Too early in the season, the celebrities have to perform two of the most difficult dances: the rumba and the paso doble
Lance Bass
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: Premature paso

Paso night. Already?! Usually I need a few weeks to mentally and emotionally prepare for the high-quality HD pleasure of seeing half the Dancing With the Stars contestants sheathed in spangly pleather. I consider a lengthy list of factors, including but not limited to butt size, general stage presence, and those mysterious things the judges call ”lines.” I don’t even have to know what lines are to know that they’re important to the paso. I’m kidding. I know what lines are. You better not cross ’em! (What?)

Since the paso and the rumba are the two most difficult DWTS dances to really sell, I’d have much preferred it if paso-rumba night had fallen a little later — you know, after the celebs had somewhat shed that freaked-out ”Holy s—, I’m ballroom dancing” vibe out of their systems. After all, as the ever-vocab-generating Tom pointed out to Warren Sapp, ”It’s hard to be spandextrous.” Then again, why wait? If Warren’s that proud of his sequined pleather bathrobe on week 2, I wouldn’t want to deny him the (apparently sexual) pleasure of such a costume for another second. And for a few pairs, the dances actually worked — along with Brooke, the big ol’ Sapp finished the night on top. Here we go….

Warren Sapp and Kym: 24 out of possible 30 After a long 90 minutes of so-so, unconfident performances, Warren and Kym’s Matrix-style paso was just the red pill I wanted to swallow. In fact, I wish these two could have stopped time and fixed the little flaws in the matrix of the entire episode. They could have avoided their own pleather-induced wardrobe malfunction, not to mention dosed Misty with a muscle relaxer and deleted Kim Kardashian altogether. You know, just the essentials.

Brooke Burke and Derek: 24/30 Brooke did appear hyper-focused on every single move during her paso doble, but given the ridiculous time constraints and difficulty of the week, everyone who looked terrified deserves a pass. I loved watching Brooke and Derek when the camera caught both of their full bodies — especially the dramatic skirt and cape work Derek threw in. Not to mention, they both looked so damn hot. Carrie Ann complained about their lack of connection, but all three judges raved about Brooke’s technique. And I’m with Tom: That music made me want to buy jewelry, too. ”I’m in the market for a necklace. Do you have anything in fringe?”

Toni Braxton and Alec: 23/30 Turn down the lights, turn down the bed, turn down these voices inside my head that tell me it’s okay to keep focusing on Toni’s ”outtie” belly button instead of her rumba technique! Whew! Now that that’s ”out” of the way, I thought Toni and Alec’s rumba had the most chemistry tonight, even if Toni herself is a bit forgettable in person. We’ll see if she makes more of an impression when (if!) she doesn’t perform first. I love seeing Alec back in competition mode after so many early exits in past seasons. His karaoke performance, though awful, did delight me in being so supremely awful that it’s replaced my own version of ”I Am the Walrus” as my new ”low” standard for the non-sport. Side note: Hi, Edyta! XOXO.

NEXT: Superman returns!

Susan Lucci and Tony: 21/30 Well, whaddya know — as soon as Susan presented her east vs. west time-crunch dilemma, I thought, ”Hmmm…shades of Cameron Mathison…” and then suddenly we’re right outside the All My Children-sponsored office door of ”Mr. Mathison” himself! Cameron offered Susan some helpful advice in the form of one giant monotone run-on sentence; he then flew away to go leap tall buildings in a single bound. For the rumba, Susan went all hippie chic on us with some sparkly forehead jewel piece. (Who does she think she is, the singer in the Harold Wheeler Ensemble who refuses to appear in public without one?) I really liked this dance; Tony choreographed it slow and steady, but it showcased balance and strength I didn’t know Susan had, and maybe that’s all we can and should expect from such a difficult dance on week 2, for heaven’s sake.

Cody Linley and Julianne: 21/30 If Susan and Tony’s composed rumba was the ”cool down” portion of an instructional rumba workout DVD, Cody and Julianne’s whip-fast ”Bleeding Love” number would have been the part where the exerciser really sweats (or in my case, mentally checks out and eats a pudding cup on the sofa). Still, it was really only Julianne who stole the show. I couldn’t stop squinting at Cody’s lace-up tunic, which made him look even younger than 18. I kept thinking he might plop down under a tree with his lute to sweetly recite a pastoral ode rather than finish out the dance with a beaming blonde on his lap.

