Dancing with the Stars: The Golden Oldies vs. The One-Hit Blunder
It’s My Jam Monday on Dancing With the Stars! We’ve got twelve astronomical bodies – I wouldn’t call them all stars – vying for the chance to stay on television for as long as possible. This isn’t about the mirror ball trophy. It’s about convincing somebody to give them work once this sequin-studded mess is all over.
And this week, they’ve got a one-time opportunity to convince the audience to vote their way based on music taste alone. “Hey, Random Citizen! I’m dancing to my favorite song! Is it your favorite song, too? Small world! C’mon, we’ve bonded over our jams now! Do a pal a favor and grab your phone!”
Mind you, one of these people is going home tonight, based on last week’s votes and scores. All that digging through Spotify for nothing, I swear.
Chris Soules, our engaged Bachelor, is up first. His fiancée Whitney and his dance partner Witney managed to get through their first meeting without scratching each other’s eyes out, to the grave disappointment of tabloid writers everywhere. Unfortunately, Chris is pretty much shit at learning choreography, and this week’s Cha-Cha isn’t as easy as giving out roses. Witney’s gotten spoiled, dancing with the last winner, Alfonso Ribeiro. I wouldn’t go clearing your spot on the mantle for a second trophy, Witney.
And sure enough, out on the dance floor, dancing to Pitbull’s “Time of Our Lives,” he’s missing more beats than a novice drummer on morphine. Witney pastes a smile on her face because she doesn’t want to bitch-slap his clumsy ass on national television. Ah, c’mon, Witney. Do it for Whitney. Show her that you know he’s a hopeless klutz and you’d rather screw a Redfoo than this loser.
Len: Uh… um… you… only had four days to practice… no dance experience… you did an OK job. I guess.
Julianne: That was some pretty intricate choreography for the second week. (Witney, you gotta dumb it down! This guy is NOT Alfonso!)
Bruno: (Was holding his temple in shocked frustration during the dance.) Um… you were… much more erect. Wait, that didn’t come out right. (Audience howls with salacious laughter.)
Carrie: You didn’t learn the choreography with a lot of detail in your mind. (Or, like, at all.)
Erin helpfully informs us that he was even worse in dress rehearsal.
Judges’ score: 21
Suzanne Somers is still 68 years old – that hasn’t changed since last week – but her partner Tony has decided he needs to up her energy level if she’s going to sell any more of that exercise equipment she’s trying to peddle. C’mon, Suzanne, you used to be a sex symbol! Get that booty shaking! Give ’em a blend of raunch and sexy, and ask the camera guys to use a real soft focus lens. From far away. Let’s get their pulses racing like it’s 1977! And you know what? If she can do it… good for her!
Suzanne and Tony are Jiving to “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On” by Jerry Lee Lewis, a chestnut so dusty even she might not remember its 1955 heyday clearly. But she’s workin’ it hard, jigging around on top of a leopard-spotted piano before jumping down to tear it up like a woman half her age. The dress is hot pink, the legs are flying loose and fast, and Suzanne looks like she’s having more fun this time. Selling her dance skills instead of exercise crap appears to be a good strategy for her. The old guys in the audience LOVE it.
Julianne: This week was all about the sass! That was awesome!
Bruno: It was teasing, but never sleazy.
Carrie Ann: What I loved most was the spring in your step.
Len: Sixty-eight, and you’re out there dancing like an eighteen year old. Terrific.
Judges’ total: 28
Shark Tanker Robert Herjavec is strutting around like a guy who won the lottery, simply by exceeding expectations. (Robert Herjavec will be sending me a stern email asking me to cease and desist from insinuating that he would ever play the lottery. He corners the stock market instead.) He thinks he’s performing flawlessly in rehearsal. His partner Kym thinks he’s kind of a cocky asshole, so she starts cracking the whip a lot harder. She wants that Ferrari, dammit! Donny Osmond didn’t give her a Ferrari when she won it for HIM!
