Number of stars left in the competition: 7. Pounds of sequins used weekly on the show (half of them by Edyta): 795. Number of dresses with extremely low necklines owned by Samantha (that chick who stands beside Tom at the start of the show): two dozen per season. Number of times Dancing has rerun Marie's unfortunate fainting episode: 137. Number of times said unfortunate fainting episode will be mentioned this season: at least 3 per episode. *
After mentioning Marie's newest claim to fame, Host Tom announces that the remaining dim stars from the outer edges of the celebrity universe, will each be performing a dance they haven't performed before in addition to one big group number, the first of the season. I suppose they would have made the show longer but I believe Congress just passed a new law prohibiting torture by television show. The law does not mention anything about penalties associated with atrocious musical choices or annoyingly perky personalities, which only proves that our lawmakers haven't watched enough of Dancing or this, er, law would have been much tougher. Sigh.
A foxtrot that could have driven the enemy out of their trenches during WWI
These are the things I learned while watching Sabrina's intro: annoyingly perky Sabrina is busy. Perky Sabrina is shooting some video with the other Cheetas in order to sell more fluffy bubblegum music devoid of any culturally significant value aimed at the 5 to 12 year old demographic. Remember that you actually hold the purse strings. Perky Sabrina is extremely busy. Perky Sabrina is tired and extremely busy. Perky Samantha is worried about the video, the Foxtrot and the group dance. Cue obligatory worried facial expressions from perky Sabrina.
Dressed in a dowdy black and white dress, with a hairdo more suitable for a 50 year old, Perky Sabrina (TM) dances a Foxtrot to a horrible piece of music that I can't even be bothered to Google. Something about “I'm a woman, a w-o-m-a-n”. Some lyrics should not have been put to paper. At times she overacts horribly, appearing fierce and bobbing up and down like a cork in the ocean. The rest of the time she marches on with her regimented Foxtrot as if she was ordered to do so by the Pentagon. I wonder who the target audience is for this ferocious Foxtrot. Army generals or 18th century slave drivers perhaps? For Len it was all too aggressive. Dancing is not just about the steps, but also about finesse and nuance which was lacking in this performance. Bruno agrees with Len and decries the lack of subtlety. Carrie disagrees, because if all three of them agreed it would be unseemly. She liked perky Sabrina's
murderousfeisty delivery and says Cheetah girl did a great job. Their scores: 9-8 -8 for a total of 25.
Sesame Street revisited
It's been weeks now but it seems that Jennie's theme on the show is still that of nervous 90210 alum. Last week she had cause to be anxious, what with that silly Big Bird costume they forced her to wear. This week it's all about the dance floor. The judges! The dance! The audience! Everything is a source of stress. Derek takes her out to practice on the show floor in the hope of putting her fears to rest. His advice is for Jennie to picture Len in his underwear. I'm not sure whether it was that scary mental image that helped her or maybe it was just pure adrenaline, but their routine is off to a promising start. Dressed in a variation of her Big Bird costume, only in Elmo red and with a fluffier tail, Jennie delivers a weird sort of Mambo, with a bit too much comedy act and somewhat less Mambo moves than I like to see. Nevertheless it's a good performance, perhaps the best out of her to date. Bruno gushes that Jennie was steamy and he liked the dirty dancing. He terms the choreography “incredible”. Carrie felt Jennie finally let loose and enjoyed herself which translated into a fine time for the audience as well. Len simply calls her performance exceptional.
Tom pipes in to announce that Barry Manilow
was available and could be had for cheapwill be singing on the results show and we'll be treated to a shameless plug from Carrie and Bruno's upcoming show called “Dance War”, which is slated for January. Jennie gets three nines in a row for a total of 27 points.
Driving well below the speed limit
Having visited the bottom two despite respectable performances delivering polite versions of the slower moving dances in the Ballroom repertoire, Jane has finally arrived to the point where there are no more slow dances to be had. Their dance this week is the Jive and I'm anxious to see whether she and Tony will have this performance in drive and roaring down the freeway or will it just be elegantly circling the parking lot at 5 miles an hour like all of their previous dances. In order to help Jane grasp the proper spirit of the Jive, Tony takes her down to a naval base to dance for a bunch of sailors in a hangar. Hmm. I don't recall a field trip to Vienna so that Jane could master the Viennese Waltz. Gotta love those not-so-subliminal messages.
Their music is “Modern Love” by David Bowie. A Jive if I ever heard one. Jane, her hair in a ponytail, is wearing a bizarre stylized tuxedo that's more Vegas cocktail waitress than Academy Awards red carpet. They Jive at about ¾ speed. She looks happy but wooden and it seems to me that she's counting steps in her head. Carrie felt Jane brought her energy to this dance, but the performance was below Jane's abilities. That's a nice way of saying “it wasn't you, it was the dance”. Len says she's “pretty nifty for fifty” but felt that this Jive wasn't down and dirty enough because it didn't suit her. Bruno knows this wasn't a comfortable dance for her and wasn't her best either. Their scores are 8-7-7 for a total of 22 miles per hour, I mean, points.
All trick and no treat
Cameron McHottie delivered a scorching Rumba last week and I briefly contemplated becoming a soap fan. Then I woke up and snapped out of it because life is justs too short for stories about long lost twin brothers with amnesia who get abducted by aliens. This week he and Edyta are dancing the Samba and Cameron is afraid that the dance is too fast for him. Edyta just wants to make sure that he has fun. You know what this means. Field trip! So off they go to Little Brazil to a restaurant that has Carnival dancers where a grandma informs Cameron that Brazilians are born with Samba in their blood.
