A dance trio (ahem: threesome!) goes 'super tribal'; Len channels his inner cat

By Annie Barrett
Updated November 13, 2012 at 11:57 AM EST
ABC

Dancing With the Stars

S15 E14
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It’s Week 8, and Len’s getting feisty. DANCMSTR wants to pick a fight! First he shot down Carrie Ann with a mean (but true?) diss: “I have standards; she has none.” To be fair, Carrie Ann had just brutally cut off Len’s critique (of Kelly and Val’s Viennese waltz). I’m not quite sure what happened with the timing there — the secret still hovers high above Planet Mirrorballus in Carrie Ann’s ridiculous ponytail — but the cut-off made everything awkward.

And then! Derek Hough and Mark Ballas — typically the ballroom’s golden boys — were suddenly labeled as “very self-indulgent” by Len following their “super-tribal” samba/ode to The Lion King with Simba Shawn Johnson. “If you go home tomorrow, don’t blame me — blame these two,” Len warned Shawn. Even Tom thought that was way harsh. I’m sure Len was having just one of dem days that a girl goes through, but can he lighten up? He’s supposed to sparkle.

Here’s the total JUDGES’ LEADERBOARD heading into tonight’s dreaded ***double elimination*** (scores are out of possible 100):

Melissa and Tony: 99

Shawn and Derek: 93.5

Kelly and Val tied with Emmitt and Cheryl: 92.5

Gilles and Peta: 92

Apolo and Karina: 91.5

Kirstie and Maks: 79

Will the judges please reveal the Week 8 scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!

Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 quickstep + 30/30 trio paso double = 60 out of possible 60 Tony and Melissa (let’s be honest, he’s the draw here, as evidenced by his slightly-more-gleaming-white teeth) continued to serve the nation as the ballroom’s quintessential All-American couple. Melissa’s kicks and other various leg extensions are unreal, but that’s not even the main draw. They’re just both so sweet and having such a blast — throw in some sequined sailor suits and cute salutes and is there any chance even the Scroogiest voters wouldn’t be compelled to throw a few their way?

“It was quick. There was lots of step,” summed up Len following their “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (apparently Army = Navy; what’s the diff?) quickstep. It’s been 15 seasons and the DANCMSTR has finally run out of things to say. But wait! [Long pause.] “You were the bee’s knees.” Nope, still tapped out.

I’m still not buying Melissa Rycroft as a dominatrix but I don’t know if any dance, no matter how perfect, could fix that glitch. It’s just not who she is — and she’s no actress. When she yelled “Ha. Ha. HAH!” I simply wasn’t convinced that she’d theoretically just killed or was about to kill a bull, not to mention one/both of her lovers. That said, their paso double trio featuring Troupe member Henry Byalikov (helloooooo Henry!) showcased Melissa as a dancer on par with the pros, like “a frisbee being passed from one to the other,” said Len, effectively proving my point as nothing says “not a real dominatrix” more than “a frisbee.” He did name Melissa as the celeb he’s most impressed with this season. Tony almost fell over due to self-imposed theatricality. I love it when he gets overwhelmed.

NEXT: If it’s not cupcakes and ice cream, is it even something I want to watch?Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd: 29.5/30 quickstep + 29/30 salsa trio = 58.5/60 (Fifty Shades of) Gilles’ arms must be completely hairless if he allowed Peta to duct-tape him into that makeshift quickstep frame thingie, but then again the Frenchman seems ready to do just about anything in his lunge for the mirrorball trophy. He and Peta donned some really weird black shimmery onesies — that would have looked atrocious on anyone but the 1%; on these hotties they just looked merely “good” — for their Top Gun tribute quickstep, which was packed with crazy footwork and lots of difficulty.

Debbie Downer Inaba pulled one of her signature “It was soooo close…” (#sparklebarf) trail-offs (when the roaring crowd has no idea what she’s about to ding the dancers on, nor do they care), but Len reassured the couple that “THAT. Was a quickstep” with this declaration: “This wasn’t cupcakes and ice cream. This was thunder and lightning.” I’m pretty sure DWTS‘ target demo is more attracted to the former (raises hand, which is holding half a sweet potato tart), but whatever.

The darling Chelsie Hightower joined Gilles and Peta for a salsa trio that opened with Gilles swiveling his hips atop a circular platform in front of a rustic-looking wall that said “Fresca” — lest we forget that he is so fresh right now. This visual messaging contrasted sharply with the state of Gilles’ hair — it looked like he’d recently dipped his head in oil and the dance was his way of shaking it out, doggie-style. I should not have just typed that, but it’s threesome night! Anything goes!

