dance doll so little and so perfect. 7/7/7
Next is Kaitlin, a Bachelorette (ABC cross marketing) who did not find love on her season, but lives with some other Bachelor. She’s is not exciting but she is excited. 6/7/7
Now there is another TV host. I would like that job, btw. His name is Nev and he hosts Catfished and he has a real trying hard inside-kid vibe, but he makes it work. He uses his post dance comments to tell his wife & family that even though his dance partner is wonderful, he loves only his wife (no one asked, keep an eye on this space.) 7/7/6
Next is Johnny Weir! He’s insane! But also, of course, very good. He bops around on his feet quite cleanly. You have to imagine it’s his to lose, but maybe that’s what he thought too? Will he work for it? 6/6/6
Next is Justina, an actress on One Day at a Time and she’s really great. Really fun and smiley stuff. 7/7/7
And now… wearing burgundy satin and coming in at 6’8” from Virginia Union, dancing Salsa (?I think?) to In Da Club, Charles Oaaaaakleyyyyy.
Oak’s intro montage includes a picture of the fight with Alonzo Mourning. He’s sporting silver baby dreads. He seems both slightly at a loss but also comfortable wherever he is. He is large.
And now for the dance:
OK! Oak is not great! It’s been a long offseason and he, shall we say, needs to shake the rust off.
Some of his moves look like warm-up stretches, and he’s visibly counting the steps.
BUT! He remains completely himself at all times. A little detached and bemused by the whole spectacle, unwilling to completely commit to this silliness but enjoying it nonetheless. Big favorite-uncle-at-wedding energy.
And it’s actually pretty interesting because something about Oak’s vibe makes it clear how hysterically ON everyone else on the show is. He ain’t about that life. He’s also, according to the judges, “flat footed,” and, “ahead of the music.” But he does have joy. Oak and Tyra discuss the travails of being tall. 4/4/4
It will be interesting to see if the glitter machine consumes Oak or if he remains on the outside of the drama. STAY TUNED!
Next is Monica someone, a cheerleading coach. Good, boring, and intense in just the way you’d imagine. 6/7/6
Now we’ve got Mr. Band-aid himself, Nelly! I’m still laughing. Nelly! He’s wearing diamond earrings the size of walnuts, but seems pretty chill. He does Salsa also (sort of) to his own song, Ride With (Wit?) Me. To be fair, it’s his partner that suggests this and Nelly just rides with it. He has short legs. Does that help? If being too tall is bad, is small good? I don’t know. Nelly does a backflip. 5/5/6
Last up is Carole Baskin. I have not seen the Tiger King show because I can’t deal with sad animals, but have gleaned that she may be responsible for a missing husband. I also thought this husband was the titular Tiger King and she was the Tiger Queen? But I don’t know. Anyway, tigers are big here and this lady is something. Really, really something. The dance is tiger-themed to Eye of the Tiger, which makes me wonder what they’re saving for next week if they’re blowing all of this so soon. Perhaps they don’t think they’ll be around for long. The judges agree, 4/4/3 (the 3 got boos).
So! At the end of Week One, our Oak Man’s honor is saved and last place avoided by a possibly felonious Tiger Queen, who was terrible and was also trying very hard.
See you next Wednesday, when I will remember What Was Danced and The Partners!