Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dancing with the Stars Top 11...

So last week we suffered the untimely dismissal of our dear Maxsim. I wore black for three days. The more important thing about last week’s elimination between Holly Madison and Denise Richards wasn’t so much that they ended up in the bottom two, but that they somehow ended up there instead of Steve Wozniak, who seems to have hacked into the voting system. Seriously, that’s the only way it makes sense that he managed to escape the bottom two, because after all, he scored a 10. A TEN!! That’s like… not even a real score. The only other time a score that low was handed out was when Master P refused to wear the proper shoes. It says a lot about Steve’s dancing that he managed that type of score based solely on his abilities. It also says he has lots of friends and supporters, which I think is commendable, if only it didn’t mean I had to watch him dance again.

But… them’s the breaks. Tonight features two new dances: the Lindy Hop and the Argentine Tango (which is neither argentine, nor a tango… discuss). Tomorrow, we’ll witness the first ever mid-season double elimination, which is apparently very scary for all the competitors, but to me it means one less recap to write, so… cheers.

On to the show!

The girls in the typing pool and I have reached an agreement: David Alan Grier is getting seriously submarined by the judges. It’s true that he isn’t one of the best dancers on the show, but his scores have been suspiciously low for the past few weeks, and we’re all wondering what the judges are smoking. They can’t still be smarting about his comments regarding Bruno’s accent, can they? That was sooo two weeks ago. Anyway, DAG is first tonight with the first Lindy Hop in DWTS history. He struggles with the lifts during rehearsals, so Kym takes him to an actual Lindy Hop club to see the dance in its natural habitat, which looks like all kinds of fun, but also very dangerous. When they hit the floor, David brings the right amounts of energy and charisma, although I will admit that the lifts did look kind of rough. Kym can’t be that all that heavy, but judging by the look on David’s face during each lift, she must weigh a ton. The judges compliment the energy and spirit of the routine, but pick on David’s sense of timing and rhythm. Carrie Ann, however, thought it was an exciting routine, especially when he kicked up the energy with the music. He scores a 22, which, based on the dances to follow, seems on the low side.

Next up is Lil Kim with her Argentine Tango. During rehearsals, Derek and Kim have to work hard to keep their faces straight, and I am again perplexed but charmed by the chemistry these two kids have together. I still think they’re a bizarre pair, but they’re making it work. Derek confesses several times that he doesn’t know much about this dance, so the choreography comes together quite organically; I’m very curious to see what he comes up with. All of Derek’s anxiety must have paid off because this dance is fantastic. First, Lil Kim looks amazing! I don’t know why that surprises me, because Lil Kim is a beautiful woman. I think it must be the fact that so often the wardrobe department dresses people up to look like a diseased birds – when they actually work it out, it’s kind of shocking. Back to the dance: Lil Kim’s lines are exquisite… she really understands her body. She obviously knows exactly where to place her legs and arms to create the perfect picture. I mean, just look at this…

Perfect angles, perfect extension, etc. It goes without saying that she nailed the character of the dance. Bruno and Carrie Ann have nothing but praise, but Len thought it lacked sensuality, which is just preposterous. He at least has the decency to compliment Derek on his choreography, and I say here, here! I was touched by Lil Kim’s show of emotion after the dance; maybe she recognized this dance as her break-through. I, for one, hope this is the first of many fantastic performances from her. The scores are mixed: Carrie Ann gives a 9, Len gives an 8 (BOO!!) and Bruno gives a 10 – the first 10 of the season, and well deserved.

The next Lindy Hop comes from Chuck and Julianne. The only exciting thing to come out of their rehearsal segment is the following revelation: Chuck Wicks is afraid to fall on his head. Well, aren’t we all? This is going to be a mighty boring routine if he’s afraid to do any tricks. After what can only be hours of complaining, however, Julianne takes pity on her sweet baboo and cuts all the scary tricks and replaces them with less risky maneuvers. They take the floor dressed in cute, little 50’s diner uniforms and perform a competent, if not sort of dull, Lindy Hop. The judges immediately pounce on what the rehearsal footage implied, which was that the dance was a tad too safe. It’s hard to argue with that because Julianne was the only one flying out there. Bruno uses a very long-winded and confusing pizza metaphor to say that Chuck’s dance needs to be sharper and rhythmic (with a crispier crust, if you will). He ends up with a 22, which ties him with David (see what I mean now?)

Edyta is finally starting to show signs of frustration with Lawrence. She probably thought she had this season in the bag when she landed the token professional football player. Turns out: no such luck. In rehearsals, Lawrence has trouble finding the character of the Tango, so Edyta invites her hubby, Alec Mazo, to show Lawrence how it’s done. After what we can only assume is some improvement, Edyta and Lawrence take the floor to perform their Tango. The high points are the incredible lifts, which take advantage of Lawrence’s obvious upper-body strength – he lifts Edyta’s entire body up over his head at one point. But the choreography is not as strong as Derek’s and Lawrence doesn’t seem into it at all. In fact, he kind of just stands there while Edyta does all the work. Len goes as far as to say that Lawrence looked uncomfortable out there, which I agree with. Bruno and Carrie Ann, however, interpreted his stony presence as menacing and powerful, but even they sensed a lack of chemistry between the two dancers. He scores a 19, including a brutal 5 (bitch-slap) from Len. That’s gotta hurt.

