Last week a dozen fresh wannabe dancers were introduced over a period of two excruciatingly long nights that I thought would never end. Now here I am again watching another interminable round of dances because obviously I'm a glutton for punishment. This time all the couples are on the floor doing their best to avoid being kicked off in the first double elimination of the season. I repeat, double elimination! Just thought I'd give you something great to look forward to. I know it made me happy when I first heard about it. Tonight's dance is either the Mambo or the Quickstep which means they all better shake it, hop it or lose it.
A better world through voodoo
Steve had an acceptable first week, not great but with a demanding teacher like Anna, he is either going to turn into the next Fred Astaire or he'll be kicked to the curb in the next episode. Continuing with the great tradition of useless guests on the show, Anna invites her mother to rehearsals and she wastes no time in fawning over poor Steve and pawing him under the guise of dance instruction. He doesn't seem to mind too much though. The groping have helped, because their Mambo is passable. Steve is not exactly a smooth technician or a talented hoofer, but he manages to get through even with all the faulty footwork. His exuberance makes up for some of shortcomings on the dance floor. Len feels he is trying, but it didn't work for him. Bruno saw bad footwork, but lots of facial expressions. Carrie thought he gained steam as he went, but it wasn't too good. Their scores are 6-5-5 for a total 16. Steve says it doesn't matter because the show makes the world a better place. Uhm, okay.
Next up is Cristian. Tasked with the Quickstep this week, Cristian finds time to play around with the hops and skips. Cheryl wants him to work on his posture and to this end she makes him put on a white navy uniform. Because, you know, military men stand up tall. Who am I to question script decisions even if they sound completely inane. Did the gimmick work? They certainly look hippy and skippy out there, bobbing up and down to Americano. It's an enjoyable dance, even if Cristian goes a bit overboard with the acting at times. The audience is on their feet, the judges are impressed. Carrie liked the posture and the energy but wanted sharper footwork. Len loved the speed and their posture, but missed a more classical interpretation. Bruno liked the character interpretation. With scores of 7-6-7 their total comes to 20 points.
The first woman up to night is Monica. Between practicing facial expression for the camera, jetting off to Japan for a previous engagement and rehearsing into the night, they have a packed week. Monica really wants to give it her all and stay on the show but it's slow going and her lack of coordination in the studio is apparent. I'm not sure this Mambo is going to accomplish that, but dancing to a badly sung version of My Lovin' by En Vogue, they fumble through. Well, she does. Jonathan can dance. It's an awkward showing, shaky and unpolished. Bruno said she lost the rhythm halfway through, Carrie saw attack despite the technical problems and Len wants more coordination and speed. All in all they earn 5-5-5 for a total of 15 points.
For Penn, posture and footwork are the main problems. That and the whole not being able to dance thing. Kym resorts to putting him into the posture bar, which is supposed to pull his shoulders back and keep his back straight, but the thing is too tight on him. I guess it doesn't come in XXXL. When he leans against a wall mounted bar in the studio and the whole thing breaks off, he puts it on his back and it finally fits him. A quick side trip to the Penn and Teller studio to saw Kym in half and they're back to rehearse their routine. Their Quickstep incorporates a voodoo doll, a magical necktie, and quite a lot of fumbling around. As props go a voodoo doll is quite original unless it somehow backfires. We shall see. Len felt he tried for a proper Quickstep but his footwork didn't work. Bruno thought the footwork was atrocious. Carrie was entertained and enjoyed his energy. Their scores are 6-6-5 for a total of 17 points.
Wild animals, kings and tears
Despite all her famously artificial parts Priscilla did reasonably well last week with the Foxtrot. She works hard in rehearsals trying to perfect the trickier Mambo moves and for a 62 year old, she moves all right but Louis wants more sexiness from her. Wearing a tight, long sleeved animal print dress with lots of fluffy tulle ruffles at the bottom, she looks like a leopard crossed with a poodle . The is Mambo lacks speed, her facial expressions are comically frozen and their moves are a bit on the conservative side despite Priscilla weirdly crawling on the floor at the end of their routine, trying to look sultry and alluring. Somehow it's just scary. Carrie thinks she had it, Len appreciated the performance but wanted more attack. Bruno says it was technically good, but needed more oomph. Any more oomph in that skirt and she'd be floating in outer space. Their scores are 7s across the board, for a total of 21 points.
What's with all these perfectionists this season? Now we have Shannon declaring a fervent need to be superb. All those good intentions may not matter though if Shannon can't breathe through the lively, intensive Quickstep, so Derek decides that she needs to be whipped into shape. Out they go to the hills to run with Shannon's dogs, which is one way to build up cardio endurance. Looking at them on the floor the problem is not obvious. Their delivery is smooth, fun and technically rich. Shannon breathes normally which makes me think that all that dog running either worked miracles or she had no problems in the first place. Bruno raves about their performance, saying it's what this show wants. Carrie felt they nailed it completely. Len thought they did a great job even though she clung to Derek a bit. They earn all 8s, for a total of 24 points.
