Dancing With The Stars 4 – 3/19/2007 Premiere Recap: Ars Longa. Really, really longa.
This is going to be a dry, quite possibly factually incomplete, second-by-minute retelling of the events that took place on the live premiere night of “Dancing With The Stars 4” as witnessed by yours truly. I swear to relay the truth, and nothing but the partial, completely biased truth, so help me Fred Astaire. Chasse!
Back in the saddle again
It's been a while since the last season of DWTS and I have to tell you that absence did make the heart grow fonder. Not mine, of course, but according to returning hosts Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris this is what we've all been waiting for. Well, if they say so. I'm not sure I can trust anything this Tom guy says, but whatever. The opening sequence presents this season's contestants in quite a garish psychedelic visual assault that may cause seizures sooner or later in some poor viewer. If you missed your chance to burn your eyeballs with it this week, fear not. The opening montage will be here to offend till the bloody end, I'm pretty sure of that.
To get business out of the way quickly, so we can all delve straight into the fun part, here are this season's 11 pairings:
Ian Ziering of "Beverly Hills 90210 fame with two-time champ Cheryl Burke.
Paulina Porizkova, 80s supermodel and cover girl with Alec Mazo, winner of season 1.
Billy-Ray Cyrus, best known for having the worst haircut known to man, and Karina Smirnoff.
Lezza Gibbons, TV personality and.... I'm not sure what else really, with Tony Dovolani.
Joey Fatone, one fifth of the now thankfully defunct 'Nsync boy band with Kym Johnson.
Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali and female boxer with Maksim Chmerkovskij - otherwise known as eyecandy.
John Ratzenberger, who they say was on "Cheers". I'll have to accept that as fact since I never watched that show. He's competing with Edyta Sliwinska.
Shandi Finnessey, Miss USA 2004 with Brian Fortuna. O fortuna!!
Clyde Drexler, one time NBA player with Elena Grinenko.
Heather Mills, Paul McCartney's one legged ex, er, I mean charity activist with Jonathan Roberts.
Apolo Anton Ohno, speed skating cutie pie with 18 year old Australian dancer Julianne Hough.
That is the last damn time I'm typing that all out so you better memorize it or inscribe it on a plaque somewhere for your own future reference. Do you know how hard it is to spell Sliwinska?? After this it's first name basis only until there are fewer couples left. Sorry but I won't risk carpal tunnel syndrome for this bunch.
The show starts off with a bang as all 11 pro dancers come out to do an energetic number to the sweet tunes of “Ballroom Blitz”, proving once and for all that music selection on this show is achieved by throwing a dart blindfolded at a list of the Billboard bottom 500 from the mid 90s and earlier.
Next it's time to meet our stars and they all sashay down the stairs one by one to loud applause and cheers from the audience. Tom tells us that we've got “three world champion sports stars, the tallest and the youngest competitors ever and our first with an artificial limb”. Oh, and instead of six weeks to train they've only had four. I'm not worried. From past experience with this show, some people could have trained till the cows came home and it still wouldn't have mattered a bit.
The hosts also announce that in order for all of us to see
Heather twice before she is eliminated see all the dancers twice, they're doubling our pleasure and next Monday we get a second round of dances before someone is kicked to the curb next Tuesday night. Tonight, the female stars are doing the foxtrot and the male stars are doing the cha-cha.
We get a glimpse of the judges and we dive straight into the first dance. Well, not exactly. Each couple gets a short introductory segment before they actually dance, in order to state their reasons for signing up to shamelessly promote themselves on national TV.
The luck of the (predetermined) draw
First up are Ian and Cheryl doing the cha-cha. Ian says he's doing the show for his parents. What else was he going to say, really. It was a choice between the parents and "I'm sadly unemployed at the moment". I'd have gone with the parents too. They cha-cha to Idol's “Mony Mony”. Believe me, I wish I was joking. Despite the abysmal choice of music and aside from some weird facial expressions from Ian, they do a really good job. Ian actually has rhythm, which is always a bonus on this show, although not a guarantee that you won't be eliminated anyways, especially if your main claim to fame is a role on a show few people would ever admit they watched. Gosh, I used to love Steve, he was one of my favorite characters! Oops, did I just say that out loud?
Before we get to the judges critique, America has a chance to be reintroduced to the show's singers and the band and we can finally see who's to blame for every awful cover and insulting song arrangement of previous seasons. No doubt, their excellent track record of butchering every song they lay their hands on, will continue this season. No email address was provided for any of them. Clever producers.
We are also reintroduced to the judges. Len Goodman says Ian was a bit wooden and needs more hip action. I guess he's right, he didn't shake his bon-bon vigorously enough compared to Cheryl. Bruno Tonioli, quipster extraordinaire says Ian got the cherry on the cake with Cheryl but his advice is for Ian to do more like the Chippendales do when it comes to the hips. Wow, for a second I thought he was recommending more nudity... Carrie Ann Inaba liked the energy but thought he could use the floor more. She means for dancing people; get your minds out of the gutter.
