Tonight's performance did the impossible – it delivered a more serious dose of WTF than usual
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Aaron
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC
JENNA JOHNSON, ADAM RIPPON

Monday night’s Top 14 performance episode offered us a full-on Dancing With the Stars: Bizarro World. I know, I know: The concept seems redundant to the point of impossibility. If you’d told me, ”Annie, there is such a thing as a DWTS Bizarro World” before last night, I would have been all ”Shut yo mouth and slap Tom Bergeron on the ass!” But it’s true. Not only was our grumpy British DANCMSTR suddenly replaced by a charming Australian film director whose heart was beating boom for all the contestants equally, but Animal the Muppet wailed on the drums for one lucky couple! And then Gonzo pecked at Bruno with his trumpet. And then one Tom called another Tom ”the rollicking right-winger” and I kind of blacked out for a few seconds. Even the show’s opening staircase pageantry delivered a more serious dose of WTF than usual. From Anna’s sheer black bodysuit, to Mark and Clarissa’s matching red polka dot tragedies, to Kym’s entire flouncy getup, to the final shot of Kelly Osbourne making little devil horns with her uncomfortable fingers, you’d think you were watching a reality show from an alternate universe. And — as always — you were.

By the way, DANCMSTRs: Apologies for today’s uncharacteristically late publish — we had a slight editorial mixup this morning

Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff: 27 out of possible 30 In what will surely be known as Muppetgate for the rest of the season or maybe not at all, Disney randomly decided to remind everyone that they own the Muppets, and the former boy-bander (”Kermit”) and his sharp-tongued, bossy partner (”Miss Piggy”) got a golden ticket worth a bazillion votes. The gimmick didn’t really work, because Aaron’s not entirely sheepish and lovable, and Karina’s not fat. Not to mention it just made no sense whatsoever. Still, Muppets! Animal vs. Harold Wheeler! You have to love that about a quickstep. Or do you?

Mya and Dmitry Chaplin: 27/30 In this case, the judges’ liberal use of the 9 paddle made much more sense. Bruno likened tap dancer Mya and four-eyed Dmitry to ”Josephine Baker and Clark Kent,” then added ”You can pump that jive!” so that his critique would contain that crucial element of sexual charge. Mya seems like a natural out there, probably because she is one. Also, let’s hear it for the boy! Dmitry was workin’ the high performance and story line to impress Baz. Brilliant strategy. All of the dances were shorter than usual last night, but this one most left us wanting a few more seconds.

Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson: 25/30 I don’t know why Donny’s being such a drama queen about his age — people much older than 51 have met sweet success on Planet Mirrorballus without the benefit of association with the magic word ”Osmond.” He expressed desire to ”dance like a 15-year-old” before rolling over and whimpering ”Mommy” to Kym during rehearsal. The rapidly aging Donny definitely kept up with Kym during their ”Secret Agent Man” jive. It’s a good thing her go-go boots had special knee flaps for extra coverage; if not for those, we might have noticed she was barely wearing a ”skirt.”

Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo: 21/30 Natalie is used to holding her breath during her day-to-day life, which up until now has apparently taken place entirely underwater. So she had a lofty goal for the quickstep: ”I want to prove that I can breathe.” Cue a breathless Samantha backstage: ”I have to ask, did you breathe???” All signs point to yes. The judges have faith in her and when she was confident in certain sequences, Natalie looked great. I liked Bruno’s critique: ”There is an incredible buzz in this room tonight. I can feel it and you’re part of it. HA HA HA! Ha ha!” No one had a clue. It happens.

NEXT PAGE: Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy tackle the tango

Mark Dacascos and Lacey Schwimmer: 21/30 This pair’s quickstep felt especially short because Mark and Lacey started out with a bit of ”audience play” that certainly would not have been DANCMSTR’s cheese roll and a cup of tea. Mark slipped up, but made a full recovery in time to dance explosively. He even retained the hold during and after the giant leap he thought (in rehearsal) he’d be performing solo. I keep expecting/wanting Mark to have knives in his hands and then getting a little scared. The fur tail sprouting out of Lacey’s shoulder may have something to do with that.

Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 21/30 Oh, no — underneath Debi’s tough persona lies a vulnerable person who’s trying her hardest and would prefer not to be badgered. The nerve of this woman! She may need to slap Maks a little harder next time during rehearsal, especially since his response to her light swat was: ”Good.” I was a bigger fan of Debi’s clip-on bangs and tulle hairpiece than the creepy Moulin Rouge arrangement of ”Roxanne,” but to each her own; I know some people love that song. After the pair’s shaky-at-times tango, Carrie Ann confirmed Debi’s suspicion that her arms are extra-long and therefore ”funky.” Baz Luhrmann also confirmed here that his favorite word is ”fantastic.”

Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova: 20/30 Michael and Anna each felt they’d let the other down last week, which was kind of sad until it completely paid off in a lively quickstep. I’m loving his attitude this week, especially his big point to the camera and thumbs up at the end. It’s refreshing that the huge jock doesn’t have ”Weeks 1-5 Masculinity Issues Syndrome” this season. I enjoyed Michael so much, in fact, that the fact that his and Anna’s two hideous shades of pink clashed more loudly than singer Carmen Carter’s bejeweled headpiece struck me as a fun and memorable feature of their segment. Watch the tongue, warned Baz. ”You did a good job in the field today. There’s no grass, but you did it well,” said…well, guess who.

Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough: 20/30 They went first, which is hard and might make them easily forgettable. ”In your dreams, Barrett!” screamed the possibly live creature underneath Joanna’s ridiculous, 12-foot-long weave. She almost needed bridesmaids to help guide that thing around (with surgical gloves). This thing you might find at the local dump featured both tightly crimped sections and random, looser squiggles, and was topped off by a ”tube” of real hair through which I was dying to stick a ”0” paddle, if such a paddle existed. I think Derek was there, too, and that they danced the jive. The judges want to see less spastic footwork next time, and more of a connection. She may need more hair.

Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas: 19/30 Clarissa seemed more at ease this week than last, though to be honest Mark commanded a lot more of my attention during their jive with his rubber-band-like quality of movement and my sneaking suspicion that he’s used the same Minnie Mouse-esque costumes and choreography like 700 times. Tom even called him out on ”shopping at Neverland again” with the sparkly disco ball socks. It’s sort of entertaining how bad Clarissa is during rehearsal, and I certainly thought she looked better during the live show. I just wonder how much of that is due to Mark and the costumes. Somebody, anybody: Explain It All!

Chuck Liddell and Anna Tre-BUN-skaya: 19/30 Did Anna re-dye her hair? It looked crazy orange. The pair’s aggressive routine suited Chuck, who was sporting fresh scalp tats on both sides of his noggin in an effort to connect with the spirit of the tango. I spotted some Mark Ballas guppy-mouth action on Chuck during one of his transitions — which was both hilarious and a good thing; in a way, when a contestant falls into that habit, it’s like you know he’s executing the move correctly. At the end of their tango, Anna was so moved by Chuck’s newfound intensity that she ripped open his jacket. He had suspenders on and is very meaty!

Kelly Osbourne and Louis Van Amstel: 19/30 What I like about Kelly is that she wears the hairpieces you think are reserved strictly for the televised ballroom — giant black, sequined bows the size of half her skull, for example — during everyday rehearsal. To put this in perspective, though, anything would be better than the insane braided wig she ended up wearing for the tango. Kelly just fell apart after thinking too hard about her first few steps in the routine. ”I lost it, I panicked,” she said backstage, clearly disappointed. It’s quite the departure from her more confident — and, I assumed at the time, carefree — attitude last week. I hope she doesn’t end up living in her head all season, because it’s supposed to be fun and Louis Van Intensity has…well, that not-so-clever nickname I’ve awarded him. The makeup department really doesn’t like that rectangular tattoo on Kelly’s forearm.

NEXT PAGE: Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower make the crowd go nuts

Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower: 19/30 More inexplicable costumes: Louie was swimming in a jacket seemingly intended for Michael Irvin, while Chelsie and her sassy blazer seemed to be on their way to a special DWTS-related office job. Is she a temp or something? Did the graphics department hire her to add a nausea-inducing ”shake effect” to the leaderboard this week? (Did anyone else notice that, by the way? STOP SWAYING THE ALL-IMPORTANT JUDGES LEADERBOARD, SHOW.) Chelsie may have short-changed Louie in terms of content here — a snowboarding flip we already know he can do and the leg-as-guitar motif do not an expert jive make, OfficeMate. But despite the lower scores, the judges seemed to be pretty excited for Louie as a contestant, and the crowd was definitely going nuts. He did lose touch with the music at some points, but I actually think he has a good sense of rhythm with all the sliding, falling to the floor, sidling up to Chelsie, etc. I like this guy and his insistence on giving his hair a fresh muss before walking over to Tom.

Tom DeLay and Cheryl Burke: 18/30 Tom kind of lost his footing at the end of their well-intentioned tango and nearly dropped Cheryl to the ground. I remember Carrie Ann saying ”Ya gotta squeeze them together, sir,” and a somewhat horrifying flash of ”Carrie Ann is definitely referring to Tom DeLay’s butt cheeks right now don’t think about it don’t think about it.” Too late. I have to say, Tom DeLay is kind of working it out. I’ll go ahead and give most of the credit to Cheryl, who always makes her partner look his best no matter who he is. By the way, that frothy light teal number on Cheryl = best dress of the night. DeLay is having trouble with a foot injury, specifically his toes. Maybe he has Hammer toes! HA HA HA! Ha ha!

Kathy Ireland and Tony Dovolani: 18/30 Kathy continues to treat DWTS like a late-night infomercial of which she is the host. ”There’s only one place you can go from the trenches, and that’s up!” she claimed during her rehearsal package. If I’m not mistaken, you can also roll over and die in the trench because you refuse to ease into a closer hold with your ballroom dancing partner on TV. I’m still not sure if the lack of closeness is Tony’s fault, Kathy’s fault, or her height’s fault, to be honest, but Tony’s ”I’m trying!” seemed pretty exasperated. ”Allow her to express herself; that’s your job,” Bruno reminded Tony. I’m just not sure she wants to express herself in this particular way. Hmmm. What would Jesus do?

Okay, DANCMSTRs, it’s been a long, strange performance night and there are still way too many couples in this thing. Did you notice the shaky leaderboard or was I just tripping? Let me know what you thought of DWTS: Bizarro World, and who you think is going home tonight, in the comments!

Oh, and check out the ‘Sound Bites’ video embedded below — I am the host, and there’s a clip from last week’s DWTS. A new ‘Sound Bites’ will go up on EW.com every Friday.

Follow Annie on Twitter: (@EWAnnieBarrett)

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JENNA JOHNSON, ADAM RIPPON
Dancing With the Stars
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