Twelve fringe celebs and a nobody took to the dance floor last week and pretended that this is a somewhat legit dance competition as opposed to a shameless ratings-grabbing moneymaking machine set to a Cha Cha beat. One of them managed to shimmy on home after minimal humiliation and with our good wishes. Belinda Carlisle didn't exactly wow anyone but hey, I'm still going to pop in that old Go-Gos CD once in a while. Which of course was the whole point of her little exercise in futility.
Host Tom and tragic backstage ornament, Samantha, explain that, for a change, everyone is here to dance this week. And, get this, “they've all had the same five days to prepare their routines”. Translation: “yes, Woz, we've read your blog and, yes, Maks/Julianne/Karina/Derek we've heard your loud bitching about our
ringerway-too-experienced Bachelor by-product, Melissa, but see, we don't give a damn 'cause we're selling advertising minutes like hotcakes!” To further drive home the concept, Samantha enunciates dramatically that “they're all on a level playing field”. Of course.
This week's dances are the Samba and the Foxtrot and tonight's theme is “Ye Olde Level Playing Field”. Let's get to it.
An anemic chime
Normally I'd look forward to a Maks Samba but his partner is Denise Richards this time who is stiff and nervous. Maks thinks she's too serious by half and tries to explain that she needs to let go and embrace the Samba. From the looks of it, if she does let go, I suspect she'd just dissolve into a quivering puddle of jelly right in the middle of the floor. To make her smile, he even dresses up in a horrid hot pink Samba outfit complete with C-cup bra, maracas and tiered skirt which does make Denise laugh but perhaps not with him. As for their performance, the best thing about it is Maks' naked chest as everything else sucks to high heaven. From the somber head-to-toe black outfits, Denise's stilted, painful Samba rolls, her step counting, the general slow pace and even the horrible music which is about as Samba as Denise's black, sparkling tutu, it's all quite bad. At one point she loses a feather on the floor, they dance around it and then the whole thing just ends abruptly with Maks walking Denise up to the judges' table while he goes back to get the feather. It's almost as if they both just had enough or maybe Maks secretly wants a custodial job after hours at the studio.
Len knows the Samba is difficult but wanted more Latin flavor in it. Still he thought they did a good job. Perhaps he dozed off. Bruno says it was “more a waffle than a Samba” and this was a bad night for Denise. Carrie agrees with Bruno. She knows Denise is terrified but wants her to get over it and fix her flailing arms. Backstage, Denise puts on a smile as they find out their scores. It's 5-6-5 for them for a total of 16.
Did you know that Chuck grew up on a potato farm where he had no dance experience at all? Neither did I but now that I do know that he didn't Rhumba at night between the potato plants, I'll be
plagued by bad potato jokesgiving him a complete pass. Actually, no, I won't, but if he's really serious about improving maybe I won't try to microwave his performance on high for 2 minutes. Maybe. Maybe not. They Foxtrot around like two boiled potatoes to some completely inappropriate Country-ish sounding song that I just want to mash with my own bare hands. Julianne, wearing a pretty lace and sequin dress, keeps mouthing the lyrics while trying to steer Chuck around the floor. Their performance is half-baked and lacks some flavor but it's not a complete pancake. However, their big ending consists of the farm fresh lovebirds stretching out on the floor, arms above their heads, fists clenched tightly and me puzzled. Perhaps this is an elaborate form of private protest against genetically modified potato crops... or something. What's that got to do with the Foxtrot, though, I can't fathom.
Bruno thinks Chuck actually danced this week. Carrie feels he may be a contender but wants the potato to stop hunching. Len knows it's hard to train a spud but he thinks they were good just “not there yet”. They earn 8-7-8 for a total of 22 points.
