'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Guilty pleasures
Admit it. You like “Dancing With the Stars.” Well, the guilty pleasure of a show had its own somewhat self-referential moment, hosting a Guilty Pleasure theme night where the couples danced to songs that they were embarrassed to admit they loved.
Honorary guests and Guilty Pleasure Hall of Fame inductees Hanson kicked off the show by performing their ’90s hit “MMMBop.” Only, now that the group is out of tweendom, the song came out markedly less boppy and more matured, like cheese that’s been aged. Tony Dovolani, however, tried to channel his inner teenybopper with a frenetic energy that was matched by Lacey Schwimmer and the rest of the “DWTS” Troupe. Lacey was also trying to hold onto her title as the daredevil rebel of the group with that jaw-dropping somersault onto Tony and then over him, at one point plummeting headfirst like a feisty two-toned meteor before catching herself somewhere around Tony’s calves. Yowza.
The Hanson welcome, however, quickly became overstayed and awkward when the trio were trotted out after commercial breaks to deliver a couple bars of other guilty pleasures, including Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” and Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.” Somewhere, a mullet may have been smiling, but inside, this ballroom fan gently wept.
But that’s not to take away from the biggest guilty pleasure of them all: ballroom dancing! And we got the first 10s of the season! Here’s how the dancers stacked up.
Romeo is on a roll. He’s charmed with his Sinatra swagger, and now he’s channeling Leonardo DiCaprio/Jack Dawson for a "Titanic"-themed waltz with Chelsie Hightower, set to Celine Dion’s big boat anthem “My Heart Will Go On.” Chelsie had on a flowy dress that was like the heart of the ocean. And you knew from those first pan flute whistles that you were in for a treat. “That was magical,” Carrie Ann raved. “I was completely transported.” Birthday boy Len commended Romeo on his maturity. “You come out with a waltz that had a romance about it, it was a very touching and poignant performance.” “I say, Romeo DiCaprio,” said Bruno with a wink. “Your ship will sail on and on and on. You achieved a new level of poise, finesse, attention to detail.” Romeo and Chelsie got high marks all around (maybe it was his “impetus”?) and were also awarded the first 10 of the season, from Carrie Ann (“The 10 paddle joined Season 12!” Tom huzzahed). And like a true champ, Romeo used that impetus to finagle two kisses from the night: one from Chelsie, and one from Brooke. Total: 28 out of 30.
Decidedly uncompetitive Chelsea Kane was dressed like a ray of sunshine in yellow in her nerdy art history rendition of Katrina and the Waves’ happy anthem “Walking on Sunshine.” Never mind that Chelsea was knee high to a mirror ball when this song hit its prime. The fierce water-fighting Disney star and partner Mark Ballas delivered a routine that was as bright, funky and sweeping as a fauvist art piece. And this, even after Mark had a scare and twisted his ankle during dress rehearsals. “You managed to infuse high energy with control,” Len said. “That was so bright and luminous, I’m getting a suntan,” said Bruno, though he pointed out a wobble toward the end of the dance. “I didn’t see no wobble-wobble,” said Carrie Ann. She didn’t see any bobbles at all, actually, and granted another 10 for their performance. Total: 28.
Hines Ward is a determined dancer who needed to crank up the romance in his Viennese waltz with Kym Johnson. So naturally, the NFL star devoted a little extra one-on-one time to loving his pillow. Though I don’t know why he went for the squat brown, black-and-white checkered cushion when, obviously, the Kym pillow would be pale and yellow and dripping with fringe. But maybe his pillow talk is private from his stage persona. Carrie Ann said it was surprising to see Hines looking as though he was thinking about the dance. Methinks he was thinking about his pillow. (“I bet you have a jealous pillow at home,” Tom said knowingly.) Hines and Kym’s Viennese waltz was very charming, however: sweet as swing benches and the rose-colored shirt and Kym’s matching dress. “Hines, you’ve become the MVP: the most valued partner,” said Len, though he did point out the Steeler’s flat-footedness, “which gets on your wick a little bit.” “The chemistry that you have with Kym is flawless,” fluttered Bruno, “like two birds in love chasing each other in a spring sky.” Total: 27.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy sambaed to a Bronze Age version of Britney Spears’ “... Baby One More Time.” She played the part of Britney with a fringe skirt that she shook vigorously to good measure. Maks played the part of the hot UPS guy, chest bared and ready to make a parcel pickup. Maks is a man of many hats. Not only can he deliver the goods, but he’s also quite an effective therapist, as seen during rehearsals when he bolstered Kirstie’s confidence and told the actress that she had to convince herself she could do the dance. I like the personal attention that he administers to his partner, and no doubt there would be a lot of other folks who would love to get that kind of close, one-on-one interaction with this self-proclaimed “sex on a stick.” Apparently the rap session helped, because Kirstie gave one of her best performances to date. Len said Kirstie finally fulfilled the potential he saw in Week 1, and the samba walk was right up his (Kirstie) alley. “Hit me Kirstie one more time!” crowed Bruno. “You delivered the smoothest and most natural Brazilian north of the Rio. … Your wiggly bum sent shock waves through the airwaves.” Carrie Ann said Kirstie was back, “just like Britney.” Total: 26.
