"Dancing With The Stars" Week 8 Recap: Three's A Crowd
This week’s double-trouble episode of “Dancing WithThe Stars” felt more like a battle saga than a ballroom competition. There were wins, there were losses, there were battles for a young maiden’s honor. When the show was being announced, I half expected Tom to say, “I’m Tom Bergeron and this …is …SPARTAAAA.”
But in all seriousness, the remaining contestants had their best Gerard-Butler-Buttkicking-Game-Faces on as they faced the increased prospects of going home in Tuesday’s double elimination. To shake up the odds that seemed settled against the lowest scoring (Melissa), and the least voted for (Roshon) contestants, the Mirrorball Powers That Be decided each team would have two dances tonight. The first would be a traditional ballroom routine, no themes, no gimmicks, and the second would incorporate an eliminated pro or a member of the DWTS troupe, for a three-person performance.
Round One: Traditional Ballroom Trouble
Last week I marveled at how NFL superstar Donald was able to keep his composure so well while other contestants (MAKS) threw a tantrum every other dance step. This week, we all got to see the big green hulk lose his cool. The result? Surprisingly underwhelming. Aside from one or two awkward looking kicks aimed at a random pole, Donald’s “tantrum” was devoid of any swearing, blaming, or bawling – the three components that basically occupy all of Melissa and Maks’ AND Maria and Derek’s rehearsal time. Two seconds of rage over, Donald dedicated the remainder of his rehearsal time to overcoming his jock stereotype and hitting the books… or rather the replays, to study up for his performance.
All those hours studying helped Donald’s tango make the grade… the professional grade, that is. His movements were sharp and his posture up to par, making it practically impossible to tell which player was the professional in Peta’s well-choreographed routine. Len proclaimed it a “first round knockout.” Bruno ate up the passion and aggression like a bowl of spaghetti, savoring every last ounce of energy Donald put into his routine. With 9’s across the judges’ table, Donald and Peta left round 1 satisfied, but still yearning for that intangible Len ten. Better luck next time, kiddos.
The lucky recipient of that aforementioned 10, and the season’s first perfect score, Maria was feeling the pressure to live up to her flawless routine. It didn’t help that Derek decided to slip further into the Chmerkovskiy wasteland of forgone manners and abandoned etiquette. Did he just call Maria a zombie? Oh snap! I think he did. Maria responded to all the expletives and criticism by whimpering to the camera. Derek responded by whipping out this wisdom for viewers: “You hurt the people you love the most.” Oh. My. God. Would you like some Nachos with that CHEESE. I seriously think my television set developed lactose intolerance during that segment.
Luckily, Maria and Derek were able to get in enough rehearsal between all of that drama to avoid an udder disaster. Derek’s 5 years/ 9 seasons of experience translated into a well choreographed Viennese Waltz that displayed Maria’s dancing prowess as well as his tailored pants displayed that fine asset of his. The impassioned routine didn’t just speak to Carrie Ann, no no, it sang to her. The Paula Abdul of the Ballroom praised Maria and Derek on a routine that took her to another place emotionally. Len, on the other hand, didn’t like it at all, and criticized Derek for failing to show off Maria’s potential. With 10s from Carrie Ann and a very nonplussed Bruno, and an 8 from Len – these lovebirds fluttered off with a score of 28.
From one Prince Charming to the other, Maks’ tantrums reached a whole new level this week that left even tolerant Melissa at a loss for kind words. Next season, I wish Maks gets Mo’Nique as a partner so she can show him some charm school ways. Anyways, back to Melissa. The poor actress was being blamed for everything, from not being able to complete relatively simple dance moves, to making Maks “look like a terrorist.” If the shoe fits.... Melissa explained to the audiences that all this bullying is simply because they are a passionate team and want to win.
Their foxtrot was elegant, though a little out of synch. Melissa put on what the judges agreed her potential best dance of the season if only she hadn’t fallen out of time with the pro. Melissa is arguably the most impressive contestant thus far – besides dealing with the Tasmanian Ukrainian devil as a dance partner, she is the oldest competitor still in the competition, and got that nasty concussion a few weeks back. It’s hard not to give her automatic credit just for getting out on that dance floor and looking Sasha fierce in her leopard print dress. Maks gets minor props for his adorable glasses – but Tristan still wore them better. Besides the whole “best dance” spiel, Carrie Ann complimented Melissa on keeping her shoulders down during the routine. With 8’s all around, M&M foxtrotted their way to a total score of 24. (That rhymes!)
This week was a lesson in endurance for ballroom champs Katherine and Mark. They have come this far in the competition despite Katherine being the least known competitor – could this success endure? More importantly, could this delicate Welsh sprite endure being tossed around the rehearsal room like a rugby ball? