I have to confess that, ever since Celebrity Fit Club 2 ended, I’ve been yearning for a show that would take the humiliation of B-List celebrities to a whole new level. Imagine my girlish glee when Fox announced Skating With Celebrities! Seriously, I squealed like a little girl <---- completely pathetic and true. There also may have been some clapping and jumping up and down, I can’t remember. What’s better than humiliating fat celebrities on TV? Putting uncoordinated celebrities on ICE! Brilliant! (*Guinness beer commercial voice*)
Here’s how the show works: Each “celebrity” is paired with a professional figure skater who is, in a number of cases, more well-known than the so-called celebrity. These pairs will skate a routine each week and each week they will have to master a new skill on the ice. My big questions: Who will draw first blood? Will Bruce Jenner really look like a giraffe on roller skates? Is Scott Hamilton part hobbit? How many tattoos does Jillian Barberie have? Is John Zimmerman’s marriage really rock solid? (Hey, a girl can dream) Let’s watch and find out!
Say “Hello” to My Little Friend
Co-hosting the show will be Scott Hamilton, Olympic Gold Medalist and all-around chipper guy. With him will be (oddly enough) swimmer, Summer Sanders, herself an Olympic Gold Medalist. I’m trying to figure out why they hired a swimmer for an ice skating show. Maybe the producers are thinking that water is water, frozen or not. Regardless, she towers over Lilliputian Scott, so it’s a good thing they don’t spend too much time standing next to one another.
Scott and Summer open the show. Scott yells like a little banshee (he may be in pain, but it sounds like he’s happy) and they proceed with the lame banter and summary of the show’s premise. They also tell us that this week’s scores will be combined with the scores from the performances next week. The lowest scoring team will be eliminated. Audience voting is fun and all, but I’m sort of glad it’s just down to the judges. We could end up with Master P. on ice and no one wants that. Speaking of judges, let’s meet them now!
The New Snap, Krackle and Pop
First up, and filling the role of Simon Cowell (i.e. providing snarky comments in a British accent), will be Sir John Nicks. He might be a bit demanding, but he does have the résumé – he’s coached several successful US pairs, including Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia and Jenni Meno and Todd Sand (They don’t mention that in his intro on the show. Hmmmm…wonder why). He currently coaches US National Champion, Sasha Cohen. Next up is someone who we’ll probably never hear utter the words “Yo, dawg!”: CNN Olympic Figure Skating Analyst (Okay, show of hands: who knew there was such a person?) and founder of Figure Skating Magazine, Mark Lund. The outfit he is wearing: black suit and red shirt worn just-so and with some sort of gold epaulet thingy on one shoulder, is very g-g-g-g-g-gay, to steal a phrase from Project Runway. I’m thinking that Mark’s signature phrase may be something like, “You GO girlfriend!” (with the finger snaps) but I could be wrong. Rounding out the trio is America’s Sweetheart and Olympic Gold Medalist, Dorothy Hamill. For lack of a better description, she’ll be this show’s Paula. She looks incredible and must have a painting in her attic that looks about 150 years old.
Teams will be scored on artistic expression and technical merit. Each round will become more challenging, as they add more difficult required elements to their routines. Tonight, the teams must all perform a spin of at least three revolutions, either as a single or a pair spin.
The show has constructed a giant ice rink for the teams to practice in and I’m shocked to learn that they’ve only been practicing for a month. After a month, the only way I’d be able to spin around three times on the ice would be if I was sitting on my ass. Let’s hope the choreography will be more advanced than that. Before we get started with the blow-by-blow snark, let’s meet the soon-to-be emergency room patients, shall we?
A Cast of Thousands <---- Only a slight exaggeration
- Dave Coulier
How you know him: TV’s Full House, Season 3 of The Surreal Life, the most hilarious cartoon character impressions ever (sarcasm)
While Dave has played hockey for many years, that experience won’t help him much. That tired Bullwinkle impression won’t help either because Dave’s partner is:
- Nancy Kerrigan
How you know her: Olympic bronze (1992) and silver (1994) medalist, crying “Whyyyyyy? Whyyyyy?” after being clubbed in the knee, marrying her older business manager à la Celine Dion
Nancy’s PR flaks are always talking about how she’s really a tomboy and not the ice queen she’s been perceived to be. Whatever, Nancy. 95% of Nancy’s credits include “on ice” in the title. Did you know there was a “Footloose on Ice?” Me neither.
- Bruce Jenner
How you know him: 1976 Gold Medal in the Decathlon, Wheaties boxes everywhere, the cover of AARP Magazine (fiction….I think)
At 55, Bruce is the oldest skater on the show, by far. He might still be pretty athletic, but I’m worried he could break a hip. Hopefully, he’ll be helped along by his partner:
- Tai Babilonia
How you know her: She and partner, Randy Gardner were considered the favorites to win a gold medal in pairs at the 1980 Olympics. He injured himself in practice and they had to withdraw.
