Aug 17, 2021
Dancing with the Stars: ¡Yo Quiero Latin Night!
It’s Latin Night on Dancing With the Stars! You know what that means, don’t you? It means the stage is on fire! Literally. No, really. Or it will be, if one single grip or gaffer makes any mistakes at all, because there’s enough torches on hand to give every audience member their own little bonfire. It’s like Carnivale as envisioned by a pyromaniac who got his inspiration by watching Univision while stoned.
Host Tom Bergeron notes that the fire marshals are very nervous. So, apparently, is the audience. Even after the infernos are extinguished, they will spend most of the night threatening to lynch the judges.
Tom and Erin would like to remind us all that we must vote, vote, vote, because if we don’t, we might suffer a terrible voting tragedy, like the demise of Redfoo last week. Of course, Redfoo wasn’t voted off for his terrific second-week Jive; Redfoo got voted off because it took him two full weeks to realize he couldn’t skate by on his super-sexy brillo pad of a hairstyle by itself. See, with the new format, consequences for crappy dancing are now a delayed reaction, and it’s just enough to confuse the shit out of anybody who isn’t really paying any attention. That’s probably more than half the audience.
Rumer Willis, daughter of Demi Moore and that guy from Die Hard, is dancing first. She’s been a frontrunner since day one, so her partner Val has decided to up the challenge by acting like a moron. They have a Salsa—but no, it can’t just be a plain old Salsa! It has to be a Disco Salsa! Which isn’t really a thing! Better yet, let’s make it a Disco Salsa on roller skates, which really isn’t, and should never be, a thing! Why not? Because neither of them are really that great on roller skates, and after one lift, she cracks him in the lip with her legs, and I think I saw a tooth fly into the stands.
OK. No roller skates. Len would not have approved, anyway.
So they end up doing a plain old, pretty great Salsa on the ground with lightning-fast moves, great energy, and that same lift. She doesn’t draw blood this time. The mirrorball overhead gives some people visions of stars, some people epileptic seizures, and some people traumatic flashbacks to bygone decades, hairstyles and wardrobe choices they’d rather forget. Rumer may eventually regret this costume; the skin-toned hue leaves her looking like she’s dressed only in sparkles. It sparks an unfortunate comment from Carrie Ann, of all people.
Len: That, for me, is the best dance I’ve seen this season.
Julianne: I want to see a bit more freedom from you. No! No! I didn’t say it was bad! I didn’t say it was bad! HEEEEEELP! (As the boos grow to a blood-curdling groan, Julianne hides under the table in fear for her life. DWTS Judge: a life-threatening occupation.)
Bruno: Monday Night Fever starts right here! (I think it started with the stage bonfire, Bruno.)
Carrie Ann: Woman to woman, Rumer, your body is incredible… blather, blather, blather, “Striptease.”(Leave it to Carrie Ann to remind everybody that Demi Moore forced her daughter to star with her in her most unfortunate movie. Thanks, Carrie Ann. Just when poor Rumer thought she’d finally lived that down. Amazingly enough, this is not the most grossly inappropriate judge comment of the night.)
Judges’ score: 33
Redfoo’s elimination allowed supermodel Charlotte McKinney to remain. As we go into week three, everybody involved is lamenting that atrocious stroke of bad luck—including Charlotte’s despairing partner, Keo He’s about to borrow a torch and set fire to her phone. Last week she was weeping and wailing because horrible bullies on social media were insulting her. This week he can’t tear her from her email because she’d rather delete spam than try to learn how to dance. But she’d lose JOBS, Keo! Keo’s thinking, “Listen, lady, if you don’t get any better I might lose MY job, so gain an ounce of respect and put down your fucking cell!” This guy’s luck with partners sucks.
Charlotte can’t move for shit, but she’s got graceful legs with excellent extension, so Keo comes up with an amazing strategy. She looks like a Barbie doll, complete with plastic, immovable limbs and vacant expression, so…. his Samba for her is basically a series of Barbie poses. Step, step, step… pose her head nearly to the ground, one straight leg pointed directly to the sky. Step, step step… fling her around the floor. Step, step, step… send her into the splits. If you’ve ever flung your Barbies or action figures across the floor to see how they land, you might be able to envision how Charlotte looks in some of these poses. It almost works.
(Julianne has her bottom lip pouted out. She has to say mean things and she’s afraid she’s going to get lynched.)
Julianne: I’m so sad. Last week I said you had so much potential. (Obviously, I was wrong.)
Bruno: (puts his foot squarely in his mouth, and social media will be pillaring him for days for this next sexist, rude, inappropriate and entirely accurate comment) You’re never going to win the Nobel Prize for quantum physics but you are easy on the eyes.
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, says the audience. The crowd is out for blood tonight; Charlotte looks like she wants to cut a bitch, and for once I don’t blame her one bit.
