Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann



8 p.m. Mondays

It's all starting to make sense now. I think this must be the studios' strategy to bring the striking writers -- and by extension, everyone else in Hollywood -- to their knees: Transform primetime into a single elaborate dance marathon. Who needs the creative community when you've got an endless procession of hot youngsters willing to gyrate and emote on cue? Think of it as a slightly more aerobic version of the Chinese water torture. It can't be long now. "Please. We're pleading here for mercy. Name your price. Fine, sure, you can have residuals back. We'll write for sushi, OK? Just make it stop!"

The move to make over once-valuable real estate into an amateur dance floor continues with this ABC "Dancing With the Stars" spinoff, "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann," but it might just as easily be titled "Same Old Song and Dance (Now 60% Dumber!)." What we have here is derivative, repetitive and unimaginative -- the perfect six-episode vehicle to keep the viewing public stuporously sated.

Clearly designed to bridge the boogie-deprived gap between Seasons 5 and 6 of "DWTS," "Dance War" joins the show's Season 2 champ Drew Lachey with "DWTS" judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba as host and team captains, respectively.

The breathtakingly annoying Bruno and Carrie Ann scoured Los Angeles, New York and Nashville for talent in the two-hour premiere, ultimately forming rival teams that not only dance each week but sing, too. This qualifies as a revolutionary wrinkle, one that dares slip a toe over onto (gasp) "American Idol" turf. You could well have guessed that a performer or three will get eliminated each week, and whoever is left dancing at the end will get to tour with a "major performing artist" and become part of a new song-and-dance act. The rest will be made to feel like utter failures on national TV because humiliation has grown to become the latest opiate of the masses.

Here we are barely into Month 3 of the walkout, and already I'm sick to death of real people cluttering up my living room. What I wouldn't give to see one lousy actor merely pretending to dance. Or even just act.