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'Dancing With the Stars' recap: The TV set

October 18, 2010 | 10:07 pm

121771_D_2347_pre This fifth week of competition marked the first-ever TV Theme week in the “Dancing With the Stars” ballroom. Instead of our regularly scheduled programming, each star and their pro partner performed a dance set to a beloved TV show theme song.

Even though my beloved “Growing Pains” theme song was noticeably absent from the proceedings, I loved how the producers really had fun with the format. Like when the nine remaining contestants showed up as faces in a “Brady Bunch”-like grid, or when the announcer introduced Kyle and Lacey’s “Charlie’s Angels”-themed fox trot on the intercom. I also enjoyed the brief commercial segments where Lacey fiddled to get reception on a rabbit ear antenna and Florence Henderson served up TV dinners to some of her fellow competitors. It all made for a night of good, clean, watchable fun.

Don’t touch that dial -- we’ve got a new sheriff in town!

After a couple of weeks hovering near the top of the charts, Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy have finally broken through that barrier and made it to this week’s lead spot. And it all was so serendipitous that it happened while dancing to the theme song from “Friends.” It’s amazing what a couple of weeks, some flowers and chocolates and a big colorful lollipop can accomplish between two people who seemed to get along like oil and water (in the words of Chandler Bing, could it be any more awkward?). After a tempestuous couple of weeks, she lost some of her intensity and he lost some of his smack-happiness, and the duo finally got on the same wavelength and saw eye to eye. And while neither of their outfits could feasibly be seen in Central Perk (Maks looked more like Max from “Saved by the Bell” with his pouf of hair and that polka-dotted tux than any of the Friends), their resulting quickstep was as fun, light and entertaining as a night on the town with your favorite chums. Certainly, it had Len pounding on the judges’ table in delight. “I’m so impressed with that!” the head judge raved. “Without a doubt your best dance.” “I see such an amazing new bond,” Carrie Ann marveled. “It has taken you guys up a whole notch. You are at a whole other level now.” Not to mention a whole other level of scores. The couple earned three 9s for a total of 27, their highest score to date and enough to keep them head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.

That meant Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough were knocked off their pedestal. The couple's fox trot was set to “Love and Marriage” by Frank Sinatra, the theme song to “Married … With Children,” but Jenougher played it 1950s style, with Jennifer in a prim fitted dress and Derek lounging around in a button-down cardigan. And there was something a little clamped down about this routine, which may have been the result of all the aggravation that occurred during their rehearsal week. Bruno liked it, calling it “pristine, elegant” and “beautifully danced,” though Len didn’t care for all that messing about with the feather duster. Carrie Ann flat-out said “it wasn’t nearly your best. … You were sort of out of sync.” Still, an off week for her manages to nab a 25 and second place in the competition.

Tied for third place, but winning the award for the Comeback Kid is Kurt Warner. The NFL Hall of Famer totally redeemed himself from last week’s fumble with an enchanting quickstep with Anna Trebunskaya, danced to the “Bewitched” theme (in which Kurt played the first Darrin, of course). This may have been my favorite routine of the night, based on its endless miles of charm. Loved how Anna used Samantha's signature nose twitch (which she’s a natural at, by the way, even for someone who isn’t from this country and had no idea what “Bewitched” was) to turn Kurt into a good dancer. I was enraptured by the story, captivated by the dance, and loved how Anna looked like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. “I think I just saw the spirit of Gene Kelly into your body,” proclaimed Carrie Ann. “ I thought it was wonderful.” “Vast improvement and a great performance,” lauded Len. “Well done.” “The magic is back!” exclaimed Bruno. “I like it when you were bewitched. You were in sparkling form.” Sparkling form made for sparkling paddles: Kurt and Anna earned three 8s for the enchanting routine, for a total of 24, and the sprinkle of chimes that occurred as the scores were announced were like a magical icing on top of an already delightful cake.

Someone needs to arrest Rick Fox for disturbing the peace and getting Carrie Ann all hot and bothered. “Officer, I would like to report a crime,” the judge said. “It should be a crime that you can look that good and rumba that well.” And let’s give Rick some extra points for bringing Lakers Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant onto “Dancing With the Stars!” What a treat to have the main men from NBA’s defending championship team show Cheryl Burke some pointers. “You can’t let Kurt Warner beat you,” the Zen master Jackson told Fox. This guy should know: He’s written the book on winning championships (check it out next to Tony Dovolani’s How to Use Serum of Ipecac for Foreplay). And true to the coach’s word, Rick and Kurt ended this week tied. Rick wore that officer’s uniform well, and Cheryl not only rocked a slinky police jumper, but succeeded in choreographing some sexy cop dance action on the ballroom floor. Of course, Rick sold the routine, set to the “Hill Street Blues” theme, with all the deliciousness and sensuality of a poppin’ fresh donut. “You went from Megatron to Mega smooth, man,” purred Bruno. Though Len said something puzzling about the lack of developing momentum making it look like “a couple staying together for the sake of the children.” Total: 24.