The dance was excellent and I marveled at how costuming/hair/makeup turned Chelsie and Peta into identical twins. That part at the beginning where Gilles smushed Chelsie’s face with his fingers was a little weird. I think he meant to get in on the side of her cheek but he ended up clobbering her nose and eyes with his greasy man-hands as if she were a Tin Woman in need of more oil. Sexy!

Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff: 29.5/30 tango + 29/30 samba trio = 58.5/60 Apolo’s general melodrama is getting more and more hilarious — I loved his exhausted recline and artful elbow placement during his game plan discussion with Karina before their tango. The masterminds decided Apolo should zip-line onto the floor from Brookebot Mountain to distinguish himself. “You don’t have any kind of harness,” Karina warned him. What? How? What’s the point of wearing three belts on your vest if said belts refuse to disguise a harness? And why wasn’t “Holding Out for a Hero” already playing as he zip-lined? Bizarre.

Apolo made it through aliiiiiiiiive, of course, and this tango reminded Carrie Ann of “an action-adventure film I wanna see.” Could you be more specific? “Those guns are fully loaded for maximum fire power, like Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible!” cried Bruno. There it is.

I’d call Apolo my official MVP of the evening after that heroic tango and incredible “Grease Lightning” trio during which he was the only star to elect a same-sex pro as the third party. How cute is Sasha Farber, by the way? I’d love to see him back as one of Our Pros with a little-person celeb in the near future. “Tell me about it, stud,” chimed in Karina as a cherry-red-spandexed Sandy. This dance was by far the most impressive trio, for me — not only was its choreography the most clever (loved the gas pump staging area!) but I could barely tell Apolo and Sasha apart the whole time. (I’m sure for many viewers, this was a drawback because the celeb should theoretically stand out.)

“You really are now on the top of your game,” Bruno told Apolo, which sounds exactly like what a judge would want to tell a contestant before he’d leave the next day. Apolo really got screwed by going first and finishing near-last in the swing dance marathon last week. No way should he rank so low in the total scoring headed into tonight.

NEXT: Kelly Monaco smilesEmmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke: 28/30 Viennese waltz + 30/30 salsa trio = 58/60 It’s hard to remember much about Emmitt’s Viennese waltz — these Veterans Day tribute routines were a mere minute long — but the gist of it was that the judges weren’t overly critical (have they ever been, with Emmitt? ever?) The love letter on the floor was a nice non-hidden gem. I couldn’t get a good read, but I bet it said “You’re so smooth” in seven different languages.

Emmitt delivered a classy speech that somehow combined 1) DWTS is a wonderful family show, and 2) We wouldn’t be here without the troops who protect our borders every day. He did that in one sentence. Give this man an Olympic medal. Everyone else has one! I probably rewound the moment at which two of the front-row soldiers’ mouths dropped open into a “Wow” at least five times. But my heart REALLY skipped a beat when I realized Daryl “Moose” Johnston (spelled incorrectly on-screen) was attempting to exude the essence of a mirrorball with that checked jacket.

Could he BE any more obvious? (Also: that wall!)

I love Emmitt, Cheryl, and Kym (oh my!) and their color-coordinated costumes for the salsa trio (inverted rosettes! butt ruffles! wacky hues!) delighted me to no end. But I was shocked when this dance earned Emmitt and Cheryl their first perfect 30 of the season. It didn’t seem like he’d done enough to warrant that! Then again, I did watch this dance back two more times — mostly because I had trouble deciding whether to focus on Cheryl or Kym — and may not be giving The Guy in the equation enough credit. I’m sure handling two yo-yos, or women, at once is much more difficult than he made it look. Maybe.

Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 28/30 Viennese waltz + 28.5/30 jive trio = 56.5/60 “Can I f—ing get a smile, babe?” Exactly! Val had read my mind — and he continued to do so throughout the night by keeping his shirt off in the skybox for the remainder of the night. Len called Kelly’s opener — the Viennese waltz — “a little bit sharp,” which appeared to make her a little bit teary-eyed. Here’s where Len threw down the “I have standards; she has none” gauntlet.

But another takeaway from this segment was Val’s commentary post-dance, to Brooke: “There are lots of more important things than how I do on Dancing With the Stars.” Shhhhhh. VAL! No one is supposed to know! How dare you.

