Oy, it’s Monday night once again and the temperature here has plummeted down to 78 degrees. Instead of searching for some long-pant, um, “loungewear” to put on, I think I’ll just write this Dancing With The Stars recap from bed. What could go wrong?
It’s “Famous Dances” night on Dancing With the Stars, wherein our “stars” and their profesional partners will
murder re-create some of the more “iconic” dances from “stage, screen, and music videos”. Please mister please, our guest judge tonight is Olivia Newton-John! I guess we can’t be lucky enough to get an all-Olivia themed night. I mean, Xanadu alone could provide enough iconography for several episodes!
We also have a guest co-host tonight. Filling in for Erin Andrews, Leah Remini, fresh from her Scientology de-programming, is looking fetching in a black gown; Brooklyn accent marvelously intact.
Hayes Grier and Emma Slater
First up tonight is our teenaged Vine “star” Hayes Grier. We catch up with Hayes and Emma on the street outside the studio. Emma tells him, “This week, we have Grease.” “What’s that?” Hayes replies. Come on Kid, don’t make me reach through the screen and smack you. Youth is no excuse for cluelessness. Later, Hayes continues so as to explain, “Emma and I got a Jazz to ‘You’re the One That I Want’ by Olivia Newton-John, and I’ve never actually seen the movie…” Oh, Hayes. It’s not like they don’t show it on ABC Family, like, every weekend.
Hayes and Emma take the stage costumed as Danny Zuko and Sandy Olson (bad Sandy, that is. You remember – black spandex pants and black off-the-shoulder top). Emma begins with the famous, “Tell me about it, Stud!” and we’re off. The duo complete a routine that seems to be pretty faithful to the original, replete with a shake in the “shake shack”. Judge Olivia Newton-John says, “Wow wow wow!”
Paula Deen and Louis Van Amstel
Paula fills us in on what’s up this week: “This week, our famous dance is Madonna’s infamous ‘Vogue’.” Good thinking by the person who assigns the dances to the contestants. I mean, all she will need to do is stand and move her arms a bit, right? Paula continues: “Madonna is a sexual icon, y’all. We have not one thing in common.” I’ll say! “I don’t wear cones”, she explains, “I don’t pose in the nude. Nothing!” Louis chimes in: “Paula said that she just wants to have fun, and we’re having a lot of fun…for her to stay in the game, she’s going to UP her game!” Good luck, Louis! Louis is basing the routine on Madonna’s performance at the 1990 MTV VMA’s, rather than the music video. In the rehearsal hall, the duo are talking. “Well I’m happy” Louis says, turning around to face Paula, who responds saying, “I’m playing another character. I’m doin’ Madonna!” at which point Paula lifts up her…uh…ample…bosom in both hands and begins to shake them. Before she can throw ‘em over her shoulder like a Continental soldier, we mercifully cut to Louis, who says, “What you gonna do?” Attempt to forget I ever saw that is what I am going to do!
Louis and his four male backup dancers are on stage. We are going with the ersatz Louis Seize costumes for this piece, a Jazz routine. The song begins, Louis moves, and we see a curtain open and out comes Paula in her Marie Antoinette drag, fan in hand, followed by two female backup dancers. The group moves as one: Walk to the left. Walk to the right. Turn around and arms up! Paula performs this quite well; the simplicity suits her.
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker
Andy and Allison will be dancing to “Good Morning”, from Singin’ in the Rain. How nice that someone has chosen an actual classic! Andy will take the Gene Kelly part and Allison will take the Debbie Reynolds part. Hm, I guess we are pretending that Donald O’Connor didn’t exist. Too bad, since I’d argue that of the two men, O’Connor was the more interesting dancer. Andy and Allison go to visit Patricia Kelly, Gene Kelly’s widow, to get advice and presumably receive some of Gene Kelly’s magic through osmosis. Mrs. Kelly’s encouragement: “Break new ground. Take what he gave you and go beyond.” Al-righty then.
Our pair do a Jazz routine which quite fairly emulates the one in the movie (save for it having been a three-person dance in the film). Andy performs quite well, appearing to be quite natural. My only quibble is that they had two people standing by for the famous couch-flip move. The assistants flipped the couch rather than our dancing pair, but I can’t really blame them; they aren’t actually Kelly and Reynolds after all.
The crowd is quite impressed. I wonder – will Miss Newton-John mention that she danced with Gene Kelly, in – what else – Xanadu? Oh, Tom Bergeron does instead. Olivia adds: “I actually danced with Gene Kelly and I’d be happy to dance with you anytime. You were so good!”
Alexa Penavega and Mark Ballas
Alexa and Mark will be re-creating Britney Spears’s “Slave For You” performance at the VMA’s, complete with Burmese python. Oh joy. Our duo take the stage to begin their Cha-Cha, Alexa in an approximation of the costume that Britney wore (green bikini-bra top, multi-colored skirt of shredded chiffon strips) and Mark in what I can only describe as a Captain Caveman costume. Alexa seems a bit off her game tonight. I don’t see any obvious mistakes, but she seems like she’s not giving 100%. The judges concur. Carrie Ann says, “I feel like you missed the essence of Britney in that routine.” Ouch!
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough
We catch up with Bindi and Derek in the rehearsal hall. Derek tells Bindi that they’ll be doing Dirty Dancing, to the song “I Had the Time of My Life”. Bindi is quite excited, but somewhat nervous at the prospect. “What do you remember from Dirty Dancing?” she asks, “The lift!” Who better to give advice on re-creating that memorable move from the film, where Patrick Swayze lifts Jennifer Grey out of the water of a lake, than DWTS’s Season 11 champion, Baby herself, Miss Jennifer Grey! She visits the rehearsal hall and tells Bindi, “The key is to trust.” Will Bindi trust? Will she and Derek have the time of their life?
