It’s time once again to observe the prosaic panoply of people who continue to stretch the definition of “stars” and make up the festival known as Dancing With the Stars!
Before we can begin, we have to shoehorn in some Muppets cross-promotion. Scooter, Kermit the Frog, and Fozzie Bear are running the DWTS control room. Couldn’t do any worse, I s’pose,
Tom Bergeron and Miss Piggy welcome us and introduce tonight’s guest judge, Alfonso Ribiero, DWTS season 19 champion. I’m sorry, but I just can’t with Miss Piggy since Frank Oz passed away. She’s just not the same; something very palpable is missing.
Tom and Miss Piggy introduce the members of our firmament couple by couple, with no mention at all of Kim Zolciak-Biermann and Tony Dovolani. It’s as if they were never on the show. Also, I know from the TV Guide that it’s “TV Night”, but there is no mention or explanation of this from the show’s hosts. I guess they’ll be dancing to TV theme songs?
Carlos Penavega and Witney Carson
We start with one of the two least interesting couples in the competition. Carlos tells us that they’ll be dancing a Jazz routine to “Thank You For Being a Friend”, the theme song from The Golden Girls. (Actually, prior to that, it was a top-25 hit single by its writer, the late Andrew Gold. I like it so much better than the TV version. If you’re not familiar with it, I highly recommend you look it up on YouTube. Mr. Gold was also the son of Hollywood voice-double extraordinaire Marni Nixon. Yes, my mind is a trashcan of useless trivia.)
Carlos and Witney begin their routine on a park bench, costumed as, um, senior citizens. I’m not sure how that relates to The Golden Girls, a show about three women in late middle-age, and one of their senior mothers. Maybe to this duo, anyone over 40 is a senior citizen, so it’s all the same? They perform a jazz routine full of agile jumps and spins, quite unlike what one would expect of the age group they are portraying. Tom sums it up thusly: “Carlos and Witney! Old hair, young hips!”
*Since there are 4 judges tonight, they are scoring on a 40-point scale instead of the 30-point scale they’ve used so far. It makes comparing scores week-over-week rather headache-inducing. If you want to convert them into percentages, you are a much more dedicated fan than I!
After Carlos and Witney leave the floor, Tom Bergeron says this about Kim: “You may have heard, by the way, that Kim Zolciak-Biermann had a medical situation which sent her to the hospital last week. We’re going to tell you more about her condition, what it means to the competition, later in the show.” So we’re going to have to wait, I guess, until we get to Kim’s formerly alloted spot – probably at the END of the show – to learn anything substantive about what might happen with her. Of course.
Paula Deen and Louis Van Amstel
We catch up with Paula and Louis at the rehearsal hall. Louis says, “Gilligan’s Samba!” Paula hears this and shakes her boobs from side to side. To paraphrase Mr. Albee: You have ugly talents, Paula! Speaking for myself: Paula, Don’t. Ever. Do. That. Again. PLEASE! //shuddering//
Addressing the audience, Paula says “Tonight, Louis and I are daincin’ a Samba to the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island!” Back to the duo’s conversation with each other: “I’m Mary Ann, right?” Paula asks. “Nope. Mrs. Howell.” Paula slams down her drink and brays, “Why do I have to be Miz Howell?” Don’t make me state the obvious, Paula. “I’m Mary Ann!” “Nope, you’re going to be the millionaire’s wife.” “Ug”, Paula harumphs, then pouts like a petulant child.
Next, back to addressing the audience, Paula waxes philosophical: “The hardest aspects of this competition, y’all, is keepin’ up.” She means mentally, physically, sleeping enough, etc. Paula is tired. She’s emotional, too: “I’m so tired, I just wanna go rest” she blubbers, in tears. Next we see footage of Sunday’s on-stage rehearsal and Paula is near breakdown: Louis tell her she doubts herself and it’s a problem. Paula replies that she’s been abandoned – many, many times (I’ll reserve speculation as to why) then tearfully hugs Louis as he assures her, “Not this time”.
Cut from that happy scene to the performance: Paula and Louis as The Howells. To the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song Paula does her one-two left-right in-out exercise next to Louis, who dances a Samba well.
