May 1, 2020
Dancing with the Stars: The First One-Hit Aging Reality Show Olympic Diva Amputee Drafted into the NFL
Do you miss The Bachelor’s Prince Farming? He’s back in primetime for Dancing With the Stars, alongside the usual misguided aspiring starlets, forgotten one-hit wonders, unemployed athletes, aging sitcom stars, and for some reason, Patti LaBelle. The new season starts here!
Tom Bergeron is heard in a verbal overlay as graphics flash and music blares.
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the tenth anniversary of Dancing With the Stars! Yes, for ten years we’ve been coaxing has-beens, wannabes, bored retired athletes and the relatives of genuinely famous people to come out of their hidey-holes and risk dignity and limb for a momentary shot at glory! We’ve had many fabulous winners throughout the years – Melissa and Tony, Meryl and Maks, Alfonso and Witney, and Derek. And Derek. And Derek. And Derek. People seem to like Derek. So do we, so we always give him ringers. A new era begins – head judge Len Goodman is about to throw in the towel for good, so we’ve got one last chance to get in our cheap shots at him before he goes. Let the dancing begin!
Here is this season’s slate of world-famous competitors.
The most recent Bachelor. But he won’t be a bachelor much longer! He’s engaged to the woman just picked a few weeks ago, Whitney Bischoff. He’ll be paired with pro dancer Witney Carson. Yes, the producers all think they’re being terribly cute. Will Chris cheat on Whitney with Witney? Inquiring minds want to know!
Gold medalist in the women’s gymnastics all-around competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Cute, perky gymnasts tend to do very, very well in this competition. She’s paired with pro dancer Derek Hough. Of course. Final Three or bust.
One of this season’s few genuinely famous people, Patti is revered world-over for her soulful singing. Not for her dancing. Of course, at the age of 70, she’s won every accolade the music industry has to bestow; why not see if she can add a tacky mirror ball to her collection, just for kicks? Her pro partner is Artem Chigvintsev.
Once had a hit single with “Sexy and I Know It.” With his unkempt afro sprouting like an overgrown chia pet, he’s here to prove that he’s actually rather gawky and ridiculous, and he doesn’t know it. Pro dancer Emma Slater will try to get this moron to heel.
A Gulf War veteran who lost his left arm and leg in Iraq (please nobody make the he’s “all right” now joke), Noah will spend his time on the show making us cry with his inspirational ability to create some rather interesting choreography challenges for his pro, Sharna Burgess. She IS quite up to the task, and it’s really kind of cool. (Am I wrong to hope that Tom Bergeron at some point innocently says, “Let’s give him a hand, everybody!”?)
Known primarily for Three’s Company, which hasn’t been on regular network TV for 31 years, she’s here to hawk the ThighMaster. Pro dancer Tony Dovolani will be helping her with her frequent in-show infomercials.
Too young to know any better (she’s fourteen), Willow was last seen as Primrose Everdeen in the Hunger Games movies. Pro dancer Mark Ballas gets to mentor her. He managed to partner with overtly chaste Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame without getting shot, so he is now in charge of all female contestants who must be protected from raunchy sexual innuendo. May the odds be ever in Mark’s favor.
Was a Warbler on Glee. Now he wants to be a rock star. What better way to advance that ambition than to practice ballroom dancing for twelve weeks? NEPOTISM ALERT! He’s related to pro dancer Derek Hough and judge Julianne Hough. His partner is Allison Holker.
Was the first openly gay football player drafted into the NFL. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a very good player, so now he’s a free agent with a lot of free time. He’s dancing with Peta Murgatroyd.
Have you ever heard of her? I hadn’t. She sure looks a lot like her mother, though – Demi Moore. Demi and Rumer’s dad, Bruce Willis, are both in the audience tonight, sitting far enough away from each other to avoid ever being on camera at the same time. Val Chmerkovskiy is there to teach her moves and referee the inevitable family fights.
Business tycoon best known for his appearances on Shark Tank. He’s decided to become pro partner Kym Johnson’s sugar daddy; if they win, he’s giving her his Ferrari.
This beautiful blonde model has really big boobs. Unfortunately, that’s her only real asset. She used them to advertise hamburgers during the Super Bowl, but on this show she’s been voted Most Likely to Suffer a Wardrobe Malfunction. Pro dancer Keo Motsepe has been tasked with keeping it all under control. With duct tape. No, seriously.
This is Dancing With the Stars, where the moves are hot, hot, hot, the costumes are skimpy, and a grown man tasked to partner with jailbait is just asking for controversy. In her opening package, Willow Shields, dolled up like Effie Trinket about to send Tributes to their doom, picks the name of her partner out of the Fish Bowl of Death… It’s Val Chmerkovskiy! Yeah, that guy! The one who can’t seem to get through a single lift without rampant speculation that he’s screwing his celebrity! Mark Ballas courageously volunteers as Tribute… er, Partner. Unlike Katniss Everdeen, he probably will NOT be faking a romance during this competition.