Robert and Kym have the Foxtrot to “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Michael Buble. The rumor mill is trying to pair these two up – probably because of the Ferrari – so they encourage the whispering with a romantic picnic in the park and pastel pastoral scenery that just begs the birds to serenade them while the squirrels steal their food and the mice run up her dress. It’s deliciously and deliberately corny, and Robert’s grin is so big and real I wonder if she IS giving him a little personal encouragement behind the scenes.
Bruno: You’ve got supreme selling power. (I guess that figures, huh?)
Carrie Ann: What, is it Disney Week? You almost made me a little nauseous. (After being informed that Disney owns ABC…) Uh, I mean… you’re so cute!
Len: You’ve got style, you’ve got pizzazz, and we can see you’re just enjoying yourself.
Julianne: Instructs him on how to improve his frame. Booooring.
Judges’ total: 28
Burger babe Charlotte McKinney has made a huge reality TV error: she’s been reading about herself on social media. The haters are out! They are bullying her! Her feelings are hurt!
Gosh, do you think she’s reading this? Hi, Charlotte! Just remember that you’re out there being a glamorous blonde supermodel and we’re stuck on the internet talking shit about reality TV. Feel better? Good, now go prove to the world that we are all a bunch of snide little assholes who couldn’t possibly do what you are doing out there! Because I promise you, Sunshine. I couldn’t. Not a chance in the world. Now wipe away those tears, get out on that floor, and try not to fall out of your dress!
Okay, that plunging bathing suit may not be the very best way to distract internet assholes like me from making cracks about your DDs. Prancing through something resembling a Cha Cha to “California Gurls” by Katy Perry, it takes Charlotte literally 20 seconds into her one-minute routine before she stops posing and does any genuine dancing. With the beach balls bouncing around and the fake palm trees refusing to sway in the nonexistent breeze, it’s all pretty… uh… OK. She’s trying harder than last week, though. That will show the haters! Unless… she gets eliminated first. Eeep.
Carrie Ann: You gave it to me. That was really good! (For you, I mean. You’re still getting the second lowest score of the night, but…)
Len: It was fun, it was cheeky. Better than last week. (Which isn’t saying much.)
Julianne: I want to see you in this competition because I think there’s so much potential we haven’t seen yet. (Never mind that you are the weakest link.)
Bruno: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Judges’ score: 26
Michael Sam is setting his sights low: not to come in dead last. Oh, yeah, and he wants to fool some NFL scout into letting him play football again. Both seem like impossible dreams at the moment. We’re assured that Michael is dancing like shit because he doesn’t have any time to rehearse, what with all the football training, and I have to wonder what the scouts at the veterans combine are thinking.
It’s all moot, though, because once he actually gets out on the dance floor, Michael’s not nearly as awful as he was last week. He’s dancing the Foxtrot to “Working My Way Back To You” (The Four Seasons) and to me it sounds like a plea to the NFL.
I’m working my butt off for you, NFL
With a dance show on the side
Yeah, I’m busting my ass to stay famous
And save the short career that died
I let it slip away!
No one would care except I’m gay.
I hope the football scouts like a man in a screaming red coat with enough sequins to make an Olympic skater look like he’s trying too hard.
Len: I got scarlet fever here.
Julianne: That was like a Broadway performance!
Bruno: Your bum was still sticking out. I know it’s there. It’s great.
Carrie: This week you are in the game, my friend.
Judges’ score: 28
It’s lonely at the top. One week into the season, and Rumer Willis is already the frontrunner, with all the other competitors a bit intimidated by her. Or maybe by her dad. Ol’ Die Hard scowled all through the first routine. Such a proud papa. Maybe if she wins, he’ll stop looking constipated.
Their routine this week is so dazzling, so crisp and sharp, with such vibrant attack and amazing energy, that I am contemplating forgiving Rumer for choosing “Rumor Has It” by Adele for her Cha Cha. Really, Rumer? REALLY? You had to go there. One point off for the worst pun in the history of the show.
Julianne: There’s no Rumer about it – you’re a powerhouse.
Bruno: You have the attack of a warrior on a mission.
Carrie Ann: When you step, girl, you step hard.
Len: It’s no rumor, Rumer. You can dance.
