Jennie and Derek go home; meanwhile Sabrina comes back for another star turn, Michael Flatley stomps around, and Kenny Mayne takes his last shots

By Annie Barrett
Updated November 21, 2007 at 05:00 PM EST
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Credit: Craig Sjodin

Farewell to Jennie and Derek, one of the season’s most unassuming and likable couples. I guess it says a lot that the elements of their partnership I’ll miss — their genuine affection for each other, the god-awful publicity stunts they kept ”scoring,” and Derek’s dramatic lean-backs right before entering the backstage area from the ballroom — don’t have much to do with their actual dancing. Jennie did improve vastly, but her confidence in her performance ability shone through too faintly and too late, during Monday night’s Latin round.

Not that this competition is about dancing, fools!

Anyway, I’ll definitely miss Jennie and especially Derek. He had a great, jaunty kick last night that served to accentuate the last ”dah!” of the Harold Wheeler Orchestra’s commercial-break jingle. Damn, I am going to miss those random expressions of musicality. And I’d have loved to see what he could pull out of his billowing blouse for next week’s freestyle round.

DANCMSTR commented to the last two couples under the lights — Jennie-Derek, and Helio-Julianne — that since he wants to see the best dancers in the competition, neither of those pairs should be going home. It was a nice concession to Jennie but only further reiterated two glaring themes of the season and the series in general: (1) The judges can talk all they want, but they consistently render themselves useless by scoring all the dancers within a few points of each other, and (2) the competition has nothing to do with talent. Oh, well. It’s okay. I’m used to it. Hey, when is Donnie next on ET? I gotta tape it!

How does everyone feel about Mel B.’s seemingly constipated facial expressions while the contestants await the cruel blows from Tom? Last night she looked so absolutely wretched that my sister, who’s in town for Thanksgiving, couldn’t stop cracking up. Which, of course, inspired me to do the same. Side note: Watching this show is so much different when someone else is in the room. Discuss! And to those of you who suggested in yesterday’s comments that it’d be fun to watch this show with me, first of all, thank you; second, amazing use of ”doob”; and third, you have no idea. I crack up at anything. Can you imagine a DWTS commentator who didn’t?

Pillow fight!

For his third and final segment of the season, Kenny Mayne investigated an epidemic: Some former DWTS cast members simply cannot let the experience go. Great concept, but the beauty was in the details, like the delicately placed sequin moles on Tucker Carlson and Laila Ali’s faces, which we noticed just before those two solemnly stroked their retired dance outfits. With his bed head, aviators, and intense restlessness, Harry Hamlin looked like he belonged in actual rehab. And of course, where there’s a Harry, there’s a self-presumed master of self-awareness, i.e., Lisa Rinna, on hand to confess to her addiction to tanning, among other unmentionables like, oh, I don’t know…sculpting her lips into glossy pink snausages. Lisa and Laila had my favorite exchange, when Laila admitted to breaking out the paso in a grocery store, and Lisa told her, ”It’s okay…the paso doble was the best dance.” My editor Tom strongly agrees, by the way, and reminds me of this about once a week during peak season. Hi, Tom!

NEXT: Sabrina and Mark come back

As always, there were plenty of special guests. Michael Flatley and his Old Navy Performance Fleet showed up to thoroughly enthrall me. For real. I got off on the part where the troops were allowed to swing their arms. And Avril Lavigne dropped by to screech, twice. Is she still pretending to be even slightly associated with punk? I’m not sure the sparkly pink microphone and complimentary Dancing With the Stars laser show helped her case. And finally, Sabrina and Mark returned to perform an exhibitionful of hearty lifts, gymnastics, and professional dance moves that basically served to remind everyone exactly why they went home in the first place. That dance was like a garbage pizza I wasn’t really hungry for and certainly never ordered, plus an oil-stained receipt and an extraneous six-pack of the new Michelob Ultra Tuscan Orange Grapefruit. Wait, I’ll take the fake booze.

Pillow fight!

Then came a pretty useless segment wherein entertainment-news pundits told us why we should tune in to a show we were already watching. It was nice to see Tom Bergeron get major props as ”the best live host” on TV. I just can’t believe the producers didn’t call me. I could have delivered a dramatic reading of the ever-important Fringe vs. Sequins count I’ve been furtively keeping all season. Now no one will ever know. And everyone will continue to not care!

Okay, I’ll see you guys at Marie’s house for Thanksgiving, or on Tuesday morning to recap the last performance show of the season. Till then, tell us what you think. Did Jennie deserve to go home before the finals? And which dancer has the most to prove next week?

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Dancing With the Stars

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