'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Jive or die time
OK, so this week’s round of "Dancing With the Stars" Season 12 performances didn’t hit reach the ballroom highs achieved the first week around, but we were still treated to some star-spangly fun. At the very least, some celebs got a second chance to salvage their less-than-stellar first impressions before that brutal first cut is handed out tomorrow night. Though if I may get this off my chest, this week, which featured the quickstep and the jive, was a bit top-heavy, no?
Retaining their lead by the hair of their chinny chin chins were baby-faced wonder Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff. And while Ralph’s second-week jive didn’t have the same kick as his fierce fox trot, it still maintained its high-energy boost. Fun fact: Ralph named his son Daniel! Daniel-san lives on, and gave his Karate Kid pops some props when he saw his dad in rehearsals: “Surprisingly, it was better than I expected.” Ralph and Mike Catherwood had some similarities in their routines; both started with the guys up on the stage with a little air guitar, and both jumped off the stage in a variation of a split leap. Though points to Ralph for bringing it all together and playing Karina like a guitar at the end. “It was OK,” cranky Len conceded. “I think you attacked the dance a bit too much, and it got a bit frenzied here and there.” (To which Tom suggested, “Fiber, man. Fiber.”) Bruno said Ralph inhabited “the character 110%,” but his kicks weren’t as sharp as they could have been. Carrie Ann maintained that Ralph was “so much fun to watch,” but “if you want to go further, you have to be sharper.” Still Ralph and Karina earned a 21 for their jive, combined with a 24 the week before, for a total of 45 out of 60.
Yo, Hines Ward! What up, homey? Kym Johnson, what up shawty? Let’s get crunk!
The Pittsburgh Steeler really stepped up his game this week, playing more tight and steady end rather than wide receiver as the perfect gentleman frame to Kym’s picture during their quickstep. Loved his and Kym’s chemistry during rehearsals. It’s like “Save the Last Dance,” where the rough-and-tumble guy brings a little street cred to the girl’s classically trained dance moves, and they’re both made the better for it. And their resulting quickstep had great movement across the dance floor and was as cool as a polar bear’s toenails (Huh? Pardon?) “‘Part Time Lover’? More like full-time dancer!” Bruno crowed. “Your frame was terrific,” said Len. “I was very impressed.” Carrie Ann took the title of twinkle toes away from Emmitt Smith and gave it to the Steeler, and then gassed out into a series of fart noises, giggles and high-fives with Bruno, prompting Tom to admonish them both with a “You realize you’re both about 8 years old right now.” Hines and Kym received a 23 for their quickstep. Two-week total: 44.
OK, so Kirstie Alley’s second dance, a quickstep (“I’m assuming that has to be fast?”) with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, wasn’t as enjoyable as the last week’s revelatory cha cha, but she’s still one of my favorites this season, and anything that brings Maks to his knees gets aces in my book. Plus, I just love that Kirstie’s on another mission in addition to learning the dance moves “to get confident with where I am.” Let’s have her reach the finals so she could reach her weight loss goal, shall we? Yay. Winning! In the meantime, her salmon-tinted quickstep, set to KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” started off gangbusters but sort of petered out in the end. But then it totally cable-jumped my heart when Kirstie planted a big one on Maks, right on the kisser, sending the Ukranian slinking to the floor in reverie, and bringing the studio audience (including Kirstie’s pal Kelly Preston) to their feet. “Most was light and fluffy, you lost energy in the end,” said Len. “It was good, but it wasn’t great.” Bruno told her not to worry about the weight. Carrie Ann was a fan: “I love watching you dance. You’re so in tune with every movement,” she said. “The connection between you and Maks is going to be unstoppable.” Kirstie and Maks got a 20 for their quickstep, which, combined with last week’s score of 23, gave them a not-too-shabby two-week tally of 43.
