Monday night’s Top 14 performance episode offered us a full-on Dancing With the Stars: Bizarro World. I know, I know: The concept seems redundant to the point of impossibility. If you’d told me, ”Annie, there is such a thing as a DWTS Bizarro World” before last night, I would have been all ”Shut yo mouth and slap Tom Bergeron on the ass!” But it’s true. Not only was our grumpy British DANCMSTR suddenly replaced by a charming Australian film director whose heart was beating boom for all the contestants equally, but Animal the Muppet wailed on the drums for one lucky couple! And then Gonzo pecked at Bruno with his trumpet. And then one Tom called another Tom ”the rollicking right-winger” and I kind of blacked out for a few seconds. Even the show’s opening staircase pageantry delivered a more serious dose of WTF than usual. From Anna’s sheer black bodysuit, to Mark and Clarissa’s matching red polka dot tragedies, to Kym’s entire flouncy getup, to the final shot of Kelly Osbourne making little devil horns with her uncomfortable fingers, you’d think you were watching a reality show from an alternate universe. And — as always — you were.
By the way, DANCMSTRs: Apologies for today’s uncharacteristically late publish — we had a slight editorial mixup this morning
Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff: 27 out of possible 30 In what will surely be known as Muppetgate for the rest of the season or maybe not at all, Disney randomly decided to remind everyone that they own the Muppets, and the former boy-bander (”Kermit”) and his sharp-tongued, bossy partner (”Miss Piggy”) got a golden ticket worth a bazillion votes. The gimmick didn’t really work, because Aaron’s not entirely sheepish and lovable, and Karina’s not fat. Not to mention it just made no sense whatsoever. Still, Muppets! Animal vs. Harold Wheeler! You have to love that about a quickstep. Or do you?
Mya and Dmitry Chaplin: 27/30 In this case, the judges’ liberal use of the 9 paddle made much more sense. Bruno likened tap dancer Mya and four-eyed Dmitry to ”Josephine Baker and Clark Kent,” then added ”You can pump that jive!” so that his critique would contain that crucial element of sexual charge. Mya seems like a natural out there, probably because she is one. Also, let’s hear it for the boy! Dmitry was workin’ the high performance and story line to impress Baz. Brilliant strategy. All of the dances were shorter than usual last night, but this one most left us wanting a few more seconds.
Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson: 25/30 I don’t know why Donny’s being such a drama queen about his age — people much older than 51 have met sweet success on Planet Mirrorballus without the benefit of association with the magic word ”Osmond.” He expressed desire to ”dance like a 15-year-old” before rolling over and whimpering ”Mommy” to Kym during rehearsal. The rapidly aging Donny definitely kept up with Kym during their ”Secret Agent Man” jive. It’s a good thing her go-go boots had special knee flaps for extra coverage; if not for those, we might have noticed she was barely wearing a ”skirt.”
Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo: 21/30 Natalie is used to holding her breath during her day-to-day life, which up until now has apparently taken place entirely underwater. So she had a lofty goal for the quickstep: ”I want to prove that I can breathe.” Cue a breathless Samantha backstage: ”I have to ask, did you breathe???” All signs point to yes. The judges have faith in her and when she was confident in certain sequences, Natalie looked great. I liked Bruno’s critique: ”There is an incredible buzz in this room tonight. I can feel it and you’re part of it. HA HA HA! Ha ha!” No one had a clue. It happens.
NEXT PAGE: Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy tackle the tango