Len, how could you? Look, Rummie, if I am stuck with you for the next ten weeks, Imma gonna have to ask you to adopt a nickname.
Judges’ score: 32
Redfoo has come, a bit belatedly, to an amazing epiphany. Doing well in the competition is going to require actual effort. He’s going to have to attempt to learn the steps properly and execute them with determination and enthusiasm in order to keep from having his ass handed to him on a platter, first crack out of the box. And I’ve got to hand it to him. He does it.
His Jive with pro Emma Slater to The Knack’s “My Sharona” is such an enormous improvement over the previous week’s laughable mess that it seems he’s a completely different contestant. At least until we remember that he’s still got fugly oversized glasses on his nose and an enormous dead Chia pet on the top of his head. There’s a certain loose goofiness to his execution which is, if not strictly ballroom, quite appropriate to his persona, and he never misses a beat. It’s not at all painful this week. In fact, might we dare to say – wildly entertaining? Oh, my stars. I’m rooting for this moron now.
Bruno: Whoever gave you the full service, I want it!
Carrie Ann: Come here! Give me some skin! Oh, wait! I fell down! I’m stepping on my dress!
Len: You’ve been trained, but not tamed, and that’s what you want in the Jive.
Julianne: That was awesome!
Judges’ score: 31
Redfoo’s one point off from Rumer for this week. Now, who saw THAT coming?
It’s tough being the youngest Tribute in the Hunger Dancing Games. Meanies made poor widdle Willow Shields go first last week. A diabolical act worthy of President Snow! But Mark’s got a new idea to make sure the odds are forever in their favor: paint. They are kind of using the Peeta’s cake frosting strategy, except that instead of camouflaging themselves to blend in, they will be splattering bright hues all over each other’s clothes, hair and skin. Willow’s just a kid, so Mark’s giving her a water-color balloon fight!
Maybe he went for the goofy, child-friendly package because they are dancing the Argentine Tango, by its very nature a sultry and seductive dance, and he’s trying to make sure everybody’s real clear on the difference between their real relationship and the one they have to project while dancing. While the paint fight was obviously not the method they actually used to decorate their costumes, they are indeed dolled out in multicolored blobs that evoke Jackson Pollock.
The overall effect, however, is really quite cool. They begin their set by blending in almost perfectly against a multicolored painted heart, then launching into a sizzling and precise Argentine Tango that essentially shows Mark breaking up with a really clingy girlfriend. After several leg flicks, lots of shots of Willow grabbing on for dear life, and one spectacular lift, Willow finds herself back against the backdrop of the heart alone. Mark’s a pretty clever choreographer.
Carrie Ann: The competition just got really, really tight!
Len: There was nothing gray about that.
Julianne: Age is but a number. (Unless you are talking about sex, alcohol, driving, voting…)
Bruno: I’m loving the pop art Argentine Tango.
Judges’ score: 32
Noah Galloway is an American hero who has sacrificed hugely for his country. Is there anything else this show can possibly do to tug at the heartstrings any harder? Sure. Show him skyping with his girlfriend, who is also in the military and from whom he’s been separated for six months. Then have him dedicate his jam, Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey,” to her. Then have him lament wistfully that she can’t see him dance live. Throw in a little bare chest action, just to be on the safe side. And… oh, yeah! Here’s the kicker! Let’s have the girlfriend, Jamie, show up during the show for a tearful reunion! OK, everybody, head to those phones! Do it now!
I think he was supposed to be dancing the Samba, but it really didn’t matter. All he had to do was go out on the floor and wave, and we’d all be swooning. Sniffle. It’s dusty in here.
Len: You’re an ordinary guy, but you do extraordinary things.
Julianne: You know your body so well.
Bruno: You two are hot.
Carrie: You guys are a wonderful team.
Judges’ score: 27
That’s a pretty good score for walking in precise time to the beat. Heroically.