Bindi and Derek take the stage; Derek in black pants and shirt and Bindi in a white dress with a knee-length diaphanous skirt and beaded torso and bodice. The Rumba begins and they move through the routine – full of spins and twirls – flawlessly, climaxing in “The Lift”; Bindi runs up to Derek and he elevates her as if she were flying. The crowd goes crazy and the judges are impressed. Second perfect score of the night!
Carlos Penavega and Witney Carson
Carlos and Witney are doing Magic Mike this week (ycch, I hated that movie) and of course, Carlos “has reservations” about it. Naturally we get to hear all about them. “We got the song ‘Pony’ from Magic Mike, and the movie is basically about dudes stripping” Carlos says, incredulously, “I’m not sure where I stand with all this because I just came off telling how God changed my life, and this is like the complete opposite of that.” Ugh. No it isn’t. Study harder, little boy. God gave you a body and a sexuality. They are His gifts to you to be enjoyed. “My faith means everything to me”, Carlos continues, “I don’t want to cross that line to be raunchy, especially because that’s not who I am.” Oh, Carlos. Ripping your shirt off is NOT raunchy. I could list a few things that WOULD be raunchy, but time constraints prevent that right now. Suffice it to say that I think you are blowing a lot of hot air and it’s time to stop. Witney seems to agree: “Listen, we’re acting. We’re gonna try the scene without being raunchy. With that being said, you can’t do it halfway.” Don’t worry Witney, I don’t think he’ll do it halfway. I think Carlos is setting us up to be impressed by how well he does, despite his misgivings.
Carlos is along on the “strip club” stage in the requsite hoodie, tank top and grey sweatpants. The music starts and Witney comes on stage as an “audience member” to dance with the “stripper”. They go around for a moment while the four male backup dancers come out and set up the chairs. In no time at all, the shirts are ripped off, revealing Carlos’s torso to be one of plastic perfection. (Surprise surprise) The rest of the routine continues flawlessly. Olivia Newton-John says, “I think you missed your calling!”
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess
I guess we couldn’t not have a Saturday Night Fever segment tonight, and Nick Carter is our lucky John Travolta substitute. Nicks articulate take: “I have Saturday Night Fever, ‘You Should Be Dancing’, John Travolta, are you kidding me? I gotta do that?” during this, we see a clip of Travolta from the film. Oy, now I’m thinking about the time I went to that club where the film was shot. The first summer I lived in New York, I was staying in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and one bored Saturday night, my roommate and I were sitting around doing nothing. Somehow the subject of Saturday Night Fever came up, and my roommate said, “You know, that club is still there.” (This was, like, 15+ years after the film came out, so you know, ancient history) By then, it was a gay club (or maybe it always was) and it was called…Spectrum, I think? Anyway, since neither of us had any plans that night, one of us suggested we go check it out and see the dance floor. The place was further out in Brooklyn, in Sunset Park or Red Hook, and it was only a few stops down on the N/R train, so it was easy to get there, so we went. We got there and Oh. My. God. What a dump! No biggie, I’m no stranger to dive bars. Looking at the film again, you can see it was pretty dive-y even then. The famous dance floor was still there though, with a few burned-out bulbs of course. I guess the biggest shock was how small the place was. The floor looks so big in the movie, but it was scarcely bigger than a walk-in closet. Anyway, a fun “You only live once” side-trip. Never went back! Maybe it’s still there today, I don’t know.
Okay, sorry for that tangent. So, back to Nick Carter…Nick is in the rehearsal hall practicing his pelvic undulations and arm-pointing. He’ll do fine.
Nick and Sharna take to the lighted dance floor amongst a crowd of backup dancers dressed in 70’s garb. Sharna is inexplicably in a reddish-brown wig that is afro-puff meets Little Orphan Annie. Don’t ask me why. Neither Donna Pescow nor Karen Lynn Gorney had curly hair in the film. If they wanted authenticity, they’d have gone with a Dorothy-Hamill-with-feathered-
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold
“Our train-attack hero” Alek will be doing Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” this week. He works with an
Elvis impersonator actor who has portrayed Elvis before in order to get into character. Let’s see if he rocks that jailhouse…
In black and black-and-white striped costumes, Alek and Lindsay do a Jive routine that has a very swing-y, jaunty feel. Olivia says: “I think you did a great job!”
Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy
This week, Tamar is doing Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation”. First we need to hear yet another “I was so disappointed last week I need to step it up” that we usually hear from multiple people each week. Suffice it to say that was the gist of Tamar’s comments.
In black-and-white, Tamar and Val do a very faithful re-creation of Janet Jackson’s routine. I like Janet Jackson a lot, but I was never a fan of that quasi-militaristic choreography that she and many other Jacksons did again and again and again for so long. I’m glad that she moved past that after “Rhythm Nation”. Having said that, I have to hand it to Tamar for emulating it so well; if you squinted, you might have thought you were watching the video.
Score: 40 (Third perfect score of the night)
Hayes – 32
Andy – 40
Alexa – 30
Bindi – 40
Paula – 24
Carlos – 38
Nick – 39
Alek – 30
Tamar – 40
Two couples are in jeopardy: the first is Paula and Louis.
The second is Alexa and Mark. This is announced and Alexa starts bawling. Oh Girl, pull yourself together. You really think you are going home tonight, before Paula? Come on.
To no one’s surprise, Paula is eliminated. She says, “I’m so excited! I get to go see my grandbabies!” She assures us that her experience was wonderful and all worth it. Well, I’m sorry to see you go, Paula, there are so few interesting contestants left!
Next Week: Halloween special!