'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Kicks, flicks and 'naughty bits'
After a non-elimination first week, all 12 contestants on Season 14’s “Dancing With the Stars” returned to have another ballroom go for judges’ points and viewer points. And while the marks didn’t reach quite as high as last week's best first show ever, it remained an enjoyable two hours with a lot of good vibes, some clever choreography and lots o’ hotness to satisfy everyone all around.
Let's see how the contestants fared their second night out:
Retaining her lead this week was classical singer Katherine Jenkins. And while it still is early in the season, she remains my current favorite. After an impressive first dance, the “Welsh wiggler,” with the help of partner Mark Ballas, was able to shed her inhibitions, shake her “naughty bits” with abandon and show everyone that she’s not an uptight one-trick ballroom pony. And this jackpot jive that was hotter than a winning streak at the craps table, set to the high-octane “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” by Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Loved that slick one-shouldered black and pink fringe frock, loved those pink shoes, loved that Mark didn’t try to detract from his partner with flashy shenanigans and loved that it ended with a one-two-three of judges on the slot machine at the end. “That was so brilliant,” said a hot and bothered Carrie Ann. “The hot. The sexy. The damn good choreography!” Len said he found the middle section “wasn’t really my cup of tea,” but “I liked it!” Bruno called out Katherine’s textbook kicks and flicks. “I know sexy when I see it, and you’ve got it,” he declared. Total: 26.
Disney Channel star Roshon Fegan is winning me over with his youthful exuberance and meticulous posture. Plus, he’s a little cutie, and he and Chelsie Hightower seem to have a good partnership. She gives him ballroom dance lessons, and Roshon gives her swagger lessons. And it seems to be working out well for the both of them. For this week’s quickstep, Chelsie told Roshon to be like a Prince – though less Purple Rain, and more Charming. They went for a happy medium and went for a Hollywood royalty routine with a red carpet and stuffed Chihuahua that had Len smiling. “I liked it!” raved the head judge. “A little bit wild here and there, but it was young, it was fresh and I thoroughly enjoyed it.” Bruno used his considerable swagger to rhyme that the dance was “pert” and “alert.” “Traditional, and yet you have the cheeky swagger … that I find absolutely delicious,” he purred. Carrie Ann commended young Fegan for turning “that swagger into sophistication and elegance,” and dubbed him “my little prince.” Chelsie got a swag upgrade, and Roshon got a point upgrade. It’s a win-win. Total: 26.
Maria Menunos took a note from the judges and opened up her sex pot – as well as the bank vaults – and vastly improved upon her cha-cha from last week. Despite a bruised rib and that laugh (which is already starting to grate), the entertainment reporter proved that she’s a tough Greek who could bring out the fun and the fancy for her Bonnie and Clyde-themed quickstep with Derek Hough. Bruno called her hold “a frame you can frame,” though pointed out the missed step in the run. Carrie Ann said it was a huge improvement from last week. “The quickstep is about balance, speed and control,” said Len. “You had both [sic] of those, and that is a hard thing to get.” The head judge would have liked more body contact, though. Total: 25.
Apparently, Latin heartthrob William Levy can do no wrong. Anything Senor Muscles does gets a rousing, raucous applause from the audience and high marks from the judges. Even the mention of taking a shower with the torturous posture bar sent an excited titter through the studio. William and partner Cheryl Burke were assigned a “Nice Work If You Can Get It” quickstep this week. And despite his being fully clothed and the dance having no Latin elements whatsoever, the actor still managed to charm the paddles off the judges and the viewing public alike. “Man, William, you know how to turn on the heat,” said Carrie Ann, fanning herself. “You’re like the Harry Connick Jr. of the ballroom.” Len liked the movement and posture, but said William “lacked body content” (tell that to all the ladies in the house!). Bruno likened William to “The Artist”’s Jean Dujardin. “Even fully clothed, you have the ability to dazzle,” the judge declared. Total: 25.
Redemption for Green Bay Packer Donald Driver must have tasted so sweet. The guy nicknamed “Quickie” in his youth proved he was no quitter when it came to his quickstep with Peta Murgatroyd, despite having to overcome difficult choreography and the disappointment of lower scores last week. And his routine had charm, energy, and personality for days – my second favorite routine of the night. And Len allayed any hard feelings by admitting that Donald’s routine last week was “underscored.” And calling this week’s performance “up there with the best I’ve seen tonight.” “Great lines, smart delivery, refined and elegant,” said Bruno. “Like a true sportsman, you came back and you proved us wrong.” Carrie Ann called it “smooth elegance and charm.” Total: 24.
Sherri Shepherd was having a hard time with the jive. The actress and comedian said she would be better at it if she were 20 pounds lighter and competed in the decathlon. She predicted her jive with Val Chmerkovskiy, danced to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” “is not going to be proud Sherri. This is going to be dead Sherri.” Mostly, “my equipment is way too heavy for all that bouncing around,” she said. But turn down the lights and bring out the gold fringe, and Sherri was able to channel her Tina Turner and shake herself through some slip-ups and deliver a winning routine — one that would be great to revisit and improve upon if she makes it to the end of the season. And the judges were all basking in her exuberant glow. “You know how to work all that magnificent equipment,” Bruno admired. “You missed the pass, but I don’t care. I loved it!” Carrie Ann declared her love to the “View” co-host. “This is when confidence can take you past mistakes,” she said. Len was on a dose of happy pills, spouting nothing but optimism and bon mots. “You felt good, the audience felt good, I felt good,” he praised. “I love watching you.” Total: 23.
