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Strictly Come Farcing
Gordon Pepper

Before I go on a tirade, let me says that I did like Dancing with the Stars. I have a major beef, however, with the way the show manipulated us in the last hour. As you will see, we were pulled into a final competition that not only reeked of a set up, but a complete waste of time as I accuse ABC of giving us a final judging round that was drama-packed, but completely irrelevant to the outcome of the event. In addition, I also accuse ABC of setting us up so that we'd be happy with the eventual winner - something that ABC knew was going to win a full week in advance.

I am sure that you are asking if I am accusing ABC of purposely fixing the event so that Kelly and Alec would win. The answer is no. I believe that ABC didn't fix the outcome so that Alec and Kelly would win. That outcome was already determined well before the airing of Wednesday's show, when the audience voting was, as Lisa Canning put it time and again, "counted and verified".

If you have seen the show, you all know how the scoring works - the judges are 50 percent of the score and the audience is the other 50 percent. What you also know is that the teams are ranked in terms of points, so, for arguments sake, let's say we have four teams...

  Judges Audience Total
Team 1 2 4 6
Team 2 4 1 5
Team 3 1 3 4
Team 4 3 2 5

As you can see, the judging is very important. Team #3 would have been eliminated, as they had the lowest composite score. But let's say we had a tie...

  Judges Audience Total
Team 1 2 2 4
Team 2 3 1 4
Team 3 1 4 5
Team 4 4 3 7

Now Team #1 and Team #2 are tied for the worst composite score. What happens? According to the rules on ABC's website, the team with the best audience score advances. Therefore, Team #1 survives and Team #2 is eliminated.

With that knowledge in mind, let's move on to the finals. As you will see, if the tiebreaker is on the audience vote, then winning the judge's vote is completely inconsequential. As we see, let's say that John and Charlotte rebounded and won the audience's vote...

  Judges Audience Total
John/Charlotte 1 2 3
Kelly/Alec 2 1 3

Even though John and Charlotte lost the judges' vote, it wouldn't matter, because if they win the audience's vote, they have both the tie AND the tie-breaker, making them the champs. So what did the judges' vote mean on the last night of competition?

Absolutely nothing.

This means that Kelly and Alec HAD to have won the audience vote. What it also means is that by knowing that Kelly and Alec won the audience vote, ABC also knew that they won the competition - and they had a really good idea that Alec and Kelly won at midnight on Thursday night last week. Sure, the online voting continued until Tuesday, but as the bulk of the votes would have come in within 24 hours of the show's airing, ABC would pretty much know who won. That gives them nearly a full week, fairly sure of who wins, to set up a great storyline that would make the show end with a bang.

Hence - 'The underdog of Kelly Monaco beating the judges' favorite of John O'Hurley' was the tag line, and they followed it all the way through, from the teasing of the advertisements through the beginning of the show through the theme of the show through Tom Bergeron's closing line of 'America loves the underdog'. They pounded that 'Underdog' theme all week long - and they did that because they knew that the Underdog was going to win the competition.

So this big brouhaha about the 2 dances and the all-importance of the judging? Not important at all, which made me wonder why the judges had to go out! of their way to crown Kelly and Alec the champs. In one of the more sickening judging moves that I have seen this side of the Torville & Dean winter ice skating Olympics controversy, the judges set us all up to see a Kelly victory.

After the first round, John/Charlotte was up by 2, and then scored a 27 in the third dance. That means that the only way that they lose is if Kelly/Alec get all 10's from the judges, which seemed incredibly unlikely because no 10 has been awarded throughout the competition. When I saw Kelly's routine, I thought it was good, but it wasn't better than John/Charlotte and it shouldn't have garnered 10's from all three judges. However, when the judges gave them all 10's, I had one of those pits in my stomach - the type of pit that you knew you were getting when you knew something was going to happen that you didn't like.

After that, we got the results from the audience, and we get the news that Alec and Kelly won. The voting didn't come from these performances - it came from LAST week. I think that it was dopey that the judges potentially pandered the scores so that it look like Kelly had this come from behind win, but of course, their scores didn't matter, so I can't accuse the judges of fixing the competition, since the competition was decided long before that happened. So I don't know whether to be angry or just bemused. I'll think about it during the weekend and decide then - or maybe I'll just give myself a 10 for the heck of it.

It should be noted that the extent of Gordon Pepper's dancing skills are limited to the occasional DDR fix. E-mail him at


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