Misty May-Treanor and Maks: 21/30 If Misty’s volleyball coach had known how difficult Maks’ choreography for a week 2 paso doble would be, he might not have been so confident in his advice: ”Work her hard; she’ll be ready.” The master sandcrawler certainly wasn’t ready for that complicated performance, and it didn’t help that their very sexy leather garb recalled Mel and Maks’ exemplary ”Free Your Mind” paso from season 5. Misty showed some surprising vulnerability when she confessed to the camera that she wanted to cry, and you could tell Maks really did feel horrible about pushing her too hard. Come on, cubicle buddy — don’t give a girl a complex, especially when she can kick as high as you can. Ease up!

Lance Bass and Lacey: 20/30 We’ve finally found the one thing that pushes the ”traditional gender roles” envelope even less than Katy Perry’s ridiculously trite song ”I Kissed a Girl”: Lance and Lacey dancing the paso doble to said song. Their entire segment was an endless series of exclamation points with no meaning attached. Lacey wore bright pink! For a paso! So edgy! And they made out at the end! But wait — Lance is gay! What is happening! All the rules are just flyin’ out the window! Anyone can kiss anyone else! Live free or die hard! I’m exhausted just typing about it. To be fair, I didn’t really mind the dance itself — it was all the posturing and mugging done purely for effect that got to me. For what it was, at least to my easily amused perception, the dance seemed well executed. Problem is, it wasn’t really a paso doble, according to the judges (mostly DANCMSTR) and anyone with eyes.

NEXT: Slow Mo

Maurice Green and Cheryl: 19/30 Even though I agreed with the judges’ criticism of Maurice’s rumba, I don’t think he was worse than the couples who scored 21s. Carrie Ann’s comment about always feeling like there was ”an explosion about to happen” with Maurice made the most sense to me. Maybe I’m just used to Cheryl really bringing that energy out of her partners, but I too keep waiting for a big ”bam!” moment in Mo’s dances that never comes. Hopefully, he’s got plenty of time to prove her wrong — he was one of the few men with even the slightest hip action last night and shouldn’t have been knocked down on the basis that a guy like him ”should know what to do, especially with a girl like that.” I hate when the judges objectify their own pros out loud. That’s for us viewers to do silently, within the comfort of our own imaginations. Duh.

Rocco DiSpirito and Karina: 16/30 I still want to get behind ”Team DiSpirnoff,” if not just for that moniker, then definitely for the partnership’s tendency to incorporate food metaphors and actual food into their rehearsal segments. In fact, even if Rocco is voted off this week, I say he should do a guest segment in future weeks comparing a certain dance to a certain dish. Karina could sit on the countertop rolling her eyes. It would show each of their greatest talents, and we wouldn’t have to sit through Chef Ballroomdee lurching around the floor. Judging from last week, he’ll do better in next week’s fast dance than this week’s slow one, so fingers crossed. I need to find out why a samba is just like a flaming slab of spicy cheese. Though I guess that one’s really easy. Hey, maybe I should do those segments.

Kim Kardashian and Mark: 16/30 I would say, ”Dear [Religion-Unspecific Ballroom Deity], put this woman out of her misery,” but I’m not sure Kim even knows what misery is. So just put us viewers out, Ballroom Deity, okay? Kim’s contributing nothing to this show — and if we count that halfhearted visit to Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin at her creepy studio, less than nothing. (Favorite thing Robin said: ”Um…no,” in response to Kim’s heinous attempt at a sexy walk. Least favorite thing: ”Use your hair in the choreography.” Oh my God disgusting.) DANCMSTR would be happy to see Kim stay, but I think if we all pitched in for a wax mold of her ass to be delivered to his house with a cheese roll and a cup of tea, he’d be even happier. So, uh, let’s do that?

Cloris Leachman and Corky: 15/30 A much more subdued Cloris (at least onstage; for some real kicks, play it back and watch her grope the thighs of various male pros backstage) danced the paso doble with Corky. The brunet wig was just weird and sad and made her look like a wayward extra in The Nutcracker — but like a doll version of a person playing a wayward extra, because did you see those silly doll shoes? None of this makes any sense, but considering the source, I think that’s only apt. Anyway, Kim should definitely leave before Cloris, if only because Cloris is actually trying. And DANCMSTR liked her solo spins!

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