Welcome to Season #157 of Dancing With The Has-Beens and Wannabes! Thirteen fresh nobodies are primed and ready to hit the dance floor in their quest to earn that ultimate of Velveeta prizes: the shiny disco ball trophy. I know I'd want one of those gracing the top of the toilet tank in my second bathroom too. Just can't find any good tschotchkes nowadays.
I looked at the line-up for the first time this morning, and because I
happilysuffer from conveniently manifesting selective amnesia when it comes to Dancing, I wondered anew how the casting process really goes for this show and whether they just pick names out of the Celebrity Apprentice reject pile then cross reference it with their hand dandy reliable F-list of no-names then pick the ones with the least amount of name recognition. Must be, because such luminaries are on this season's cast as some dude named Ty Murray whom I've never heard of, and Chuck Wicks who could be the love child of Chuck Norris and some cheap brand of scented candles from the dollar store for all I know. And who the hell is this Steve-O guy? I googled him and it turns out I may not watch quite as much reality TV as I thought I did. Note to self: must lay off pesky books and concentrate more on MTV sleaze shows.
Host Tom and Samantha Who are back to bring us all the excitement and to provide much needed division of labor slash filler material. Gotta pass that extra hour and a half of dead air between the two minute dances somehow! For an easy start, tonight's dances are the Waltz – not the Viennese, just that plain old one – and the Cha Cha.
Cast of characters
For the first and last time this season I will go to the bother of listing these people's full names:
- Jailbait Lil' Kym and Derek Hough
- Go-Go girl Belinda Carlisle and Jonathan Roberts
- Token football legend Lawrence Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska
- Jackass Steve-O with Lacey Schwimmer
- Sex and the City boy toy Giles Marini and Cheryl Burke
- Somebody called Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough
- Somebody called Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower
- Token Olympian Shawn Johnson with Mark Ballas
- Apple guy Steve Wozniak and Karina Smirnoff
- Funny man David Alan Grier and Kym Johnson
- Denise Richards and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
These are the first eleven people with two more to be presented later in the show because ABC desperately wants all the curious Bachelor fans to watch both interminable hours of competition. Jewel and Nancy O'Dell have withdrawn but are “bravely” watching the show from the first row. Aside from that drama, this season's opening superlatives include: the youngest competitor ever, the first official Jackass and the first two official couples. Gee, my heart is sure racing now from all the excitement.
It's hard keeping up with the world while in the slammer, but Lil' Kym still found the time between making license plates and sharpening plastic spoons to watch Dancing and become a fan. She wants to be the Black Barbie to Derek's Ken and she wants “to push [herself] to be better”. I'm sure that's what the whole jail thing was all about too, you know, getting better. Barbie and Ken are doing the Nasty Cha Cha Cha which Barbie Kym is dedicating to all her girls in the big house.
Kym is wearing half a pound of sequins and fringe on her body, at least a third of Sephora's full inventory on her face and what looks like either a wig or hair extensions or hair extensions on top of a wig, hard to tell which. The dancing is halfway decent but she looks like she's counting steps and working hard to maintain an even, big toothed smile. Len is back wearing Easter egg colored shirts and ties. He opines that this dance was first class but wanted some refinement. Bruno, always studiously eloquent, says Kym was “nasty but tasty” and he liked the butt work even though the footwork was lacking. Carrie, a master of recycling and repackaging comments, says Kym needs to “let it out” and loosen up. After their backstage encounter with Samantha, whose bits I will faithfully ignore because I refuse to write a novel instead of a recap, their scores are three 7s for a total of 21 points.
It's time to Go-Go
Without a doubt, Belinda Carlisle one of the coolest people to ever be on this show. Unfortunately she is paired with that clean cut boy wonder Jonathan who owns an abundance of argyle sweaters and has the personality of wet cardboard. Looks like Belinda has messed with her face a bit which would be okay if she could dance, because I can forgive a lot of sins if the dancing is good, however, rehearsals are a bit of a disaster. She is one stiff puppy during the Waltz and, frankly, difficult to watch. No rhythm whatsoever and although their song says What the world needs now, is love, sweet love I think what the world needs now is Belinda Carlisle to go back in time about a month and say a big resounding "No!" when ABC approached her with the offer to be on show. Bruno equates her to Cloris which is never a good thing, and an assessment which Carrie disagrees with, while Len offers some scant encouragement because he is a polite Englishman whenever he is not crabby. All in all, Belinda and Jonathan Go-Go to a dismal 6-6-5 for a total of 17 points.