Audrina Patridge has grown leaps and bounds in her dancing technique. But maybe it’s hard to do a sexy rumba if your breath is reeking like onions (or if your theme song is the upbeat Natasha Bedingfield tune “Unwritten,” which just happens to be the theme song to Audrina’s reality TV show “The Hills”), because Audrina just couldn’t connect emotionally to partner Tony Dovolani or to the dance. Tony, however, got to drop a celebrity name, saying that it was Richard Gere who told him to eat an onion or garlic to lessen the intensity of a potentially uncomfortable romantic encounter (and prompted Tom to say that Tony was punked by Richard Gere). While all the judges praised Audrina for her great technique, they found it a bit vacant emotionally. Carrie Ann said the routine was “a bit disjointed” and docked them for an illegal carry. Len said that Audrina occasionally looked “a little bit intimidated by it all.” “Technically you have improved,” said Bruno, “but I want it pulsating with passion. … Don’t be plastic, be fantastic!” Total: 23.

“Some things last a season, and other things last decades in syndication,” hinted erstwhile Greg Brady Barry Williams, who came to visit his mom/love interest Florence Henderson and Corky Ballas during their rehearsals. Whatsoever could he mean by that? Florence played up the sexual tension and those rife rumors of an illicit Mama-Greg relationship by saying she’s not going to “confirm or deny any kind of relationship.” But her tango with Corky, set to a lengthened version of “The Brady Bunch” theme, did share some characteristics of an illicit romance: unexpectedly satisfying, entertaining, and a little bit wrong. Like that frantic headshake, which I feared would give Flo-Ho whiplash. “Why go into rag doll mode?” wondered Bruno. Otherwise, Corky tamped down his usual slapstick and choreographed a pretty good tango, and the judges for the most part agreed. “You’re a sexy senior, and you worked it,” said Carrie Ann. “I wish I was a sexy senior,” Len said glumly, prompting Florence to walk up to the head judge and give him a conciliatory kiss. “Couple of bits were a bit frantic … but I think that’s possibly your best dance so far.” Total: 21.

Disney star Kyle Massey tried to reverse his and Lacey Schwimmer’s downward slide with the fox trot this week, but to little avail. This, however, may have less to do with his technique (which he noticeably improved on), and more on the fact that some foreign judges didn’t understand the ’70s schlock appeal of “Kyle’s Angels.” Should Kyle and Lacey be penalized for making a fun and campy fox trot from a fun and campy show? While I preferred the disco stuff done side by side over their actual fox trot routine, I don’t think that this warranted a dismal 5 from Len. (“I thought you liked the ’70s,” Tom insisted to the head judge. “Oh, right: the 1870s.”) The European party poopers rained all on Lacey’s Farrah Fawcett Christmas tree hair and Kyle’s Bosley-by-way-of-Richard Pryor ’stache. “This was a fox trot possessed for disco fever,” proclaimed Bruno. “It started bad, and it gradually got worse and worse,” Len dismissed. “I couldn’t stand it. I thought it was terrible.” Len smacked them down further with a miserable 5 for their dance (which, if you compare with the How to Get a 10 From Len segment from last week, meant that Kyle only showed a little bit of musicality). Luckily, that piddling paddle was tempered by the 8 and 7 from Carrie Ann and Bruno, respectively, but it still left the young actor with a less-than-stellar total of 20. Ouch.

Though that wasn't as painful as Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas’ monkey jive. Not even ape suits could have masked this ill-timed routine, which effectively moved “the Pistol” from a maybe contender to the just-happy-to-be-here category. So Bristol’s had some problems coming through with the performance aspect. So Mark thought he’d try something different and save Bristol from having to make facial expressions at all by dressing themselves up in monkey suits for the first part of their jive, set to “The Monkees” theme song. And while I was convinced that Len was going to dismiss the costumes as a bunch of monkey business, the mercurial head judge actually said he he liked the ape suits: “they were good fun.” Bruno said he loved “the gorillas in the twist,” but that the routine “wasn’t sharp enough.” Carrie Ann said it was a big step forward, even though she “forgot a lot of the moves.” Perhaps they were being nice for Bristol’s birthday (or to ease the blow of her inevitable elimination). She turned 20 today, but her score remained firmly at 18.

So Bristol the Pistol is the next in line to be shot from the competition. What do you think? Is Bristol getting the boot? Were Kyle and Lacey unfairly judged? Can Brandy win it all? Did you enjoy TV theme week? Is Len a sexy senior? Sound off below!

-- Allyssa Lee


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Photo credit: Bob D’Amico / ABC