Friends, it seems we're at the low point of the season. Most of us are tired of seeing at least one of the remaining eight faces, and although the finals will come before we know it, we all tend to be stuck at this point in the season wondering when it will end. Patience, dear readers, patience. Before I start with the formal review, a bit of commentary. Of course we all agree that "reality" programming is anything but real. Even calling it "unscripted" seems like pushing it sometimes. Shows like DWTS get stuck with the label "competition shows," but at some point it becomes a real question of how much of a competition this is, and how much of a ratings or demographics grab it is. How much of the drama is staged and how much of it is simply a shrewd producer working with what he has. It's been pointed out that the judges do watch the dress rehearsals, and it seems likely that they discuss the scores ahead of time with each other. The goal seems to be that the judges give America an entertaining display, with plenty of arguments. It's always been that way. Still, this season the scoring does seem to be just a tad more dramatic and more activist. I can't help thinking that the goal is to manipulate public opinion to an unfair degree. We all agree that "America is not terribly good at picking its idols." We also agree there have been some cases where America got it very wrong on DWTS. Still, it seems to this author that the producers desperately want a football player to go a few more weeks, because football players are good for ratings. On the other hand, it seems the southern/western demographic is too well represented at this point so the judges have decreed that either the rodeo cowboy or the country singer must go. This all seems very independent of the actual skill of the dancers. It's not just the judging, it's the music. It's all too easy for a dancer to heat up by getting just the right music for the dance (e.g. Ms. Kim), and too easy to see a favorite cool down by getting a bizarre music choice (e.g. Mr. Marini.) The dancers get the music they get and there's no possibility for changing. It seems just slightly too manipulative to this author. This is a public forum and I don't wish to make accusations. So, I'll ask the producers of the program to contact me if they wish. I live in Southern California and I'll gladly come meet with you for an interview. Prove me wrong. I'd love to see the set, maybe meet with Mr. Bergeron and talk about some people we both know (we went to the same high school.) ————— If any of you ever get a chance to read a story by Raymond F. Jones called "A Bowl of Biskies Makes a Growing Boy," published in 1973, it's a very interesting and scary look at how a combination of common food additives and manipulative television programming can achieve control over the people. It's only barely far-fetched.