Pop Culture

Can the judges! Boot Brooke! But 'Dancing' can't lose Tom Bergeron

Adam Taylor / ABC / Today
Tom Bergeron

The end of yet another season of "Dancing With the Stars" is upon us, and like others before it, it's had plenty of bad ballroom moments. Judges' scores often didn't match the dances. Results shows featured more filler than action. And one twist even took power away from the people who watch the show.

But it wasn't all bad. In fact, one part of this season -- and the others before it -- was perfect. When it comes to fine form and show-saving service, host Tom Bergeron deserves all 10s.

Sure, Tom doesn't have to teach celebs to salsa, evaluate their moves or even hit the floor himself (except for that one time when he did just that), but that doesn't mean he's not able to carry the show when the other parts fall apart.

He is, after all, the best live-TV host in the biz (no offense to the also awesome Ryan Seacrest), and that means something.

This season it's meant defusing tension, wise-cracking through dull moments and even acting as the ballroom's always-appropriate father figure.

As for the tension, for a show chock-full of sequined costumes and spray tans, "Dancing" features as surprising amount of high-stress moments. Sometimes they're the result of problems on the panel (such as inequitable scoring) or grumpy pros (such as Maksim Chmerkovskiy after facing some of that inequitable scoring) and sometimes it's just the normal tension that comes with face-to-face critiques.

Regardless of the cause, Tom's there to save the day with his quick wit -- or in the case of moody Maks, he's there with a hop and camera-ready reaction when the pro gooses him (and mad or not, Maks always gooses him).

Back in week six, when head judge Len Goodman nitpicked William Levy's rumba for featuring too much side-to-side hip moves when what Len really wanted to see was "back and forth action," Tom didn't skip a beat before telling the audience "Later at home tonight, Len will be reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'"

Of course, some situations call for more than a quick zinger. Good thing Tom shines during the serious moments, too.

Longtime viewers will no doubt recall Tom's fast thinking back in the show's fifth season, when Marie Osmond passed out on stage. Tom knelt by her side, showed concern, maintained a calm demeanor for the audience and threw to a commercial as easily as if it had all been rehearsed.

This season, when "Dancing" queen Katherine Jenkins had her own panicked crisis following an injury on the dance floor, Tom was by her side and once again making sure all was well before getting back into the usual swing of the show.

Another rescue Tom deserves credit for was his role navigating the dreaded Dance Duel. This season's dance-off twist prevented the audience from having a say in the eliminations. Sure they were still encouraged to vote, but they could only help determine the bottom two pairs. The judges picked who would stay and who would go based on slap-dash duels.

Needless to say, many fans of the show weren't fans of the twist, and the pros and the stars felt much the same. But someone had to keep it moving and check in with the celebs after the judges delivered their Duel reviews. Normally the post-judge chatter goes to co-host Brooke Burke Charvet, who's often called the Brooke-bot due to her predictable questions made up largely of the line "How does that feel?" But Tom mixed it up when it was his turn.

"I know Brooke gets some heat for saying (that)," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I found myself treating it like it was a landmine. I didn't want to step on."

And he didn't. But that's Tom. He's always on his toes. And he's just as good out of the ballroom when he's out promoting the show.

When asked what fans could expect on "Dancing" in the future, he once deadpanned to Maximo TV: "Well, there will be more people getting spray tanned and dancing. Then there will be fewer of them every week. And at the end, somebody will win a little goofy trophy and go, 'Really?!'"

It's almost time to bring out that goofy trophy this season. But should the ballroom bosses decide to tweak the show's formula before returning for next season, here's hoping they realize that Tom's the one part of the show they should never change.

Would you still tune in to the ballroom bash if Tom Bergeron ever left the show? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.


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