It occurs to me that last week we all had it too easy. Despite the fact that Dancing took up three whole nights of our lives, it was relatively easy going and it almost seemed as if it wasn't going to be so bad. This week ABC is back to broadcasting two hour bloated monstrosities that, frankly, should be illegal. If this trend continues, next season they'll have a baker's dozen worth of third rate semi-celebs that I would need to google just to know who they are. Pretty soon Dancing will be a six hour affair, featuring jugglers, magicians and a veritable who's who of nobodies with two left feet who never get invited to a major Hollywood awards show. Roughly two seasons from now DWTS recaps will come with a coupon for a free bottle of Valium to put you into a comfortable pain free stupor in order to help you get through all 189 pages of show night recaps, and a complimentary subscription to “Psychology Today”. Of course ABC could just cut out the rehearsals, cut out Tom and Jerry, er, Drew, and put a muzzle on Bruno to save some time, but then the show wouldn't be half as much fun to
Tom and Jerry are back and since there's no time to waste, all the 148 couples are reintroduced, wasting about 5 minutes of show time. Tonight our couples are dancing either the Mambo or the Quickstep, with the Quickstep being the more technically demanding of the two.
First up are Mel B and Maks. Their dance tonight is the Quickstep and Maks thinks Mel needs an infusion of class to pull it off. An etiquette coach is called in to tame the wild beast in Mel with the usual tactics: walking with a book on the head, curtsying and posture. Mel wants to show America that she can go “from Scary Spice to Lady Spice”. I'm not expecting much but amazingly their Quickstep to Aha's “Take on me” is quite good. Mel is wearing a hot pink dress, a flower in her hair and her spine is straight but not stiff. Their footwork is crisp and quick. Len was impressed by her beautiful posture, Bruno dubs her a mix of Lena Horne and Ginger Rogers and is similarly amazed that Scary could scare up such a good Quickstep. Carrie thought it was very solid, with gorgeous posture but she cautions Mel to watch her shoulders. Their scores are 7-8-8 for a total of 23 points.
Must be the squirrel
Our resident billionaire was quite miffed after last week's results. Ending up in the bottom two was no picnic for him, but the near-elimination is now fueling his resolve to do better. Mark is a busy man, therefore practice goes where Mark goes. This week they're in Chicago rehearsing their Mambo and Mark is determined to do well. Oddly enough their music is Nelly's “Ride with me”. I highly doubt it's the money motivating Mark, but somebody in production must have thought this was a great song for a Mambo. Kym is wearing two strips of black cloth halter style and a very short skirt and Mark is in a black vest over a bare chest. I think their strategy is skin over skill. Carrie was well entertained by the mish-mash of styles that didn't quite add up to a Mambo for her while Len appreciated his hard work and dedication and the fact that they danced on the second beat. For Bruno, who must remember fondly his animal kingdom analogies from last season, it was like watching a bulldog chasing a squirrel. For me it was like chasing a squirrel while watching a bulldog. But we all agreed that they danced a 6 and their total score is 18 for tonight.
Stepping out with a feathered friend
Wayne admits he's not a great dancer and with a busy schedule, he needs to squeeze in rehearsal for the Quickstep between concerts and plane rides. He and Cheryl even end up practicing their magic on the tarmac at night, among other places. Their music for the slowest Quickstep I've ever seen is the worst version of Elvis' “Viva Las Vegas” I've ever heard. Double whamy! So far it seems, Dancing is going for the groan factor with the music selection. Cheryl is wearing an odd dress that's a cross between a 19th century riding outfit and a showgirl costume complete with a feathered hat that could only be a nod to the Road Runner. Bruno says this wasn't nearly quick enough for a Quickstep, Carrie liked the Vegas show he put on but not so much the hip action. Len didn't see any improvement from last week. They rake up a string of 5s and end up with a dismal 15 points.
Cougarific Mambo tartare
Last week Marie Osmond pretended that she could act as if she could dance and the judges' scores reflected their meager appreciation for that misguided approach. This week, she is dancing the Mambo and it's going to take a bit more than pretense to get through this performance. Marie is out of shape and nervous about this dance and mostly about a death drop move they're rehearsing. Dressed in a shorter and lower cut black dress, hair teased and fluffed to new heights, Marie does her level best to tart up the performance by lifting her skirt and shaking her butt all over the place. The dreaded death drop is nothing of the sort, more like a bit of a tilt backwards, certainly nothing to write home about. Her brothers Donny and Jimmy are in the audience and they seem to enjoy the spectacle. Len wants her to stick with her strength which is performing while Bruno saw a hot Latin mama, like Rita Moreno in West Side Story. He must have had his eyes closed. Can't blame him, really. That's the way I get through most of these dances myself. Carrie calls her “one hot cougar”. It's 8 across the board for a total of 24 points. What this means, I suppose, is that ABC does not want to see Marie eliminated just yet because they have a contract with the AARP which says that at least one of their members needs to make it to the final six.
