Brooke continues to dominate, but this week Cloris decides she actually does want to compete
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: Don’t call it a comeback

Whoa — major twist alert! Not only did Cloris Leachman get a leg up (so to speak…such a sundial, that one) on Rocco DiSpirito from the judges, but we found out all the couples will engage in one of four new dances on Monday night. The hustle, the jitterbug, salsa, and West Coast swing are all up for grabs. Oh, there will be grabbing.

The fact that some of those new dances might therefore cross the line into ”novelty” makes me a bit weary. I must have missed the part of the series when the original dances became boring. Or was it week 4 of the lackluster season 7 of Dancing With the Stars? You can weigh in on that in the comments section below; meanwhile, let’s get goin’ on the ”judges’ leaderboard.” Keep in mind the dancers are ranked by a composite of last week‘s and this week’s scores. Let’s do this. Oh, and in honor of Bruno Tonioli — one of the 15 Reasons I’m a ‘Dancing’ Fool, who must surely be on his fourth pack of post-recital smokes by now — let’s make our Tuesday morning ”raunchy with a capital rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr,” shall we?

Brooke Burke and Derek: 54 out of possible 60 (26 out of possible 30 this week) Like DANCMSTR, I’d have preferred if Derek had ditched the nerd glasses sooner, and when I say ”sooner,” I mean ”initially.” Other than that, Brooke and Derek’s samba ruled the night. The spoken-word song — ”Hip Hip Chin Chin,” incidentally the same song Lacey danced the samba to on So You Think You Can Dance — made the performance almost seem cinematic. For some creepy reason, I’m picturing Brooke busting out the sparkly yellow fringe in the middle of Audrey Hepburn’s oddball dance in the beatnik lounge in Funny Face. It’s more than a little horrifying. I do wonder if the judges consistently rank Brooke as the best in part because they know she’s getting very few popular votes. Then again, Brooke is the best, and so hot that Bruno needed a smoke. (Though I’m pretty sure every commercial break prompts the same reaction out of that guy.)

Lance Bass and Lacey: 48/60 (26) Immediate and also most important reaction to their segment: Lance was wearing more eyeliner than Carrie Ann this week. Their tango was nowhere near as tough to accomplish as that! Lance wanted to add some of his personal ”flavor” to the tango, which evidently resulted in the aping of the lifeless-puppet motif of ‘N Sync’s ”No Strings Attached” tour. I actually found this stunt pretty effective and by no means overkill — as Bruno put it, ”quirky with a gothic twist and yet always a tango.” If they’d just reeled in their wagging tongues a bit more (, I might have loved it. But we all know the best part of Lance’s segment was when Bruno called Carrie Ann ”Paula Abdul.” Heavens to Misty, that’s like the sequin calling the fringe tacky. The only thing more hypocritical would be if Carrie Ann scored Cloris Leachman two points higher than Rocco DiSpirito. Keep reading.

NEXT: The return of Erica Kane

Warren Sapp and Kym: 47/60 (22) Warren didn’t even need to dance to completely delight me last night — that brown-based vest festooned with multicolored sequins will absolutely be featured in one of my better upcoming dreams, give or take the Warren. His and Kym’s samba was pure fun, and even though DANCMSTR disliked all the gyrations and Bruno thought the ol’ Sapp ”took it on a little bit too easy,” I was a bit awestruck by Warren’s heightened sense of (overused DWTS word alert) musicality throughout. Even if he’s behind on a step — and it definitely happens, Warren always hits the beat, and you can tell he really gets the rhythm even when he’s just shuffling around. If that’s not convincing enough, may I remind you this is a 300-pound beast of a man who can do a handstand almost as graceful as Julianne’s?

Susan Lucci and Tony: 45/60 (24) Hands down, the best part of week 4 (and possibly the entire season) was Tony’s split-second cameo on All My Children as Heavily Bruised Guy on Crutches. That bit was absolutely hysterical, and even funnier considering Tony’s BFF Maks also made an AMC appearance this winter that spanned almost 10 minutes and involved him somewhat abruptly teaching a gaggle of women how to pole-dance. I guess I’m just on a rare Tony high, but I honestly can’t decide which clip is funnier. As for Tony and Susan’s tango, they really beat that Erica Kane theme into the faulty patch of the ballroom floor, huh? For me, Susan’s teeth-gritting expression said less ”I’m Erica Kane, don’t f— with me” and more ”Erica Kane can’t believe she has to perform this tango right now.” (Of course, this wasn’t intentional. It’s just how I saw it. I wish it wasn’t!) I still find Susan’s well-intentioned moves precise, but too dainty. But the judges adored her, and I adored her completely gracious reaction to their comments. What a sweetheart.

