We're down to eight couples tonight. It's not a milestone. It's not even the halfway point. Nevertheless, I'm getting this giddy delusional feeling that there is an end in sight. Suddenly I'm filled with unwarranted optimism that sometime before the end of the decade somebody will finally win this show, and I won't have to endure another Waltz to the brilliant tunes of Mr. Bojangles ever again for as long as I live. Maybe nobody will think to dance the Cha Cha to a very bad cover of “Bridge over troubled water”. There is always next season, of course, but why mar a perfect night with visions of musical Armageddon?
Tonight we're getting an overdose of spicy Latin goodness, with our couples dancing either the Samba or the Rumba, depending on how lazy they are and how badly their producer provided music selection sucks. Samantha will be spilling out of yet another dress, Tom will be making more semi-funny semi-scripted quips, and Bruno might be left speechless. Maybe pigs will fly.
Marie is up first. Hip action is the name of the game this week, which is something that Marie has trouble with. Busy Marie has a concert with her brothers in Niagra Falls, thus Jonathan follows her there so they could practice. A concert? This needed some research into Marie's, er, art. I looked it up on Amazon, and for $5.98 + shipping, I could be the proud owner of The Best of Marie Osmond, were I so inclined. I am not so inclined, not even for the rock bottom price of $5.98 + shipping, but did you know that you could download the new Radiohead and name your own price? But I digress. Rehearsal offers nothing interesting aside from assurances from Marie that she's ready to take on the Samba. Her dress is blue, shiny and has plump ribbon sleeves like a Cinderella prom dress, but with a micro mini skirt. It also looks like she's wearing an industrial strength corset under there. Their music is something called Crickets sing for Annamaria which was probably one of those bargain basement selections that the show is so fond of. I'm trying to avoid talking about their dance in order to avoid saying that it was one of the slowest and most excruciatingly bad Sambas I've seen in a while. So I won't talk about it.
Marie is excited at the end of their routine and even jumps up and down happily while Tom babbles on and presents the musicians. Len starts talking about how the Samba is a very difficult dance when the camera pans to Marie who suddenly goes from giggly and excited to completely limp, sinking to the floor in a sudden fain. The studio falls into a shocked silence, and they cut to a very long commercial break at end of which we find out that Marie is back and she's fine. It seems she simply passed out, and her first words upon recovering were “Oh, crap”. They get sevens across the board, for a total of 21 points.
Rumba like you'd see on Rodeo Drive
I said at the beginning of my recap that this is not the halfway point but Tom claims it is, so I'll have to take his word for it. Regardless, Jane is next and since they're dancing the Rumba this week, there needs to be passion and precision. Tony is getting tough in rehearsal and it seems he's a bit of a slave driver. Jane is frustrated by his dictatorial methods but Tony knows that it's the end result that counts. The good: Jane is wearing a flimsy blood red dress and she looks lean, mean and sexy in it. The bad: their Rumba has only one speed and that's slow, but not in a good way. They're using only one fourth of the dance floor, so there's not much lateral expansion. It all feels a bit stagnant and it's apparent that they're striking poses more than they're actively dancing. Bruno felt she danced like a lady, had great lines and lovely extension and that at times she looked like Edyta. He says it was “like Rodeo drive”. Hmm, does he mean cheap and overpriced for the rich but stupid? Carrie agrees about her elegance and extension but felt her turns were halting. Len just liked it a lot. They get 8-9-9 for a total of 26.
Mark may not be a great dancer but he can sure answer fan emails and it seems those fan emails translate into enough votes each week to save Mark from being baked under the unforgiving red light of elimination. We're a few weeks in and Mark theoretically should be out of the beta testing phase, but as we all know, bugs are rarely stomped out before the 2.0 release. The Samba will be a true measure of how well he is really doing. However, there are some obstacles to overcome first, such as Mark's ideas about the dance which basically add up to one thing: having fun. Kym and Mark face off over the issue, with Kym insisting on a proper Samba and Mark arguing that they need to create something fun and uniquely their own, the judges be damned. In the end they reach a compromise: Mark will be dressed as a nerd and Kym as the Genie as they dance to the theme from “I dream of Genie”. The judges had fun and were entertained, but Carrie wished for better technique. I wish to win the lottery. Len zeroes in on Mark's feet which are not turned out, neglecting to mention all the other 267 things that are completely wrong with Mark's dancing. Bruno felt it was their most entertaining dance but Mark will never be a Fred Astaire. This does not agree with the audience who boo Bruno loudly. Maybe they slept through the performance and didn't notice anything wrong with it or maybe some of them sent those fan emails. With a total score of 21, Mark steps into the Blackjack territory recently vacated by Floyd.
I was going to call this section “The slow awakening of a shy butterfly”, but then thought better of it.
Believe it or not Cheetah girl needs to break out of her shell this week because she cannot stay a shy introvert and deliver a good Rumba at the same time. The Rumba requires an emotional investment and the ability to display passion, which for a timid mouse like Sabrina is apparently a challenge [/end sarcasm]. Shirley Ballas, Mark's mother, shows up to help Sabrina with this difficult task and gives her some good pointers about the Rumba. Sabrina wants to translate their growing “closeness” – read rumored off-screen romance – into a passionate performance. The music is “Mrs. Jones”. The wardrobe is somewhere between gypsy and fantasy pirate, plus two pounds of sequins. The dance itself is adequate, their chemistry believable but I'm not seeing marked development. She can dance, but then in her real life gig, she sings and dances, so no surprise there. She'll probably deliver next week too unless she gets voted off and maybe I'll be off rearranging my sock drawer while she dances. Len feels she put in a good dance, as is her usual, but didn't care for some of the over-the-top poses. Bruno disagrees and says that it was a Rumba and it's supposed to be like that. Len does not want the tricks to get in the way of the basics of the dance. Bruno launches into a protracted description of their perfection, which I just don't have the stomach to type up. Finally Tom has to shut him up so Carrie can speak. Carrie saw some growth but noticed some sharp edged turns. 9-9-10 = 28
Follow that bird!
