Tonight's good news? Steve Martin, the best host in Academy Award history, will be back this year.
I'm surprised that the producers decided they need two hosts, adding Alec Baldwin. Baldwin's fine, but he's no Steve Martin; nobody is.
Still, these are smart producers who could give the show a boost. One is Bill Mechanic, the Michigan State University grad and the studio boss behind "Titanic." The other is Adam Shankman, the choreographer, director anbd "So You Think You Can Dance" judge; I'm expecting some great visuals and great moves this year.
Speaking of "Dance," that's where the bad news comes. Tonight, Bianca Revels and Phillip Attmore were ousted, leaving the show with 16. In one swoop, "Dance" lost two of its three tappers and two of its five blacks; we'll miss them.
Bianca is the Detroit dancer with a zestful presence. Phillip is a Pasadena guy whose dad had died less than two weeks before this episode was taped.
Phillip is a dandy dancer, but he was hurt by one of the show's imbalances: For many of the duos, the man and the woman are almost the same size, making lifts difficult.
Still, the choreographers built in tough lifts for Phillip and Channing Cooke. He struggled -- way too obviously -- and was gone.
Here are a few of my other reactions; please add yours:
1) It's almost impossible for a dance to be less than beautiful, when the music is Etta James' "At Last." No matter what the technical details, that waltz by Jakob Karr and Ashleigh Di Lello was gorgeous.
2) My new favorite choreographer is Stacey Tookey. Her piece about fear was direct, simple, lyrical -- and superbly danced by Kathryn McCormick and Legacy Perez.
3) By comparison, that Wade Robson concept -- the people who aren't in a Van Gogh painting but used to be -- was way too abstract to dance effrectively to.
4) Mollee Gray and Nathan Trasoras were superb in the Bollywood number -- which she redubbed "Molleewood doing Bollywood in Hollywood." Next week, when the viewers make the decisions, those two 18-year-olds will be huge draws.
5) Mollee's friend Noelle Marsh was given a weak number (complete with tennis racquets) that dumped her into the bottom two women. Fresh from having her leg in a cast, Noelle did a brilliant solo and saved herself.
6) Mollee cried anyway. She cries a lot.
7) Visually, the highlights of the evening were Channing's blue dress and Channing's use of flowing blonde hair. Channing looked kind of nice.
8) I actually stop what I'm doing whenever they show the commercial about Windows forever saying this system will be better than the previous one. It's just a fun piece.
9) By comparison, I still don't get much from those "Bing" search-engine commercials. Maybe they should dumb them down for me.
10) And the night's overall hero remains Ellenore Scott. With one of her heels stuck in her dress, she still danced beautifully. We never even realized it until the judges pointed it out in the replay.