A true offense
Another season, another rhythm challenged sports legend I've never heard of for Edyta. So, what else is new? The NFL is a breeding ground for bad dancing and season after season, without fail, somebody gets roped into playing the part of the token chunky, uncoordinated but lovable voter bait. Without fail I wish them a swift elimination and Lawrence is no exception. Seriously, doesn't the guy have something better to do with his football retirement time than shimmy around a dance floor in sequins trying not to look like an idiot? Lawrence is aware of the humiliation factor and is appropriately “scared to death”. The band launches into something called 25 Miles for the Cha Cha which consists mainly of Edyta twirling around Lawrence and making the most of her costume which is made up of just two or three strategically draping pieces of flesh colored and rhinestone enriched fringed fabric. Lawrence smiles wide, shakes his booty here and there and they're done.
Carrie wants more offense and dirty play, Len enjoyed it despite the total lack of sharpness and Bruno couldn't find anything resembling a Cha Cha but thinks Lawrence has potential. They end the night with 6-5-5 for a total of 16 points.
A big fat O
Okay, so I had no earthly idea who this Steve-O character was. I have never seen Jackass for some strange reason and I had to google him – an exercise which immediately netted pictures of Steve-O's naked ass, Steve-O looking down the front of his pants at some red carpet event, Steve-O shirtless and Steve-O hugging an assortment of big-breasted porn stars. Damn you, Google. Surprisingly he is paired with Lacey Schwimmer who still describes herself as the rebel of the ballroom with a straight face. Okey dokey then. Judging by the fact that Steve-O arrives on a bike and proceeds to hang from the rafters by way of greeting Lacey, I guess these two are going to be billed as this year's edgy, cool couple looking to scandalize the over 80 demographic. We also know they're a bit dangerous because some nondescript rock music is playing during their rehearsals, some of Steve-O's tattoos are being blurred and generally there's an air of menace in the brick walled room with exposed support beams where they're practicing, you know, just in case you didn't get that you were supposed to be scandalized and scared at the same time.
Steve-O has not an ounce of musicality or dancing talent but it looks like they'll try to make up for that with stupid stunts such as the opening handstand that Steve-O does. By the way, do I have to keep adding that annoying O at the end of his name all the time? I'm making an executive recapping decision and dropping the stupid O because I'm tired of typing it out all the time. There, much better now. Oh, and they're done with their dance during which Stevie boy was robotically counting steps, gliding without conviction and generally doing not much at all. Lacey puts them out of their misery with a flourish of a split on the floor and they even receive a standing ovation for who knows what reason.
What can the judges say about such beauty? Len says Stevie tried but lacked technique – I'll say!, Bruno was entertained and Carrie babbles something about his determination and the whole thing being a mess. Stevie looks pleased although their scores are are 6-5-6 for a total of 17 points.
Showered with praise
Tom Host says Giles' main claim to fame is a shower he once took on Sex and the City. I don't know, I only remember that blond stud who was Samantha's big love when she had cancer but maybe my memory will be jogged later on. Rehearsals are tough for the shower stud especially when Cheryl says some of his moves are a bit girly and admonishes him repeatedly to look like a man. She wants them to steam up their Cha Cha to make up for the fact that I still can't remember who this guy is and if I can't then who can? They're trying to raunch it up to Addicted to love dressed in black and red but their timing is a bit off, Giles' hand gestures are a tad too balletically pretty and, sorry, I'm not buying the chemistry between them so far.
Carrie Ann looks pleased saying that she liked his lines despite his tendency to overextend. She thinks he might go far. Bruno quips that Cheryl finally has something to play with, I guess in more ways than one because their dance was, he says, sharp and sexy. Len thought they pulled it off. The scores reflect the raves with three 8s for a total of 24 points.
Why does Dancing always manage to cast a bunch of F-list nobodies I've never heard of? Take this Chuck Wicks guy for example. He's cute, I guess, but who the hell is he? Well, apart from Julianne's real life boyfriend, that is. Tom Host says he's some sort of country star. I'll take his word for it. Googling can get tiresome. The lovebirds find it hard to move from an equal partnership to Julianne being Chuck's stern teacher. Ah, conflict! Will they murder each other before America eliminates them? Will Chuck ever become serious about the Waltz? Will I conquer my urge to fast forward through the cheese? Maybe not, probably not and definitely not. They step out looking like they're going to be married in a chapel right after their Waltz is over, dressed in black tails and a sweet white debutante dress dancing to a very bland cover of Are you lonesome tonight. There's much weird fumbling, a bit of unwieldiness, I can see him gripping her tightly as if in deep panic and of course one of those nasty illegal lifts at the end, but all in all they're elegant and pleasant.