Willow and Mark open the show with a sweet, crisp, very clean Cha Cha that just screams, “The kid’s all right! See how innocent and adorable we are? Please note the warm, supportive big brother vibe Mark is generating! He’s kissing her forehead! Not… other places!” And the judges’ notes?
Len: It’s like a glass of Alka Seltzer.
Julianne: Girl, you got some SASS! (Uh oh.)
Bruno: Tribute Willow…. the odds are DEFINITELY in your favor!
Carrie Ann: You showed age-appropriate pizazz.
Judges’ score: 25
Robert Herjavec is rich, ya’ll. He’s got a private jet and a fancy car, and to further demonstrate his wealth, he will now wave huge stacks of greenbacks in everybody’s face before flinging them all over the stage like confetti. Oh, wait. Whose face is on all those bills? Why, it’s Nicholas Cage! OK, so nobody’s really THAT rich.
He sure is having fun, though. This Cha Cha with Kym is surprisingly lively and enthusiastic, and Robert just can’t stop grinning from ear to ear the entire time he’s out there. I guess when you are the man who has everything, the only dream that’s left is to dance on television with a pretty girl, and he’s living it up. The judges can’t believe it.
Julianne: I am completely blown away. I was not expecting that!
Bruno: I was expecting a fearsome competitor. What I got was like Flipper, the crazy dolphin!
Carrie Ann: It’s not easy to come after a fourteen year old and exude youth!
Len: I expected the shark to be a fish out of water, but… thank you for the money, by the way. (Look at it, Len.)
Judges’ score: 28
Riker Lynch would like to take this opportunity to plug his band, R5. He’d also like to burp in your face and tell you it tastes like peanut butter. And we learn more about his sweat than is really necessary. Way to keep it classy, Riker. Is there any way to improve the first impression this guy is making?
Sure. Let him dance. He’s terrific. After crowd surfing in while wielding his bass, Riker and Allison launch into the best Jive of the night, a crisp, energetic romp featuring one really dorky, ungainly cartwheel. Well, he IS related to the Houghs… although he can’t remember exactly how. Is he a cousin or something? Genealogy is not the kid’s strong suit, but entertaining people clearly is. Bruno, apparently, spends the entire number standing on the judge’s table, brandishing a lighter.
Bruno: You’ve got the coolest vibe I’ve seen since my friend, Billy Idol. (Drop that name, Bruno!)
Carrie Ann: I wouldn’t call that graceful at all, but it was FREEEEEEE and explosive and exciting and athletic.
Len: Full on, flat out. Lots of energy and attack.
Julianne: (Tries to emulate one of Riker’s arm movements and whacks Bruno in the face by accident)
Judges’ score: 31
Charlotte McKinney is blessed with a world-class rack and kind of ordinary dance skills. Poor Keo! Out in the very first round last time with a truly wretched partner, he’s in danger of another early exit. How can they get some votes? Here’s an idea! Something for all the horny gentlemen sitting around at home! Remember that Austin Powers scene where Austin and his new bride kept covering their naughties with random props? Let’s have Charlotte prance around topless in front of Keo! But we gotta keep this family-friendly, so here’s a strategically placed set of stage lights… and a bouquet of flowers… and some melons… and when they finally start practicing, she finds that her bouncing ladies are kind of getting in the way. Keo wraps her upper torso in duct tape, and they attempt to Jive.
The kindest thing I can say about this is that she’s less sour and unpleasant than Keo’s last partner, Lolo Jones. She’s trying really hard, and the steps aren’t too bad. But it’s a little bit hesitant, slow, and really nothing special. At least the ladies stay firmly in place.
Carrie Ann: You got off to a little bit of a rough start.
Len: There was (sic) a few mistakes, but you didn’t let it faze you.
Julianne: The top half was really great.
Bruno: You made a monumental effort to carry America’s most imposing frontage.
Keo, sensing the possibility of his second first-round exit, spends his entire time in the skybox mugging for the cameras. Gotta grab the attention while he can!
Judges’ score: 22
Patti LeBelle is a legend, and she knows it. If her partner isn’t patient and starts yelling at her, she’s gonna have to pimp-slap a dude. So, Artem, be respectful in the presence of royalty. Unfortunately, even simple turns make this aging diva a little dizzy, and by the time the rehearsal is half-over, she’s about to throw up. She’s a trooper, though, and the results are really quite lovely.