After last week’s ‘eventful’ routine, Ty and Chelsie are up with another Lindy Hop. I’m thinking this will be a good dance for Ty because it’s kind of all out, no real character, and very athletic. Sure enough, Ty delivers with a terrific routine. His kicks look good, his attitude fits the dance, and he makes the lifts look effortless (it helps that Chelsie is half his size). I did notice a couple of moments when his timing fell apart, but they were few and far between. The judges basically hit on everything I just said about the timing and the musicality, but they are still very much impressed by how much he improves from week to week. He receives a 25, which includes his first 9 (from Carrie Ann).

Now, this is what I’m talking about, you guys. I like Steve Wozniak just as much as the next person, but what is about to happen on my television screen is exactly why he should have been voted out Week 1. He just. Can’t. Do. It. His pre-package is less about learning the Tango and more about how he’s all about working the system. Hey, Steve! Why not practice instead of riding around on your Segway, which is just a bike for lazy people, campaigning for votes?? It’s almost like he doesn’t care that he’s bad. Maybe I respect that a little, but I would much rather he just dance better. Anyway, he and Karina do their thing and… it’s bad, of course. I will say that it looks like Karina is trying to choreograph an interesting routine, but he just sucks so bad! The judges are completely over it and score him straight 4’s.

Melissa and Tony are the first of last week’s top three couples to perform and they’ve got the Lindy Hop. The pre-package allows us to sneak a peek at their terrific working chemistry – these two really seem to enjoy each other. It’s nice to see Tony having fun for a change, isn’t it? My favorite moment of the entire episode occurs when Melissa flips over Tony’s head and face-plants directly into his crotch. That’s classic right there. It’s an excellent routine: tight choreography and spectacular lifts. It’s so good, in fact, that I’m willing to forgive the fact that her outfit makes her look like a sluttier version of Minnie Mouse. Len tells her that she has to potential to go all the way (which everyone knew three weeks ago, so thanks a lot, Len), Bruno loved it, and Carrie Ann must have really loved it because she compliments Tony’s choreography. That’s a big deal! If you’ve followed the show, you probably know that Tony and Carrie Ann have sparred over his choreography on several occasions, so her comments tonight are the reality tv show equivalent to make-up sex.

After being saved last week, Holly is feeling enormous pressure to deliver with her Argentine Tango. If only her body would cooperate. Apparently, a move in last week’s dance tweaked the muscles around her ribcage, and it’s been bothering her ever since. At the hospital she gets a doctor’s approval to continue, but not without losing precious rehearsal time. She starts the routine on a stool and immediately falls right off, and the dance goes downhill from there. It’s sad too, because it looked like an amazing routine. I particularly liked the pretzel lift towards the end – at least she managed not to screw that up. As the judges give it to her straight (Bruno thought Dmitry did all the work, Carrie Ann thinks she needs to lift weights or something to build her strength, and Len gave a shout out to the amazing choreography that we probably didn’t get to see), she keeps ripping out her trademark rapid-fire giggle that makes me want to stuff my ears with alcohol-soaked towels and set them on fire. I understand that the laugh is probably a defense mechanism more than anything, but seriously… there’s a time and place to giggle about how much you suck. Backstage and before the scores, Holly climbs back into my good graces by apologizing to us for crapping all over Dmitry’s fantastic routine. It was the right thing to do and I’m glad she did it. She scores a 16.

Lacey and Edyta should probably get together for cocktails because Lacey’s patience with Steve-O is also showing signs of deterioration. The truth is Steve-O is really lucky to be around still, and it is only thanks to the charitable nature of the voting public that he has made it this far. I’m right there with the voting public – I want to see Steve-O succeed, not just because he’s a recovering addict but because he has shown remarkable potential. When I first heard he was going to be on the show, I was not excited. I guess I thought he wouldn’t take it seriously. Thankfully, he has, and more than I expected, so I really would love to see him do well. In a weird twist, though, the Lindy Hop has him completely stumped. The steps overwhelm him to the point of exhaustion and Lacey seems equally stumped as to how to teach him without frustrating him. The trick, apparently, is to make him dress up in his clown costume. Well… whatever works, I guess. Their routine is hard to watch, really. The potential is still there, but he dances like he isn’t sure of the steps, which I guess he might not be. He is literally one step behind Lacey at all times… in a very obvious way. However, he dances in character and most of the steps are there, even if they aren’t hitting at the right times. The judges are almost sad to critique it because it’s so clear that Steve-O is doing his best. I liked Bruno’s advice about listening more closely to the music - it may help Steve-O connect all of the elements of the dance in his head. And all of them mention that he improved just by getting all the way through the dance. The scores are kind of questionable. With a 15, he got the same score as last week, which doesn’t fit because last week he didn’t even know the steps. I’m not saying he deserved higher or anything, but it is kind of odd…

