For some reason, Ralph Macchio can no longer do right from the judges' perspective on "Dancing With the Stars"; from Golden Boy he has tumbled to also-ran in their eyes, and the reasons are not immediately apparent. Last night he scored a 22, placing him -- for the first time this season -- in the bottom.
Or, tied with two others with the bottom.
Is he vulnerable tonight?
Almost certainly not, but never say never. I'm still assuming the string has run out on the Kendra-Louis team, but maybe because they landed in the 1000th dance competition slot that could actually save them despite that whateverthatthingamajig they danced last night.
So reasons for Ralph's troubles? Let's sort 'em:
1) Len Goodman: His tastes have become well-known over the years; he's a task-master, a ballroom-dancing judge of many years' standing who demands perfection of form and mastery of detail over all the stuff that goes into a TV competition show. To him, Macchio has failed to nail those requisite details, and the other judges do look to him as a leader, whether they say so or not. So Len is not helping Macchio.
2) The routines: It's easy to blame routines before blaming the dancers, but last night did Macchio little favor. It was a curious admixture of a cowboy stomp -- Agnes De Mille choreography from "Oklahoma!" -- with the samba; the two don't go together, and they canceled out each other. Entertaining, but that doesn't score points.
3) Skill-set: No one has or had much of a skill-set coming into this, but Macchio's real expereince came with tap dancing; did a lot of that in high school, and did it quite well. But the problem with tap dancing, of course, are the feet -- at the expense of the hands. He has good foot movement, but is less sure with his hands and has been penalized accordingly.
4) Karina: Whether anyone cares to admit it, and no one will, her Playboy shoot has been a ridiculous distraction. Imagine -- a pro does Playboy in the middle of the season? What is that all about? Playboy and this show have a long, bizarre association -- an association, I am convinced born of the producers' desire to keep the old guys in the audience watching while their wives avidly do, so they were certainly happy to have the Karina-Playboy business in the press. Playboy almost seems to own this show: Brooke Burke, a former Playmate. Kendra Wilkinson, a former Playmate. There have been a half-dozen on this show over the seasons. Now, Ralph is hooked up with one. The judges are bugged by it -- I'm convinced Len is bothered especially -- and some viewers are, too. Ralph? Maybe he is as well. It's just strange ...