It may have been the Carnival atmosphere, it may have been the proximity to Halloween or it may just have been sheer unadulterated hatred on the part of the wardrobe people, but Edyta is decked out in a freakish Pocahontas slash 80's aerobics nutjob outfit. If that weren't enough to make you scream, their music is a piece called “Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes. Now this may, strictly speaking, be a Samba, but coupled with the Indian princess outfit it's just plain odd. The performance itself is adequate and fun but so-so as a Samba. Len enjoyed it somewhat but felt they didn't capture the Samba at all. Bruno couldn't quite wrap his mind around Captain Smith and Pocahontas doing the Samba and didn't get it. Carrie, however, did get it because, once again, somebody has to get it or they'll be voted off. She felt as if they were dancing in the jungles of the Amazon. Never mind that Pocahontas was North American and probably nobody dances the Samba in the jungles of the Amazon least of all the native Amazonian tribesmen, especially not dressed in a Halloween outfit. They manage 9-8-8 for a total of 25 points.
A thin line between love and hate
The Rumba suits Mel and Maks' relationship, which she describes as a roller coaster. It's a love and hate relationship, a clash or different personalities and a meeting of two strong willed people. We are treated to a look back at previous weeks when things weren't always the best. There is no field trip for these two this week, just good old fashioned rehearsal, rehearsal and more rehearsal. Mel promises that their Rumba this week will make Len sorry he ever gave them a 9. Dancing to Alica Keys' A woman's worth, with Mel wearing a shimmery white dress, they slither around the floor trying to do justice to Maks' steamy style of choreography. For the most part they're successful and convey the passion and romance of the Rumba quite well. They end the dance at the judges' table with Mel on Bruno's lap and Maks cozying up to Carrie. Bruno is impressed. He states they walked that fine line between love and hate, never once losing control. Carrie was mesmerized and gushes that she waited to see a passionate Rumba like this all season. Len felt left out at the end when nobody gave him a hug, but despite this he thought it was a fantastic performance. Their scores are tens across the board for a maximum total of 30 points. I don't know whether that was perfection but, hey, I wasn't bored!
Paso but only 10% Doble
Our next not-so-shiny star made history last week but not because of her amazing dancing abilities. By fainting at the end of her routine, she also generously provided Host Tom with interminable opportunities to recycle the same tasteless quips and an equal number of opportunities for the show's producers to rerun a clip of her fainting spell. Because we have ample time in this 90 minute monster of a show, and just in case you have not seen the infamous fainting episode the previous 371 times it was shown, we get to see it again. Or rather, I get to see it, you are spared because you were smart and didn't watch the show.
Jonathan explains to Marie that the Paso Doble is a passionate dance and she needs to funnel all her aggression into it. At the same time he encourages her to learn new breathing techniques that will hopefully deprive those nasty producers of their fun and hopefully prevent Marie from fainting again. Marie feels she needs to prove herself this week which might not be so hard considering that tonight they're the lucky winners of the music lottery. See, most of the time, our couples are condemned to dance to inferior music that is grossly inappropriate for their particular dance partly because ABC is extremely cheap and won't pay royalties for decent music, and partly because the background singers manage to ruin pretty much every piece of music they're given. But this week, Marie and Jonathan are privileged enough to dance the Paso Doble to a piece called “Gallito” which is spot on and most importantly has no lyrics whatsoever that can be ruined. Their dancing however is anything but spot on. It's not only slow, forced and overly theatrical – and not in a good way – but boring and, did I mention, slow? If there was any passion, it was not detectable with a naked human eye.
Carrie felt Marie played it safe and didn't feel the passion. Len liked the dramatic start but then it fizzled for him and turned into something about a Gypsy, sausages and campfires only to turn around again and be redeemed. Bruno felt Marie went from Catherine Zeta Jones to Catherine Zeta Cranky and it didn't do anything for him. Despite lumbering through their dance they get 8-8-7 for a total of 23 points.
Operating on fresh batteries
Helio couldn't charm the judges last week but maybe the Cha Cha could do what the Rumba couldn't. Julianne tries her best to get Helio to loosen up and move his body more fluidly. He feels a new relaxed attitude and his winning smile might just bring him back to the top of the scoreboard. Their music is “Get up offa that thing”, their costumes are early 70s polyester chic for Helio and lots of sequins on a flimsy poncho over a swimsuit for Julianne. Their fast paced dance receives a standing ovation and elicits praise from Len. He calls their dance fantastic. Bruno liked the reheated and reanimated Helio while Carrie is just glad to have the old Helio back. Their scores are 9-10-9 for a total of 28.
Together at last
We are this close to the end of the show with just one piece of business left. The group dance was a big effort that our couples worked hard to perfect during the week despite the potential for disaster. Whenever you have 7 professionals and 7 people who can barely tell a chassé from a passé, there's bound to be some trouble. Rehearsal is wrought with some minor injuries but it all looks like good fun. The theme is Greasers vs. Jocks, with Cameron being the leader of the Jocks. Their music is “Rockin' Robin”, even though I was expecting “You're the one I want, ooh, ooh, ooh”, their costumes are pure Grease and the whole thing is one big heaping portion of fun. Nobody is dropped, hurt and nobody faints, in fact, it all goes off without a hitch as far as I can tell. This fun dance leaves me with only one question: Why haven't they done this before? The judges are delighted and rate the performance high. Bruno thought it was pure joy and real entertainment. Carrie loved the illegal lifts and Len appreciated the great camaraderie between them.
If you want to see whether Barry Manilow has visited his plastic surgeon since his AI days you might want to tune in Tuesday night. If not, the great MotherSister will expertly summarize all the meager action and free you to read a book instead.
* Disclaimer: All numbers have been completely fabricated.
PM me if you want to sign a petition for Cameron and Maks to dance shirtless in every episode.