Cheryl Burke continues her reign of terror in the rehearsal studio. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her push a contestant so hard. And it’s Gilles for god’s sake – he’s an incredible dancer, so I don’t see why she’s being so nasty to him. Well, whatever the reason, it’s totally working. Gilles’s Tango is the best performance of the night. I really don’t have much to say about it: it was sultry, passionate, and brilliantly executed. Even Tom says it was “fierce.” The audience gives them the longest standing ovation of the night and the judges are literally foaming at the mouth to praise it. Carrie Ann is beside herself, fanning herself and blushing and pointing jealously at Gilles’s wife.

"God, it's HOT up in here!"

"I can't feel my FACE!"

Indeed, it was the perfect mix of drama, dynamics, and choreography. I smell a perfect score coming… And I’m right! Perfect 10’s across the board and the first 30 of the season. Gilles makes a point to thank Cheryl for figuratively beating the performance out of him. Methinks she’s got the man whipped, don’t you?

Finally, it’s time for Shawn and Mark, or Shark as they have become known to the fans. They’ve been sporting matching black track suits since the beginning of the show, so it’s not a surprise when they strip them off to reveal two of the tackiest costumes I’ve ever seen on this show. Shawn looks cute in her light blue trunks and tank, but Mark looks like an absolute fool in his fire-engine red ensemble, complete with nerd glasses and head-band. Will my eyes ever stop rolling? Anyway, their pre-package takes place in the gym where Shawn is going to show Mark how she rolls on the balance beam and floor mat. It’s pretty pointless as far as rehearsal footage goes, but at least it gives us this…

The point of all of this seems to be that Team Shark is going to use Shawn’s tumbling skillz to add pizzazz to their Lindy Hop routine, which is a little bit obvious, don’t you think? Sure enough, the routine starts with a tumbling pass courtesy of Shawn Johnson, which we all saw coming. Unfortunately, they seem to have over-compensated with the gymnastics, because the routine never really gels. It’s a lot of awesome tricks, to be sure, but there’s very little actual dancing. I’ll give credit to them for performing a difficult set of flips and tosses, but it would have been nice to see them attempt actual choreography. It’s kind of surprising too because Shawn has already proven she’s up to the task of dancing just about anything… I’m at a loss as to why Mark would trade dancing for gimmicks. Only bad dancers have to go that route. The judges agree with me: the tricks were great, but the dancing, what little there was, was heavy and plodding. They score a 25, which is a significant step down for Team Shark. My advice: lose the theatrics and just dance.


Here’s how the scores fell at the end of the night:

Gilles – 30
Melissa – 29
Lil Kim – 27
Shawn – 25
Ty – 25
David – 22
Chuck – 22
Lawrence – 19
Holly – 16
Steve-O – 15
Steve – 12

I know Gilles was incredible, but I think my favorite routine of the night goes to Lil Kim. I just can’t get over how awesome she was.


Let’s not dilly-dally. The bottom three are Steve-O, Holly, and Steve. Many thanks, America. I’m glad we’re all on the same page.

The two couples leaving us tonight are: Holly and Dmitry and… Steve and Karina. YES!! I’ll miss Dmitry and his hot ass, but it was definitely Holly’s time. She just couldn’t keep up with the rest of the competition. And I will certainly not miss Steve. He’s great and all, but if I had to hear him say, “the geeks shall inherit the Earth,” one more time… I might have stopped watching.


Dande said...

Lil Kim and Gilles were definitely the stars of the night. I have to give Gilles the nod for favorite dance of the evening, though. That dance was astounding.

I may have fallen in love with Ty a bit. At first I was just as annoyed with the whole 'I'm worried what my friends are going to be thinking...' but he seems to have gotten over that. He blogs every day about what's going on and it's always worth reading and the same friends he's been worried about have been super supportive.

It helps that he's actually improved, too. Unlike... say... Woz.

I love me some improvement arcs on this show. By the same token, I'm looking forward to the choreography that Cheryl and Derek come up with for their very talented partners. Because as good as they are, as little room they actually have for improvement they've got two dancers that can come up with interesting dances to showcase them so amazingly well.

Also, why did Lacey steal herself an outfit from Katy Perry's wardrobe. Was that necessary?

Ryan D. said...

Dande - I'm glad you're feeling Ty. I had no idea he had a blog... I will google immediately.

I totes agree with the improvement arc thing... I love watching dancers like Ty and D.A.G. (and even Steve-O) improve from week to week.

And good call on the Lacey/Katy Perry connection! I knew she reminded me of someone but I couldn't put my finger on it!