This season of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) was — by every objective standard — a complete disaster. The falling ratings prove it, and producers would be well advised to make some urgent changes.

From text votes missing, good dancers being eliminated too early, bad dancers hanging on way too long, to a winner that still can’t dance but was great at stacking the votes, the show was terrible from start to finish.

It was a season only Howard Stern (who attempted to crash an American Idol season once) could love.

Sharna Burgess and Bobby Bones.

In fact, another syndicated radio host Bobby Bones, and his pro partner Sharna Burgess, won after he promoted the voting every day on the radio.

Bones may not be a household name, far from it, but he’s well connected within the country world. And he effectively developed a compelling story.

He was the “man of the people.”

Nothing to do with dancing, just a compelling story.

And Bones promoted that story hard.

Not many contestants have that type of audience — millions of listeners — every single day.

ABC must have known Bones was going to win, based on earlier vote totals that are not made public (which is too bad because a little transparency could motivate non-voters to actually participate.)

Thus why Monday night they had four couples head into the finals, so Bones wouldn’t be matched up against a clearly better pair.

Bones had no prior dance experience going into the show, and he never earned a score of higher than an 8 from any judge until the finale.

He remained under the radar because “Grocery Store” Joe Amabile was equally as bad, but more popular to discuss online.

And those Grocery Store votes could have shifted to Bones during the finale, having a huge impact with lower viewership.

The new champ has said he wants to get into politics, and he’s already admitted he is an expert in dirty shenanigans.

In his book, Bones revealed that in 2013 he spent $13,000 on a hoax to win over the Nashville country music audience.

Bobby Bones admitted he paid for these billboards in Nashville attacking himself in order to gain sympathy.

He paid for fake billboards all over the city, and then basked in the sympathy of those who felt he was being attacked.

Think of that for a second. The new DWTS champ lied to his listeners in order to drum up support.

He told the Washington Post that he “still can’t quite believe I got away with it.”

And most of us can’t believe he’s getting away with winning DWTS either:

If DWTS has lost Neil Patrick Harris, it’s lost all hope.

And the reality is it’s not just Harris who has stopped watching.

RATINGS:

The Nielsen company says viewership is down for DWTS.

Each episode averaged 8.2 million viewers the night that it aired and during the week afterward, down 22 percent from last year’s average of 10.4 million, Nielsen said.

The show was once a routine top 10 performer for ABC, but last week’s semi-finals finished out of the top 20.

Warning bells should be going off in every ABC executive’s office right now.

So what are the recommended fixes?

1) Let’s start with a problem the show MUST fix before it airs again:

STOP Discriminating Against West Coast Viewers.

That’s written extra big so all the DWTS producers and writers can see it.

How can it be possible, in 2018, that the entire population of western America is blocked from participating in the finale voting?

Can you imagine a presidential election where the biggest state in the union, and the fastest growing part of the country, are told “you can’t vote?”

Really?

What that means is that contestants with voting blocs from the east can load up their fans, while those who may be better known in the west, are left out.

That MUST change.

Whoever thought that was an acceptable idea at ABC, should be fired immediately. It’s not fair, it’s not good for the show, and it doesn’t reflect the entire audience.

2) Let’s get some more critical judging.

If DWTS is going to fly Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli from the UK each week, they can add Craig Revel Horwood too.

For those who have never seen Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC version of DWTS, you may not be familiar with Horwood who judges the show with Tonioli (Goodman retired last year).

Horwood is highly critical, sometimes mean, but always consistent. He’s a judge who would have given Bones a 4 on the finale night if he felt it was deserved.

And that’s the kind of critical judging that could spice up DWTS as it ages.

3) Let’s fix the rules.

Strictly Come Dancing also has different rules, to prevent a Bobby Bones from winning a dance show.

They have an entirely different judging system in place for their show.

Strictly initially scores dancers on a combination of judges’ ratings and the fans vote.

The two couples with the lowest number of points from a combination of judges’ scores and the results of the vote will go into a dance-off at the end of the show.

And that dance off, if used correctly, would have sent Bones packing weeks back, and Juan Pablo into the finales.

The judges scores prove it:

Producers of the American version of Strictly would be well advised to take a rules change into consideration.

Finally, ABC would be wise to take a year off to regroup.

The dancers seem tired, the celebrities are B and C level stars, and the show needs revamping.

Plus, it’s going to take awhile to regain some credibility with Bones as the reining dance champion.

Due to dwindling ratings in 2013, ABC reduced the show from two nights a week to one.

Now they could cancel the spring season and return again next fall.

And it’s clearly being discussed.

When host Tom Bergeron was asked on Twitter whether fans would see him again in the spring he responded:

And then he clarified:

For many fans, it’s going to take time to recover from this disaster of a season.

So maybe next fall, with a lot of changes, is best for everyone.

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