Hype and fanfare: Over! This new season is starting to become a repeating bad dream of past seasons, actually of one in particular…the Jive and the Quickstep were trotted out for North America this week, and the best thing one can say is, at least we’re done with them early! On with the shows…
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani – Jive
The Jive is Melissa’s Achilles Heel…or more accurately, her Achilles Ribs, since this was the dance that she had to skip in her season due to injury, and the judges marked her based on rehearsal footage. Motivated by her need to erase this shame brought upon her and her family, she and Tony do a frenetic kick-laden routine set to the iconic “Shout” (the Animal House one, not the Tears for Fears one). She starts off by flubbing a pass through Tony’s legs, but ends it with an impressive flip over Tony’s back. Her strengths and weaknesses remain the same as in her season: She has boundless energy and charm, but her charm ends up being a substitute for any sense of character or passion. Bruno saw her flaws, but Len and Carrie Ann tried to shove him under the table for daring to critique America’s Sweetheart. Scores: 8.0-8.0-7.5 = 23.5
Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas – Quickstep
Bristol…sigh. Playing up her “shy small-town girl” angle for all its worth, she says she picked “Redneck Woman” for her dance because it represents her. And to prove it, she took Mark (and her fanbase) to a shooting range. Mark over-choreographed the routine as usual, and the judges weren’t thrilled with how much they broke hold to do country steps. Also playing up her “shy girl needs to learn how to get sexy” angle, Mark has Bristol grind her hips for a few seconds in the middle of the routine for no reason. He later tells Brooke that they are there to have fun more than to, you know, follow any rules and stuff. Scores: 6.0-6.0-6.0 = 18.0
Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower – Jive
Helio takes Chelsie to the racetrack to take a few laps and scream her head off. Okay. Their Jive is fun but kind of generic, and well executed except for some overly enthusiastic kicking. Scores: 8.0-7.5-7.5 = 23.0
Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff – Quickstep
Karina warns Apolo in rehearsal that he really needs to take the lead in their dances (“be the man” is how she put it – and he responded by accidentally headbutting her during practice – ouch!). Apolo summons up all the usual sports metaphors, and on the floor, he delivers with a QS that is nimble and joyous. The judges proclaim it a big success. Scores: 8.5-8.0-8.0 = 24.5
Sabrina Bryan & Louis van Amstel - Quickstep
Louis really is bringing out all the big moves in his choreography this season – in fact, he nearly broke Sabrina in half during rehearsal. Oops! But it was worth it – the judges fell over themselves praising their energy, clean lines and precision. Scores: 9.0-8.5-8.5 = 26.0 (First 9 of the season, highest overall score to date)
Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovsky – Jive
Maks works Kirstie hard in rehearsal; he says he works her like a 20-year-old because she’s competing against 20-year-olds. (Kirstie remarks that she is literally 3 times as old as Shawn.) Done up in a flapper dress and black bob wig, Kirstie performs the heck out of an unusual Jive that focuses more on sensuality and story than athleticism. The judges showered her with compliments, but ultimately scored it middle-of-the-pack. Scores: 7.0-7.0-7.0 = 21.0
Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke – Quickstep
Emmitt also pulls out some sporty smack-talk in his rehearsal package (hey, it’s what they do). He and Cheryl perform what can only be called a passionate Quickstep (!) to “Cool Cat in Town,” but the judges giving him a loving smackdown for so-so framing and a lack of precision. Scores: 7.5-7.5-7.5 = 22.5
Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya – Jive
Still smarting from a bottom-2 finish last week, Drew & Anna are determined to kick butt this week. Their rehearsals don’t seem as fun as with other couples…is there a chemistry problem here? They perform a badass, punk-chic Jive, but apparently punks suffer from flat feet. Still, it’s a definite improvement from last week. Scores: 7.5-7.5-7.5 = 22.5
Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson – Quickstep
Joey seems to be the focus of any “weight” talk this season instead of Kirstie – but he’s been performing in the DWTS show so there must be some tone in there. But his rehearsal clip focuses on how winded he’s getting…hmm. Kym choreographs a super-cute Charlie Chaplin routine for Joey, casting herself as an early Jean Harlow/Joan Crawford type (yep, Joan started out as a hoofer like everyone else back then). The routine was fun to watch, but sloppy as heck. The judges wag their fingers at Joey, but ultimately give him a break with their paddles. Scores: 7.5-7.5-7.5 = 22.5
Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough – Jive
Shawn like that she started out in the middle of the pack last week (hey it’s boring to be on top all the time!), and wants to play to her gymnastic strengths with the Jive (hopefully with better results than her tacky tube-socked Lindy Hop with Mark in her season). With Derek in the driver’s seat, she can’t miss as they dance a polished, Broadway-ready Jive that actually leaves old man Derek winded by the end. Scores: 8.5-8.0-8.5 = 25.0
Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovsky – Quickstep
Val wants Kelly to keep her back straight! Kelly decides to show Val what it’s like for a woman to keep her back straight by making him wear a sports bra filled with two water balloons.