Applauding their performance from the front row is actress Dawn Wells, the real Mary Ann, who I must say looks like a million bucks! While receiving their critiques from the judges, Paula points at Miss Wells and yells, “Well this is who I was supposed to be right here!” Damn, Paula. LET IT GO! The gracious Miss Wells laughs and waves it off; confident, I imagine, in the knowledge that despite being 9 years Paula’s senior, she looks more like she could be Paula’s daughter younger sister. This reality is sadly lost on Paula Deen.
Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy
Tamar and Val will be performing a Tango to the “Mad Men” theme this week, but first we need to hear about the couple’s “chemistry problem”. Val explains that he agrees with the judges, in that they need to improve their chemistry on the dance floor. Tamar does not. She thinks there’s enough chemistry. “We’ve been pelvis to pelvis. Bone to bone. Thrust to thrust.” Tamar, you lucky bitch. Bone to bone with Val…//fans self severely//
Next, the couple need to argue over the backstory scenario for their dance. Since this is Mad Men, a show set in the advertising business of the 1960’s, Val’s thought is that he’d be an executive, and Tamar would be his secretary, pouring him a drink. Tamar thinks otherwise. She has to argue every move, finishing with “That sounds a little sexist to me.” Well, DUH Tamar. It’s the 1960’s. Clearly Tamar needs to bone up on her social history. Next, Tamar describes her alternative idea of the scenario: She’s the executive, with a male secretary, then she fires him and pours her own drink. Um, Tamar? The 60’s? Now we’re just in fantasyland. While we’re at it, how about we give you magical powers and make you Empress of India too?
Tamar and Val take the stage with him portraying the boss. (Boss me around anytime, Val!) They tango very dramatically and certainly prove that they are still one of the better competitors.
Alexa Penavega and Mark Ballas
The other least interesting couple in the competition, Alexa and Mark, will be dancing a Jazz routine to the “Breaking Bad” theme, because nothing says, “Let’s dance!” more than meth-making. In HazMat suits and gas masks, they begin their routine by artfully writhing around an internally lighted table that is meant to represent “the cook”. The masks then come off and they complete a routine that is full of athletic jumping, spinning, and tumbling.
Score: 36 Highest of the night!
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker
Andy tells us that they will be performing a Quickstep to the “American Bandstand” theme. He describes, as a musician, his admiration and respect for the show. Personally, I think they just needed one of the couples to wear 50’s costumes, but whatever.
The pair take the stage in teal-green and hot-pink 50’s-inspired outfits, he in a plaid suit and she in a tea-length dress with petticoats. They do pretty well, in my eyes, their routine looking crisp and not at all awkward. They seem to be an audience favorite.
Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya
Gary and Anna will be dancing a Tango this week, as Gomez and Morticia Addams, to “The Addams Family” theme. I think that this was an inspired decision. The simplicity of the song structure should serve him well. Gary seems much more Lurch than Gomez to me though.
Gary and Anna look great in costume, and this week, he seems a bit less cadaverous. Perhaps he doubled up on the Depakote. Gary seems not to have increased his skill-set, but the song and routine this week serve him better. He steps forward, back, and to the side in time to the music, while Anna actually dances around him. It looks fairly good. In the post-mortem interview with Erin Andrews, Gary thoughtfully shares his secret of tonight’s success: he’s not wearing underwear. I’m not going to dwell on that as I still need to eat dinner!
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold
This week, Alek and Lindsay will do a Tango to the “True Blood” theme – so we’re getting the requisite vampire motif. Therefore, it’s decided that Lindsay needs to help Alek overcome his shyness and get in touch with his sexy side. Oh, Lindsay, I assure you that Alek is plenty sexy already. And I mean PLENTY. But okay, we’ll play along.
