Cristian de la Fuente's arm injury requires emergency treatment, Kristi Yamaguchi takes a few spins in the rink, and the judges continue to freeze out Mario
Christian Cheryl

”Dancing” recap: Injured player

We can all probably agree that this isn’t the best season of Dancing With the Stars ever. Every time Tom shouts out a superlative at the beginning of the show — this week: ”the most competitive cast ever!” — you just have to laugh. It’s a show that’s so reliably crazy — even if nothing exciting happens — that its eventual midseason plateau of mediocrity isn’t even annoying because it’s just so familiar.

Season 6, week 7, and things were just as they’ve always been. Samantha opened the show by explaining that since the contestants must perform a Latin and a ballroom dance, they each had ”twice the chance to falter.” (I cracked up, rewound, and repeated. Thrice.) DANCMSTR quipped that sitting near Bruno is like being in a ”home for the bewildered,” and all of us at home are thinking, Is that not your permanent address? A new word, ”rumbango,” was coined and immediately forgotten. One contestant said, when asked about her prosthetic butt, ”I have fake everywhere.” Because of course she does, and why wouldn’t she be wearing a prosthetic butt? She is a Star, after all.

If there’s one trend in season 6, it’s injuries — the kind that at first seem debilitating but turn out to be minor. At least let’s hope that’s the case with poor Cristián’s arm, which cramped up in the middle of his samba with Cheryl, causing him to drop her on the ground like a ton of tiered, ruffled feathers, and even prompted its own commercial break. We’ll find out if the great Chilean sea bass of a man is still danceable at tonight’s elimination show; in the meantime, here’s how the final six fared with their double dances. (Or, if I were a DWTS writer scripting lines for Samantha, ”Here’s a recap of how these six losers almost choked.”)

Jason Taylor and Edyta: 55 out of a possible 60 points This was a huge comeback week for Jason! At least that’s what ABC wants us to think. At the beginning of Jason’s first package, Tom’s voice-over said, ”Former favorite Jason plummeted down the leader board,” complete with an animated graphic of just how far Jason had fallen that one week. The judges’ adoration of Mr. NFL came back in full force tonight. For the quickstep, Edyta’s choreography relied heavily on gimmicks, like Jason leaping (seen it), Jason tossing a prop stack of papers into a non-breeze to the delight of the judges (wow?), and Jason falling onto Edyta horizontally after performing a handstand (this was admittedly impressive and also hot). My favorite sequence, though, involved Jason’s solo high kick and Jason’s smiley jazz hands. All of this ”posing” — a habit that fellow choice cut of beef DANCMSTR can certainly relate to — distracted from the way Jason and Edyta’s footwork wasn’t quite matching up throughout the dance. Oh, well — he got a ”Tehhhhhn!” anyway. Two of ’em. Later, Edyta, who suffered a mental lapse this week and thinks it’s still midway through season 5, took Jason on a magic capelet ride through a paso doble set to the Monday Night Football theme song. I’m sure a lot of people will complain about how this paso was just like Edyta and Cameron Mathison’s ”Superman” one, right down to Jason’s knee walk and right-on-the-beat dramatic poses. Yes, it was a total joke, but at least I chuckled. Well, on the inside, I chuckled. On the surface, I just gaped.

NEXT: Kristi goes skating!

Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark: 54/60 First of all, Kristi and Mark finally did a rehearsal package on the ice. I flipped out just seeing her twirl around out there. (My sister even messaged me: ”kristi on ice – aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! memories!!!” As if DWTS didn’t dumb us down enough, we felt the need to become 12 again.) During their first dance, the Viennese waltz, it was difficult to focus on anything except the enormous prop (sequined!) umbrella and Mark’s inexplicable naval uniform. But I actually think they somehow made it work. Mark knows he doesn’t need to use props to distract from Kristi’s limitations (because she has zero), and he knows the judges know that, too. So I found the strange story line pretty cunning in a ”why not” sort of way. Their final pose, getting cozy behind the umbrella, reminded me of (nerd alert!) Allison and Ivan’s ”Sexy Love” hip-hop number on So You Think You Can Dance. Later, Kristi donned forest green fringe while Mark stomped around the floor in a sparkly shirt/robe for their cha-cha, or what DANCMSTR disapprovingly called ”that boogaloo hip-hop dance.” The hip-hop moves were minimal, and not even that hip-hop, though that didn’t stop former Fly Girl Carrie Ann from awarding Kristi two snaps above the head — and then revising the snap count to three. Tom’s inordinately high kick, right after Bruno’s comments to Kristi and Mark, is worth a rewind here. The man’s been stretching!

Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony: 52/60 Marissa had to play ”passionate” this week with the tango and the rumba — and once she got over the insecurity hump about possibly not being able to ”bring sexy back,” she turned in two of her best dances to date. I’m surprised she’s still around, to be honest, but this lady is growing on me, if only because she’s the last remaining contestant who’s still delighted when she receives a 9. I found Marissa and Tony’s rumba to be, as DANCMSTR said, ”a little careful,” but then I always think that about the rumbas. Bruno wanted it ”a little dirty….You could have pushed a little bit more on the sex.” (What a keen lovemaking tip from Bruno!) I loved both Marissa’s and Tony’s costumes for the tango — Marissa’s floor-length, black-lace-over-hot-pink gown was her most flattering outfit, and the way it fluttered about in the breeze when she twirled made the accompanying moves look all the more impressive. DANCMSTR had three words for Marissa’s tango: ”Your. Best. Dance.” And Carrie Ann gave Marissa the ultimate we’re-rooting-for-you speech, insisting that someone like Marissa is ”what this competition is all about.” I feel like C.A. says that every week, and it’s usually about, like, some guy’s ass. Oh, well. Carrie on….

Mario and Karina: 51/60 The judges have consistently avoided giving Mario an outpouring of solid encouragement, not to mention the high scores he deserves. His mambo was my favorite dance of the night, just because how many people can pull off those blinding white pants? (I know, I know, the other Mario. I know. But those were so November 2006, okay?) Mario 2.0 (his actual last name is Barrett! Yessssss!) had to learn an extra set of choreography for his new music video and basically admitted to sort of giving up on the fox-trot during rehearsal footage and after the dance itself. I’m a moron about dancing, but I still thought that first dance was pretty good. The judges said it wasn’t elegant (DANCMSTR) and lacked control (Bruno). Carrie Ann then gave the sort of constructive criticism only she knows how to concoct: ”Next week, I need you to be a little stiffer.” Actually, that wasn’t fair to Carrie Ann. Any judge would’ve said that. And all three really dug Mario’s excellent mambo — the dance he was truly excited about this week. DANCMSTR called Mario’s mambo ”wacky, wild, and wonderful,” and all I could think about after he said that was that the comment was possibly a subliminal advertisement for the World Wide Web. Who’s bewildered now? (You?)

Shannon Elizabeth and Derek: 51/60 I’m just going to ignore the whole showmance/personal element of Shannon and Derek’s packages because they’re beginning to annoy me so much. The dances are what should matter, and I thought both of this pair’s dances were pretty awful. I was shocked when the judges claimed to have enjoyed that clompy tango. Shannon’s tendency to seem like she’s being propped up by her partner was underscored by the fast footwork and her remaining constantly in hold; what’s more, the song they danced to seemed like the accompaniment to a creepy toy store coming to life at night. No offense to the band (I guess?), because I get that the song was supposed to be traditional tango music. But when it slowed down at the end, my suspicion — that the music was following the trajectory of a hypothetical windup doll on a 90-second wild ride of human simulation — was confirmed. In this dance, Shannon seemed more wonky and doll-like than Marie Osmond during her season 5 freestyle nosedive. In my mind, Shannon has reemerged as a new wood- and fabric-based species. I shall call her…Shannequin. Then, later, came the pair’s woefully misguided mambo, during which both dancers ”seduced” the judges on or near the table. ”Ain’t nothin’ wrong with this?” the accompanying lyric asked. Hmm. When Derek’s (closed) crotch and (open) chest end up directly above Bruno’s face, and Shannequin ends up writhing directly below DANCMSTR and caressing his face, I beg to differ. The scenario is simply not fair to Carrie Ann.

NEXT: Cristián cramps up

Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl: 46/60 Cristián was on his way to having a pretty decent night before his arm cramped up in the middle of his second dance, the samba. On a replay, you can see the point at which he can’t use his right arm anymore — he dips Cheryl down on his right, then when he flings her out, it doesn’t work and she just sort of stumbles off to the side. I hated watching Cristián after that dance, because he was so clearly devastated — his simple lament of ”live television” said it all, much like Tom’s wise, sweeping statement of the night: ”Change is one of the eternal things.” Until that point, Cristián really seemed to be in a good groove this week. Even his rehearsal package was his cutest to date, as it featured his daughter Laura, who speaks in Spanish and lives in a playhouse. (In fact, I feel so sorry for Cristián I won’t even mention how he dedicated a dance set to ”I’ll Make Love to You” to his daughter. Oh, too late.) His waltz lacked content, according to DANCMSTR, but Bruno remarked on Cristián’s ”twinkling bedroom eyes” (seriously, how does Bruno get away with this shiz every week?), so all was well. (I totally love it.) And I loved how Cheryl playfully slapped Tom after he pointed out the four ”most talked-about stars” from last week, who were sitting backstage, naturally pretending to look pretend-natural.

This ”random” pan of the audience wasn’t exactly hidden, but…

It’s a Becki Newton-Marlee Matlin ABC extra-value meal, and it’s brilliant. We need Amanda on DWTS (paired with Maksim, please), and we need Marlee to do a guest spot on Ugly Betty, stat! She can play an undercover cop specializing in narcotics the next time someone at Mode can’t kick a nasty skiing habit. You know it’s coming….

What do you think? Will Cristián’s injury cost him his spot in the competition? Do you think Mario and Jason are being scored fairly? Will Marissa continue to improve or plateau? And which is more likely to occur tonight: Pyromania or Hysteria?

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