It’s just past 8:30 on the east coast, which means enough buffer to watch DwtS without commercials. I killed that half-hour by watching some of the longest baseball game ever ever ever. Come on, guys — 11 innings? That’s almost more torture than the first week of DwtS with 16 dancers and 5 hours of programming. And it means I’m going to lose the last 5 minutes of House, because it will overlap with Wil Wheaton appearing on The Big Bang Theory. Too much TV!
Anyhoo. Last week Aaron & Karina were in the bottom two, but Chuck & Anna got the boot. This week, we’ll see the ten remaining pairs dance either the Argentine Tango or the Paso Doble, as well as a group Hustle. And some of our competitors are riddled with the flu (we don’t yet know if it’s swine or otherwise). Samantha’s hair has been given the light-socket treatment tonight, and she manages to flub her very first line of the night. I certainly hope that’s a sign of things to come. Enter the stars, and GO TRUMPET GUY! Also tonight, Maks is stepping in for a flu-ridden Derek to dance with Joanna.
Natalie & Alec – Paso Doble – Alec tells Natalie right off the bat that the dance is all about power and aggression, and she starts the rehearsal footage appearing softer and quieter than usual. Will she get it? Can she tap into her competitive side? They start their dance at the judges’ table, to the tune of “American Woman”, with Natalie wearing a red, white, and blue outfit. Flashy. Her opening moves aren’t as crisp as they should be, and her whole dance seems a little too heavy, a little too grounded, and overall pretty tame. Len commends her clean and precise dancing, but feels the dance lacked aggression. Bruno says he missed the conviction and artistry. Carrie Ann thinks she moves really well, but wants more extended movement. She also calls out a lift, which I had to rewind for. It’s a borderline call; I can see arguments pro- and against-lift. Scores: 7-8-7 for 22.
Aaron & Karina – Argentine Tango – Last week, Carrie Ann told him to chill out; his desperation makes him hard to watch. This week, he has to tackle another sexy dance, but there’s still nothing sexy about him. Karina brought in some friends to show Aaron the manly moves, and it made Aaron all giggly. In the dance itself, I’m … surprised! He’s totally drawing on his Draco Malfoy-grade snobbiness and snootiness, and it’s kind of working. Although I have to wonder if the spots where Karina wraps her legs around him like a lemur count as lifts. He’s still a bit stiff and awkward, but he also seems much more relaxed than in previous weeks. It’s an improvement. Bruno praises the character and passion, and compares him to Robert Pattinson in Twilight. Except Aaron’s only half as sparkly. Carrie Ann beckons Aaron forward, then gives him a pair of cheek kisses. Excellent. Len compares previous weeks to a little boy lost in the wilderness, then opens his arms wide and shouts, “You’ve come back to me!” As they head backstage, Bergeron points out LaToya Jackson in the audience (sitting next to the red-hot Stana Katic from Castle) and lets us know that LaToya will be back tomorrow for the Michael Jackson tribute. Plus, Norah Jones. Backstage, Aaron seems on the brink of happy tears. Scores: 8-8-8 for 24.
Michael & Anna – Paso Doble – I have to say, I love knowing what they’re going to dance just by looking at their outfits. Last week, Michael tied at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard, but America kept him out of the bottom two. He thinks he’ll do well at the Paso — passion and aggression are what make him great at football. In rehearsal, Anna wants him to stand like he’s holding a coin between his butt cheeks. He proceeds to get a coin out of his bag, and … well, ten points to Michael. If you see him anywhere out there, tell him to keep the change. On the dance floor he has his stern face on, but his moves are still wooden and awkward. And a few of his steps are still small and hesitant, as Carrie Ann observed a couple of weeks ago. It’s a better dance than last week, but he’s still at the bottom of the skills pile. Carrie Ann calls it her favorite dance so far. Len likes the posture, the knee walks, and Michael’s flair. Bruno advises him to keep the nickel in his butt. Michael then pulls out a nickel and gives it to Bruno, and Bergeron makes a weird flu joke. Scores: 7-7-7 for 21, and the audience boos.
Mya & Dmitry – Argentine Tango – In rehearsal, Dmitry tells Mya that they’re allowed to do lifts. Ah, that explains Karina the lemur. Their rehearsal process apparently includes a lot of accidental kicks to delicate man-areas. This week it’s their turn to go out volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, in conjunction with the ABC/Disney give-a-day kick. After a break, the dance begins up on the band stage … and stays up there for half the dance. I called my husband in to help me identify the song (“They” by Jem, by the way, and not the Jem of “and the Holograms” fame), and he said, “She’s such a ringer.” He’s not even watching the show, and he’s of the same mind as I about Mya having too much dance experience. Overall, the choreography isn’t as great as I hoped it would be. There are some nice moves, but it’s just not all that exciting. Len says he usually doesn’t like too much messing about on the stage, but he enjoyed this dance. Bruno calls it intricate like lace, precise, with an air of sophistication, but he warns of losing the emotional connection. Carrie Ann agrees about the good dancing, and the lack of emotion. Backstage, Mya promises to take the judges’ comments to heart and give 100 percent. Ten points to her for not saying 110 percent, one of my big hyperbolic peeves. Scores: 9-9-9 for 27, and her highest score from Len.