Abreast of the judges
Len's gripe with Holly last week was that her boobs are too prominent. What exactly does he want her to do about it? I know, maybe she can have a breast reduction like Melissa had! You know, to further level that already very level playing field. Dmitry tells Holly that she needs to shake everything she's got for the Samba but, beyond that, his teaching skills pretty much amount to disapproving looks and demoralizing comments to “just forget it”. Yeah, a real genius teacher there. Not surprisingly, poor Holly knows they're screwed. She got stuck with one of this year's blander So you think you can dance transplants after all. Holly looks Samba ready dressed in a hot red fringed outfit, and Dmitry is there to prance around her and earn his paycheck, but their effort is feeble. Holly stares down the whole time as if she were looking for pointers carved into the parquet floor, she is visibly counting her steps, her shoulders are hunched, her back is soft and her legs are like boiled carrot sticks.
Carrie thought is was rough despite their effort. She says Holly is disjointed, she noted their illegal lift and her lack of strength. Len wants her footwork to catch up to her “hot top”. Ughh. Bruno says “there was a lot of display on the top shelf” but the foot action was abysmal. It's always so classy when Len and Bruno team up to make cheap boob jokes. Their scores: 5-6-6 for a total of 17 points.
For whom the bell tolls
What's in an injury? For Steve-O it's a continued storyline that neither Tom nor his backstage gab partner nor the judges will shut up about until it's time for the Jackass to hit the road. Lacey wants to make it easy on him so it's out with the rules, in with the alternative solutions. Holding frame? Nah, just forget about that. Practicing while standing up? So overrated. Sitting on a chair and counting it down will do. But doctor's orders are doctor's orders and for 48 hours, Steve-O needs to take it easy despite the fact that he's ready for action. A rock beat pulses in the background as the two practice in their edgy studio with the exposed brick walls. Bleeps abound too because, you know, they're edgy and edgy people swear a lot. That's why they're so edgy! Steve is off to a decent start with their Foxtrot but then looks disoriented and panicked instead of smooth and controlled. Lacey dances prettily around the moving block of wood for the required minute or so, after which they both end up sitting on the steps looking relieved.
Len commends Steve for coming out and dancing a proper Foxtrot. Bruno says he started off well but then he lost it, which elicits some loud boos from the audience. Carrie was impressed that Steve-O danced through his pain. Backstage we learn that Steve “tweaked his ankle” and also re-injured his back. They earn all 5s for a total of 15 points.
Belle of the football
Why does Edyta always get stuck with these big, sweaty NFL guys? That remains a mystery, but even though this Lawrence guy gripes about missing out on his golf game and about how difficult the Samba is, but he seems to try too. Edyta could dance with a piece of lumber if required, however, Lawrence – can I call him Larry? - is actually capable of movement. He even shakes his hips during their Samba, puts on halfway decent footwork and is definitely capable of flinging Edyta around to add some bombast to their routine. All in all, they're entertaining if not terribly precise. The audience is on their feet and with that I can see Lawrence perhaps lasting into the final five or six.
Bruno says Lawrence has rhythm and he is light on his feet. Carrie Ann recognizes his confidence and hopes he'll step up the difficulty. Len wants more hip rhythm and a bit less shoulder action. They earn 7-6-7 for a total of 20 points.
So, because Shawn is the youngest person to ever be on DWTS, she still has a gaggle of giggling girlfriends back home. They all keep in touch by video chatting during which they all giggle and talk about hot topics such as Mark. But there's not much time for current affairs when the classy Foxtrot needs to be learned. Shawn says she has a problem with being fluid and elegant given her background, and indeed she struggles a bit to soften her posture, but other than that rehearsals seem quite smooth to me. Wearing a sweet, light green dress and an understated smile, Shawn glides around elegantly, obviously comfortable with Mark. There's no awkwardness or noodle arms and their unison is very good. Carrie felt she was watching a princess. She saw grace and smooth gliding, like on ice. Len loved the arms despite the bit of hunch in her posture. Bruno admired Shawn's weightless quality and says she was like “a beautiful bejeweled hummingbird”. Who writes Bruno's quips? They need a raise.
They earn 9-9-9 for a total of 27 points.