99 ways to violate a good song
Last week Albert delighted us all with a nice low cut shirt, thus securing his position on the show for one more week. This week a new approach is needed and what better way to appeal to the viewers than dedicating his Quickstep to his grandfather who passed away. You know, just in case a low cut shirt is not enough this week. Albert is intimidated by this dance so Anna brings in a little DVD player with a message from his grandmother to energize him. Sure enough, Albert glides off the railing at the beginning of their Quickstep and it looks like their dance is off to a great start. Then I realize that their music is Nena's “99 Luftballoons” and it hits me: no music is safe from this show. I'm now filled with dread, anticipating at any moment that somebody will Cha Cha to a godawful version of Ballroom Blitz. Oh wait, I think they did that already.
Carrie liked his exuberance but wanted Albert to “keep the joy going”. Len feels Albert is the dark horse of this competition but he found his Quickstep skippy and hoppy. Bruno felt his energy faltered but he has good posture. They get sevens wall-to-wall for a total of 21 points.
171st inning stretch
We're sort of at the halfway point, with only 55 more couples to go. It's been about 793 minutes and 36 seconds since the start of the show and that's probably longer than it took the Visigoths to sack Rome back in the 5th century. Number of times I mentioned Tom and Jerry: a respectable and quite generous 2. Number of dances that seriously made me cringe: at least 3. Meanwhile, I'm still reeling from “99 Lufballoons” being used for a Quickstep and still trying to erase Cheryl's Road Runner costume from my brain. Just in case your imagination is lacking, here's a pretty close approximation of what she looked like:
Now back to our regularly scheduled
Up next are Helio and Julianne. Helio claims he isn't very competent when it comes to hip shaking despite all that Brazilian blood, which might lead people to draw the wrong conclusions. Apparently he struggles with the Mambo like any non-Brazilian would. Rehearsals are also a dangerous business as these two just keep bumping heads and Helio even gets a slight split lip. Is their clumsiness exaggerated? Perhaps we're expected to vote for the cute klutzy couple. Julianne thinks Helio's secret weapon is his charm. They Mambo to a hot Latin Santana number and get a standing ovation for their high octane, technically demanding dance. Bruno compliments Helio, saying his twirls were very good and quite difficult, fit for a professional. Carrie thinks he's the real deal and can more than keep up with Julianne. Len says Helio went into overdrive and it was very well done. They get three 9s for a total of 27 points.
A titanic effort
After being the first dancer of the season and pulling it off quite well, Jennie thinks she's ready to go out there and do it again. They are dancing the Quickstep this week, which is a dance that requires a bit more close contact than Jennie finds comfortable after such a short acquaintance. The problem is mainly that Jennie has a hard time firing up her imagination and picturing a big strong leading man whenever she dances with Derek, who is only 22 years old. Jennie even thinks she has bigger biceps than he does and can't stop laughing during rehearsals. For some unexplained reason they get to Quickstep to the unforgettable tune of KT Tunstall's “Suddenly I see”. I always thought that was more of a Foxtrot, but what do I know.
It all goes fairly well, and Jennie doesn't even hop and skip that egregiously and despite some missteps I see, they're are doing well. However, the end is literally a flop. Jennie runs in for a big finale where she is supposed to slide under Derek's legs in a move that is not exactly part of the Quickstep, but she ends up not quite making it, causing Derek to fall as well. They end their dance sitting on the floor laughing at their misfortune. Len liked that their Quickstep was smooth although Jennie needs to work on her posture. Bruno felt it was like Leo and Kate in Titanic, complete with the iceberg. Carrie wants Jennie to feel the dance and let go. They earn 7 points from all three judges, for a total of 21.
The Kal-El of Mambo
If Cameron was nervous last week, this week he's both nervous and uncomfortable. The Mambo demands a lot of hip and shoulder shaking action and Cameron doesn't quite see that working for him. He's overwhelmed by the pressure of learning his dance and keeping to his schedule. Edyta tells him he will never be perfect, but whatever he does will be good enough which seems to work as Cameron vows to give it his all. Their music is “Mas Que Nada” (I admit I had to look it up) and Edyta is dressed for success, wearing about 20 feet of gold fringe, 3 pounds of sequins, a boy short, a barely there bra and a headband. Maybe wardrobe went over budget and had to improvise. Carrie thought Cameron looked great, liked the lines but wasn't happy with the fact that he wasn't always on the beat. Len said it was somewhat wooden and tentative. Bruno felt Cameron is almost like Superman but he danced more like Clark Kent. Bruno wanted him to relax more. It's a night of unanimous scores and they get 7s for a total of 21. We're up to a 17 way tie by now, I believe.