WWE wrestler Chris Jericho also brought it all to the dance floor this week, and all it took was some browbeating from partner Cheryl Burke and a long metaphor about a wizard name Gandor who crafts frames from oak in Denmark. The wrestler’s quickstep turned out just like a cover girl: easy, breezy, beautiful. Set to the jaunty, upbeat tune of Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” Chris maintained his form, elegance and a charming smile throughout the routine, sending the audience was up on its feet, and his son raising his arms in a triumphant touchdown. Who could ask for anything more? “I’ll take my hat off to you,” said a clever Len. “It was bright, breezy, light of foot, good frame [and] your chesticles were magnificent.” Bruno likes a man “who responds to strict discipline.” “I can’t believe it,” the judge said. “You even got that bum under control.” Carrie Ann also didn’t give Chris’ performance a bum rap. “I’m loving me some Chris Jericho right now,” she claimed. Take a number, sister. Cherico (Cheryl + Jericho) got a 23 for their routine, for a two-week total of 42.
Recording artist Romeo made his bid for prom king with his quickstep with Chelsie Hightower, set to “You’re the One That I Want” from “Grease.” I admit I was a little concerned for our young Romeo, who staunchly claimed he was born in the ’90s and not the 1900s and had no time or wherewithal to figure out what it meant to be charming. Why be a gentleman when you can have your ego stoked by Chelsie, who gamely indulged him by patting his abs and kissing his biceps? But his resulting quickstep was all sorts of delightful. Bruno called Romeo “one to watch,” saying he loved “the transitions from cheeky funny to sexy cool.” Carrie Ann liked his style, but wanted him to make his formals a bit more formal and his looses a bit more loose. Len made a comment on global warming with all the hot air that the other judges spouted, declaring it “the best dance of the night.” “The British ice cap just melted!” Tom remarked, not missing a beat. I thought the routine was a little flat-footed and lost a little steam at the end, but who am I to compete with a British ice cap? Romeo and Chelsie received an encouraging 23 for their quickstep. Their two-week total: 42.
Disney star Chelsea Kane had started off with a very functional routine her first week out, so pro partner Mark Ballas thought he’d shake things up, declare he was in love with her brain and break her out of the pack in this second week around. And break out he did, capitalizing on their youth and knowledge of emo bands like Panic! At the Disco for a prop-heavy jive that was just begging to be slapped with a “Messin’ About” admonishment from head judge Len (which it did). I personally enjoyed Mark’s attempt at creativity — the unique costuming and choreography definitely stood out in a sea of fringe and sparkle — though I could see the judges’ complaints that there wasn’t enough jive in this jive. “I’m judging the jive, and I didn’t see enough of it,” harrumphed Carrie Ann. Len warned that just by seeing those prop doors that Mark and Chelsea were on a “sticky wicket.” “This girl has got fantastic potential,” the head judge claimed, “but not with dances like that.” The routine, however, jibed with Bruno’s off-kilter sensibilities: “It was Marcel Marceau desperately seeking Lolita in a Clockwork Orange,” he said, though he warned Chelsea to “finish the movement.” Ultimately, however, the judges didn’t reward Chelsea and Marks’ risky routine, and reprimanded the young’uns and their crazy devil music down with a punitive 18. Total: 39.
Despite her time as a Girl Next Door, Kendra Wilkinson’s not a confident bunny rabbit, and the thought of doing the quickstep, which is “about being a lady and all that stuff,” was emotionally daunting. “How’d you even get to the Playboy Mansion?” Louis Van Amstel Van Asked. “These, I guess,” Kendra shrugged, motioning to her chest. And while the routine seemed a little stilted and awkward, you’ve gotta give Kendra points for getting through that minute and a half with nice aplomb. Especially because the quickstep taught her that she could be someone that she never thought she could be. “DWTS” breakthrough! And huzzah to Louis for effectively channeling an ’80s coif and suit straight out of “Back to the Future’s” Enchantment Under the Sea. “It’s very tough being a lady, isn’t it?” Bruno asked Kendra knowingly. “You were very, very tight, and messed up your footwork.” Carrie Ann commended Kendra for learning the choreography. Len said the “posture was a bit hit or miss, and occasionally your chesticles were pushing into poor Louis.” Still, he gave them an upstanding score. Kendra and Louis got a 19 for their quickstep. Two-week total: 37.