After last week's success, Jennie and Derek have reached the point of no return. Expectations have been raised and there's no going back to sitting comfortably in the middle of the pack, especially since that middle is getting smaller by the week. According to Derek, Jennie needs to learn to “shake her fun stuff”. To this end, they visit Aisha Francis, celeb choreographer to bootilicious stars such as Beyonce. Jennie gets an education in booty shaking which she thinks will bear fruit when people see her performance. Dressed in a canary yellow fringed get-up, complete with a tail that makes her look like Big Bird only less elephantine, Jennie dances the Samba reasonably well. All the moves are there and the butt shaking works, however I sense a lack of conviction on her part which translates to some woodenness. In short she's doing a good job, but a bit more abandon would've helped. Bruno liked the content and all the elements but felt that she stalled midway through. Carrie saw a stumble but appreciated Jennie's attempt to give more sexy than she is used to. She advises her to mean it more. Usually critical Len, disagrees with the other two judges and says this was a very good performance. 8-9-8 = 25
Plug and Rumba
What's a jokester to do when serious intensity is required? Helio is faced with just such a dilemma this week. Perhaps a late afternoon rehearsal session on the beach could inspire the proper level of passion necessary for the Rumba? Helio thinks the combination of sand and surf could have taken their chemistry to a whole new level. Their music is Timbaland's evergreen classic “Apologize” which oddly enough quite fits the Rumba. While the music is not too bad, Helio's facial expressions are odd. He appears to be either in pain or scared, or both. Julianne does her best to dance around him but even she cannot make Helio point his toes and appear as if he's not running on a rechargeable battery. There's little steam and even less romance in this supposedly romantic Rumba. At the end of it, Helio just seems a bit shaken. Carrie felt he was “in the zone” but she was left unsatisfied by their dance. She detected no chemistry between them and saw awkwardness in their lines. Len agrees, and says that he has seen more romance at the dentist. Maybe we need to import some British dentists instead of more cheap crap from China. Bruno felt Helio looked to be in pain and he was wooden. He can't see why Helio couldn't scrape up more passion while dancing with Julianne. I've got a couple of ideas... Their scores: 8-7-8 = 23.
Upwardly mobile Samba
Having been dragged all the way to the bottom two last week proved to be a much needed wake-up call for Mel. Fueled by determination, they went straight into rehearsal after last week's show, but that may been too much for a sick Mel. Later in the week, Maks, his “immune system in a very fragile state”, tries to rehearse with a face mask while Mel feels confused and under the weather herself. This is not their week as they argue to the point where Maks decides to end practice. To top it all off, Mel needs to be in London for the long awaited Spice Girls video shoot. Maks gets to meet all the Spices, the Spices get free publicity through the show, Beckham's wife gets to stare prettily out of her empty head, everybody is happy. Maks is wearing a sequined vest that matches Mel's dress, and I'm instantly distracted. They deliver an energetic Samba and as usual Maks, I mean, Mel does a great job. The judges rave about their performance. Len says it was fantastic, Bruno felt it was the best Samba of the night and for Carrie it was her favorite dance from Mel this season. It sure feels like the judges don't want to lose Maks, I mean, Mel. Their scores: 10-9-10 for a total of 29 points. Maks makes puppy dog eyes at the viewers silently begging them to keep them in the competition. For my part, I will bitch and moan for the rest of the season, very, very loudly if they are voted off. You've been warned.
Winning fans one naked chest at a time
Our last competitor of the night is Cameron. Having gone through all the phases of Superman-dom in previous weeks, from Kal-El to Clark Kent to the flying superhero complete with dorky costume, Cameron may be finally branching out into steamy James Bond territory. After their turning point last week, Edyta and Cameron agree that they need to bring out Cameron's sensitive side with the sexy Rumba. Oddly enough Susan Lucci even comes to the studio to offer some advice. Cameron wants to offer up a scorching performance that will leave the judges wanting a cold shower. They start off with Cameron stripping off his suit jacket to reveal a crisp white shirt left half unbuttoned, stalking slowly towards Edyta who is clad in about six ounces of white fringe and sequins, and barely anything else. They slink and slither around staring steamily into each others' eyes and deliver a thoroughly enjoyable and hot routine. Bruno says after this dance no woman is safe from Cameron and it was a very well done dance. Carrie thought they aced the emotional side of the dance but spotted one of those dreaded lifts, although Edyta denies her foot came off the ground. Len thought they came out strong again and they did a great job. Their scores are 8-9-9 = 26.
Mel and Maks are leading the pack this week with 29 points, while Marie and Jonathan and Mark and Kym are at the bottom with 21 points. Tomorrow somebody will be sent packing. Tom has threatened us all night long with a
pathetic lipsyncwonderful performance by Jennifer Lopez. If, like me, you are not into abusing your eardrums, you'll be happy to know that you can read all about it instead from the great MotherSister.
Should Cameron be required to wear a half buttoned white shirt for all of his dances from now on? PM me with your vote. Results will be revealed in my next recap.