Carrie Ann: Everybody’s being so hard on you because you have so much potential. (And because you spent the whole damn week on your phone instead of listening to Keo.)
Len: I tell you about this show: you get out what you put in. The more you sweat, the better you get. EVERYBODY’S busy! EVERYBODY’S got jobs. (You spoiled, bratty little princess! Get the hell away from me.)
Judges’ score: 22
There’s a basic principle NFL reject Michael Sam must learn if he wishes to survive this competition much longer. His partner, Peta, is not a football. When he throws her in the air for a lift, he cannot spike her on the ground when she comes down. This appears to be very difficult for him to remember, and she’s looking a bit battered two days into rehearsal. Well, at least he’s trying.
They are doing the Salsa to “I Just Want to Celebrate,” and I think Peta’s got a death wish. He sucks at lifts, right? So what does she make him do? Lift after lift after lift, passage after passage, step after step, and every single time everybody in the arena holds their breath to see if she’s going to get to the floor safely. Once, he nearly spills her into one of the fake geysers of steam spouting on either side of them. What, are they celebrating National Bruises and Contusions Month? On the other hand, maybe she’s decided on all the lifts because his footwork is so out of sync, he looks like he’s copying her a second late.
Bruno: Michael you’ve got such… mmmmmmmmussscle pooooower… (drool)
Carrie Ann: That made me so nervous the whole time!
Len: Dancing is a bit like life. You have good days, and you have not so good days
Julianne: The last two weeks were definitely stronger. (Yeah, that does not bode well for you.)
Erin: Look on the bright side! You didn’t actually hurt her!
Judges’ score: 24
Glee alum turned rocker wannabe Riker Lynch has accepted that he does better when his hair is not in his eyes. The Warbler slick-back is here to stay for a while. He’s eyeing cousin Derek’s top place on the leader board, and a little family rivalry is cooking here. Partner Allison tells him he’s got to be sexy, and he looks scared, because he’s probably closer to adorable. What he wants to be is dangerous, but that’s not really happening. Shirtless? This guy? With all these six-packs around, and he’s a skeletal bit of nothing? Uh… sure. “I got rock and roll sexiness coming for you, Derek!” he obediently squeaks into the camera.
You know what’s sexy, kid? This level of raw dancing talent. It’s clearly in the genes. They’ve got a red-hot Salsa in the shadows of a genuine faux Mayan pyramid, with lightning-fast moves. He’s crisp and confident, throwing his legs over her—hell, JUMPING over her—and there’s no hint of fear for HER safety. There’s a partner switch-up coming later—Peta, keep your eye on this one. They throw in a little flash of chest at the end. Just a taste. He’s awfully scrawny, but he’s also awfully good.
Carrie Ann: I see, for the first time, a MALE contender for the title right here! (She’s right. He’s the only guy who’s got a prayer. But then she calls him androgynous and asks him to get some extra shots of testosterone. OK, Carrie Ann. So much for sexy.)
Len: For me, you’re not the best dancer this season. (Crowd throws heavy objects at him.) But you could be, because you’ve got flair.
Julianne: That was a Salsa. (There, I said something everybody can agree with. No booing!)
Bruno: Flat-out Salsa, full throttle, no speed restriction, going for gold!
The scores are funny. Len’s given him a seven. Everybody else gave him nines. We would like to know if Riker pissed in Len’s tea. What’s the grudge there? Being related to Derek?
Judges’ score: 34
Remember those old Chiquita banana commercials with that lady who had fruit on her head, pretending to be Carmen Miranda? No? Am I dating myself? Well, so is faded sitcom actress Suzanne Somers, because that’s what she’s wearing. It’s her very own fruit hat. She’s had it for 35 years. Tony wants her to be the oldest winner. Tony is dreaming, or he’s an idiot. Her best hope is to take the Tommy Chong Award for Old Person Who Lasts Too Long By Being Just So Freaking Awesome, except she ain’t no Tommy Chong. Crap, now Tony’s got Suzanne thinking she can win this thing, too. Give her this, she’s working her butt off. Take notes, Charlotte.
Their Salsa is set to Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.” That is a cheesy, tacky, and incredibly inspired idea. Suzanne is Lola. Tony is… Tony. OK, cute. Lola ends the song as a drunken, broken old lady still wearing her old costumes as she mourns her murdered love… that’s really quite amazingly perfect and a great choice for this couple. It’s not so much them dancing the Salsa as it is them acting out the song characters of Lola and Tony, but it’s the best possible showcase for her and that wonderfully ridiculous hat. Very clever. Moral of this story: never throw out any of your old tacky junk. You never know when you might need it.
Len: It was juicy, fruity and full of fun.
Julianne: I love how you commit to every character and every role that you do.
Bruno: Suzanne the showgirl still sizzles where it matters.
