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'Dancing With the Stars': Lights! Camera! Action!

April 20, 2010 |  8:33 am
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Roll out the red carpet, because Monday was Movie Night in the “Dancing With the Stars” ballroom. Each couple got to perform to a well-known song from a film, and the band trotted out famous numbers from movies including “Risky Business,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Armageddon.” And it appeared as though the producers took this theme as an opportunity to raid the prop closet, decorating the set with movie marquees and neon cocktail signs and jungle vines (not that this show needed another excuse to break out more glitz on the Rectagon stage) for the event.

Cut from the night’s proceedings, however, was the Double Score Showdown, as there was just one set of judge's paddles this week. And as we’re now in the fifth week of competition, it’s becoming abundantly clear which couples have broken away from the rest of the pack.

So whose Movie Night debut was a hit, and whose flopped? Grab your popcorn and 3-D glasses from the concession stand (also known as Brooke’s Bazooka Boutique), and meet me after the break for the recap.

119786_5067_pre Regaining the lead this week were Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough. Nicole regained her composure after last week’s disappointing rumba and delivered a killer tango, set to Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” from the movie of the same name. And though Derek’s sly claim that he was the “pretty one” was more than a little dubious, one thing was definitely clear: This guy can sure choreograph. Len called the tango “the best dance of the season so far,” and it brought both Bruno and Carrie Ann to their feet. Bruno nearly burst a blood vessel with his impassioned praise: “Two players at the top of the game!” he bellowed. “The pride and passion of tango portrayed to perfection!” Carrie Ann channeled Molly Shannon: “You guys are superstars! Superstars! Superstars!” Their nearly flawless tango earned them two more 10s to add to their collection, for a nearly flawless total of 29 out of 30.

Which dropped golden boy Evan Lysacek and partner Anna Trebunskaya down a spot. And I know Evan’s athletic success makes him practically a ringer in this competition, but his laid-back style and general affability have cemented him as one of my favorites. And he and Anna totally delivered the goods for their rumba, set to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from “Armageddon.” Anna even looked out of this world with her starry-night dress. Despite having to schedule his rehearsals in between his "Stars on Ice" tour dates (where he admitted that he accidentally did a rumba move on the ice – hotcha!), Evan used his Olympian strength to make his dance take off. Hips that move? Check. Arm extensions? Check. Amazing spins? Check. Bruno called the figure skater’s top lines and port de bras “exquisite.” Len said the dance was both artistic and musical. Carrie Ann applauded them for their “tender sophistication,” but not just from their characterizations: “The movement was generating the emotion.” It was enough to earn Evan and Anna their best score thus far. Total: 27.

The rest of the pack had to make do with fainter praise and paddles that went no higher than an 8. Coming in third place were Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower. Though I’m inclined to think the score was payoff for having his pants off at the beginning of his “Risky Business” performance. And although there’s no doubt that the Bachelor puts 100% into each of his routines, there is just something about the guy that I just can’t get fully behind. Was the shirtless “Top Gun” volleyball scene an effort to channel Tom Cruise or a shameless plug for votes? Were those bandaged knees at the beginning of the performance sexy or sickening? What about the tighty-whitey peek during rehearsal? Discuss. Anyways, Jumping Jake Flash went all out with his cha cha, and Chelsie’s fun fringe and sexy moves more than helped him look better. Squeaky McSqueakerson’s rendition of “That Old Time Rock and Roll,” however: not great. Still, Bruno called Jake a “cheeky bugger” and said it was one of his best performances. Carrie Ann praised him for having guts, so he could enjoy the glory. And Len “loved the feeling of the dance” though said the little mess-up at the end was a “pity.” Total: 23

Just a point behind them were Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. And when all the stars were coming down the stairs in the intro, Erin and Maks’ “Pulp Fiction” costumes were the ones I cottoned to immediately and was the most excited for. Though I, like Len, thought it was doomed when their jive, set to Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” started out as slow as molasses. Was Maks ever going to get rid of that menu? Thank goodness the tempo picked up shortly thereafter. Maks looked dashing in his black suit and skinny tie, though Erin, with that blond wig, looked more like Julia Roberts at the beginning of “Pretty Woman” than Uma Thurman and her black pageboy. Bruno said her dance was “a breakthrough. … This is your best timing ever.” Len enjoyed the faster half, though at times it was a bit “hectic.” Carrie Ann gave us all a nice nugget of information when she said wearing black shoes was very revealing. Total: 22. Though extra points should be awarded to Maks for keeping in character while shimmying over to pinch Tom’s butt, and to Erin for totally going there when Brooke (who looked like she was wearing a dress of piano keys) pressed her on the "are they or aren't they" romantic scuttlebutt between her and Maks: “Not until he gives me a ring like Chad got Cheryl.” Ha! As Tom said, “It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that bling.”