Somewhere in the background of this heartwarming scene, Nastia Kiukin and her pro partner Derek are grumbling, “Oh, god! We have to try to follow THAT?” This is especially challenging because Nastia, apparently, is a bit of a cold fish. She chalks it up to her gymnastics training, since apparently you aren’t supposed to emote while executing a vault. On top of this, they’ve got the Rhumba, which is sex on a dance floor with clothes on. Nastia has to be sexy? All she can manage is the giggles.
Their song is “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. As one might expect, Derek’s choreography is hot and sexy, with lots of opportunities for Nastia to show off her flexibility and the fabulous extension she gets in all of her limbs all the time. The transitions are effortless. Derek comes across as very sultry. Nastia manages not to giggle. Mostly.
Julianne: That was so beautifully executed.
Bruno: Marvelous motion. Your flow was flawless.
Carrie Ann: (Rendered speechless. Tom almost had to move on.) The quality of motion was spectacular.
Len: It started like a flower. Suddenly this blossom came out.
Judges’ score: 34
This score includes the first nines of the season.
OK, Glee grad Riker Lynch is kind of a mess. Or, at least his hair is. His grunge rocker look worked the first week, but his pro, Allison Hooker, knows that Len’s going to skin them both alive if he stumbles through an elegant Foxtrot with his hair in his eyes. So she’s whipping out the mousse and the teaser combs, and he’s squeaking and squealing like she’s about to shave his head. And in the end… he looks like a Warbler on Glee. (That’s a Glee prep school for boys, for any of you out there who managed to avoid the five-minute Warbler phenomenon.) So, familiar territory, really.
Possibly it was not the best move to start a dance while mostly hidden behind an artificial, if ever so “romantic,” bridge, but once they hit the floor, their jam to “Sugar” by Maroon 5 flows well. Riker’s got excellent footwork and just the right touch of romantic panache. Yeah, rocker boy cleans up like a choir boy. I knew that he would. It’s his true entertainment roots.
Bruno: The hair and the look – totally slick. The Foxtrot – even slicker!
Carrie Ann: I love the look! You look so handsome! This week – hot! Very sexy! Focus on the dance, Inaba!
Len: I liker Riker.
Julianne: I think we just saw Radiant Riker.
Judges’ score: 32
Now, for a flash news update of national importance. A National Treasure has been injured. We repeat! Patti LaBelle is injured! Please do not panic! Stay tuned to your TV set for upcoming phone numbers that you can call to ensure that this exquisite, wondrous lady is not prematurely ejected from this show! Patti’s knee must heal! Here’s how you can help! Keep those calls coming! Hey, we are celebrating her seventieth birthday! You can’t send her home on her birthday!
It’s not really Patti’s birthday. Apparently she’s got some clueless friends who tried to put on old lady music when her real birthday came, and she made them play her jam – “In Da Club” by 50 Cent – instead. ‘Cause Mz. Patti LaBelle don’t jam to old lady music nohow. She begins her routine in a huge fluffy white boa that makes her look like a seriously shredded marshmallow, but once the music hits she’s grinning through the pain, shimmying like a showgirl, and at one point, hoisting her own boobs. This ain’t your ordinary grandma. Funny thing is – we’ve got two older ladies in this show, and Patti’s the elder. However, she’s almost coming across more youthful to me than Suzanne precisely because she seems to be more focused on having a blast than on constantly reminding us of how young she is at heart. And she really does love this song. It shows with gleeful abandon, every move she makes.
Carrie Ann: All hail Queen Patti LaBelle!
Len: You were sitting up there like a big, white, fluffy cloud. Then all of a sudden, the sun came out!
Julianne: There is a belle in the ballroom! That was so fun!
Bruno: V.I.P. is the only way to be!
Judges’ score: 28
Of course, in the end, one of these couples spent all this time rehearsing and dancing for no particularly reason. Their fates were sealed with the votes from Round One. And the first person gone… is the guy who improved the most. It’s Redfoo.
He went from fives to eights in a single week, but it was still too little, too late. Here’s his silver lining: by dancing so much better the second week, he’s got people thinking it was a travesty of justice instead of a mercy killing. Surely it’s better to be mourned than laughed out the door. Dance on, Redfoo. We’ll never know what might have been.