Backstage, after a bit of chit-chat with Samantha we get the judges scores which are 7 across the board for a total of 21 out of 30.
Cutie and Bullwinkle
Next up are Paulina and Alec. She claims she's a klutz who is about as graceful as a 2X4 and calls herself Bullwinkle. From the looks of their rehearsal, I'd say she's right on the money. This Alec guy, however, is cute. He needs to stay in the competition so that I can
ogle him enjoy his dancing more. Which means you'll need to vote for this guy, I mean for Paulina, if you want to keep me happy. They dance the foxtrot to some song I've never heard before and I'm happy to report that Alec is a marvelous dancer with finesse and grace. Just awesome! I forgot to look at Paulina but according to Len she has great arms and Carrie says she wasn't in sync with Alec despite her potential. Bruno gushes that she's classy and likens her to a “breakfast, lunch and dinner at Tiffany's”. Can you actually have food at Tiffany's? 'Madame, would you like your eggs scrambled or boiled with those diamonds?'
I'm just noticing that Samantha's only function is to interview people backstage. Maybe I wasn't paying attention last season. We find out that Alec is happy to be back after winning season 1 and that Paulina lost her brain while dancing. The judges deliver their verdict and it's Carrie 6 – Len 6 – Bruno 7 for a total of 19.
Hair transplant without anesthesia
It's Billy-Ray's turn. Have I ever told you that Billy-Ray is my favorite name in the whole world? Yeah, that and Bucky. If I ever have a goat I'll name it Billy-Ray. Highly unlikely for a city girl like me but you never know, stranger things have happened. Speaking of strange, turns out Billy-Ray is Hannah Montana's daddy. Show of hands: how many of you knew who Hannah Montana was and did you know he was her daddy? My 8 year old knew him! Damn. My only hope is that he doesn't sing on the show. Wouldn't be fair to the kids.
These two are doing the cha-cha set to some awful country song about fishing poles and money back guarantees or something. But Billy can't cha-cha so he line dances instead. The whole thing is a disaster and it ends with Billy trying to be this macho caveman, literally ripping the wig off of Karina's head after it gets stuck in his sleeve. I need to go lie down now... Carrie says it wasn't cha-cha (what tipped her off, I wonder), Bruno can't even critique the mess but applauds Billy's scalping skills and Len says “it was more like a hoedown than a cha-cha”. Right on. They all want to see him do the quickstep next week. I guess the judges are gluttons for punishment.
Not surprisingly, Billy takes time backstage to shamelessly promote his latest album. What? Don't tell me you thought he was here to 'dance'! You did? Aww, I'm sorry. Their scores range from bad, to worse to horrible for a total of 13. Karina waves her dead wig around and says that they might have set a new record for the lowest score on the show. At least it was well deserved!
If you were a fox you wouldn't trot like this
Leeza Gibbons is our next competitor. Her reason for being on the show is unclear but maybe she was hired so that Dancing could claim they have the oldest woman ever on the show. They dance the foxtrot to an uninspiring rendition of “Strangers in the night”. Poor Leeza. If this was a smiling competition she'd have won it but alas her dancing was stiff, her back ramrod straight (and not in a good way), her frame was rigid and I spied Tony quite literally keeping her from falling a few times. Bruno noticed she was tense and clinging to Tony, Len thought technically she was good and elegant but stiff and nervous. Finally, Carrie's assessment is that Leeza needs to let loose. I recommend a couple of shots of tequila for that.
Their scores total 15, which I think is generous but Leeza hopes next week's mambo will be her friend. Just leave the steel spine at home lady.
In sync with the disco ball
Do you long for the days of old when 'Nsync was the biggest name in music? I bet Joey Fatone does. Those days are gone and Joey needs a job so here he is with Kym, the Australian dancer, to add a new
pos-post-postscript chapter to his career. Their rehearsal segment is the best so far. Fat One is kind of funny, in his bunny slippers and saying he needs a bra for those man-boobs. Insta-votes! All dressed up like John Travolta at his most revoltingly cheesy in Saturday Night Live, Joey and Kym dance to the Bee Gees' “You should be dancing”. Cha-cha to disco! I'm having soy milk while writing this but maybe I should be drinking vodka. He has a bit of an accident with a loose microphone pack – which I didn't notice, I guess I was too distracted by those cheesy white suits. All the judges gush excitedly about their performance and say that the competition finally started. Damn. I could have skipped over a few of them if I'd only known.
They get 24 points which you may say is not too impressive but you'd be wrong.
This beauty will knock you out
Maksim is next! Oh, and his partner is Laila Ali. He says he needs to teach her to be a girl. I suggest 'Dancing' install permanent live feeds on this duo's rehearsals. I'm sure
I'd somebody would pay to see them. I perk up as they start to foxtrot to another predictably schmaltzy 40 year old hit. Maksim's got lovely lines, all sexy elegance and fluidity. He glides across the floor effortlessly with the confidence and ease of a true pro. Oh, and his partner is Laila Ali. Bruno tells Laila that “this foxtrot was oozing sex appeal and allure”. I agree, Maks was magnificent! Carrie agrees that she was seamless and fluid and Len finally has a chance to utter the obvious cliché he's probably been cooking up since he first heard Laila was going to be on the show: “flies like a butterfly, glides like a swan”. The cheese is practically dripping out of my TV set.