Ma Mère, ma vie
What do you do after a Superman routine? Well, if you're hot stuff like Gilles - what else? - you invite your chère Maman to see you dance in the studio. Bien sur! Chère Maman, straight from France, is very excited and sheds tears of happiness as her sweet son shows her just how well he can really dance. He hopes that if he's trés hot on the dance floor Maman will just close her eyes. Somehow, I don't think Maman would want to miss a second of Gilles' dance. With Gilles dressed head to toe in an outfit of an eye scorching shade of hot red and Cheryl wearing red and hot pink ruffles and a bra, they start off with some vigorous but shaking and then it gets really hot from there. From Gilles' come hither looks, to his come hither hand gestures, to the gyrating hips, the steamy Samba steps and the matador themed music, it's one hot bundle of awesome. Vive La France! The audience gives them a loud standing ovation.
Len thinks Gilles lacked some rhythm but thought he made a hard dance easy. Bruno felt he was a “throbbing red hot poker” and thinks everyone will want to party with Gilles. Carrie thinks Cheryl was working it for him and he was shaking some interesting body parts. Their scores are all 9s for a total of 27, tying Shawn and Mark for the night.
Broadway but neither broad nor the right way
I almost forgot about David Alen Grier. Since the show is now officially 6 hours long and around the 4th hour my vision starts to blur, I don't think I can be fully blamed. He and Kym were disappointed by their low scores last week, but DAG wants to come back with a vengeance. They even practice a solo bit in their Foxtrot for David hoping that the judges will appreciate a bit more star in Dancing with the Stars. As it turns out, the solo bit is very short and not terribly complicated but their performance is solidly middle of the pack; pleasant and efficient just not very exciting. David tries to be as serious he can be while still having fun, and Kym looks pleased that her partner is not a total dud. Perhaps one day, after she has paid her dues for the 187th time with hapless partners and big bruiser football players, they'll let her have somebody really, really good.
Bruno got the Broadway twist they put on the Foxtrot and appreciated their effort. Carrie liked the intricate choreography and his sharpness. Len thought it was his best dance yet. Their scores are 8-8-8 for a total of 24 points.
A perfect 10
The Woz squeaked by last week after the dance-off with Belinda. He already had a crack in his foot then but now during rehearsals for the Samba a new injury! A pulled hamstring in his left leg landed him in an ambulance midweek and by Saturday he was back but battling pain. But Woz is not a quitter and wants to dance despite his injuries. Their routine is not what I'd call technically masterful, but ironically some of the easy looking moves are probably the most painful such as when Woz is walking on his knees, making an awkward worm move on the floor and even the minimal hip shaking he does looks like it's a pain for him. Then there's all that arm flailing for which I can offer no explanation. Karina, dressed like a fugitive from a maximum security prison for Ballroom dancers in a horizontally striped dress, feathers, read shoes and a weird 20s style bob, does her best to gyrate around Woz, perhaps trying to distract people. The audience is enthused but the judges look somber.
Carrie thought he was cute and adorable but thinks the novelty is wearing off. Really? Where was this comment when Cloris and Marie Osmond were stinking up the joint? Len thinks the dances are killing poor Woz but hopes the audience enjoyed it because he was just terrible. Bruno flat out says that this was the worst Samba he'd seen. Woz offers to fix Bruno's computer to soften him up but Bruno is unmoved. They earn a straight 10. That would be a total of 10 broken down to 4-3-3. Ouch!
Coffee break. We're roughly 4.5 hours into the show. I decided to email ABC and demand that they add an extra show per week or they tack on another couple of hours to the live show. I mean, we're missing out on so much detail! I'm furious that we didn't get to see Woz getting an MRI, Chuck cooking dinner with Julianne, Maks oiling his chest in his free time and Gilles just walking down the street being sexy. I mean, due to the extreme compact format of the show, we're missing out on some pertinent stuff and I resent it! You hear me ABC? I want more damn filler!
