When it comes to prime-time television, I've cultivated a lifetime of ignorance. I stopped watching TV in high school, didn't own a set for 25 years after that, then, purchased a big one, and it's been exclusively news, movies, or sports ever since. The arrangement seemed to be working; I didn't watch prime-time television, they didn't interrupt NFL football.
So, you can understand my nausea ("a feeling of sickness in the stomach characterized by an urge to vomit") to see prime-time TV slop onto my sports page by way of a story about Jerry Rice and a television show called Dancing with the Stars. Apparently Rice, the best wide receiver who ever lived, has brought himself small by doing the skanky cha-cha in front of 25 million strangers. This, in return for...what?
Only because it's Jerry Rice, I slog over to the computer and run a Google search, "Nielsen ratings."
Follows are Nielsen's top 20 prime-time shows for the week of February 13--16, 2006. I've omitted the Winter Olympics.
Show Rank Network Households My Participation
American Idol - Wednesday 1 FOX 18,143,000 Never watched it
American Idol -Tuesday 2 FOX 17,042,000 Never watched it
Grey's Anatomy 3 ABC 16,500,000 Never heard of it
Desperate Housewives 4 ABC 15,694,000 Never watched it
Dancing with the Stars 6 ABC 13,464,000 Never heard of it
CSI 7 CBS 13,154,000 Never watched it
House 10 FOX 12,619,000 Missed it
Lost 15 ABC 11,947,000 Never watched it
Dancing with the Stars - Results 16 ABC 11,316,000 Never heard of it
Survivor: Panama - Exile Island 17 CBS 10,807,000 Never watched it
Without a Trace 18 CBS 10,813,000 Never heard of it
CSI: Miami 19 CBS 9,677,000 Never watched it
Two and a Half Men 20 CBS 9,641,000 Never heard of it
Turns out Dancing with the Stars is number 6 and something called Dancing with the Stars-Results, is 16. Lucky for me, Dancing with the Stars will present its final dance-off this very night! I vow to be there with Jerry.
At 8 o'clock, the big Sony screen fills with opening credits and two, what looks to be, dog-show announcers -- one male, one female -- dressed in dog-show-announcer evening wear, appear. Male dog-show announcer says, "On this special night, one of the competitors will be crowned winner." Then, dog-show announcers introduce ten couples who competed this season. Do not recognize anyone except for the guy who was in the vampire movie and Master P. Actually, I don't recognize Master P either, but have the feeling I should, which counts for something.
Dog-show lady announcer says, "Each couple has chosen their favorite discipline and then created a brand new routine in just two days." She beams as if handed eternal life.
First up is my man, Jerry, and a female named Anna Trebunskaya. Dog-show announcers introduce past Jerry dancing highlights. Jerry moves like an automaton, wears a big Afro wig, looks like O. J. Simpson in The Naked Gun. Jerry dances the way John Kerry talks and every few seconds pops his eyes and opens his mouth, mimicking a landed bass gasping for air. This is very disturbing to watch.
Jerry and woman cha-cha. The judges give Jerry and the female three 9s out of a possible three 10s. Absurd. What in the fuck were they watching?
Next up is Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani. Unknown to me. Dog-show announcers introduce Stacy and Tony flashbacks. I learn Tony is the pro and Stacy is a wrestler. I think. Anyway, they do the samba. Stacy is good, way above amateur level. Afterward, judges grovel and award three 10s. We have justice.
Last in is Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke. Not bad. In fact, pretty okay. Female judge says they were always the most exciting performers. Bruno judge says Drew is a dynamo who could light up Los Angeles. All the judges score 9, same score as Jerry. Everybody keeps a straight face. The fix is in.
Getting hard to follow. Should have kept the scotch in the cupboard.
Musical intermission passes too quickly. Male dog-show announcer returns, says, "So far tonight, it's been a celebration, now it's about to become an elimination."
Cue foreboding music. Stacy and Tony, by far the best dancers, are immediately dismissed. Stacy tells male dog announcer about the memories, so happy for everybody. She cries.
All the ousted contestants return to bum out crowd with disco madness. Male dog announcer introduces another recap, this time of the final four. Jerry is being interviewed. He pops his eyes, says, "To win Dancing with the Stars, God, would be just like winning the Super Bowl for me."