Carrie Ann: I thought it was really fun, and what a samba should be.
Judges’ score: 25
Former Bachelor Chris Soules is bummed out because last week’s scores sucked. Of course they did—his dancing sucked, and he knows it. He wants to jump off a cliff. Well, that would be a memorable exit, but it might scare future would-be contestants even more than the stage fire. At least he wouldn’t have to get married. He decides he’s gotta get better this week because it really can’t be any worse. Five points below Charlotte and Keo? That’s…. really, really embarrassing.
So, how can they improve things? Should he take his shirt off? Yeah, show us that midsection flab! Maybe they can get some help from the lighting and camera crew. When Chris lifts his pro partner, Witney, above his head, they get an overhead shot and a red explosion of color. Cool, huh? It distracts nicely from the actual dancing. Never mind that the dismount looks like he’s clutching a rag doll. It appears the strategy is for him to strike manly poses while she flicks and kicks around him. It’s a tried and true gambit for weak contestants.
Julianne: You are the comeback kid!
Bruno: I could feel the sparks fly between you two.
Carrie Ann: You were powerful, you were magnificent.
Len: That’s the best dance you’ve done.
Len gives this dance a seven, the same score he gave Riker Lynch. That’s bullshit.
Judges’ score: 28
Tom has meandered off into the audience to corner some past DWTS winners, now once again out of the spotlight and unemployed, basking in the memory of their glory days. He invites 17th season winner Amber Riley to come back for a special anniversary show. She gags. OK, even with Glee now a blissfully fading memory, she’s not quite that desperate for attention yet.
Behold Robert Herjavec, millionaire extraordinaire, who has just made an interesting revelation. He is suddenly in an arena where he’s not the best, the most impressive, the most famous person in the room. Well, at least he’s still the richest. But, uh oh… there’s a real good chance that Kym’s gonna dump him when she doesn’t get that mirror ball trophy or that Ferrari. Gee, what’s Richie Rich to do? He’s a fighter! He’s an alpha male! He’s gonna throw himself into it! He’s gonna…throw out his back, unfortunately. But he’s weeping through the pain, and working twice as hard. Funny thing. The guy’s a tycoon, probably gets a bajillion email messages a day… but too much time on the Internet did not appear to be an issue for this couple, CHARLOTTE.
Their scenery is snowflakes and crystals of ice, but the Rhumba’s a pretty hot dance, and this couple looks pretty comfortable with each other. She’s dancing with passion, and he’s… not embarrassing himself, except when he juts out his arms like he wants to be an airplane. It’s very sweet, and very competent, and just a little zzzzzzzzz… oh, sorry.
Bruno: That’s how you set the mood. The mood for love!
Carrie Ann: Last week I said you made me nauseous. This week I am praying to the porcelain god… (“Yes, she loves them!” declares Erin.)
Len: You’re middle of the pack at the moment.
Julianne: I thought that was one of your best performances.
Judges’ total: 29
Queen soul diva Patti LaBelle has her standards. Yes, she wants to be sexy. No, she will NOT be removing any clothes. At all. She’s gonna be a sexy 70-year-old covered from head to toe, you got that, Artem? Pro partner Artem’s response? He teaches her how to bunny hop. Seriously. She argues about that, too, but there is something kind of humorous and good natured about her regal reluctance. And the hopping DOES eventually end up in the dance, because it’s a step she can actually execute. Artem amazes this rather rotund lady by being able to lift her, but after viewing the disaster that is Michael Sam and Peta, they decide to keep her grounded. No bruises for the LaBelle!
Their Cha Cha is set with Queen Patti arriving in grand style, her handlers carrying her luggage and answering every beck and call. Of course. After a leisurely check-in, she does the little bunny hop and poses and shimmies on a luggage rack. It’s fun, but not exactly impressive. Somebody’s gonna have to pay for the scores they are going to earn here. Guess who? Not Patti.
Carrie Ann: Patti! You are a legend! (We all have to suck up to you to a ridiculous degree! If I tell you I worship you enough times, can I slip in a comment about this was a very safe, tame routine with almost no content and you are going backwards?)
Len: Artem, you need to put more Cha Cha content in your choreography. (We all worship Patti La Belle. We will not criticize Queen Patti. Never mind that Artem probably gave her all the content she could possibly handle with dignity.)
Julianne: As a whole, that performance was so much fun, but uh… (ARTEM. More content. Yeah, you are going to have to try. Or you will let Queen Patti LaBelle down, and we would not want that.)
Bruno: I love a Grand Dame in the Grand Hotel. Five star all the way! (The hotel. Not your dancing. More content, ARTEM.)
Len and Julianne each gave ARTEM a five. Not Queen Patti. Off with his head!