Toni Braxton and Alec: 44/60 (22) I realized something important last night: I love everything about Alec Mazo. The quietness. The hotness. The hip jerks in the middle of the samba that I am seriously going to record off my DVR and convert into a looping screensaver. (See ya, Maks saying ”Let’s clench our butt” on the DWTS Cardio Dance workout DVD! JUST KIDDING.) And last night, most of all, Alec’s samba choreography, which I thought really highlighted his and Toni’s partnership instead of just one dancer. I was even able to watch the routine multiple times without ever focusing too long on one or the other. It’s not a huge deal, but dances that work in both parties’ favors can be hard to come by on this show. Oh, fine, maybe I’m just way too obsessed right now with Alec’s backward split through Toni’s legs at the end of the dance. You got me.

NEXT: Cloris tangos her way into the competition

Cody Linley and Julianne: 44/60 (22) Instead of a family visit, Cody got to reconnect with his high school principal, Mrs. Ingram, through a computer. (Gee, you think that was an Apple?) This was ridiculous, but at least we got the inside scoop that Cody used to troll his high school hallways, late for everything, with a muffin in his hand. I personally find him so much more relatable now. Cody and Julianne’s tango was not very passionate, aggressive, or explosive, but I actually liked how contained it was on the whole because it showed that Cody can turn off the spastic vibe when he needs to. (Kind of. After last night, I’m wondering if it’s an extreme lack of balance that causes Cody to always appear so generally out of sorts.) Bruno loved the lack of gimmicks in their tango (Objection: Did he not see Julianne’s pants? Overruled) and DANCMSTR called the tango Cody’s best dance so far.

Maurice Greene and Cheryl: 44/60 (20) Somewhat embarrassing: I had to award Fringe triple points for Cheryl’s thrice-occurring feathery goodness on that atrocious black and red pantsuit of hers. Very embarrassing: It didn’t occur to me that Cheryl was also wearing a wig until after their samba was over. Loved the cheesy, dimly lit opening poses, but I think the most ”party”-like part of that performance was Maurice and Cheryl’s crazy costuming. The judges complained about a lack of precision and refinement; Carrie Ann said Mo had ”gone back to free-form” amidst one of her billion ”It’s week 4 and that was just NOT ENOUGH!” rants. I still love how much Mo seems to genuinely enjoy getting into character, but an Afro wig and a few convincingly uttered ”dynomite”s might not be enough to keep him around.

Rocco DiSpirito and Karina: 38/50 (18) Perhaps the judges were too blinded by Rocco’s rose-hued Big Bird sleeves to notice they’d just scored the well-intentioned chef four points below Cloris. I know I’d lost all sense of good judgment myself, because I actually found Rocco and Karina’s samba pretty fun. Sure, the guy has no sense of rhythm, but his partner is Karina and can’t you just watch her instead? No? Oh, well. If Cloris’ week 4 comeback resonates with enough viewers, Rocco will probably go home tonight. Side note: Am I the only one who finds Mama Rocco kind of terrifying? It would have helped if she’d shown up to rehearsal while balancing a tray of her famous meatballs on her head. No musicality required!

Clorky: 38/50 (22) Even though her tango filled me with an inexplicable dread about every 10 seconds, I have to just say I’m really proud of Cloris Leachman the TV character this week. Like DANCMSTR, I wouldn’t have believed this dance was possible if I hadn’t seen it, based on the combination of Cloris’ easily (and often intentionally) distracted nature and Corky’s overwhelmingly bogus choreographic skills that for three weeks pandered to a ”Silly Cloris”-craving audience. I loved that she focused during rehearsal; I loved that she barked at Corky to ”do it again!” after he showed off a move she didn’t yet understand; I loved that the editing of said rehearsal suggested not a single unnecessary antic. I’m sure many people prefer the goofy, ridiculous Cloris who pops up in the judges’ faces outside of the two-minute performance window, but I’m so glad that just once, she really committed. Definitely not worth a 22. But you know what? Let her have it. (Now who’s hypocritical? Sequin, meet fringe.)

What do you think, dance masters? Is Brooke as technically fab as the judges seem to think? Isn’t Bruno usually the Paula Abdul of the crew? And will Rocco, Cloris, or a shocking other star get the boot tonight?

Episode Recaps

Dancing With the Stars
  • TV Show
  • 31