Mark & Lacey – Paso Doble – Last week he loosened up in the Two-Step. Lacey thinks the Paso will suit his aggressive side, but throughout rehearsal she has a hard time digging out his inner tough guy. Oh, and she’s giving him a solo this week. His solo consists of a few stomps and steps up on the band stage, before Lacey bursts out of a cloud of fog and runs toward him. His posture is great in the dance, but his intense face might be a little TOO intense. More like stalkerish. They throw in a couple of martial arts moves, and I’d say through most of it, Mark actually appears to be leading. Which is good, for him. Bruno gives props to the sharp, angular performance. Carrie Ann says there’s a difference between force and power, and tonight he was “in his power”. Len says you need posture, power, and performance … and he had all three. Lovely! Scores: 9-9-8 for 26, their highest score so far. Go, Sensei Ping!
Donny & Kym – Argentine Tango – This week, Donny not only had to learn two dances, but he also did a show in Las Vegas with Marie. He’s fretful that he won’t do well, but … come on, he’s going to do great. He’s Donny Freakin’ Osmond. They dance, and he totally has his serious face on. The dance is crisp and sharp and Kym looks absolutely fantastic. It’s slow, then fast, then slow, then fast — a great mix of speed and passion and kicking. They get a standing ovation from about half the audience. Carrie Ann says the Argentine Tango LOVES Donny Osmond, and she saw a whole new side of him. Len loves the intensity, the quiet moments of passion, the fast and sharp. Truly their best dance. Bruno says, “Finally Donny Osmond is turning into Donnie Darko.” Donny puts his serious face back on, and tells Bruno, “You took me there!” Bruno and Donny, sitting in a tree. As they head backstage, Bergeron gives props to Harold Wheeler and the singers and band. The cameraman barely touches on Jewelry Head, and heads leftward to give the guys some limelight again. Scores: 10-9-10 for 29, and Donny is a delight to watch as his first 10s ever are revealed.
Louie & Chelsie – Argentine Tango – Last week, he walked a lot. And stomped a little. And tied for the bottom. The Snidget is going to make sure not to disappoint the fans this week, and I believe he calls his Tango character “Vito Loco”. The dance begins around a chair, and after they stand up and start actually dancing, Louie looks shorter than ever. Something about this outfit, I don’t know. His sexy face is good, and he has a lot more footwork than last week. It’s just unfortunate that he had to follow Donny Freakin’ Osmond, because it’s a decent tango; just nowhere near as faboo as DFO’s. Again, half the crowd stands to applaud. Len says he wasn’t expecting a lot, and was pleasantly surprised. Bruno calls it great storytelling, but wants Louie to stop stepping and start dancing. Carrie Ann says that Louie’s strength is the way he partners with Chelsie. Scores: 7-8-7 for 22. Well done, Snidget.
Melissa & Mark -Argentine Tango – Before their package, Bergeron points out Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion in the audience, That guy is a hunky dreamboat. (A check of Nathan’s Twitter shows the most recent post: “I am ringside at DWTS!!” I love this technological age.) Last week, they tied for first place and got their first 10. This week, Mark has the flu and wears a construction dust mask for rehearsal. Then eliminated Anna comes in to take over at least one day of rehearsal, and gives Melissa the woman’s POV. Out on the dance floor, Mark’s bright red spats are really distracting. They have some great synchronized kicks, but then near the middle there are some awkward steps. She’s finally getting her moves almost as big and broad as his, which is nice. At the very end, she gets her fishnets stuck on his suit buttons, adding some delightful unintentional comedy. Bruno says she looked more grumpy than sexy, and missed many steps. Carrie Ann disagrees, and says Melissa nailed the character. Len says the dance missed some of the seduction, but she coped well with difficult choreography. Scores: 8-8-7 for 23, and the audience gives Bruno a hearty boo.