Last week Floyd did worse than Wayne, and that's got to be a powerful motivator for anybody. Karina feels that Floyd's got it in him and he is working very hard to master the Quickstep. Practice time – just four days - is shorter now and that adds to the pressure. They dance to Stevie Wonder's “Signed, sealed, delivered”. Karina is wearing a long pink dress and Floyd a brown suit. I'm telling you this because I'm trying to refrain from saying how utterly inappropriate this music is for a Quickstep, therefore repeating myself for the hundredth time tonight. They end their routine with Karina sitting on the judges' table. Bruno says Floyd nearly won. He was light on his feet but needs to adjust his posture. Carrie felt there's a lot of improvement this week but he needs to stop leading with his shoulders. Len thought Floyd might be well suited for the Quickstep and he was. It's another unanimous vote of 7s, for another total score of 21.
Still life with snakes and Mambo
Medicine woman did well last week and was near the top of the scoreboard, but this week the Foxtrot gives way to the Mambo and that might spell trouble for Jane who isn't to confident about all the hip shaking that's required. Toni wants to see lots of gyration which Jane has trouble delivering. Feeling she needs a “visual aid” he brings an extremely long albino boa – or was that a python? - to the studio, to teach Jane to slither seductively. I'm not sure whether it was the snake that taught Jane to slowly undulate, or whether it's the music which is Desi Arnaz's “Cuban Pete” with lyrics like “chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom”, or it could be that Jane just isn't ready to wiggle it, not even a little bit, but this whole performance is like watching a kung-fu fight in slow motion. The parts add up to a whole if you fast forward with picture, but if you watch it in real time it's excruciating. The judges are not impressed either. Len thought there wasn't enough raunch to be had. He saw precision, neatness and it looked to him more like an English Mambo. Bruno felt it was like a Mambo at a tea party in Wimbledon, too elegant, too sedate. Carrie disagrees and thinks the elegance worked and she looked great in her short skirt. The judges are on a roll, agreeing to scores of 7, for a total of 21 points.
The amazing automated Quickstep machine. Contains no user replaceable parts.
First week's leader, fake tan enthusiast and Cheetah girl, Sabrina, got some bad news last week concerning her hip-hop talents. She found out that pretty much nobody appreciated her efforts to bring any hop into the not-so-hip world of Ballroom dancing. Sabrina says that there will be no more hip-hop in any of their future dances. Now that all the stuff she does best is a no-no, Sabrina is nervous. Mark thinks that Sabrina's biggest problem is dancing as part of a pair. I can see how that might be disconcerting, seeing as how this is a Ballroom dance show. Their music “They're red hot” by Eric Clapton. Carrie didn't think Sabrina could pull off the Quickstep but she admits she was wrong and Sabrina did a good job. Len says she was the “no stress express”, but he wanted more than just speed. He wanted to see the duality that's a characteristic of Quickstep, a melding of the quick with the slow, which was missing from her performance. Bruno disagrees, saying it “was a blistering performance” and she looked like a professional. Len bucks the trend with 8 points, but Carrie and Bruno vote in lockstep with 9 points, for a total of 26 points.
”This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Oddly enough we're done for tonight. I feel I need to apologize for such a brief show, it hardly seems like we got our money's worth. Maybe, just maybe, I'll write a letter to ABC asking them to pretty please gives us an extra hour of competition on Monday nights. So what if that would bump The Bachelor all the way to the wee hours of Tuesday, we need our Ballroom fun more than our naked hot tub fun. I'd also like to start a drive to raise funds for the Dancing costume department. It's incredibly embarrassing that they can't afford to sew real dresses for Edyta and she's forced to parade around wearing nothing but strips of fringe.
Our leaders for tonight are Helio and Julianne with 27 points, while Wayne and Cheryl are scraping the bottom with a measly 15.
Tomorrow we're getting rid of somebody, Queen Latifah stops by, Jimmy Kimmel is back and we'll be treated to a professional Tango performance. My advice is to skip the show and read MotherSister's recap instead. Always time well spent. Join me next week for another
interminabletwo hours of Dancing goodness.
Would you like me to mention Tom and Jerry more often? PM me with your impassioned plea on their behalf. Bribes will be gladly accepted.