'Dancing With the Stars' recap: This ain't no jive
The second week of "Dancing With the Stars" competition had each pair dancing either the quickstep or the jive, which meant that we were privy to a lot of kicks and flicks during Monday night’s program. Too bad most of them were directed at Michael Bolton.
The singer's ill-conceived and poorly performed routine, which Bruno called “the worst jive in 11 seasons,” was not only slapped with a dismal 3 paddle, but also seemed destined to land the singer-songwriter in the elimination dog house come Tuesday. But more on that later. Here's how the rest of Week 2’s dances stacked up:
Retaining the lead were Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough. Jennifer, who discovered she had cancer after a routine “DWTS” medical checkup and can’t move her neck around with abandon, still delivered a stellar jive. Watching her prance down those ballroom steps at the top of the program reminded me of how Baby would prance down that bridge at Kellerman’s in “Dirty Dancing”: Jennifer was all unfettered energy and raring to go. And that jive was awesome. Len suggested we call her “Jennifer Bright — there was nothing gray about that.” (I suggest we call her Baby.) But let’s hand it to the judges for holding back on the paddles and capping her out at 8s. Let’s pace ourselves, people! Total: 24.
“The Hills” may be over for all intents and purposes, but its drama still lives on. Audrina Patridge revealed that all the time she’s spending with Tony Dovolani in rehearsals was causing friction between her and her boyfriend. Hopefully, the beau will come out in support of this reality-TV star, as all the work that she put into her jive made for a delightful dancing treat and established Audrina as a worthy showpony. Taking a sartorial cue from the Melissa Rycroft school of sparkly blue netting, Audrina showed off an enviable pack of abs and an impressive amount of flicks and kicks. Bonus treat: Bruno was the sole holdout on Tony’s prediction of three 8s, so Tony’s going to wax his legs! “I was annoyed with you for the 3, but I’m loving the 7,” Tom said. Total: 23.
Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah Palin is in the house!
And just in case you didn’t notice, Sarah Palin was in the house. The “DWTS” producers milked every last millisecond of opportunity that they could with the former Alaska governor as she came to the studio in support of her daughter, Bristol “the Pistol.” There was the interview with Tom, the footage of partner Mark Ballas making the trip to Wasilla and every last spare camera pan that they could get. But did they also pad Bristol’s score because of it? Although her quickstep was certainly as adorable as her purple bobbing jellyfish of a dress, I didn’t think it warranted that high of a score. Guess there’s nothing like an in-person appearance to sweeten the pot. Total: 22.
Kyle Massey needed to be twice as good to keep his standing at Week 2, which meant cutting to the chase and cutting out the fast food. And his and partner Lacey Schwimmer's quickstep, set to Weezer’s “I Want You To,” was a froofy tulle skirt full of fun, with energy for miles and resoundingly age appropriate for this Disney TV star. Bruno, however, said Kyle needed more control. Len admonished him for being “flat-footed, your left arm was flying up and down.” Still, “I liked it,” he said sheepishly. “Welcome to the new school of quickstep,” rejoiced Carrie Ann. “I loved it!” I loved how Kyle toned down the self-love. And how Lacey took a page from Gwen Stefani with that pink and white poof dress. Total: 22. A point lower than last week, but still a roar of success. Give this guy a burger!
Next came Rick Fox. He didn’t have a cream-colored suit to wow the ladies but still gave them some eye candy by baring his big guns in a booty-smacking rock-'n'-roll-themed jive. And then he played Cheryl Burke’s leg like a guitar at the end, to the roar of an adoring crowd. Lacey Schwimmer thought the routine rolled with the homeys up in the celebraquarium. So did Eliza Dushku down on the floor. Len said the dance was “compact, it was fun, it was full of energy” and deigned Rick “a contender” despite his tank-like qualities and snapped tendon. Bruno likened Rick and Cheryl to “a California condor trying to dance with a hummingbird” (and did you catch Cheryl going through Rick’s legs again? I sense a theme here!). Carrie Ann liked it well enough but pooh-poohed that the “posture wasn’t as good this week.” Still, Rick’s standing tall with a 21 total.