119786_3778_pre Funny: I could have sworn Len “No Mucking About” Goodman would call Jake out for taking all those bars to put on his pants or give Maks more grief for playing with that menu before serving the entree. Instead, he chose to make an example of out Pamela Anderson this week, chastising her for dilly-dallying with her typewriter and glasses in her Dolly Parton “9 to 5” tribute with Damian Whitewood. Honestly, I thought the intro moved the story along quite well and helped to establish the characters. But crankypants Len, as Tom said, acted the part of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and docked them for it. Though to be fair, I would have docked Damian for not committing fully to character and wearing Dabney Coleman’s moustache during the routine. Pammy really brought it with her quickstep Monday night and channeled Ms. Dolly and all of her assets admirably. And how great was that step up and down the chair and desk! Talk about using your props! Bruno and Carrie Ann both loved her characterization and posture, though Bruno wanted more movement, and CA thought her hold was “a little loosey-goosey.” Len, of course, called foul on “24 bars of just messing around.” Total: 21.

Stuck firmly in the teens were Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel. And this, even after she was able to shake her jiggly bits in a quick-moving jive. The routine was set to “La Bamba” and the comedian looked like the bomba, fringed out like a dancer on fire. And I loved how she shook her groove thang and planted a big kiss on Len, who, as Tom said, “luckily has enough forehead to pull it off.” I also loved that partner Louis fessed up to making a wrong move at one point during their routine. The crowd clearly loved the entertaining Niecy and showered her with generous applause. The judges, however, weren’t so effusive. Len thought there wasn’t enough through the feet, even though “there was plenty of bounce in the bazookas.” Bruno said “there was so much going on in the upper decks, it was very difficult to look at anything else.” Carrie Ann dubbed her “the shimmy queen” but said the movement down in her bottom half “was a little bit small.” Total: 18.

If the rehearsal bickering between Maks and Erin could be likened to “The Honeymooners,” then the cold, frosty drama between Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke would be more like “Kramer vs. Kramer.” The frostiness between the two was palpable. The two were clearly operating on different planes this week: He was like, besame mucho. She was like, quit playing games (with my heart). Cheryl didn’t wear her ring, and she outfitted her partner in a heinous sleeveless suit with sparkly tiger trim and arm bands. And their quickstep, to “The Jungle Book’s” “Bare Necessities,” should have been fun and frolicky. But Carrie Ann thought “what was lacking the most was body contact” (despite Chad's defense that they were getting “plenty of contact”). Bruno thought the hold and frame were terrible, and the whole thing “was a little bit too wild.” Len tried to make up with faint praise by saying “it was a pretty good job.” The truth, however, lay in the judges’ scores, which ended up all 6s. Total: 18. “Should’ve just gave me 15 for Chris Henry,” Chad responded, referring to the dedication he offered earlier to his late teammate.

119786_4807_pre Actually, the 15 was saved for Kate Gosselin and Saint Tony of Dovolani. The mother of eight was stuck with the unfortunate position of having not only the worst dance, but also the worst costume of the entire evening. Could this be some sort of sartorial revenge from the costume gods? Because her so-called “prom” dress looked like someone vomited Easter-egg dye and rhinestones onto some fabric. The trainwreck began in rehearsal, when Kate, exhausted from a visit from her kids, yawned through steps and glumly acted as complete and utter buzzkill to Tony’s stabs at fun and humor. Kind of like how Principal Vernon shut down all the high school kids on “The Breakfast Club.” So it’s no wonder that after the plodding, listless rehearsal footage, Kate came out with a plodding, listless fox trot set to Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me.” Carrie Ann likened it to the sad, unintelligible wah wah wah of the Charlie Brown teachers. Len told her to “dance out more.” Bruno, perhaps also exhausted by all the niceties, spared no punches. “It needs a post mortem, not a critique,” said the judge. “I think Tony could have had more life out of a frock in a coat hanger.” (Poor Tony’s small but poignant grimace at that comment spoke volumes.) Total: 15.

Which, again, puts Kate in the elimination hot seat. And although it’s apparent that she has fans in droves who could save her from the chopping block once again, my fervent wish is for this reality-TV star to be put out of our misery and this competition and Tony finally be released from this seemingly endless detention once and for all.

What do you think? Who do you think should exit the competition? Think Pamela Anderson could make it on Broadway? Who’s the pretty one: Nicole or Derek?

— Allyssa Lee

Related:

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Results: Turner loose

‘Dancing With the Stars’: Once more, with passion

Complete ‘Dancing With the Stars’ coverage on Show Tracker

Photos:  Adam Larkey / ABC

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