Since the 1980 Olympics, Tai has stayed out of the limelight for the most part. Her bio says that she’s engaged to comedian David Brenner, who I thought was dead. Girl must like the funny ones….and the old ones.
- Deborah Gibson
How you know her: As Debbie Gibson, Bubblegum pop singer of the early 1990’s, my nightmares
Since she became Deborah, she’s been doing lots of musical theater and is, by all accounts, pretty good. If she skates to any of her own songs, I will hurt someone. Her partner is a personal favorite of mine:
How you know him: Four-time World Champion and four-time Canadian Champion, killer footwork, prone to wearing leather pants
Kurt is arguably the best skater who never won a gold medal at the Olympics. Since host Scott Hamilton retired, Browning has taken over as the top showman in the professional skating world. Hopefully, his personality will make up for Deborah.
- Todd Bridges
How you know him: TV’s Diff’rent Strokes, his mug shots
Todd hasn’t been so successful with the acting thing since he became an adult. I know he’s been doing some episodic television. At least he’s not stuck doing commercials for Cash Call like Gary Coleman. Todd and his partner will look like negative images of each other:
- Jenni Meno
How you know her: She and her partner/husband Todd Sand were three-time US National Champions and three-time World medalists.
From the previews, we know that, while Jenni is a beautiful and elegant skater, she has no rhythm. They clearly paired her up with Todd Bridges so they could do the cutesy thing of having her be a part of another “Jenni and Todd” pair.
- Jillian Barberie
How you know her: TV’s Good Day LA and FOX NFL Sunday
Some may find Jillian annoying. She’s loud and brash and tends to wear clothing that barely contains her assets. I’m annoyed with her because she will be obstructing the view as I try to watch her partner:
How you know him: Three-time US National Champion and World Bronze medalist (2002) with his partner, Kyoko Ina, my fantasies (okay, that’s how I know him), Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
Although John looks like perfection on skates, those who watched him on QE know that inside those skates lurk two of the nastiest feet ever. I love a man with flaws. John is married to Italian figure skater, Silvia Fontana, who is also unbelievably gorgeous. They could breed a superior race.
- Kristy Swanson
How you know her: The original Buffy in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dude. Where’s my Car?
I don’t have much to say about Kristy. Based on her list of credits, I should know more about her, but I don’t. Kristy will be skating with:
- Lloyd Eisler
How you know him: Five-time Canadian Champion and World Champion in 1993 with his partner, Isabelle Brasseur, who he flung around like a rag doll
I always thought of Lloyd as a big guy but you know what? He doesn’t look so big next to Kristy. Lloyd still looks pretty strong. Hopefully, Kristy won’t be one of the ones getting dropped this season….
The theme for tonight is “Music from the Movies.” I sit on my couch and think, “Please, let them not use ‘Footloose.’” My second thought is, “Please God, don’t let Debbie Gibson have written anything for the movies.”
Kurt Browning and Deborah Gibson
Deborah and Kurt hit it off right away. Deb figures that they’re both theatrical, so it’s a perfect fit. They rehearse together for a little bit, Kurt is concerned about his lack of experience with pairs skating. Seeing as how Deb is about his size, I can’t say I blame him. Instead of sending Kurt off to the weight room, they work on finding a way to use Deborah’s theatrical skills to take away from the fact that they won’t have the same types of tricks the other pairs will have, especially John and Lloyd, who are experienced at lifts.
Their routine is skated to "How do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning?” Deb is in a sequined 50's housewife kind of getup and Kurt is dressed like a gay blackjack dealer with a fedora. Enough with the hat, we know you’re bald. We like you anyway. Kurt does a jump and they both do some pretty good footwork, especially considering Deb’s a complete novice. She gets through her required spin on one foot and with no problem. They also do a little lift – go Kurt! It’s cute and not too difficult, but Deb stays on her skates and they get the job done with lots of personality. Scott is über excited when they finish. Deb tells him that it feels great to be out there trying something new.
The judges say:
Dorothy Hamill: Congrats! The routine was very entertaining and she was enchanted. Scores: Technical 8.0/Artistic 8.2
John Nicks: Kurt, it was your normal style: lots of energy and exciting. BUT there was too much fluff and not enough substance. Scores: Technical 7.8/ Artistic 8.0
Mark: Loved the spin. BUT – Kurt, you really shouldn’t step on the girl while she’s doing the lunge (Kurt did stumble over Deb’s leg a bit at one point). Scores: Technical 8.0/ Artistic 8.0
Total score: 48 (out of 60)
Summer asks them how it feels to be in first place….after one pair has skated. Good grief.
