First of all, I want to say that I completely agree with Karalott about the camera work/angles being worse on the new set. The camera is all over the place, and I think that it takes away from performances.
Hope: I really do think that the judges, well perhaps Carrie Ann and Len, don't seem to like Hope for some reason. If I am wrong about that, well, that is how they both come across in their comments. And they criticize her for not being feminine enough or doing a better job of acting, yet they give others a free pass for other things that are just as noticeable. If it appears that Maks has checked out this season, I imagine that it is because he sees the writing on the wall.
If it weren't a complete travesty for JR to not make the finals, it would serve them right to end up with Chaz, Nancy and Rob in the finale. I bet that there would be a major dropoff in the ratings if that were to happen. I wonder if they would then get the message that we aren't interested in the controversy.