To see it was to cringe: Crooner Michael Bolton crawling out of a dog house on stage on his hands and knees following a bone held in front of his nose.
It was the beginning of his act on "Dancing With the Stars" which rates as one of the most painful ordeals in recent memory on the reality show. It only went down from there. Bolton's canine-themed jive dance to "Hound Dog" drew absolutely scathing remarks from the judges beyond the head-scratching decision to begin with the proud singer crawling around the floor in front of a national television audience (chalk that idea to choreographer and his professional partner Chelsie Hightower).
The painful routine that followed was all Bolton, who is not taking well to the competition. He said after last week's poor showing, "I only have one way to go, up!"
He was very, very wrong. His score of a 12 out of 30 put him at the bottom of the heap by a shocking 6 points. It also featured a rare, dismal 3 vote from judge Bruno Tonioli, who was madly rubbing his temples at the end of the dance as if trying to determine if he was watching reality or not.
"You should have kept the bone and gone back into the doghouse," he said to begin his unusually harsh review.
"I think this was probably the worst jive in 11 seasons," he added. "It was a doggy mess of a jive. You did it very, very badly. I hated it."
Tonioli was so cutting, that the normally curmudgeon-like judge Len Goodman rebuked him -- once again very rare stuff here -- for being too cruel as Bolton stood feet away trying to smile.
"You hated it, but you should keep some of the comments to yourself," Goodman snarled at Tonioli. "That is unfair."
That said, Goodman had just been pretty tough himself, saying the dog-act "probably needed a pooper scooper as well to finish it off."
He did try to find a positive spin by just saying the dance "wasn't really your cup of tea."
Only judge Carrie Ann Inaba tried to find a positive.
"You're Michael Bolton, you came out of there crawling to try to please your partner to do what you thought would help you get a good score," she said. "I appreciate that and respect that."
What's worse than the dancing is that Bolton looks miserable on the show. Even the worst dancer can go on the "Dancing" to showcase their true personality to prime-time America. And it really works. But Bolton has hardly cracked a genuine smile.
He argued with his partner Hightower in the rehearsal video when she gave a juvenile "whatever" to one of his suggestions. And he went to great pains to show he's suffering from a throat infection, even taking the cameras to the doctors and wearing a ridiculous air mask in the dance studio.
He's in a big hole with his low scores, but voters will hopefully do the right thing and put this dog out of his misery in the elimination tonight.