Bruce Jenner and Tai Babilonia
When Bruce arrives at the arena to meet Tai for their first practice, she is clearly worried about who her partner will be. By the way she greets him, it’s obvious that they already know each other. Tai tells us that they have known each other since the 1976 Olympics. Bruce tells Tai that he thinks they should graceful, slow, deliberate. We see footage of Bruce skating around like, yes, a giraffe on roller skates. A coordinated one, but still. Bruce’s says his biggest issue is his knee, on which he’s had two surgeries. They’re just not sure if those old knees will hold out. As if to put an exclamation on that point, we get a shot of Bruce hitting the ice. Hard.
Bruce and Tai skate to the theme from An Officer and a Gentleman. He’s dressed in Navy dress whites, she in a lovely red dress. It is très corny. There are a few points where Bruce looks like he’s a little wobbly, but Tai seems to keep him on track. They do side-by-side spins with no problem. Then, just to up the ante, they do two waltz jumps and now I’m impressed. Old guy’s throwing down! He’s not terribly graceful, but it’s pretty darn good. Plus, Tai is graceful and beautiful enough for both of them. In the audience, we see Bruce’s wife and kids cheering. Scott Hamilton says he is blown away.
The judges say:
John Nicks: Tai is still one of the most beautiful skaters in the world and you both look like you have a wonderful relationship on the ice (and here I’m thinking, “Hey, this is going pretty well)...BUT skating should combine athleticism and artistry and Bruce has no artistry. Scores: 8.0/ 8.1
Dorothy Hamill: Very impressive, because a slow number doesn’t let you hide skating flaws. Good edges. Scores: 8.1/8.3
Mark Lund: Having taught adult skaters, he knows how hard a waltz jump can be to learn. Congrats on doing two. Scores 8.2/ 8.1
Total score: 48.8
Tai says that Bruce works so hard and she understands why he accomplished so much athletically. Bruce demures, saying that he has the best partner.
Kristy Swanson and Lloyd Eisler
Things start out well for these two and we see proof of that as Kristy does a fairly impressive scratch spin….after which she falls on her butt. They quickly discover a problem: Kristy is left-handed and Lloyd is right-handed. This will make it very difficult for them to spin in the same direction. They might just try spinning in opposite directions. We then see footage of Lloyd lifting Kristy, right before they both go down. Kristy wonders what she’s gotten herself into and I rub my hand together, wickedly hoping someone’s hitting the ice tonight.
Kristy and Lloyd are both wearing black sequin-y outfits and skate to The Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe” from some movie I’ve must never have seen. Either that or I fell asleep as soon as this song came on. The routine starts out pretty slow and well, yeah, it stays pretty slow. Seriously, who picked this music? Kristy almost bites it while in the middle of a spiral, but Lloyd steadies her and there is, sadly, no spillage. They actually do a few quite good lifts and they manage to do their spins together well, even while spinning in opposite directions. All in all, they did pretty well. The music was awful, but they overcame it, for the most part. Kristy looks elated. Scott Hamilton is, of course, amazed. I’m thinking it doesn’t take much to impress Scott. He seems to be in a constant state of excitement (Minds out of the gutter, please. Shame on you!).
The judges say:
John Nicks: Slow number. Good lifts, of course, and Kristy looked good in the air BUT (always with the big but) he was expecting something faster and more exciting from Lloyd. Scores: 7.9/ 7.9
Dorothy Hamill: Dorothy agrees, telling Kristy that she has the best partner imaginable. She feels that they didn’t show a connection on the ice and looked like two people just skating. Still, it was great for the first night. Scores: 7.9/ 7.9
Mark Lund: Good first try but wanted he more energy. The spirals were nice, but a bit weak. Scores: 8.0/ 7.9
Total score: 47.5
Kristy admits that the spiral wasn’t great but says that she hasn’t had that problem before. In response to Summer’s question about the scores, Lloyd says that everyone knows how he feels about judges (By the by, Mr. E is prone to flipping them the bird when not happy) and that they will be back.
Todd Bridges and Jenni Meno
Todd has lots of skating experience: roller skating experience. This will not help him at all on the ice. We are treated to a montage of Todd flopping around on the ice like a cod. Jenni says she’s worried about Todd, even though he’s wearing more pads than a 5 year old skateboarder. While Todd can’t stay on his feet, Jenni runs into trouble: she can’t dance. They showed footage. She’s not lying.
Todd and Jenni skate to Will Smith’s “Wild, Wild West,” which is a song from a movie made in the last 10 years and that I have actually heard. Todd is dressed up in black pants and vest and a blue shirt - sort of like skating's version of Jim West. Jenni looks adorable in a bustier kind of a top with a denim-y skirt. There are lots of sequins. They start out dancing a bit and Jenni does pretty well. By “pretty well” I mean that she doesn’t look like she’s having a seizure any more. But, she’s cute as can be and is really trying to sell the number. They do a couple of little lifts, get through the spin pretty well and even do a throw jump towards the end. It seems like they choreographed it to accommodate Todd’s lack of balance and there really are a few moments where it looks like he’s going down. The routine finishes off with Todd on the ice intentionally. Scott is, typically, excited.
