'Dancing With the Stars': Once more, with passion
And although I could have done without the judges’ roundtable filler segments, I did enjoy seeing Jonathan Roberts and Anna Demidova, and Dmitry Chaplin and Kym Johnson (yay!) coming out to demonstrate the tango and the rumba, respectively, so we at home could distinguish our Viennese crosses from our sliding doors and behold the wonder of what Tom termed “three specific moves and 2% body fat.”
Nerves were flying high because of the added score set and technical scrutiny. So was the romance factor, as the producers spared no expense classing up the joint to the level of a Las Vegas wedding chapel with heart-shaped pillows and neon signs that blinked “Hot! Hot! Hot!” Were the stars’ hips alive with the sound of rumba? Who got tangled up in the tango? Cozy up with your Brownie Husband and settle in for the recap …
Retaining their lead atop the scoreboard were Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya. And the Olympic gold medalist again seemed incapable of meeting a hurdle he couldn’t overcome. Despite his still-broken tootsies and a distracting version of the Pussycat Dolls/Timbaland collaboration “Wait a Minute,” Evan pointed his toes and improved his technique on his tango, to the delight of the judges. Bruno called the routine “strong, powerful” with “a hint of catlike arrogance,” Carrie Ann said the “technique was amazing,” and Len said Evan “nailed” those tricky Viennese crosses. Evan and Anna got a 26 for their technique and a 26 for their performance, for a total of 52 out of 60.
The judges must have a lot of ballroom love for Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough, because despite a tentative routine that resulted in a verbal beat down, Nicole and Derek (and his creepy ever-present “love hand”) still maintained the second-place spot with their rumba. Nicole took a note from the Harold Wheeler Band singer with the sparkly headpieces and sported one of her own in this routine, dancing to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” And although she wore her loosely tailored bed sheet fetchingly and ended up in some impressive poses, Bruno said Nicole was “hesitant” and pointed out “a few stumbles.” Carrie Ann remarked that Nicole looked “nervous” and “out of sorts.” Len said her sliding doors were “a bit crazy looking.” Of course, that meant nothing, as they still managed to pull out the 8s and 9s. Technique: 25. Performance: 25. Total: 50.
Who would have thought Pamela Anderson would turn out the classiest routine of the night? Because by her hooded bedroom eyes and post-coital muss of hair on the receiving line, it looked like she and her partner Damian Whitewood were getting ready to make a set of home videos right there on the ballroom floor. But Len gave her a warning to be refined (the rumba is for the ballroom, not the bedroom), and Pammy took the note to heart in her routine, set to a lovely rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” And there is something just so refreshingly honest about this former "Baywatch" babe. She’s confident in her sexuality, but she also knows when to rein it in. And Monday night, she came off as sweetly vulnerable and romantic.
Here’s a woman who’s had her share of relationships and was able to channel that into her performance. Her resulting rumba had nary a stain of raunchiness in it. Even her bed sheet of an outfit modestly covered up her golden globes. Len said it was “quiet” and “understated” and “had sophistication," and the head judge’s cheekiness came out when he complained that she was “a little overdressed.” Carrie Ann called her out on some wacky arm action but acknowledged that “there was something very profound happening.” And a polished Bruno, perhaps taking a cue from the routine he just witnessed, hit it on the head when he exclaimed, “Pamela Anderson can do refinement and elegance and still be drop dead sexy!” The star of “Stacked” wanted to nail the performance, and she did: Eschewing Hustler for the high road, Pam was rewarded with a third-place finish. Technique: 23. Performance: 24. Total: 47.
Stepping his way up the leader board once again were Chad Ochocinco and his pro partner/faux fiancée Cheryl Burke. Though I could really do without the whole proposal/diamond ring/diamond bling showmance nonsense. And though Chad came close to flinging his partner around like a rag doll at times, the football player successfully showed off “all this chocolate” in their rumba, set to Alicia Keys’ “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart.” His hips didn’t lie. Neither did that feather bed that they collapsed into at the end. Carrie Ann said they "turned on the heat” and rewarded his hip action with two jubilant snaps. Len, disappointed that Chad didn’t turn his sexy eyes on him, still conceded that there was an improvement in posture and performance. Bruno said, “The hunk was smoldering!” Technique: 21. Performance: 23. Total: 44.
In fifth place were Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. And even though she was diagnosed with rib contusions and back spasms, Erin emulated her favorite athletes, put her injuries on the back burner and came out red and fiery for her tango, set to the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” She also shared a little bit of her passion by aggressively feeling up Len at the beginning of the routine. Though other than her fire-engine-red dress and matching gloves, there was not much else to distinguish this dance from the rest of the pack. Len said the ESPN reporter’s start was “brilliant” but pointed out that she didn’t step forward heel first. Bruno said Erin began the routine “like a murderess” but then couldn’t quite catch her performance after a stumble. Carrie Ann thought her performance suffered because Erin was concentrating too much on her technique. Erin and Maks were given an 18 for their technique, and despite Maks’ hope that the judges break out the 12 paddles for their performance, ended up with a 21 instead. Total: 39.