“Think those two are doin’ it?” one good soldier asked another. “Yeah!”

Yes on Suspenders / No on Shirts is the way I would like to have voted last Tuesday, but since it’s too late I’ll just do a write-in here. Val and Louis Van Intensité (né Van Amstel) were happy to oblige in a jive trio that was a close second to Apolo’s in my eyes. Kelly was quite fearless out in front of the two guys in that footwork sequence at the end, and she kept the momentum going by leaping onto the judges’ table head-first to get all up in Len’s grill. “What a swinger!” cried Bruno. “You can take one, the other, both at the same time — and you’re always on top!” Do you think he wanted that to sound sexual? I still don’t know!

NEXT: Tristan MacManus brings a big Cupid baby to lifeShawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 29.5/30 Viennese waltz + 26/30 super tribal trio = 55.5/60 Shawn continues to gradually boob it up this season! This pair opened the show with a fleeting Viennese waltz, featuring Derek attempting to deliver a master class in acting while crawling on the floor amidst minimal smoke. It really said “support the troops,” loud and clear. I was in such shock about how short the dance was that I remember little save Shawn’s lovely “music box ballerina” guided arabesque at the end. It was so beautiful, a Twitter user started crying.

Then it was trio time, which of course, if you’re Derek, means Mark time. Mr. Ballas immediately sprang to life, shirtless and in fringed pants, ready to take on more manly duties in his local tribal community. Bless Shawn for putting up with the antics of these two as they “mastered” their own powerful crotch-thrusts in the mirror while barely advising her on how to accomplish the same despite the fact that she was (ugh?) a lady.

Despite Len’s hyper-critical reaction about the dance barely resembling a samba, I enjoyed it for what it was, which was a So You Think You Can Dance jazz or contemporary routine — or, I guess, any old Tuesday night barefoot bacchanal on a DWTS Tuesday. Take your pick! These numbers always appeal to me. Len’s 7 (not delivered as a triumphant “seh-vehhhhhn!” as it was so shocking) was absurd considering he gave Emmitt a 10. It’s crazy that Shawn’s near the bottom this week (though she’s second on the overall leaderboard).

I had no idea there was so much uneven-bars chalk in the jungle!

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 27/30 tango + 24/30 paso doble trio = 51/60 Kirstie has officially gone off the rails this week — once live and at least once during rehearsal footage. For Bruno to liken her trio to “a psychedelic movie” was not too far off on any level. But at least during the minute-long Viennese waltz, Kirstie danced very well — her best routine of the season according to Len. “Hallelujah” indeed for Maks’ forest green-enhanced butt this week. No shade left behind!

It’s time for an uncharacteristically passive-aggressive text from my mom, DANCMSTR Dee: “Personally I think Maks is better in a white t-shirt than he is bare-chested.” Ooh. Discuss!

Kirstie and Maks’ “Bring Me to Life” threesome with Tristan (heyyyyyy!) was a hot mess, but their rehearsal banter and the show-night swordplay and tender hug between the two men made it 10-worthy in its own right. It was just a bit of “foon,” really. I liked Kirstie’s explanation of her trio choice: “You two are similar height, and you’re both hot. F— the dancing” — but this comment was soon overshadowed by Tristan’s astute observation that the giant fluffy wings they were sporting made him and Maks look like “big Cupid babies.” Oh Tristan. Never leave again. Can you just stay and talk to us a few more minutes? About anything?

YES HE CAN! Below is a guided tour of the DWTS rehearsal studios by none other than everyone’s favorite big Cupid baby himself. Press play for an extra dose of brogue-y goodness this week. You deserve it.

I hope you particularly enjoyed my hard-hitting journalistic inquiry: “Can dancers HAVE Pepsi?”

Ahhhhhh, he’s a sight for sore eyes. Time to “moonch on some crisps” and watch it again!

Nominate your hidden gems of the week by 2 p.m. over at PopWatch. Which two go home tonight?

XOXO,

Fringe Fairy

Follow @EWAnnieBarrett

Read more:

Tristan MacManus tours the ‘DWTS’ rehearsal space — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Week 7 performance recap: Fusion Night!

Election Night 2012: Your Hidden Gems!

Your Hidden Gems of Week 6!

Maks in short shorts on ‘Ellen’: 9 important screenshots

Annie Barrett’s ‘DWTS’ Facebook page

Video reply time! Ask Annie anything about ‘DWTS’ — or whatever — below.

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