The judges say:
Mark Lund: Wow Jenni, you can almost dance now! From the footage he saw, Todd has come a long way. Scores: 7.8/ 8.1
Dorothy Hamill: Loved it. Entertaining. Scores: 7.8/ 8.3
Sir John Spoilsport: Asks for his glasses since he didn’t see the same thing the other judges did. Exciting performance, but mainly because he thought that Todd could fall and break his neck at any moment. Why did you let Jenni dance? She’s not on the beat half the time. He suggests dumping this program and going to Plan B. Todd tells John that Plan B is that they come and train with him. Scores: 7.7/ 8.0
Total score: 47.7
John Zimmerman and Jillian Barberie
Jillian says that her parents are most proud of her appearance on this show. Not surprising considering some of the others shows she’s done. She says she’s excited to be skating with John Zimmerman. Partly because he’s a model and partly because he’s a three-time US champion. He’s pretty (I’m reduced to fangirly blathering here) *wipes drool off of chin* Jillian says she wants to really push herself. John says he doesn’t want to lose the competition because of injury. Jillian thinks that skating clean means skating “safe.” She still says she’s going to go for it and hope it doesn’t backfire. John looks alarmed.
John and Jillian skate to Kelly Clarkson’s “The Trouble with Love.” He’s beautiful. He has on leather pants. Is it hot in here? Oh, and Jillian looks good too. Every time she leans over, I expect one of the “girls” to flop out of the front of her halter dress (for the male viewers, this could be a plus). You know Jill, the only girls who can wear a halter-style skating dress without fear of a wardrobe malfunction are the ones who are built like Skipper. As the routine gets going, it’s obvious that Jillian has skated before. She’s much more sure of herself on the ice than any of the other celebs. They do several lifts and a respectable scratch spin. Color me impressed. Scott says they’re so hot they could melt “all this stuff.” That’s ice, Scott. Come on man. Stick with us here. They’re just breasts.
The judges say:
Mark Lund: A first-class performance. Scores: 9.0/ 9.0
Dorothy Hamill: HOT! If you need another career Jill, you could take up ice skating. Scores: 8.4/ 9.0
John Nicks: Couldn’t find much wrong with that one. He’s happy. (and I’m shocked). Scores: 8.4/ 8.7
Total score: 51.8
Nancy Kerrigan and Dave Coulier
Dave is a huge hockey fan and Nancy is worried. Dave skates up in hockey skates and Nancy tries to explain to him that those won’t work for figure skating. Dave puts on figure skates and quickly meets his nemesis: the toe pick. He falls down a lot and finally decides to grind off the toe picks. Choreographer, Randy Gardner tells Dave that he needs the toe picks to stop and turn. Dave says he knows what he’s doing. To summarize: Dave won’t be falling down, but he will only be able to skate in a straight line and will, therefore, be hitting the boards (or heading into the crowd) quite a lot.
Dave and Nancy, dressed in black suits, fedoras ands sunglasses like the Blues Brothers, skate to “Soul Man.” They don’t do too much at first, but they do it pretty quickly. There’s a bit of pseudo-dancing and they perform their spin. Nancy does a cartwheel and they complete a throw jump. They also do some footwork that is very hockey-ish. Way to play to your strengths, Dave. Scott = amazed. Again
The judges say:
Mark Lund: Well done and entertaining. Dave needs to work more on his stroking, but that might be a problem, since he doesn’t have a toe pick anymore. Nancy was wonderful. Scores: 7.9/ 8.1
Dorothy Hamill: The routine was fun and she loved choreography. Dave has great skating skills and you can see some hockey moves in there. Scores: 8.3/ 8.3
John Nicks: Dave looked stable on ice and complemented Nancy well. Dave needs to decide if he’d rather have a hockey stick in his hand or Nancy. [insert your own joke about Nancy and a stick] Scores: 8.2/ 8.5
Total score: 49.3
That’s all for this week, so let’s take a look at the standings:
- Jillian and John – 51.8
- Dave and Nancy – 49.3
- Bruce and Tai - 48.8
- Deborah and Kurt – 48.0
- Todd and Jenni – 47.7
- Kristy and Lloyd – 47.5
Next week The show moves to Monday night at 8 (mark your calendars or set your Tivo!). Also: more chills and spills! The editors manufacture a dramatic injury and one pair gets eliminated! You’ll be blown away!
Critical@fansofrealitytv.com couldn't skate her way out of a paper bag.