Judges’ total: 22
Attention, Citizens of Panem! Tribute Willow Shields of District 12 is injured in the Dancing With the Hunger Games Arena! Will the cannons of death, er, injury-withdrawal, blast at the end of the night for her? If you are one of Willow’s devoted sponsors, please send your life-saving gifts in the form of votes now!
Yeah, pro partner Mark Ballas whacked Willow in the face with her own skirt and knocked her down. Her ribcage landed on his quad, and she was out of breath for like a week.
It doesn’t show on the dance floor, though. They are portraying fire and ice in a Paso Double, and it’s pretty obvious that Mark’s choice of costume for her evokes the flame-catching dress Katniss wore in the first movie. Despite her tender age, Willow is one of the season’s better dancers, and she’s trying very hard to exhibit the “mature ferocity” that everybody has told her is so necessary for this very grown-up dance. Honestly, she does not look so much fierce as fucking terrified, but she doesn’t miss a step.
Len: There was fire in the passion of the performance, and there was ice in the clinical, clear movement.
Julianne: Slow and steady wins the race.
Bruno: My little mockingjay’s catching fire!
Carrie Ann: I don’t think we need to talk about your age anymore (although we will never, ever stop. EV-ER.)
Judges’ score: 32
Iraq War veteran Noah Galloway has yet another insurmountable challenge this week. It’s really hard for a man to dance the Argentine Tango with only one arm, so pro partner Sharna has gotten him a prosthetic. It looks like something Iron Man would wear, and he HATES it. He’s never worn one and now… he has to lift her with it? Gee, Sharna. That’s really throwing him into the deep end. After several days of cursing as the rotten thing comes off at every inconvenient moment, they finally have to give up. They’ve got two days to choreograph an Argentine Tango for a one-armed man. What happens next is… going to make the show’s seasonal highlight reel until the whole mess gets canceled.
Show day comes, and they’ve got to perform… something. Now, to be honest, the result is a brand new style of dance that looks a lot like an Argentine Tango but is mostly Sharna dancing around Noah. You do really have to have two arms to do this particular style properly. Gotta say it, though, when Noah lifts Sharna over his right shoulder with his own left arm in one smooth, effortless motion, it’s kind of dazzling. Michael Sam, if Noah can lift his partner with ease, what the heck is your problem? Sharna’s got some serious abs to do the jumping required to make those one-handed lifts work. It’s not really a GOOD Argentine Tango, but it’s a kind of magnificent demonstration of how determined people can make the best of a really impossible situation.
Julianne: That is the best dance you have done!
Bruno: That was miraculous!
Carrie Ann: The impact of the movement was fantastic. There was just one little… (Crowd boos her into the next galaxy. She hides under the table.)
Len: You’re my heroes. (I do not want to get booed like that by pointing out any mistakes or problems. I am too old for this shit.)
Sharna’s choreography really was a force of nature.
Judges’ total: 30
Former Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin has the opposite problem from Charlotte McKinney. Despite her full-time class schedule at NYU, she’s ready to rehearse… but where the hell is Derek? He’s off doing ten shows a week at Radio City Music Hall. Remember, Derek wasn’t supposed to show up this season, but when he found out the mirror ball trophy was gold this year, well… The preciousssss… he wantssss it… But really, is it fair to make one contestant work with a part-time pro partner? Hey, here’s an idea. There’s this guy, Henry, in the regular troupe. Derek decides to make Henry practice with Nastia while he takes his bows on the Great White Way. Hey, Derek, maybe Henry could just, like, do the whole show with her and you could go back to plan A? No? Huh. Gee, after ten years of watching this damn show, I’ve just discovered my favorite pro is a selfish prick.
Fortunately, he’s also a really outstanding choreographer, and sometimes sheer talent can take you farther than lesser lights might find fair. Once this long-separated couple actually hits the floor, their earthy, tribal Samba is intricate, in perfect time, with some incredibly difficult moves that could only be attempted by a world-class gymnast. They don’t know each other as well as some of the other couples, and the personal connection is missing a bit, but damn, those are two well oiled androids out there and they don’t miss a beat. It’s technically perfect. There, that will drive some of the other couples to despair. This good without practicing much? Some people will have dart boards with Derek’s face on them tonight.
Bruno: Tribal exhilarating! Almost inebriating!
Carrie Ann: When you whacked that head, I was like DAY-UM!
Len: You’re a fantastic dancer, and one thing’s for sure. You’re not going home tonight! (Ahem, Len! SPOILER ALERT!)
Julianne: I think that was one of the most difficult Sambas I’ve ever seen!
Judges’ score: 34.
Well, Len probably shouldn’t have said that, but of course, he’s quite correct. There will be no shocking exit this week. Charlotte gets to check up on her email all she likes from now on. She’s gone. But here’s her consolation: the meanies on social media are all ganging up on Bruno this week for being rude to her! Maybe she scored a little personal victory after all.