Jason is not a fan of the Mambo. It's too quick and too exhausting for him. Edyta on the other hand, probably just happy to be finally dancing with somebody under the age of 75, is determined to put on a crazy choreography for them. Wearing a fiery red two piece outfit consisting of a bra, and a ten inch long miniskirt with copious amounts of butt ruffle, Edyta at least appears ready to Mambo. They look good together and are in sync, however, even though he's not bad Jason's moves are nothing to write home about. Edyta does most of the heavy lifting. Len thought it was a winner, Bruno declares him the “Mambo King” and Carrie feels he could win the whole thing. Their scores reflect the judges great opinions with all 9s, for a total of 27 points.
Disappointment is what Marissa feels after last week's underwhelming showing with the Cha Cha. She swears she can do better but moans about all the moves her competitors can do and she can't. Priscilla's death drop is not an option and imitating Shannon raising her leg to her ears is out as well. She bawls in frustration even as Tony tries to bolster her confidence. She wants to bring a proper ballroom Quickstep this week with lots of energy. While there's plenty of energy in their step, Marissa clings to Tony the whole way through, fumbling at time. Their routine just lacks zing. Carrie appreciated the effort, but was disappointed by their missteps. Len liked their liveliness while Bruno saw a classic Quickstep, despite the footwork problems. Their scores are all 7s for a total of 21 points.
As this seemingly neverending night pulls nearer to the finish line, with four stars left to dance, I can't help but sigh and think with fondness about that above mentioned double elimination. I can't help it, it's like music to my ears. Will the shows be shorter after the first two left-footed non-celebs are bounced, will the sky be bluer, will I be able to get through the whole thing on only one stiff drink? Oh, the myriad questions!
75% practice and 100% fun
Was Adam upset by last week's scores? Maybe a little, but will that stop him from rolling with the Mambo? Probably not. What will stop him are his hips. The hips that don't want to roll in any direction. Lots of time is spent practicing loose hips in front of the mirror, and self-proclaimed 75-percenter Adam confesses to giving Julianne a solid 95 percent of his ability. Truthfully, I don't care, it would still be watchable no matter how he did. It's that wacky personality and self-deprecation that I can't resist. Now if he would just dance a bit too, all would be well. Their music is something about bamboo floors and sticks and bricks, which makes no sense except it rhymes with, er, Mamboo. Julianne is dressed in a fringed lime green leotard type of thing with hair slicked back. What was their dance like? Not too Mambo-like or memorable except for all that swirling lime fringe, Adam sprawled on the floor and Julianne ending up on Jimmy Kimmel's lap for their final move. Bruno laughed with a Mambo that was unlike anything he's seen before, Carrie was also entertained by the not-quite-Mambo and Len terms it brilliant, despite the total lack of technique and steps and such. With scores of 6-7-6 and a total of 19 points, their effort isn't the worst of the night.
After last week's performance, and all the praise it received, Marlee has set the bar high for herself. She hears sounds muffled and distant at best and as the Quickstep, by its nature, is a different animal than the Cha Cha, with much less eye contact and more body contact, communication will be key. It's slow going. Timing and precision is extremely important and Marlee is terrified of twisting her ankle while jumping. Despite her fears, the routine works well. Some precision is lacking, she gets out of sync a couple of times, but it's nothing major. The audience is on their feet for them. Len was impressed even though it wasn't a traditional Quickstep while Bruno saw a bit of Mambo in their Quickstep, but felt it was well executed. Carrie appreciated their musicality, the story but wanted a tighter hold. With all 8 scores, a total of 24, this is not a shabby showing at all.
Next up tonight is Kristi, whose first week was a definite winner. The Foxtrot worked great but the Mambo is another matter. Kristi is a bit embarrassed by the Mambo's moves so to ease her discomfort, Mark dons a Mambo skirt and shakes it for her. They dance to Hey baby, sexing it up with a bare-chested Mark and as much butt shaking as possible. They put on a snappy, quick and smooth routine that ends with a flourish. Carrie loved the precision, felt she nailed it. Len thought they did it again. Bruno says they hit every beat and didn't miss a step. He saw nothing amiss at all. They earn all 9s, for a total of 27 points.
Closing the show is Mario who is doing the Quickstep this week. Karina wants to wean Mario off of his freestyling ways, which don't belong in the Quickstep. It's all about precision and the feet. To make those pesky feet behave, she takes him out to the beach to practice the steps under the setting sun. Supposedly if he can do it in the surf, he can do it on the floor. The routine is lively and Mario does well enough, although I'm distracted by Karina's dress which is nothing but swaths of jungle print fabric floating around their legs. Bruno felt their energy and charisma. Len loved the footwork but didn't like the stiff hold. He feels Mario needs more finesse. Carrie thought Mario was hot and charming. They earn 9-8-9 from the judges for a total of 26 points.
With the night finally at an end, we hear from Tom and Samantha again telling us that the scores and votes from both weeks will be combined to determined which two couples are being sent packing. Does it matter? Twelve minus two makes ten and we're all winners. See me here next week to count the sequins and mop up the blood if there's any shocking first elimination.
Should Dancing go with 24 couples next season and six weeks of preliminaries? PM me.