Bruno thought Chuck had trouble keeping up with Julianne and needs to calm down a bit. Len felt it was hectic, his posture was bizarre but liked some of the footwork. Carrie think he was one of the most graceful men they've had but of course spotted the dreaded lift and was not pleased. They manage to scrape together scores of 6-7-7 for a total of 20 points.
Jewel and Nancy O'Dell have been felled by injuries before they could show America how poorly they could dance, but they're here tonight to gaze longingly at the dance floor and in Jewel's case to cheer on her husband. Husband? I must pay closer attention! Surely she's not married to this Steve-O guy?! In any case, Jewel threatens to be back to sing next week. Damn. I hope she won't yodel or something.
The bunny hop
Speaking of Jewel, she was supposed to dance with this new guy called Dmitry Chaplin but will now be replaced with Holly Madison. What? Is ABC recruiting at the Playboy Mansion now? For the record, they're calling her a reality star and flashing an assortment of her greatest hits on the screen for approximately 2 milliseconds, at least the more PG-13 ones, I guess. As a last minute replacement, Holly has a grand total of four days to grasp the Cha Cha which is proving to be a pain. She is uncoordinated and rhythm challenged and admits she'll be basically winging it on the show. Their music is some dumb song called Just Dance. Their routine is a collection of seductive stripper looks from Holly, followed by some butt wiggling, followed by more seductive looks and some stilted steps in every direction imaginable.
We're told that they will not be given a break just because they had little time to train. Just so we're clear that nobody is being favored or penalized here. Of course. Len thought it wasn't too bad considering the short practice time. Carrie saw that Holly was going for the moves with some abandon. Bruno liked what he saw – really? - and thought there's yet some hope for her. They get all 6s for a total of 18 points. Hey, it's not the lowest score tonight!
Were you sitting at the edge of your seats waiting with bated breath to hear the announcement of the 13th contestant this year? Neither was I since the news has already been out earlier, but Host Tom finally “reveals” that it's Melissa Rycroft, the chick who got fake-dumped on The Bachelor a week ago. Well it was two months ago, actually, but who's counting? She is now back for another round of reality TV goodness. We get a montage of Melissa's not-so-real dumping and a backstage glimpse of her opening her mouth dentist wide, sticking her tongue out like a three year old and displaying all 54 of her big white teeth then laughing in that annoyingly bubbly way that reminds me of both Marissa Jaret Winokur and Marie Osmond in absolutely the wrong way. Groan. This is going to be a long season.
Bull in the china shop
Jewel is out of the competition but it looks like things are staying in the family. Apparently, this Ty Warner guy is not only her real life husband but also a rodeo star. I watch loads of rodeo, like, 24/7 so I know him well and he is... Oh, okay. I don't. I have no idea who this dude is but he's partnered with newcomer Chelsie Hightower who looks like a cross between Julianne and Kym. Ty is fully aware that he might not be cut out for Ballroom, which is a good thing, but that won't make watching him any less painful if rehearsals are anything to go by. They Cha Cha to, oddly enough, Train in vain by The Clash. I said they but I really meant Chelsie because Ty is pretty much a stationary prop for her. There's little to be said about his footwork, posture or anything else that would be complimentary so I'm just going to say that he smiles nicely and leave it at that. There, that's my good deed for the day.
Bruno saw an army drill slash bull riding attempt, Len thought he tried hard and Carrie thought he was “one cute cowboy”. His dancing? Hardly worth a mention. Their scores are a very generous 5-4-5 for a total of 14 points.
It seems every season Dancing faithfully presents either the youngest ever contestant or the oldest ever contestant, or sometimes both. The youngest ever honor goes to Shawn Johnson this year who is a great gymnast and proud Olympian. Mark gets right to the point telling her that she needs to forget all about gymnastics and start from scratch. The Waltz, which demands a certain kind of romantic gravitas and a mature approach, is proving to be a challenge for Shawn as she finds it hard to stay serious. But they're a cute couple and their Waltz is quite light and airy with a touch of sweet romance thrown in. Given her background, Shawn can be counted on to have spot on timing and great extension without exaggeration despite a bit of stiff arm waiving in places. What she really needs to forget about is her chin which she tends to lift at the end of each move just like in gymnastics.
Carrie was moved by Shawn's elegance and dynamism. Bruno was surprised by her refinement and style but cautions her to tone down the blunt gymnast arm movements. Len found it all “very appealing”. They get 8-8-7 for a total of 23 points.