Fox-Trotting to her own song, “Lady Marmalade,” Patti and Artem glide majestically across the floor like a royal couple engaging in a leisurely evening promenade. Patti’s gold dress shimmers and gleams, the audience swoons and sways to the beat, and the whole thing is so classy and elegant it’s easy not to notice that the choreography is exceedingly simple. Hey, sometimes selling the content is more important than creating it. There’s a standing ovation from the crowd. Her eventual, inevitable elimination is going to feel like defacing a national treasure.
Len: You rung my bell, Patti, I can tell you that.
(Tom: And that’s one rusty bell!)
Julianne: You are a gorgeous, graceful goddess.
Bruno: Grandorama! What an entrance! True showbiz royalty.
Carrie Ann: I thought it was a great approach, Artem, keeping it very simple, so that we could see the grace of this beautiful woman.
Judges’ score: 25
Chris Soules is a farmer – Prince Farming. (Please groan.) He’s engaged to be married to a woman named Whitney. He’s dancing with Witney. Did we mention that he’s engaged to a Whitney? What, five or six times now? OK, we just want to make that very clear. He’s making very sure everybody is aware he’s very nervous and uncomfortable about all the physical contact with Witney, probably because he does not want Whitney to dump his ass on national television. Ah, romance, reality-show style. It’s kind of pathetic, isn’t it?
Chris and Witney, not to be confused with Whitney, are dancing a Jive to “Footloose.” They’ve got the whole farmer motif down with the cowboy boots and a pickup truck at the back of the stage, and their big signature move is a repeating sweep over their hair. It’s really, profoundly OK, but with any luck Chris will not have to dance enough weeks with Witney to create any real problems with Whitney.
Julianne: I wanted to get out there and dance with you. (Don’t complicate his situation any further, Julianne!)
Bruno: Earthy, rugged, rough, yet totally charming.
Carrie Ann: You have charisma out the ying-yang.
Len: You’re a bit like this truck. You need some polish.
Judges’ score: 26
Michael Sam proudly calls himself a professional football player, but he’s fooling himself. He was the 249th pick (out of 256) in the 2014 draft, and after washing out with both the St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys – not even good enough to be on the practice squad – he resorted to reality TV for praise and attention. It is entirely possible that his career with Dancing With the Stars will last longer than his football career did. Well, Michael, maybe Peta will help you find something you are actually good at.
And she does, fairly quickly. Apparently what Michael Sam is good at is shaking his booty. He’s also very good at flashing a fake, plastered smile at the camera at every opportunity. Like me, America! Please, PLEASE LIKE ME!!!!! This is my last shot! Hey, you, mean lady recapper, stop hatin’ on me so much! Uh, sorry, Michael. Here, shake that tailfeather again. Very nice. You might have a future as a Chippendale. Oh, the irony!
Bruno: Michael, that was HOT! That butt is a work of art! (Here’s my phone number. Call me maybe?)
Julianne: You have a groove within you that is so fun to watch.
Len: You could win Rear of the Year, and I’d win Ass of the Past.
Carrie Ann: Don’t stick your booty out. It’s already out. And don’t paste a smile on your face. (See? Called it!)
It’s significant that all four judges thought his footwork sucked. Yeah, that’s what the NFL said.
Judges’ score: 26
Gymnast Nastia Liukin has one Olympic Gold medal, three Silvers, and a Bronze. Derek Hough has five silver mirror ball trophies. Now she’s in New York, going to school, and he’s supposed to be there too, dancing on Broadway. But oooooh… get this! This year, the mirror ball is GOLD! Derek’s never won a GOLD mirror ball trophy before! Now we know why they both came back! They are going for the GOLD!
So they blast out of the gates with a gorgeous, flowing Foxtrot to “New York, New York” that evokes a certain nostalgia, shot in black and white before blazing into color. She’s a ringer – Derek’s partners always are – and it’s obvious they are in it to win it. They’ve got a whole Broadway-style chorus line behind them playing the Rockettes. Derek’s so cocky he ends with a fabulous, thrilling and totally illegal lift. Rules? What rules? He’s Derek Freaking Hough! He don’t need no stinkin’ rules!
Carrie: It was fantastic! It was polished, it was clean – it was a showstopper! But there was a lift!
Derek: I thought the dress would hide it. Uh, yeah, that’s the ticket.
Len: Like the Big Apple, it was sweet and delicious.
Julianne: Hi, I’m Derek’s sister. I thought that was the most explosive first dance you could probably have.
Bruno: There is nothing nasty about Nastia, my darling!
After the break, Nastia tells America that not only was the lift illegal, but Derek screwed up the hand placement going into it. He’s off to a golden start, for sure.