A point behind them were Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower. Jake was sufficiently chastened after spending part of last week sweating it out under the heat lamps in the bottom two and stammered out everything aside from an apology in an effort to trust his partner and do whatever she said. He still got frustrated, though: During rehearsal, Jake spouted more “dammits” than a pack of beavers and regressed to “I can’t do it” mode until Chelsie promptly told him to drop the whine and give him 10. And their tango, set to Iggy Pop’s “A Girl Like You” could have benefited from some discipline, as it suffered from stumbles and a lack of refinement. “This tango was very very very messy,” admonished Bruno. “You lost your posture, your footwork was questionable.” Len liked how Jake “attacked the dance” but said it was also the reason why he stumbled. Carrie Ann pointed out his lack of technique and still wasn’t seeing solid teamwork between him and Chelsie: “You’re not quite connected emotionally and physically.” Technique: 19. Performance: 19. Total: 38.
Could it be that Niecy Nash is losing her groove? After starting out the competition with energy and verve to spare, the comedian seems to have lost her mojo somewhere. Maybe it got lost in all the clutter of that “Clean House” home? Partner Louis Van Amstel challenged Niecy to change the meaning of dance from the language of love into a spiritual experience by dedicating it to her late brother, Michael. And although the start was a bit rocky and stiff, I thought she settled into the routine, set to Celine Dion’s “Taking Chances,” pretty well, despite the nonexistent hip action. The judges didn’t see it that way, though: Len thought there were “no highlights going on – it was all at one level, and it was a bit boring.” Bruno said Niecy looked like she was “in a trance.” Carrie Ann appreciated the emotional connection but thought it was “internal.” Niecy looked a bit disappointed and defeated when getting her scores. What can she do to get her groove back? Bring in the angel and the caffeine, stat! Technique: 18. Performance: 18. Total: 36.
Also in dire need of some groove: Aiden Turner. Wasn’t it funny how Aiden was so concerned with showing too much skin when his partner, Edyta Sliwinska, appears week in and week out in practically nothing at all? Despite his partner’s attempt to get the hunky soap star to shed his protective guard (and whatever shirt he’s wearing), Edyta just couldn’t get Aiden to let go and feel the performance. How forceful does she have to be to get Aiden to drop his armor and feel her up properly? And how many guys would give up their right pinkie for that privilege? Admittedly, their bedroom dance rumba, set to Kris Allen’s “Live Like We’re Dying” (has “DWTS” decided to use “American Idol” music now that it’s bested "Idol" in the ratings?) was rough, and Edyter looked like she was wearing the dance-costume equivalent of a burst Jiffy Pop bag. But I didn’t think it deserved the tongue-lashing it received from the judges. Carrie Ann said a lot of his movement came from his shoulders. Len said “there was no flow” or “musicality.” And Bruno liked Aiden’s “Zoolander” Blue Steel gaze, but likened his dance moves to the stop-motion effects of Ray Harryhausen. If that weren’t bad enough, they then slapped the actor with dismal 5s for his technique. The performance scores were a touch better with three 6s. Judging by the way Aiden's mouth went slack after the first set of numbers, however, I fear this damage may be permanent. Total: 33.
It was definitely a step backward for Aiden this week. Stepping forward, however, was Kate Gosselin. Saint Tony of Dovolani worked his restorative magic on the embattled mother of eight once again during rehearsals, listening patiently to Kate’s inability to escape public scrutiny and her plagues of self-doubt. Dr. Tony even went so far as to counter it by boldly saying, “If you fail this week, he wins.” Apparently, it was the tough-love boost that Kate needed, because her tango, set to “American Idol “runner-up Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment,” was her best dance yet. “We’re having a mini breakthrough tonight,” exclaimed Bruno. “I actually believed you were dancing!” Len applauded unsung hero Tony for bringing Kate this far. Carrie Ann said she was proud of her determination but docked them for the illegal (but still pretty cool looking) semi-lift on Tony’s bended knee at the end. Technique: 14. Performance: 18. Total: 32.
Which, again, puts Kate in the prime position to be let go come Tuesday night (and part of me thinks that Jake will again be relegated in the bottom two with her). Should this happen, at least Kate could take comfort in knowing that she has made marked improvement in this department. Though if she does go home, does that mean Jon wins?
Who do you think will get the boot Tuesday night? Did you like the double-score showdown? The added technical component? Was Aiden unfairly scored? Should ABC be re-dubbed the “All Bergeron Channel?” Will Brooke Burke ever stop reminding us that she was a contestant on this show?
— Allyssa Lee
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Photos: Adam Larkey / ABC