Kelly & Louis – Paso Doble – Finally another Paso after a wad of Tangos. Kelly giggles a lot in rehearsal, and finds the concept of being “the cape” very strange. They’re dancing to Ozzy’s “Crazy Train”, HA! Kelly’s hair is huge, and Louis has seriously smoky eyes. There’s an awesome skull on the dance floor. The dance itself is just okay — she’s heavy-footed like Natalie was, and the dance just feels too grounded. She’s also concentrating way too hard. Ozzy stands to applaud. Carrie Ann says she saw little bits of nervousness come out. Len wants her to work better on getting the character of the dance. Bruno tells her that when she gets on it, she should stay on it. It’s all the same stuff about her confidence and nerves. On the plus side, it looks like Kelly has lost fifteen pounds since starting the show. Scores: 8-8-8 for 24, which is Kelly’s age for one more week.
Joanna & Maks – Argentine Tango – Last week, Derek caught the flu from being shirtless. So this week, Maks will stand in for the performance show. On Wednesday night, Derek felt the ague coming on (Cue weird shot of Derek pulling his shirt off his head, run in reverse so it looks like he’s magically tossing his shirt up over his head. What?) and Thursday night Maks came in. On Friday, they staged a phone call and found out that Derek would be out the whole week, so they started over with fresh, new, consistent choreography. They start their dance with a tiny bit of acting around a lamp-post, Joanna helps Maks put on his coat, and then the dance becomes awesome. She’s light on her feet, the kicks are sharp and slick, it’s all sexy, and then it looks like MAKS stumbles over his own feet. They pick it back up, but the second half isn’t as great as the first half, and has a couple of hesitant moments. Bruno says he was living his fantasies until the stumble. Len thinks they did a great job under the new-partner circumstances. Carrie Ann loves the chemistry they found in one short week, but wants more flexibility from Joanna. Backstage, Derek is there with a couple of comments. Joanna says she misstepped, and that caused Maks to lurch. Scores: 8-8-8 for 24, which is decent, but you know she’ll be kicking herself wondering what her scores would be if there hadn’t been that mistake.
Group Hustle – After the commercials, we come back to find a huge, sparkling “DO THE HUSTLE” sign hanging over the band. Bergeron lets us know that Kelly hurt her foot during the Paso Doble, so she’ll be doing the Hustle barefoot. The judges won’t be giving scores on the group dance, so this is all for us. We get a package of their group rehearsal, where Creepy Corky Ballas teaches everyone. As the group works together, Kelly realizes she’s not that bad. And Louie stumbles around adorably. Everyone practices crazy lifts! Aaron and Louie challenge each other to a flip-off (that sounds dirtier than it is)! Joanna lands awkwardly on her diamond-encrusted watch! And something flies out of Louis’ nose and into Kelly’s mouth. Ew indeed, Kelly.
The dance opens with a shot of Harold Wheeler conducting the band, wearing Paul Shaffer’s jacket and Elton John’s sunglasses. The couples tromp down an aisle through the audience, resplendent in 70s fashion. They line up, and it’s time for the pairs to show off. Louie & Chelsie are up first, with Louie wearing ginormous fake sideburns. Some good steps, a little stiff, and a nice lift. Then it’s Melissa & Mark, who stumble through their lift and have a terrible dismount. But Melissa’s cracking up afterward. Kelly & Louis move stiffly and have no lift, but that may be due to Kelly having just injured her foot. Mark & Lacey have some showy flips, a tiny stumble, and then he beats her buns like bongo drums. His wig is hideously fun. Aaron & Karina do some sharp movements, and Aaron’s footwork is really large. Their lift is nice, but then he hams it up by winking and pointing at the camera. Dude, there’s that desperation again.
Donny & Kim do a weird flip-thing that mostly can’t be seen because the camera is behind a cloud of theatrical fog. Maks & Joanna do the same lift that Derek tried in rehearsal, when he dropped her on her fancy watch. You can tell at the bottom of the lift that Joanna’s terrified of being dropped. Natalie & Alec don’t set the world on fire, but she does some nice splits. Alec’s wig is the worst of the lot. Mya & Dmitry … I take it back about Alec’s wig. Because Dmitry has a glossy black mullet on. They do a beautiful lift. Michael & Anna bring up the rear, and I’m genuinely afraid he’s going to pitch her over his back and she’ll crash into the floor.
Bruno calls the whole affair “sublime and ridiculous at the same time.” Carrie Ann complains that Michael was standing in front of her so she couldn’t see half the dancing. She does call out a couple of the more horrifying wigs. Len gives specific props to Mark, Aaron and Donny.
Phone numbers and recaps happen. At the top of the leaderboard is Donny Freakin’ Osmond & Kym with 29, while Michael & Anna are at the bottom with 21. I think most of us can agree that Michael should go home, but it appears that America likes him. Second-to-last on the leaderboard are Natalie & Alec and Louie & Chelsie, tied at 22. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Natalie will be going home, but I fully expect the show to surprise me.
When not wearing her glossy black mullet wig, Missy blogs over at themissy.com.