'Dancing With the Stars' Results: The first cut
And all signs pointed to an upset. First of all, Tom and Brooke could not stop dropping the words “surprising” and “unexpected” throughout the evening. And then it was announced almost immediately that Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood were one of the couples in the bottom two. Not our Pammy! Were her fans, um, too occupied to pick up the phone and call in their votes? I mean, come on. This woman has got oodles of personality and oodles of other things stacked in her favor. And she can dance! But chalk it up to passive viewers, or new pro partner Damian, who hasn’t had a chance to build up a fan base, for their position in the bottom two.
Though with all the time that the couple was forced to spend under those damning fast-foot red heat lamps, it would have been particularly cruel and unusual had Pam and Damian ultimately been the ones ousted from the competition.
Unfortunately, that dubious honor went to Shannen Doherty instead. (9021-oh no they didn't!) And while this news wasn’t as upsetting as when Kelly and Dylan ganged up on Brenda and broke the news that they were dating, it was still kind of a shock. I had hoped that Shannen would stick around a bit longer – her jive was fun, and she was definitely showing improvement and conquering her performing fears. Plus, it looked like she was having a good time, which is more than I can say about some other people in the competition.
Sadly, perhaps it was her lack of drama that kept her out of the spotlight and out of the voters’ minds. And while I’ll miss the once and forever Brenda Walsh, perhaps it was all for the best, as it was also revealed that her partner Mark Ballas had pulled a muscle off the bone (ouch) during dress rehearsals on Monday, and would be out for six weeks.
Shannen's exit, of course, means that we get to see Kate Gosselin confront her fears and her control issues for another week. While she’s doing that, maybe she can have some one-on-one time with the mirror and practice cracking a smile. Every time the cameras panned over to her in this hour, it was glum, glummer, glummest. No gracious looks, no contact with partner Tony Dovolani (who already looked like his mind had journeyed halfway to Albania, and could give a whooping funt which way this cookie crumbled). I’m no psychology expert, but I’m guessing that mug of brittle petrification isn’t doing much to win over people’s hearts. Still, it got her through to next week. And I admit, I'm curious to see how Kate and Tony will get along.
And then there was all the filler. A lot of it was very Len-centric. The dapper head judge took us through a recap of the previous evening’s performances and introduced the season’s first encore performance (Nicole and Derek’s high-scoring jive, of course). The best, though, was when he channeled his inner Charlton Heston, donned robes and announced his Len Commandments. My favorites were “Thou Shalt Not Kill Time,” because “messing about on the stage” definitely seems to be Len’s biggest complaint. The smiting of dancers (and the subsequent explosions) was also a nice touch. I also liked the “Thou Shalt Not take the Judges Name in Vain,” because it allowed a fun backstage clip of the usually mild-mannered Edyta going on an expletive-filled rant. And of course, “Thou Shalt Not Do Lifts” which Len clearly lifted from Carrie Ann’s Regimented Rectagon Rulebook. Though was it me, or was the fun of that segment completely sucked away by the judges’ command that each couple has to tell a story through their dance next week?
Season 6 contestant Adam Carolla returned for a “Between the Mirrorballs” piece that also pointed out Buzz’s affinity for astronaut tees. And I liked Adam’s use of “tom-catting” in reference to Bruno and Elton John's romp through the South of France, and the freeze frame of Bruno with his arms up and palms out in a moment of nostalgic reverie. But mostly, I enjoyed the pleasant clink of the mirror balls between each bit.
The pros came out for two dances: The first was a fusion routine choreographed by frequent Michael Jackson collaborator Travis Payne that incorporated ballroom with some more contemporary moves (it’s times like these that I miss Lacey Schwimmer’s all-around dance talent). The second was an accompaniment to the well-intentioned but oddly tinny sounding Beach Boys “California Girls”/”Kokomo”/”Fun Fun Fun” medley featuring John Stamos on the drums. Cheryl Burke, Anna Trebunskaya and Ashly Costa shot out like bright, fringy yellow rays of the sun, framed by Louis Van Amstel, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Damian Whitewood.
Brooke Burke got her own segment, as we saw a day in the life of the working mom on her first stint as a co-host. They really do give those spray tan bottles a workout, don’t they? Though who else thought Tom Bergeron's sudden bogarting of Brooke’s Teleprompter lines stood as a not-so-subtle plea for his own segment?
Finally, heartstrings were tugged during the Macy’s Stars of Dance — a passionate routine performed by Haitian dancers that shed light both on their country’s unflappable spirit and their continuing struggle after January’s devastating earthquake. I have to admit, I wasn’t prepared to witness the tragic story of former world professional mambo champion Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine’s son (oh, those pictures!) on a show such as this. But as much as this heartbreaking news seemed out of place amid all the frivolity and fringe of this very bedazzled program, I appreciated the show’s attempt to bring awareness to a charitable cause. I also appreciated the reminder that “dancing is an expression of hope, no matter what.”
Which brings us back to the decidedly more superficial world of rectagons and celebraquariums. Would you agree that glittery heartstrings were also tugged when Shannen graciously made her exit (her poor father looked absolutely crushed, didn’t he)? What did you think? Were you as surprised as I was with the first week’s results?
Photo credit: Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood: Craig Sjodin / ABC; Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas: Adam Larkey / ABC