First exercise: Alek must say out loud, “I am sexy”. Next, Alek practices chatting up and flirting with the girls around the set in order to get their phone numbers. Alek’s main problem seems to be that he greets all the ladies with,”S’up?” Alek, NO. Drop the whole “S’up” thing. Any girl with any sense should be thrilled to talk to you; no need to put on a persona. He approaches the first girl and is chatting nicely with her, when 15 year-old Hayes Grier comes and sits down on her lap. Dick move, Hayes. Alek is cockblocked by a teen in a turtle costume. That has to sting. So, on to the next: a montage of Alek striking out with a few others. Finally, Alek sits down with two of the dancers. Emma Slater says, “Alek, I’d love to get you for switch-up!” Translation: “Nail me!” (Damn straight, lady) The other says, “Alek, I want to put it out there and say we should go on a date.” Finally, sanity prevails. This whole (probably fake) scenario brings out the nurturer in me. I’d like him to come over so that I can teach him. There are many, many things I could help him with, and some are even non-sexual! (Not many though).
Finally, Alek and Lindsay take the floor dressed in their vampire costumes. I must say that this look REALLY works for him. There can be no question of his sexiness now! On with the Tango: a very good performance by both. Alek displays an ease of movement that looks quite professional and yes, sexy.
And now we come to Kim Zolciak-Biermann’s alloted spot, at an hour and 20 minutes in, after having been teased throughout the whole show. In a True Hollywood Story-style collage of headlines, we learn of Kim’s dramatic brush with death: after having landed in Atlanta, she had a mini-stroke. Kim picks up the narrative: “I mean, I don’t honestly know if I can dance. I had a blood clot which caused a mini-stroke, TIA, um, and then I ended up being in the hospital for three days, So I’ve not had time to even think about dancing, rehearsing, anything. If I can dance, if I get the clean bill of health, I absolutely will, um, because I love it. But my health comes first, so it’s kind of up in the air, I don’t know.”
Tom explains that Kim, per doctor’s orders, could not get in to the pressurized cabin of an airplane, and is therefore not here to perform, so Tony Dovolani will perform with Jenna the routine that he and Kim would have done. Uh, okay…
Dressed as Major Nelson and Jeannie, they perform to the “I Dream of Jeannie” theme song. A “dramatic re-enactment” if you will. They do a very swing-y, athletic routine full of jumping, dipping, shimmying, and twisting that I have no doubt Kim would have done exactly like that. Yeah. (I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t make a “harem scare-em” joke!)
Tom Bergeron brings in Kim via Skype, and asks how she’s feeling: “I feel really great!” she says, adding that she had learned that whole dance that they just did, but the doctor said she could fly next week, just not this week, as it’s too soon. Tom says that unfortunately, according to the rules, Kim must withdraw from the competition. Kim seems to understand and accept the decision.
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough
Bindi and Derek had planned a routine set to “The Jetsons”, but there were problems with the rights/clearances to license the music for the show. So, at the last minute it was changed to a Quickstep set to “The Jeffersons” theme. They take the stage and seize their opportunity to conquer the adversity of a last-minute change. They rule the stage and finish with a dramatic slide-to-a-finish that the audience loves. Marla Gibbs of “The Jeffersons” applauds their performance from the front row.
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess
Nick and Sharna chose “Downton Abbey” as their show, and plan to do a Viennese Waltz. What a nice change from all of the Tangos and Quicksteps that everyone else has been doing. In keeping with their theme, they are costumed formally: he in white tie, and she in an ivory satin gown with crystal and pearl embellishments. They perform the waltz seemingly effortlessly. Although the tails of his cutaway hide his best ASS-et, Nick was still a pleasure to watch.
Score: 36 Tied for highest score
Hayes Grier and Emma Slater
Our social-media sensation is a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” this week. He explains that he wants to get his scores up, because he doesn’t like being in the middle of the pack. A turtle costume should definitely set you apart, Hayes.
Hayes and Emma do a Jive routine to the turtle theme song that is chock-full of gymnasttic agility. Hayes continues to put forth a good deal of effort.
Carlos – 31
Paula – 20
Tamar – 33
Alexa – 36
Andy – 29
Gary – 25
Alek – 33
Bindi – 32
Nick – 36
Hayes – 30
They reveal that two couples are in jeopardy:
Andy and Allison
Paula and Louis
Since Kim and Tony had to withdraw, NO other couple will be eliminated this week.