Also aboard the 21 train were Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya. Some people have dishpan hands. NFL star Kurt Warner, however, has frying-pan hands. He’s also got a goofy sense of humor that is totally endearing. Love how he brushed off Len’s harsh comment by dismissing the head judge as “one old guy from England.” And how he delivered a fun jive with a need for speed in the “Dangerzone.” Sure, he had a case of spaghetti arms and went easy on the kicks. But it’s hard not to get caught up in that warm Warner glow. “You kind of remind me of everyone’s favorite uncle at the wedding who’s had a little too much to drink,” shared Carrie Ann. Still stinging from Kurt’s “old man” barb, Len lobbed the NFL star a softball. “Last week was the outhouse, now it was the penthouse,” he said. Total: 21.
Which was the same score as Brandy, though the judges’ comments made it sound like she was headed into Bolton country. Her and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s school-themed jive was fun, and Brandy rocked her solo and a pair of thigh-high stockings, but the judges called the energy all over the place and said it lacked the laserlike precision and focus that the dance required. Methinks it wasn’t as sharp because they were flailing against the music, which gooped and dragged on like a vat of molasses. Still, Len called their routine a “slight step back,” and Brandy was crestfallen. Maybe she and Maks can talk it out during therapy?
On the other side of the 20 mark were Florence Henderson and Corky Ballas. Florence may be a beaming 76-year-old, but make no mistake: She’s also out to be a contender. Though it’s hard to keep everything in line: “Smile, keep your arm up, do your finger,” she prattled. Wait, wha? Though I thought she was just lovely with her quickstep, set to KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See.” Len and Bruno were sticklers (even after Flo proffered them with kisses — “I didn’t think she went for older men,” Tom quipped). Bruno was particularly harsh: “You started to dance with the required gay abandon … but then it looked like 'Driving Miss Daisy,' " he tsked. Carrie Ann, however, saw goodness and light: “It’s incredible that you’re dancing with such ease and elegance,” she praised. Total: 19.
Improving upon last week but still not at the point where she wants to be is comedian and actress Margaret Cho. And although the hot-pink ripped skirt and the leopard-print top may have suggested otherwise, she and partner Louis Van Amstel played their jive as straight as an arrow. Their second-week dance wasn’t the best thing out there, but I liked how she dropped her funny act, and she looked like she was having a blast. I said this before, and I’ll say it again: I hope Margaret gets to stay on the show for a while. In addition to the dancing, it seems like she’s really learning to lose her comedic defense and be truly herself for a change, which is heartening. And didn’t it seem like the audience (and her exuberant parents) were embracing her with their warm applause? Hugs all around! Total: 18.
Also in need of a hug was the Situation, who didn’t quite fire off his quickstep with Karina Smirnoff with the bazooka blast that he had hoped. The Situation had never looked so buttoned up as in that military outfit, and it showed. “It was a series of unfortunate events throughout,” said Len. “You have to find the right balance,” said Bruno. Carrie Ann thanked him for not doing his requisite fist pump and then asked his shoe size. Wait, what? To comment on his being pigeon-toed, of course. And the Situation said he “really want[s] to nail one.” Wait, what? Total: 18.
Which brings us to (sigh) Michael Bolton. Who really hasn’t had the best week. First, he was sidelined with a bad case of laryngitis. Then he got a "whatever" from partner Chelsie Hightower. Then he had to crouch in a doghouse wearing a Dalmatian-print jacket with a bone in his mouth. And THEN he got a THREE from Bruno! “We have a 3?” Tom asked incredulously. What a cruel swipe from the ballroom gods. I mean, come on. This guy is a singer, not a dancer. Sure, his jive was stiffer than rigor mortis, and that Bolt Hounddog theme was horribly misguided (and, in retrospect, a tragic portend of what was to come). But he gave it his best shot. He's not a dancer. And yet Bruno gave him a 3. A 3! It goes into a dark place that should never be visited by a sparkly reality-TV show about celebrity ballroom dance. It was like a smack in the face with a used pooper scooper. Clean up on Soundstage 3, please. “Bolt” just got shot down. Total: 12.
What do you think, ballroom fans? Is there any hope for the Bolt? Who else do you think will be in the bottom three? Is Maks passive aggressive or passionate? How happy did Brooke look in the middle of a Kurt Warner/Rick Fox sandwich?
— Allyssa Lee
Photo: Bob D'Amico / ABC