I get “Dancing with the Stars.” I do. It’s homogenized, harmless entertainment: save for the occasional accidental panty shot, it has little opportunity to offend or corrupt. The fact that it has an audience is sort of endearing. It’s like tuning in for a Norman Rockwell painting.
Two minutes into Monday’s ninth season premiere, I’m watching six men dance -- and some of them have on a vest with no shirt. I am not this show’s target audience.
But Chuck Liddell is a contestant. And because this is viewed as some kind of progressive step forward for mixed martial arts, I hang in there. For as long as I can.
9:03 p.m. ET: Sixteen celebrities, in the absolute loosest sense of the word, are trotted out. I recognize a wax figure resembling Donny Osmond.
9:04 p.m. ET: A pan shot of the contestants. Macy Gray looks more uncomfortable in a dress than Liddell would.
9:06 -- 9:16 p.m. ET: I set my DVR to “amphetamines” and catch only every third frame of Aaron Carter in a leotard.
9:16 p.m. ET: Host Tom Bergeron, an affable man with a sense of humor from a spray can, tells the audience to “consider that Chuck’s most recent victory was over Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva.” Oh, I think everyone considered that, Tom. Which is why Liddell is on this show.
9:17 p.m. ET: Liddell informs viewers that fighters are not Neanderthals. A half-second later, the editing room has him saying “gwarrrr” in frustration over the dance steps.
9:18 p.m. ET: Liddell and partner Anna Trebunskaya take the stage: Liddell is wearing a top hat. Didn’t catch it? Here you go.
9:19 p.m. ET: Liddell makes a better fighter than he does a dancer. And he’s 1-4 in his last five.
9:21 p.m. ET: A gassed Liddell is forced to choke on the criticism of the judges. “Very poor footwork,” snipes one dance authority. “Get in touch with your feminine side,” bleats another. In San Luis Obispo, Liddell would already be wearing their skins.
10:40 p.m. ET: Liddell returns for a brief salsa interlude. “Chuck, you know how to work a woman,” says one judge. Read his book. She doesn’t know the half of it.
Final scores: 6, 5, and 5 out of a possible 10. Ashley Hamilton scores lower. I am not convinced Ashley Hamilton showed up. Liddell’s fate will be revealed during Wednesday’s results show.