Model Petra Nemcova is still so happy to be here, and she and her bright yellow bra top were such sparkly rays of sunshine in this week’s competition. Only, she couldn’t fall gracefully, so Dmitry Chaplin had to take her to the gym for some trampoline work. And despite her awkward giraffesque rehearsal footage, Petra delivered a surprisingly competent jive, with great kicks and flicks, come performance time. Though it didn’t hurt that Dmitry took off her skirt and revealed Petra’s sparkly red fringe mini midway through the routine. And concluded with those great gams up in the air at the end. “Oh my god, this girl can go from uptown girl to floozy at the drop of a hat, and they’re both equally beautiful,” proclaimed Bruno. Carrie Ann commended Petra on her sharp kicks and flicks, but agreed with Bruno that she has to work on her core. “It’s a fatal combination: short skirt, long legs, bad technique,” warned Len. “But I must say, she did it beautifully.” Fringe benefit: a grateful Petra going overboard on the kisses. Petra and Dmitry got a 18 for their jive, coupled with an 18 from last week, for a total of 36.
Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard’s jive with Anna Trebunskaya, set to “Sweet Soul Music,” continued in the same vein as last week’s fox trot: high on entertainment and low on dancing. If only Ray could do a routine that revolved around his stellar jump rope skills, he could get 10s all around. Actually, Carrie Ann said Sugar Ray’s face alone was “a borderline 10,” but agreed with Len and Bruno that “the lower half was just a little bit spastic” and asked for the crispness and pristine technique that he puts into his jabs to be applied to his footwork. Bruno said he looked as though he was “stuck in gum” at times. Len complained the routine “lacked refinement and any true dance quality.” Clearly, as a Brit, the cranky head judge doesn’t care about American treasures, and he knocked this one down with a lowly 5 paddle. But what does he expect? In the words of a bobbed sequined Laker girl Anna, “He’s a boxer, for crying out loud.” Sugar and Spicy Anna received a 17 for their jive. Two-week total: 34.
“People are tawking, and we’ve got to get this thing down,” said Wendy Williams. And with partner Tony Dovolani on the receiving end, it was all about showing more personality and “Do[ing] Your Thing,” Basement Jaxx-style, with their quickstep. To her credit, the tawk show host looked like she was more in her element this time around, and was in a better emotional space. But the dance turned out a little bit smaller than I had hoped from such a brash, tell-it-like-it-is personality with double the, um, personality to offer. The routine kept on with the top-heavy theme of the night, with Tony spending a couple beats bouncing on Wendy’s chest pillows. “Thank you, that’s what we wanted to see,” said Carrie Ann. “You lost a little steam in the middle but then you got it back in the end.” Bruno said the routine “Needs a little bit more movement, but it’s a step in the right direction.” Len called out the dance for being “a little economical.” Still, Williams insisted it was “illegal for anybody over 40 to be dancing that hard.” Wendy and Tony received a 14 for their quickstep. Total: 31.
It was jive or die time for DJ and “Loveline” co-host Mike Catherwood. Psycho Mike made good on his claim to do better this week, and his jive was light years beyond last week’s fox trot fizz. Set to Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town,” started with a nice split leap off the stage, and it looked like he was having a lot more fun. Of course, pro partner Lacey Schwimmer did her part to sweeten the pot, wearing as little as possible and shaking everything that her mother gave her to within an inch of its ruffley life. So what if some parts of it looked like he was marking time — you’ve gotta hand it to the guy for making a concerted effort. “Loveline” co-host Dr. Drew certainly did, rising to his feet in polite empathetic applause. “Mike, good news: it’s better than last week,” said Len. However, the head judge went on to say “it’s still a big rough. You were flying around like a wasp at a picnic.” Bruno built on Len’s buzz and said Mike looked like “a fly stuck on flypaper,” even though his kicks and flicks were very good at times. Carrie Ann told him to think about the routine as a whole, and make it “a little bit less turned in.” Mike and Lacey received a much-improved 17 this time around, but coupled with that dismal 13 from last week, only made for a total of 30 out of 60.
Which makes Mike the prime suspect to leave come Tuesday’s results show. Though part of me wonders if his radio fans will come out in droves and Wendy Williams will bid adieu instead.
What do you think? Will Psycho Mike live to see another dance? Chelsea and Mark’s out-of-the-box routine: yay or nay? Who wore more makeup: Chelsea or Mark? Should it be illegal for anybody over 40 to be dancing that hard?
Photo credits: Adam Taylor /ABC