An apple a day, keeps the dancing away
Apple shaped Apple-man Steve Wozniak is not exactly easy to picture dancing and especially not with Karina Smirnoff. He can use a Segway but doing the Cha Cha is a bit more work. Steve digests the steps and mulls them over in his head but is perpetually sweaty and graceless in practice. Karina is worried, as she should be. Their music is You ain't seen nothing yet which is ironic given that I can safely say we've seen lack of talent plenty on previous seasons Dancing. Steve's catastrophic rhythm and movement troubles are nothing new but whatever he does is successfully overshadowed by Karina's costume. Imagine, if you will, a long sleeved black mesh leotard with thick black fringe placed over critical parts of Karina's anatomy, down her spine and her ass. At first glance it all looks a bit conservative till you realize that she's pretty much naked under the fringe. Is this a thinly veiled attempt to draw in the typical socially awkward male computer nerd demographic or just a clever diversionary tactic? Either way I think it's working.
Len was fascinated by the disaster. Bruno can't tell whether it was hilarious or delirium inducing. He likens Steve to a Teletubby going on a mad parade. Carrie thinks Steve represents what Dancing is all about. What, like, a deep desire to bang your head against the wall while chanting in a monote voice? Their sad scores are 5-4-4 for a total of 13 points.
Poor Kym is almost always stuck with non-starters or dead weights. In this case her dead weight is called David Alan Grier. He starts off with suggestive jokes that leave Kym a bit perplexed but then it quickly becomes apparent that under the jokester facade beats the heart of a competitor. Kym thinks he's got what it takes. Let's hope so for her sake. Their Waltz to You light up my life is staid, suffers from bad footwork and too much idiotic grinning on David's part and a complete lack of chemistry between them. Kym does her best but not even her expertise can temper his very obvious overacting. Host Tom calls it charming but what does he know?
Bruno goes straight to criticizing his posture and the odd, multiple characters he played during the routine. Carrie wants him to tone down the faces too while Len says he needs to keep his butt tucked in. Carrie also notes that they dared do another illegal lift, which we know is her personal pet peeve. They earn 6-7-6 for a total of 19 points.
Infamous is the best word to describe Denise Richards but I'm sort of indifferent to her and of course I'm prepared to like her since she's partnered with Maks. Well, as long as she works hard and doesn't get him eliminated too soon, that is. Right away their personalities seem to clash and drama is at a high after Denise's constant apologizing and repeated mistakes during practice. On the dance floor Denise looks like a Barbie doll in her hot pink fringe outfit and her curly pony tail and Maks just looks yummy with his signature unbuttoned black shirt. Maks is a great dancer, fluid, graceful and sexy. I see no big technical mistakes or unnecessary flourish. He's just right! Oh, yeah, Denise. Well, she tried but the deer in the headlights delivery, the stilted footwork and her stiff hips didn't add up to much. Still there may be something there if only she could loosen up a bit and stand up straight.
Carrie feels she has potential but was terrified. Len thinks Denise needs to pull herself together and not just let Maks drag her around. Bruno says she's got it all, just doesn't know what to do with it, which is a very astute observation. All sixes yield a total of 21 points.
Ding! Ding! You got it!
At the end of a seemingly endless night, we finally arrive at the pimp spot and this season's most notorious contestant. I will not repeat that dreck about Melissa being dumped on TV, which Dancing feels it's imperative to rehash yet again in lieu of any rehearsal scenes. Instead, I will focus on her outfit which basically consists of a sequined fishing net over a bra in a generic shade of bluish green paired with a long flowing satin skirt of the same color. Her tramp stamp which ironically says “True Love” - yeah, I'm ashamed to say that I know this pathetic detail due to my unhealthy obsession with Bachelor spoilers - is obscured by a sequined blue patch. She essentially looks like Ariel crossed with Snow White's naughtier cousin.
Their Waltz is set to Moon river, which is already annoying as I hate that song, but then Melissa proceeds to grin moronically through the whole routine and I spy Tony mouthing directions to her through the entire dance which is not only noticeably shorter than the other routines but it can only be called a Waltz with great indulgence. It's more of a nondescript exhibition dance than anything else. The illegal lift towards the end doesn't help a bit. There's more annoying open mouthed grinning, crying and neighing before the judges can weigh in.
Len warns her that in Ballroom there is no dancing on toes, Bruno takes an unnecessary swipe at the Bachelor dude then says she was like a bird taking flight while Carrie thought she did well but wants her to control her facial expressions. Strangely she fails to comment on the illegal lift. Of course because that way she doesn't have to penalize them for it. They earn 8-7-8 for a total of 23 points.
This concludes the evening's festivities. Cheryl and Giles are at the top of the scoreboard while Karina and Steve round out the bottom. Jewel will be here to sing on results night and somebody is getting tossed back into the F-list obscurity where they belong. Don't miss it!