”I’m the luckiest boy in the world!”
Back to business, Val choreographs a fairytale quickstep with Kelly cast as a pink princess. The judges get picky about the finishing touches, but it’s a charming routine. Scores: 7.5-7.0-7.5 = 22.0
Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd – Jive
Speaking of the Lindy Hop and Season 8, remember “Hair France”?
It’s baaaa-aaaack! Also repeating history, Gilles is back at the doctor getting checked out for muscle strains. But that doesn’t deter Gilles from giving his all in a sexy/goofy Euro-Jive, with Peta sporting golden salsa pants! The judges eat it up like it was covered in Béarnaise. Scores: 8.5-8.5-8.5 = 25.5
This week, ABC stopped its misinformation campaign and went back to separating the 2 hours into a recap show and a results show. I applaud this move, now maybe the terrorists won’t win.
The recap show consisted of the judges explaining which previous dance of each All-Star was their “defining dance.” Not many surprises, but it was great to see Gilles' Argentine Tango and Helio’s Banana Quickstep again. And with that, on with the results!
Brooke asks “Could we be in for another shocker tonight?” Hmm… meanwhile, Len picks Sabrina & Louis’ Quickstep for the encore dance, and they do not disappoint. If anything, it was better tonight. It’s really nice to see veteran Louis getting his time in the sun.
The first round of couples are rounded up and recapped; the one interesting moment was seeing Helio’s and Apolo’s reaction to Emmitt’s smack-talk of the other athletes in the cast during his rehearsal clip. Game on!
Sabrina & Louis: Safe
Emmitt & Cheryl: Safe
Drew & Anna: Safe (!!)
Joey & Kym: In Jeopardy (!!!)
They weren’t great last night, but wow. Fan votes are really making a difference this season…Tom interjects at this point that next week will be a double elimination.
Entertainment time: The UK’s Cher Lloyd tries to cement her US stature with a live performance. Clowns on stilts dance in the background, only drawing even more attention to Cher’s skinny Olive-Oyl legs. Music-wise, it’s like the Spice Girls were put in a vice and compressed into one girl. Filler nutritional value: 6.5 (I can add hoff-points too)
Video clip time: The pros get the “pressure’s on, we have to succeed, it’s soooo haaaarrrrd!” treatment. Same video as every season, just change the names. Filler nutritional value: 5.0
Bad news always comes in threes – it’s Macy’s Stars of Dance time! Described by Tom as “a futuristic battle royale,” it’s basically “The Dance at the Gym” from West Side Story retold Mad Max/Running Man style. Yawn. Filler nutritional value: 4.0
Make that fours! Now the troupe reinterprets a random mix of former routines by past couples in a hurried, confusing mash-up. It doesn’t feel like the first time. Filler nutritional value: 3.0
Finally, some more results: Backstage, Professional Victim Bristol goes into extreme “Whatever” mode after getting spanked by the judges. Maks is super-proud of Kirstie’s performance, and Kelly thinks Gilles is a little cuckoo.
Shawn & Derek: Safe
Kirstie & Maks: Safe
Kelly & Val: In Jeopardy (!!!!)
Bristol & Mark: Safe (!!!!!!!)
As I said, fan votes (and robo-votes and trolling votes) are playing a big part in the results this time. Sigh.
DWTS welcomes back Katherine Jenkins, who sings “Come What May” with Placido Domingo. Val & Anna create a steamy Christian & Satine on the floor. Filler nutritional value: 8.0
More backstage tidbits: Melissa can’t believe how sweaty Tony’s hands are before they dance.
Gilles & Peta: Safe
Melissa & Tony: Safe
Apolo & Karina: Safe
Helio & Chelsie: In Jeopardy (I’m all out of exclamation points)
The three ‘jeopardized’ couples stand at the top of the steps, and Tom announces that the couple who don’t need to take that walk of shame downstairs is…Kelly & Val. This leaves two former champions in the bottom two, Joey and Helio. Tom asks Helio if he would have done anything differently last night, which I find silly, since Helio danced great. He asks Joey the same question, and this time it makes sense since Joey kind of tanked. Joey is gracious with his reply, and even more gracious when Tom announces that he and Kym are eliminated. The crowd (and 47% of America) boo loudly for the second week in a row. Will we keep seeing this scene again and again? Take your blood pressure meds and stay tuned.