Judge’s score: 30
Pro dancer Emma Slater really wants to win this time. Ruh roh. Her celeb partner, Redfoo makes a stage gopher blindfold her before their first meeting so she won’t run screaming from the room. Every season there’s always one dumbass klutz who lasts weeks too long; this time, my money’s on this guy. Real choreography? “I just don’t get it,” Redfoo laments.
On the stage, Redfoo’s outfit looks like a white suit that a Jackson Pollock wannabe attacked on his first day of art school. The stage lights are garish and distracting. There’s no chance that they can win this on merit alone; they are clearly, joyously, and boldly going for the Tacky Vote. Vote for Redfoo and get this set of oversized gaudy plastic glasses, absolutely free! And by the end of the night, everybody is wearing them! He’s ridiculous and he knows it! Unfortunately for Redfoo, I think the Slightly Obnoxious but Utterly Cool Musician vote is probably going to go to Riker Lynch. Here’s hoping, anyway. Keo is off somewhere praying desperately that this guy is his ticket to something other than a second successive last-place finish.
Len: You dance like your hair.
Julianne: You look like that zebra gum.
Bruno: I love the sparkling lunacy and the wonderful wackiness.
Carrie Ann: You are your own kind of wonderful.
Judges’ score: 22
Noah Galloway lost his left arm and leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq. Debilitating war injuries that leave you physically impaired are an automatic ticket to stardom according to Dancing With the Stars; everybody loves a hero, especially if he’s also a babe, and Noah is most certainly that. Sharna’s got a pretty tough assignment. DWTS has had amputee contestants before, but Noah doesn’t even have his left knee, so there are some basic dance moves that he just can’t possibly be expected to execute. Also, male ballroom dancers usually lead with their left arm. Noah says that what he is lacking in limbs, he will make up for in determination and hard work. That’s his ticket to the late rounds of this competition, and everybody knows it. Prepare for fountains and floods of tears for weeks and weeks to come.
Sharna’s choreography is not only beautiful and creative, it’s strategically very smart. Noah’s missing an arm? Let’s begin this dance with several gentle bends that allow Noah the opportunity to bear his partner’s full weight on his right hand. Listen to the oohs and aahs. Extend that prosthetic limb nice and high! Make it a gorgeous statement! And when it’s all over, Noah picks up his partner with one arm and carries her to the judge’s table. Everybody just stares in awe and admiration.
Julianne: This is the first time tonight that I’ve seen the kind of connection you need in this competition. It’s beautiful.
Bruno: You are a Titan among men.
Carrie Ann: You are broadening my scope of what dance looks like.
Len: Noah, I salute you. Well done.
Judges’ score: 26
Suzanne Somers is here to show that age is just a number. Unfortunately, Patti’s got the Revered Old Lady vote completely locked up by sheer elegance alone. Tony, dressed as Richard Simmons in Smurfland, tries going for the Tacky Vote, but alas, Redfoo’s cornered the market on that. All Suzanne can do is show off her legs, still pretty stunning for a woman of sixty-eight, and get the Gullible Vote by convincing everybody that they can look like her if they use her ThighMaster.
Sales are more likely to drop. They are dancing the Cha Cha to Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” in a plodding fake aerobics class. Suzanne is heavy on her feet, slow, tentative and boring. There will be no Betsy Johnson-style cartwheel splits here. Keo, here’s another ray of hope.
Bruno: Tony, you’ve lost the plot completely. (He’s talking about the get-up.)
Carrie Ann: I want to be you. Those legs? Redonkulus.
Len: You are in lovely condition.
Julianne: I thought it was a bit safe.
Judges’ score: 25
Rumer Willis is a singer and actress. Apparently. Her specialty seems to be appearing in movies and TV show gigs her superstar parents have arranged for her. Her pro, Val, is kind of bummed that he hasn’t won a mirror ball trophy yet. Can he at least get Daddy Bruce’s autograph? No? And we see several shots of Rumer getting very whiny during rehearsal. This may be a really depressing season for him.
Or… it could be Val’s golden year at last. Here’s the kicker: Rumer is a GREAT dancer. She’s feisty and determined, and their stunning Foxtrot is a passionate, lyrical, emotional experience. Rumer’s got great arm extensions, crisp attack on the transitions, and the precision of a pro.
Carrie Ann: This just got real, REAL FAST! Rumer, where have you been?!
Len: Val, this could be your season.
Julianne: You guys are definitely the ones to watch.
Bruno: Rumer definitely has it, big time.
Judges’ score: 32, to top the leaderboard for the night
No elimination this week – we are going to have to suffer through at least one more helping of Redfoo, to our sorrow. Tune in next week, when My Jam Monday allows the contestants to make us cry, cringe and sing along to their favorite tunes. It might just be enough to make me envy the deaf.