TV theme night finds Florence Henderson, Kyle Massey, and Bristol Palin at the bottom of the Judges' Leader Board

By Annie Barrett
Updated October 19, 2010 at 05:12 AM EDT
Bob D'Amico/ABC

Dancing With the Stars

S11 E9
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Welcome back to the ballroom — it’s the critical halfway point of the season! Week 5 was ‘TV Theme Week” on [cue disembodied British voice] Dancing With the Stars. The horror! Remember when this show used to at least pretend to be about ballroom dancing? I have no idea why they’re insisting on these dreadful theme weeks. What I do know, thanks to Twitter, is that the artist formerly known as Tom Bergeron has taken on a new identity: Prince Sparkle!

I’m not gonna put you through any more useless filler — the 30 minutes you endured at the top of tonight’s show was enough. Let’s get right to the all-important JUDGES’ LEADERBOARD…

Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann In-ahhh-ber!

Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 27 out of possible 30 “Are you there for me?” Brandy asked Maks upon learning they’d be dancing a quickstep to the theme from Friends. “Not often…I’m just kidding!” said The Boy With the Giant Lollipop. (He wasn’t.) Brandy’s ability to keep her upper body calm and her lower half fast and furious really impressed Len. Bruno was counting along with such fervor that he broke his pen! “You’re up a whole ‘nother level now,” said Carrie Ann, possibly in reference to Maks’ outrageous hair. Was anyone else aiming a Chandler Bing-esque “Quick! Trade lives with me!” toward the woman seated in the front row beside Maks?

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough: 25/30 This week’s foxtrot was “not complacent, but definitely a bit more chilled out,” according to brunet Derek. Even their costumes were muted — they both looked so earth-toned that I had trouble remembering they were supposed to be on Planet Mirrorballus! You know it’s a mediocre week when Jamie Lee Curtis isn’t hootin’ and hollerin’ after the music ends. Eyeglasses and a closed mouth? Dead giveaway! Of course, their version of mediocre still garnered Jen and Derek a 9 (from Bruno). I have to admit that during the pair’s dramatic blowout during rehearsal footage, I was irrationally intent on the bizarre framed Candy Land stepping stones that peppered the studio’s walls. They’re just framing colors now? Did they run out of glamour shots of the judges? Need I remind the set decorators that Bruno has had a long career wearing speedos in Elton John videos? What? You don’t think this is relevant? So I have to bottle everything in, until I explode all at once?

Moving on.

NEXT: Audrina shows zero emotion. (Nope, this isn’t a repeat of my last four recaps.)

Audrina Patridge and Tony Dovolani: 23/30 Ooh, props for the ornate, old-fashioned lawn chair Audrina was sparklebathing on at the beginning of their rumba. Unfortunately, despite an Edyta-esque pink bikini/robe situation that was sexy as can be, Bruno wasn’t feelin’ it. “I want it pulsating with passion!” he cried. “Don’t be plastic, be fantastic, because you can!” The Hills star’s face flickered slightly in recognition, but she could have just been feeling the rain on her skin. Audrina showed no emotion as usual, but I also noticed this time that her special brand of “half-dancing” may be due just as much to the fact that she never flows seamlessly from one move to the next. Everything was very stop-and-go in this rumba. For example, the one part where both dancers clasp hands but sweep their arms in a wide arc? She just halted! She could be so much better. Oh, and Carrie Ann went all Lift Police on Tony. This again?! Anyway, I mustn’t dwell on Audrina. The rest is still unwritten…

[COLLECTIVE GROAN!]

Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke: 24/30 Cheryl got it exactly right by letting the Hill Street Blues theme song and their sequin-accented police uniforms take care of the dreaded SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY AT ALL COSTS element of the dance. Somehow they managed to make a foxtrot set in a ’70s-era locker room work. Nothing was over-the-top — she could have had Rick be more suggestive with his gun or have him “pat her down” as if she were under arrest; instead we got a keep-’em-guessin’ holster (did I really just write that? yes) and a sensual full-torso-trace. The lyric-less music made this dance much less frantic than the others, and a slower pace really works for Rick. Thanks to reader Jennifer for pointing out the “Cheryl is short” camera angle (courtesy of Rick, Kobe Bryant, and Phil Jackson) to me over Twitter. Anyone else think Nutella spokesman Kobe is gunning for a position in a future season? He was so on top of his DWTS trivia with his disparaging comment about Clyde the Glide!

