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'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Jump, jive and wail

September 27, 2011 |  6:34 am

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After the sparkly fanfare of last week's premiere week, the couples of "Dancing With the Stars" have hunkered down to the serious (yet still spangly) business of dancing. It's only the second week of competition but already tempers and tension were flying high. Nowhere was this personified more than in head judge Len Goodman, a.k.a. Mr. Scrunchyface, whose hangdog expressions and sour puss made it plain that he was so over this competition's shenanigans. Babaooey!

Couples had to prove their mettle on the dance floor with either the quickstep or the jive in this second week of Season 13's competition. Fancy footwork or lumbering steps? Let's take a look at the leader board.

On top with the highest judges' points was Ricki Lake. And it seems as though the actress and talk-show host is transforming before our very eyes. She's lost 12 inches in three weeks, and challenged in every new step by her partner, Derek Hough. Dressed like a pink can-can dancer at the Golden Horseshoe Revue with ringlets, lots of fringe and a pink feather in her hair, Ricki kicked and flicked the heck out of her jive, and even went into naughty territory when she sat back on Derek, stood up, turned around and dragged him back up by his belt strap. Also loved the touch of the Polaroid picture slide show up on the screen, as it related to Outkast's "Hey Ya!" Shake it! Len groused that the promiscuous move "stirred me a little. I didn't like it." I would've liked a little more jive content." Judge Bruno Tonioli congratulated Ricki on being "the first person that did his kicks and flicks correctly ... and you got ot sit on Derek as well!" Carrie Ann Inaba called it, simply, the "best jive of the night so far." Total: 23 out of 30.

If I were sitting at that judges' table delivering bon mots and pulling out score paddles, I'd award the best performance of the night to vet and actor J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff. Their "Newsies"-inspired performance was not only a jolt of awesome to the tail end of the two-hour performance show, but a nice nod to the publishing industry. She was adorable in her suspendered knickers. He had great character and verve. Pageboy hats off to both of them. The judges, however, were extra nitpicky with the show's last dance. Sure, Bruno called it "the most satisfying performance of the night," but Len charged the couple with false advertising. "What’s on the label is not on the tin," he objected. "It wasn't a jive. ... It was too much Lindy involved with it." Carrie Ann brought out a growl and brandished her lift-slashing claws. "It was great, it was fantastic, but there was a lift!" Total: 22.

Reality star Kristin Cavallari came out swinging and hit it with her quickstep with Mark Ballas, after last week's admonition from the judges that she was a little timid. Despite being set to "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend" (from the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"), Kristin channeled a Marilyn Monroe look from "The Seven Year Itch" featuring old-school Hollywood Glamour and lots o' bling. The routine was fluid and fun, and Mark did a nice flip at the end as an exclamation point. "Way to go, Norma Jean," admired host Tom Bergeron. Bruno was smitten. "I've been bedazzled by the blond bombshell ... this performance was twinkling with pleasure," he said, though he cautioned that "you really have to hold your frame all the way through." Carrie Ann also noted the improvement: "stunning, sophisticated" and a "complete transformation. Gor-geous." Len said Kristin looked "fantastic," but kvetched that the routine "wasn't as good as you look." Total: 22.

European relations are a little forced this week. So was the rapport between model and host Elisabetta Canalis and her pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy. Val, it turns out, has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-type personality. Put on the clear-framed glasses and he's a nice guy (really). Put on the black frames and he's treating Elisabetta like cow patties. And there still seemed to be a coldness between these two during their routine, set to the Pretenders' "Don't Get Me Wrong." Luckily for them, they danced the quickstep, and the regimented dance space and frigid hold kind of worked for them. Too bad that Siberian freeze continued after the dance ended. No smiles, hardly any contact. Just a cold, stony silence. Tom tried to diffuse the tension by saying it "didn't look like the Bickersons there," but Elisabetta could not be persuaded to turn that frown upside down. The situation wasn't helped by Mr. Scrunchy Face Len's terse comment: "It’s not great, but it was better than last week." Bruno, however, tried to warm up the proceedings with his Italian blood. "The gears were grinding, the engines were hot, the pistons were pumping," he growled. Carrie Ann commended Elisabetta for her perseverance: "You totally came back and nailed this dance." Total: a somewhat high 21.

Also scoring a somewhat high 21: Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke. Now that he's out of the weighty shadow of his more famous sisters and in his own spotlight, we can find out more about the younger Kardashian. Like, he's a shy guy, insecure about his weight, his self-proclaimed "man boobs" and his stomach. And that he’s got more tattoos than any Kardashian should. But Cheryl had no time for his self-pity. "Rob, don't be afraid to be great," his pro partner encouraged. Rather, she said, kick a hole in the wall, turn up "Surfin’ Safari" and do the jive! I noted a lead-footedness and a lack of energy that was less "Gidget" and more the cursed tiki idol from "The Brady Bunch," but the judges, perhaps influenced by the standing ovation led by Bruce Jenner and Kris Kardashian, only saw improvement and light. "You started to blossom!" Bruno said. "Watch your feet on the flicks, yeah?" Len said Rob delivered "a proper performance ... it was full on." Carrie Ann made the boldest declaration of all: "It's official: Rob Kardashian is a better dancer than Kim Kardashian!" Total: 21.