Backstage we find out that they get 23 points which doesn't make these two very happy. Samantha says that people need to vote to keep them in. Yes! Please vote for Maks, I need my eye candy!
Why are there so many people on this show? We're already up to 50 couples with what seems like another 50 couples left to go. Haven't they heard that less is more? By the time we're done, you could probably print out this recap, hard bind it and use it as a deadly weapon. End of intermission.
The old man and the floor
John and Edyta are up and I'm really sorry but I'll be skipping the uninspiring intro. The one fact you need to know is that the guy from the Sopranos, who was initially slated to compete, bowed out 2 weeks ago and Edyta had to scramble to train John in that short amount of time. Their dance is the cha-cha, set to “Chain of fools”. John does a good job of mostly walking across the floor but I guess it could have been worse. He could have reminded me more of Jerry Springer. Shudder. The judges thought it wasn't too bad but John needs to work on eliminating heel leads, which are against the rules. That's exactly what I would have said too if I were a judge. Great minds, and all that.
The verdict is 17 points.
The Barbie to his Ken
Shandi the beauty queen and Brian Fortuna are up, dancing the foxtrot to “Power of love”. Notice that I'm already depriving you of crucial introductory info. I deeply regret this move but unless you want to grow old with this recap we must move at a faster pace. Anyways, you didn't miss much. She grabbed his ass while they were rehearsing and he avoided stating the obvious, which is that she's a full head taller than he is. Their dancing is so-so. Shandi's leg extensions are non-existent but the judges say it was a good effort. Bruno is worried that their frozen smiles would cause their facial muscles to atrophy, Carrie thinks Shandi's bottom half needs work – really?- and Len fears that there was too much aggression in their dancing. It all boils down to a total of 19 points and Barbie seems quite pleased by that result.
Elena and the giant peach
I'm not sure why exactly but every season there is a pro-athlete on this show with two left feet and every year they make it quite far. Last season the guy even won the show. Hoping to capitalize on the trend is Clyde “The Glide” Dexler who is up next. He is the tallest man to ever be on the show and given that his partner, Elena, is about a foot shorter than he is you might think they look quite odd together. I'd say it depends on the camera angle. Their number is of course a cha-cha-cha and I'm sorry to tell you that he sucks. Elena is a great dancer but she really has to work overtime to compensate for Clyde's shortcomings in the rhythm department. Despite his lack of talent, Clyde is a sweet fellow. The judges' comments are not terribly constructive: “you're smooth on your feet; it was good; big is beautiful; the sun sets in the West; you're tall; a+b=c” and their score of 16 points reflects those lukewarm opinions.
A leg down on the competition
Face it, you've been waiting for this moment all night long: Heather Mills, the infamous ex-wife of Sir Paul, the one with the artificial leg, the obscene monetary demands and the dubious job description of “charity campaigner”. She gives a brief description of her accident and dammit, I feel sorry for her now. Rehearsal is a bit all over the place and she seems wobbly a whole lot. Her partner seems a bit confused too. Will she dance well? Who cares! I just want to see whether I'll need to freeze frame and rewind a hundred times later. You know, in case.... well, you know.
There is no spectacle worthy of a rewind here, not even one worthy of a measly freeze frame. Their whole foxtrot is boring, stilted and overly dramatic but if I put aside everything I know about this woman and just look at her performance as a disabled person, then I think she did better than I'd have expected her to. There, that's my good deed for today: not trashing Heather.
Len claims that she will not be judged any differently and praises her for being an inspiration. Bruno says she's got more guts than Rambo, whatever that means, but that she needs to watch where her arms go and keep her frame intact. Carrie tells her to ease up her shoulders. Their final score is 18. Heather says she expected to get the lowest scores, so she's pleased.
There is an end in sight. Thank you, Zeus!
Apolo, the 5 time Olympic medal winner, and Julianne Hough, the 18 year old newbie dancer, close the show with a lively cha-cha set to a song with lyrics like “let's hear it for the boy/let's give the boy a hand”. Oh, boy. Bruno liked it, thought he has potential but Carrie thought his hips were too turned in and he was leading with his shoulders. Duh! He's a speed skater, it's what they do. Len didn't like the stooped posture. I don't like Len. They earn a respectable 21 points for their efforts. We need lots of votes for Apolo because how can anyone not like a guy named Apolo even if his name is misspelled.
Had enough or are you itching for more? It really doesn't matter either way since we're doing the whole thing all over again next Monday, when the female stars are dancing the mambo and the male stars take on the quickstep and before someone is
mercifully regretfully cut on Tuesday. You'll find out everything you need to know about the loser from the excellent Critical.
Do you have any pictures to prove that Tom Bergeron is actually a space alien? If so, PM me.