Wow, Kendra Wilkinson was absolutely made (and enhanced) to dance the samba. To think: Had she and Louis Van Amstel left the competition last week, we wouldn’t have experienced this spectacle. The erstwhile Girl Next Door’s energy went from a -2 to a 10 with this performance, which admittedly was a bit sloppy in parts, but absolutely stellar in its shimmy. Louis said he wanted her to “shake everything God gave you.” To which Kendra responded, “Well, my boobs aren’t what God gave me.” Still, they jiggled mesmerizingly like two sparkly yellow Jell-O molds. And then Kendra fulfilled many a bunny-loving fantasy by doing a show-stopping shake on the judges’ table at the end (“For his birthday you almost gave [Len] a heart attack,” Tom said). “The more you gyrated, the more I palpitated,” Len declared. “You fulfilled one of my guilty pleasures. … Last week we had a spark, tonight we had a fire.” Bruno raved this was “the revenge of the stripper” and the “attack of the killer boobs.” And then Tom revealed his guilty pleasure (and maybe my favorite, most delicious moment of the night), of a young Bruno in little more than a Speedo gyrating in Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” video. Which then cut to Louis Van Astonished and Kendra with their mouths agape in the celebraquarium. Isn’t it a shame about gravity? Kendra and Louis got a very buoyant 25 for their samba.
After a few downer weeks, Ralph Macchio was trying to regain his place at the top of the leader board, and he was hoping his paso doble would be the dance to do it. And it was as if lightning had struck when Karina Smirnoff had a wonderfully self-referential meta magic moment and incorporated Daniel-san’s wax-on, wax-off moves to the dance during rehearsals. “It fits you,” she said in revelation. This was supposed to be the dance-all be-all, and the second that the woman screamed “Everybody Dance Now,” the opening salvo to C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat,” I got Mirrorball-sized goosebumps. This is what this show is all about! There was high energy, a beloved and cheesy song, and gold foil on skimpy costumes all coming together in the perfect sparkly storm of “DWTS” fabulosity. But then Ralph’s darned gold-lined jacket tail got in the way, and Karina took a pretty bad fall midway through the routine that threw her off for a number of counts. And though they were able to regain that mojo by the end of the dance, it’s too bad that they couldn’t fully pull off the redemption routine that they were gunning to perform. I really felt for Karina; she looked really upset and at times, like she was holding back tears. The judges were kind, though. “I know there was an incident … but I started to feel the fire, with throbbing virile intensity,” said Bruno. “Once you got back on it, there was no stopping you.” “I’m not going to castigate you, I’m going to congratulate you,” said Len. “You didn’t mess about, you had fire and passion.” “Ralph-san, Mr. Miyagi would be very proud of you,” said Carrie Ann. “The way you got back up put the rest of the dance to shame.” Total: 24.
Chris Jericho was feeling the pressure to up his performance after Carrie Ann called him a contender. Unfortunately, it appeared the pressure got to him as he and Cheryl Burke tangoed to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'.” And though it started out promising on the park bench, with Cheryl rocking the ’80s video vixen hair and half skirt with the aluminum foil lining underneath, it was clear that this routine wasn’t going to soar like this dance — or a screaming electric guitar solo — should. Bruno chalked it up to “an off night.” “I know you went for a rock theme, but you turned into a lump of granite during this,” he said. “It was cold, uneventful and a bit lumpy.” Carrie Ann thought “the pressure got to you this week…. It was technically sound, but it wasn’t exciting.” Len, perhaps in a good birthday mood, thought it was perfectly fine. “You had good posture, you had good hold, you had flexed knees,” he said. Total: 22.
Len’s good birthday mood, however, still resulted in Chris and Cheryl in the bottom spot and ripe for elimination. (For more on Chris and Cheryl, check out this Fabulous Forum post, which features an interview with the contenders.)
What do you think, ballroom fans? Think Chris will get punted from the ring this week? What’d you think of the theme this week: high-calorie treat, or like a careless whisper, do guilty (pleasured) feet have no rhythm? How difficult is it to start all your questions with “How difficult is it to…”? Hanson: Honored guests, or horrifying house band?
— Allyssa Lee
Photo: Chelsie Hightower and Romeo. Credit: Bob D'Amico / ABC