Wilson Phillips singer Chynna Phillips is shaping up to be one of my favorites. I love how she refers to herself in the third person, as well as her priceless expressions of frustration: Fudge! Fudgsicles! And when the steps really weren't coming her way: "Sorry, Jesus, I have to curse!" I also quite liked Chynna's and Tony’s jive. Chynna was decked out in bedazzling fringe straps over her bedazzled bra and a skirt of fine fringe, and Tony brought it with geek glasses; both looked like they were having a blast. Billy Baldwin was putting out the flames by touching his fingers to his tongue, he thought it was so hot. But the judges were underwhelmed. "You played it a little safe," griped Carrie Ann. "It was good, but it wasn't great, really," cranked Len. "It was a polite jive." Bruno said Chynna should really go all out to "give it that va-va-voom feel." Total: 21.

Nancy Grace has had a hard week. The tough-as-nails prosecutor who's usually so stoic and cold showed a rare dose of emotion after shutting down during a particularly frustrating rehearsal with pro partner Tristan MacManus. Nancy, ultimately, learned to trust her partner, and learned that "It Don’t Mean a Thing If You Ain't Got That Swing." She also ended up letting it all hang out (and then some) in her quickstep. When the cameras panned over to a non-clapping audience that was clearly taken from an earlier part of the performance, I'm assuming a wardrobe malfunction occurred. Bruno hit it perhaps a little too on the nose when he called Nancy out for being "a bit top heavy at times." Carrie Ann said she would have liked a little more razzmatazz, but "I love the teamwork that has come out of this." Len, however, thought the razzmatazz was just right, and proclaimed this routine a breath of fresh air. "That was a proper quickstep, well done." He punctuated that with a jaw-dropping 8 paddle. Total: 21. 

Soccer star Hope Solo has got a lot on her plate. She had a game against Canada in Portland, Ore., and received an award for her 100th game with the U.S. soccer team, which didn't leave a lot of time for her jive rehearsals with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Maks sported an "08" on his jersey, and looked decidedly unsexy with his knee-high striped socks and white Bermuda shorts, passing the mantle of his usual sexy hot pleather pants to his partner. Those high-heeled sneakers Solo sported cannot be comfy, but I thought she muscled through the dance, set to Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend," like a champ. Len "I say what I see” Goodman said, “Boyachacha!” and that the dance was “first class. ... It was crisp, it was sharp, it was like a pippin." Bruno praised Hope for her walnut-cracking thighs, but said she needed to “now be precise ... you lost it so many times." (Who knew a flick was from the knee, a kick from the hips?) Carrie Ann thought it was a fun performance, but needed a little more "relaxing into it." Total: 19.

The jive is a bit like David Arquette: "a little silly but complicated as well.” David was a little too in his head last week, so this week he said he wanted to "blow people’s minds" with his jive with Kym Johnson. He was a whirling dervish decked out in gold lame and a fedora, and he tried to perform the heck out of it but ended up more like a shiny, golden live wire than a high jiver. The judges praised his energy, but little else. "You were loose," said Carrie Ann. "A little too loose. ... You have to stop dancing from your shoulders." Bruno said he lost his timing and a lot of technique. "The good thing is that you're finding your persona." "I'm almost speechless," said Len, holding his head in his hand. "Any connection of that with a jive was a coincidence ... it was a little bit wild and frantic.” Luckily, David has the support of his fans, including former contestant Rick Fox, Courteney Cox and daughter Coco, who caught his jacket. Bababooey! Total: 18.

Oh, Carson Kressley. I want to see him do so well. He's full of bon mots: "Someone left a sequin on the floor!" he squealed when he slipped during practice. "Bet Chynna Phillips doesn't have a headband like this." He's got charm for days. But though he gets an A for effort and effervescence, he, sadly, gets a D for dancing. Carson really needed to, in his words, "zzhuzzh it up." And if I could reach into my TV to tweak out all that awkwardness and make a better quickstep than what was delivered, I would have. But unfortunately, the teachers' observations of "your child lacks coordination" are true in this case. His geeky outfit was like the routine personified: Awkward and clashing and too buttoned-up. Anna Trebunskaya looked like a mash-up between Hally Berry's Oscar dress and a Dale Chihuly sculpture, but she made it work. Carrie Ann lauded the performance for its "good intent" but said the routine was "a little wobbly:" "I saw improvement, yet I'm not sure what happened to that improvement in the dance." Len said, "If I held my knife and fork like you held Anna, I would starve to death." Still, he acknowledged Carson's copious practice time. Bruno pointed out Carson's "silent scream all the way through," which enraged partner Anna into "Psycho"-like threats with her bedazzled banana-yellow heels. Total: 18.

Chaz Bono's knees are creaking more than the floorboards of a haunted house and cracking more than a bowl full of walnuts, so partner Lacey Schwimmer had to pare down the flashier portions of their quickstep to prevent injurious disaster. And although he did it with good humor and a (gritted) smile on his face, unfortunately, it made for a routine that looked like it was being performed in molasses. "It was like a little ewok dancing with Princess Leia," Bruno said somewhat patronizingly. Carrie Ann said Chaz's charm doesn't cover up the fact that the dance wasn't quick. Len said the dance needed "more speed and more attack." Total: 17.

Which puts the activist and author on the lesser end of the leader board, and the one most likely to be cut this week. Though I maintain Elisabetta and Val still aren't connecting with the audience and could also be eliminated. What do you think? Who do you think should get the boot Tuesday night? Is Val a nice guy, really? Why is Len so glum? Is it time for "Castle" yet?

-- Allyssa Lee

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Photo: Ricki Lake and Derek Hough. Credit: Rick Rowell / ABC

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