”Dancing With the Stars”: The first perfect score!
This week, judge Len Goodman set a schoolmarmish tone early on with a harsh scolding that came out of nowhere: Some of the contestants haven’t been practicing enough. Len knew this because he’d placed a tiny disco-ball-shaped chip in everyone’s cell phone, and whenever they enter a practice studio, his own Blackberry, which is probably called a Snozzberry, dances wildly across the table before serving him a cheese roll and a cup of tea. Len cannot get enough of these delicious cheese rolls, which, because he’s stuck in America and lazy, are actually lukewarm day-old slices of Domino’s. Len is grumpy. Len is pissed off.
So it makes perfect sense (on this show, that could mean anything) that Billy Ray Cyrus, despite kind of sucking, earned an A plus for effort, and triple 7s to match, from the judges. ”You did the most practicing this week of all the couples,” said Len. (Uh…so?) Don’t get me wrong — I rather enjoyed the spectacle that was Karina and Billy Ray’s paso doble, set to ”Black Betty,” particularly the somewhat bewildering clavicle-splice at the end. It was just a weird dance to earn so much gushing enthusiasm from the judges. He was trying, they want us to know!
On the opposite end of Len’s cheese-roll-o-meter: Clyde Drexler, whose rehearsal footage was edited to make it look like he doesn’t care enough about the competition to even show up on time, let alone stand upright in the presence of Elena. After a lackluster, just-going-through-the-motions waltz, Clyde assured viewers of his commitment. He also called out the judges, saying, ”Their lines sounded a little too rehearsed,” which, you have to admit, is totally true for every single time the judges open their mouths and is therefore hilarious. Will Clyde’s fan base dig his sauciness or lend their votes to those who suffer in silence? I have a feeling that his backtalk hurt his score and that after Len heard Clyde’s dis, he switched his paddle from a 6 or 5 to a 4. Take that, Mr. Glide, thought Len. I wish I was on the golf course already, thought Clyde in return.
Wait, why am I harping on the bad dancers? The three to beat this week were Joey Fatone, Apolo Anton Ohno, and Ian Ziering. Joey and Kym’s paso doble — one of the few dances set to appropriate music — earned them the first 10 of the season, from Carrie Ann. You know Bruno was seething, because he likes to whip out his first 10 with a dramatic, flailing fist pump, whereas Carrie Ann’s paddle didn’t even graze her chin. (Effort, Carrie Ann, effort! Put in the hours! You can improve!) It seemed a bit early for a perfect score, but I did love Kym’s complicated choreography for the paso and was pleasantly surprised by Joey’s lack of gimmicks. Until that ass check at the end.
Apolo and Julianne delighted yet again with their super-smooth waltz. I’m pretty sure if you looked up sunshine in the most up-to-date dictionary, so up-to-date it doesn’t even exist yet, you’d find a still of Apolo and Julianne performing matching arabesques with Serene Facial Expressions. These kids could easily take the competition just because they’re so bouncy and utterly likable. I can’t even think of a complaint. I know I heard Len say ”bad footwork,” but Bruno quickly drowned him out with a quintessential DWTS-esque quip: ”He’s an ice skater, and he’s dancing!”
Ian and Cheryl were solid as usual, but nothing popped for me. I think he’s too hesitant on the floor, too concerned that he might mess up — so that when he does, even if it’s a tiny mistake, he looks even more concerned and gives himself away. (Contrast this with poor Billy Ray, whose entire routine might consist of one big error for all I know, but he somehow manages the swagger to pull it off.) Bruno told Ian he’d gone from Mr. McDreamy to Mr. McStiffy, then pretended like he didn’t know what he’d said wrong. Who knows anymore if it’s intentional or not, but I love how we can always count on Bruno for at least one double entendre per week. Ian’s sidelong glance to fellow guy Tom Bergeron was priceless. Just in case we hadn’t heard the joke, Carrie Ann repeated, ” ‘Stiffy.’ You said ‘stiffy,’ ” to Bruno before reminding Ian to breathe.
Laila Ali and Heather Mills fleshed out the middle of the pack. Heather, who doesn’t strike me as particularly graceful on her own, had a pretty-for-once costume and Jonathan’s brilliant choreography to thank for making her believable in a dance as contained and emotionally invested as the waltz. Laila and Maks were the underwhelmers of the week — I had high hopes for Maks’ choreography after enjoying the paso doble section of the DWTS cardio-dance-workout DVD, in which Maks, the fearless leader, says to the other trainers, as well as exercisers at home, ”Let’s clench our butt.” Our collective butt. Yes, sir!
Instead, Maks and Laila’s paso was a disaster, and I heavily blame Maks’ distracting pitless-yet-sleeved jacket and the music, the upbeat ”Toreador March” from Carmen. During a dance that’s supposed to be passionate, tense, and dark, Laila — who’s not even cheerful in real life — was grinning! Horrible, horrible song choice. I also thought Maks’ choreography showcased his own ability to leap with impressively twisted legs instead of Laila as cape, which is the point of the dance. Get it together, you two.
Clyde finished dead last, but Leeza Gibbons and John Ratzenberger came mighty close with matching 16s for their paso dobles. Carrie Ann delivered possibly her most insulting critique to date to John: ”I couldn’t tell if you were being funny or really trying.” As token old guy, John might be expected to ham it up on purpose, but he definitely didn’t do that this week. He was genuinely trying — stomping, to be sure, but trying nonetheless. I’m glad he’s not resorting to old-fogy gimmicks. It just doesn’t seem to be in his character. If that means really low scores, so be it. At least he won’t be pandering to people. Leather (or pleather)-bound Leeza did her own share of stomping with Tony, in a paso that was unfortunately set to some mind-blowingly inappropriate Bon Jovi. Damn you, Harold Wheeler, damn you! Leeza’s performance was quite wooden and completely devoid of rhythm. I’m guessing she’ll go home tonight.
What do you think? Did Joey and Kym deserve a 10? Would Leeza not do a terrific job as a toy soldier in The Nutcracker? And who’s tonight’s mystery guest gonna be (even though I’m positive it’s Drew Lachey)?