Ladies and Gentlemen, this section is being fully sponsored by ABC.*
Reality show repeat offender, Melissa, and her partner Tony have had a full, and I do mean full, as in 7 whole entire days and not a minute less, to practice their Foxtrot. And by days I mean dawn to dusk at the very least. Slaving away in a hot LA studio. Because, you know, it's really, really hard work to do something you already know how to do. However, a few precious hours were also wasted on Melissa's trip back to Dallas to visit her coworkers and presumably to hand in her resignation. Hugs go all around and her coworkers watch as she and Tony demonstrate their skills. She then clears her desk, removes her name plate from her dreary everyman cubicle and scurries back to the safety of newfound notoriety in LA. Ah, the incredible drama of it all! In the studio, they go through the motions of making it look like work, but it's plenty obvious that things are running smoothly. [/endnetworksponsorship]
Tramp stamp safely obscured by yet another sequined patch, hair looking amazingly immobile and monolithic, Tony and
ABC's pride and joyMelissa launch into a fairly unexciting, old fashioned Foxtrot. Looks almost like something Tony would have danced with Susan Lucci, but of course Melissa has no problem doing it, unlike Susan. Melissa seems to have a grand total of two facial expressions, one of which, the one I call look-I-floss-daily, is constantly and mind-numbingly plastered on her face like some sort of mask. That look is always followed by an even wider opening of the mouth and then she usually sticks her tongue out at no one in particular and then it's back to her other facial expression again.
Len thinks she has musicality but is still griping about her heels. Bruno says she's easy to love and mumbles something about beautiful instruments. Carrie thinks she's good but something is lacking and says that it all comes easily to her. Upon hearing this audacious criticism, Melissa, incredibly, displays another facial expression which I can only describe as a disgusted sneer. Color me surprised; the girl can almost emote! Maybe it will last. Their scores are all 9s for a total of 27 points. Now she's back to the other facial expression. I spoke too soon.
Ringing Bruno's bell
Lil 'Kym's been doing relatively well and she's determined to work at it with Derek to be a contender at the top. Some mishaps in the studio notwithstanding, Kym looks like she can shake her booty well enough for the Samba and she has an easy rapport with Derek. Wearing an outfit that's basically a bright yellow two piece bathing suit with a fringe skirt, Kym is working the Samba with elan. It seems she has natural ability, perhaps not of the Gilles, and to a lesser degree Melissa, magnitude but she definitely can work it. Waiting for the judges' comments, Kym looks a bit worried.
Bruno says she's a “pocket sized Venus with a super sized sex appeal”. He knows how to zero in, doesn't he? He feels it wasn't perfect but she sold it. Carrie thought it was hot and she liked the technical aspects. Len missed some of the classic Samba steps but otherwise he liked it. Their scores are 8-8-9 for a total of 25 points.
The last contender of the night is bull rider Ty. He made some strides last week and even impressed Len, who never jokes about Ballroom. Now it's up to Ty to rope in another successful routine. He won't be cowed! Okay, okay, I'll stop with the bullish puns and get to their rehearsal which is not quite smooth sailing. He seems uptight and monolithic but Chelsea does her best to hammer home the finer points of the Foxtrot such as the need for some refined facial expressions. At least two or more of them. Ty knows he's no Robert deNiro but at least he can look elegant and transformed in a proper black tux. They start off well enough after a bit of wrangling with a top hat, but then Chelsea slips out of a hold and almost crashes to the floor. Ty props her up and they go on but the mishap is hard to erase. To their credit, they manage to get through the routine well and without further problems. Hmm, I guess they pick and choose to show the stiffest and most uncoordinated bits from their rehearsals and Ty may not be such a rigid tree trunk after all.
Carrie votes him the most improved so far. She thought he was so smooth and liked the way he handled Chelsea's fall. Len felt it was a bit stiff and lacked some musicality but, all in all, fantastic. Bruno thinks Chelsea took a stiff block and is “carving out a mini Fred Astaire”. He loved their improvement. Their scores are 8-8-7 for a total of 23 points.
After a night of really bad music, which I've scrupulously avoided mentioning, some so-so dancing and some shocking discoveries such as Melissa's second facial expression, they're getting rid of another F-lister tomorrow. Be here for the fun or, better yet, read all about it later, right here. A revolving door of dedicated recappers are at your service this season so come back next week 'cause we're bringing it all to you fat free and full of flavor!
*Not really, not really.