It wasn't the most exciting TV and even the most diehard fan could get tired of hearing the same music over and over but the compulsory dance is the foundation of the ice dance competition. The compulsories let the judges compare apples to apples and see the basic skating skills of the dancers aside from the emotion and entertainment value of the free dance.
Here's a great example of the two top contestants doing the Golden Waltz
My daughter and I went to the US Nationals in St. Paul and got to see the compuslory competition live- that's really where you see the wheat separate from the chaff --as couples do the exact same dance but the more skilled and experienced dancers would make you disbelieve it was the same dance.
Now in their infinite wisdom (read that stupidity) the Internatinal Skating Union (which includes hockey and speed skating and his headed by a speed skater) has decided compulsory dance is a waste of time. ISU Abolishes Dance Compulsories
A compulsory dance is a dance on ice based on ball room dances - Waltzes, Tangos, Foxtrots, Blues, even the Paso Doble! If you want to learn to ice dance, you learn a compulsory dance. You don't learn a free dance. You learn the difficult task of doing precise steps, on an edge, with pointed toes, straight back, exactly to the beat of the music. Lots and lots of recreational adult skaters do nothing but the compulsory dances and I fear this move may be detrimental to social ice dancing.
I say that because of what happened to Figures. Figures were the foundation of ice skating. You used to have to pass figure tests before you could to on to free skating. You used to have to compete in figures and if you couldn't master the figures --you wouldn't win, no matter how exciting a skater you were. Well that made for bad television. So first they took figures out of competition and made it a separate competition. Then they took figures out of Nationals. Then they no longer made testing them a requirement. Now very few people do figures. There is a whole new generation of coaches who learned figures and are not able to teach figures. And a lot of people would say, and I agree, that skating has suffered for that lack of foundational skills.
It would be a terrible thing if the compulsory ice dance met the same fate.