All his years on “Family Matters” may have taught last week’s high scorer Jaleel White how to make contact with the ladies (“Nobody can bump into a girl like I can and not get hurt”), but the soda jerk jive that he and Kym Johnson came up with to Bruno Mars’ “Marry You” didn’t exactly keep the judges wedded to his favor. “It lacked real attack and speed,” Len complained.” There wasn’t a crispness about it.” Bruno said that Jaleel “cooked a very good dish,” but told him to take care to watch those kicks and flicks. Carrie Ann said that compared to last week’s epic performance, that this routine was “solid, but didn’t have that extra sparkle.” Alas, flat-footedness = flattened scores. Total: 22.
Pop and TV star Jack Wagner continued to push himself with the jive with Anna Trebunskaya, even when adding hips and arms to his leg movement didn’t come as easily as he had wished. The routine, set to “Gimme Some Lovin’,” was definitely serviceable, and Jack looked like a long-lost Bee Gee, but it wasn’t exactly memorable. Len liked the attitude and energy, but “you attacked the dance, and lost a bit of control.” Bruno warned that the “kicks and flicks needed to be right on.” “I think you just overdanced it,” Carrie Ann summed up, which put him “ahead of the beat.” Total: 21.
Melissa Gilbert is the second contestant this season (along with Sherri Shepherd) to liken ballroom dancing to childbirth. Is it dancing, or is it dancing with a Chmerkovskiy? Because dancing with Maks definitely had Melissa in tears. Now, I love myself some Laura Ingalls, which is why I wish she would be able to relax and snarl like her ex-boyfriend Billy Idol(!) and really sink herself into a performance. Her routines seem consistently difficult, and she seems to execute the steps well. But her upper body seems to carry a lot of stress. Carrie Ann told her again to be careful of her shoulders. Len thought it started well, but said it was “a tad hectic” and “a little bit loose.” Bruno said her thought process becomes apparent when she tightens up. And even though she says she’s having a ball, it’s hard to believe she’s having fun out there on the dance floor. Guess we all can’t all be soft and live with our hearts on our sleeves like weepy Maks, who bawled at “The Lion King.” Total: 20.
Gavin DeGraw doesn’t want to be the first person to go this season. So the singer is pushing his both his ballroom boundaries and his hat choices in favor of some leather and attitude for his “Wild One” jive with Karina Smirnoff. And I liked his Elvis hip swivels, though at times it looked as if he was channeling more Lurch than Brando during his performance. Bruno wasn’t as impressed with Gavin’s moves (“you messed up a lot of the kicks and flicks) as he was by the outfit (“Leather does wonders for you — and for me). “Carrie Ann said the “posture was funky” but gave him credit for going “way past what you felt comfortable doing.” Len said it was a definite “improvement on last week.” Total: 21.
Empress of Soul Gladys Knight has never been nervous as a singer, but she admitted to sweating it a bit in her dance last week. And she showed her natural musicality and feel for the music this week as well in her quickstep, set to Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.” And I liked the keyboard that was projected onto the ballroom floor whose keys lit up as she and Tristan MacManus pranced on them. But there was something a bit casual to her performance, as Carrie Ann had mentioned. Len said he “didn’t 100% appreciate the dance tonight.” Bruno lauded Gladys for her “natural feel for the music,” but told her to be wary of having a “very very precise frame.” She’s still a treasure, however, and judging from the applause of the crowd, shouldn’t have a problem making it through to next week, despite Len’s punitive 5 paddle. “I knew the frame was going to get me,” admitted Gladys. Total: 19.
Bless Martina Navratilova’s heart for stepping so far out of her comfort zone (though she did wear some kind of netting this week, perhaps as a paean to her sport). She has such a good attitude and seems like such a gentle, sensitive spirit. Her jive with fellow good egg Tony Dovolani was a sweet effort. Carrie Ann said she enjoys watching Martina dance, but was bummed at all the missed steps (to which Tony winningly remarked that it was a “jive on a diet”). Len called it out for being “too neat, and it was too precise … for me, all a little bit careful.” Bruno said Martina’s ballroom serve “went into the net” for this dance, but he hopes she’ll come back to “hit that smasher!” Total: 17.
What do you think? Is Martina the first to go, or will someone else get lost in the crowd? Who are your early favorites? Think Donald Driver’s son can take over Coco Arquette’s mantle as most enthusiastic progeny? Do you agree that this is “the most competitive season ever”?
Top photo: Kym Johnson and Jaleel White. Credit: Adam Taylor / ABC.
Bottom photo: Peta Murgatroyd and Donald Driver. Credit: Adam Taylor / ABC