Kurt Warner and Anna Tre-BUN-skaya (pronunciation endorsed by Tom this week!): 24/30 Like Rick and Cheryl, Kurt and Anna were able to incorporate the TV theme without obstructing the essence of the dance. And Anna didn’t even know about Bewitched! I loved her reaction to Kurt’s description of the series. “The wife is a witch. She wiggles her nose and transforms different things on the show.” Ha! Not a problem — Anna knows a little something about that! And I’m guessing millions more people now know about the two Russian pups who visited outer space, even if we’ll never be able to pronounce their names (Strelka and Belka) as beautifully as the BUN. Bruno congratulated Kurt, “the first Darrin,” on his musicality — this week, he was able to get all “the little twinkling effects.” Aww. Isn’t that what Dancing With the Stars is all about? The little twinkling effects. And boobs. That’s pretty much it.

NEXT: Clown noses, porn ‘staches, and Christmas nightgowns? The horror begins!

Florence Henderson and Corky Ballas: 21/30 Be sure to listen to this week’s EW’s TV Insiders podcast, during which my colleague Michael Slezak got all serious on me in a Dancing With the Stars discussion (!) to suggest that with a better partner who wasn’t intent on turning her into a joke, Mama Brady could be a front-runner in this competition. He was absolutely right. Alas, I’m not sure we can blame this one on Corky’s choreography. Let’s set aside the ridiculous song choice, because obviously the producers had to “go there” with the Brady Bunch theme song. But the Brady Bunch theme song for a TANGO? I cannot imagine a bigger horror show than this. Oh wait, I can — Florence’s Christmas nightgown! Aggghhhhhhh! Nothing worked: the gaping mouths, the bug eyes…well, yeah, basically the choreography. Florence looked like she was humoring Corky the whole time just by attempting each ridiculous step. Bruno’s comparison of her to a rag doll was harsh, but spot-on.

Let’s all reassure Len that he’s a sexy senior. He feels left out!

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer: 20/30 I thought Kyle and Lacey did a superb job with a crazy music choice. Amazingly, they pulled off a foxtrot to the Charlie’s Angels song (even though, as Tom pointed out, Kyle looked like Issac, the bartender from The Love Boat instead). I’m glad the Kyle’s Angels theme allowed for Our Pros Kym and Chelsie to vamp it up in the rehearsal studio, but there was just no way to please the DNCMSTR with this one. “I couldn’t stand it; I thought it was terrible,” said Len. I wholeheartedly disagree. The dance had real foxtrot sections that were necessarily (based on the song) punctuated with kicky ’70s interludes — body rolls, disco points towards heaven, the gentle self-stroking of Kyle’s porn ‘stache. And I liked the details — Lacey’s Farrah Fawcett hair, Kyle’s insane wig, and disembodied-British-voice “Charlie” announcing the dance through an intercom. You want a theme night? This is what you get. Deal with it!

Teen Activist Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas: 18/30 “I hate the jive,” announced Bristol in her first-ever honest answer to Brooke Burke. Who can blame her? By focusing so hard on the performance aspect of the dance — gorilla suits and a clunky costume change?!? — Mark barely had time to teach her any steps. This was a total disaster. I can only assume Len pretended to want them dressed as gorillas for longer during the dance so that he wouldn’t have to confront the harsh truth that the two simians before him were eventually attempting to pass as humans. Just the simple clown nose would have sufficed here. PROP FAIL.

Re: that red nose. Anyone else have a Full House flashback to when D.J. “Deej” Tanner dreamed that she missed the SAT and therefore only got accepted to Clown U.? What a nightmare! Yay, ABC tie-in!

‘Til tomorrow, DNCMSTRs — who do you think will head home on Tuesday? Discuss the week 5 performances in the comments, and nominate your Hidden Gems of the Week before 2 p.m. ET over at PopWatch.

Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

THINK OF YOUR TELEVISION AS A VITAL MEMBER OF THE FAMILY? Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Jeff Jensen weigh in on the returning series that are hitting creative peaks this season, and dish the latest happenings on Mad Men, Survivor, and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to a YouTube embed below!

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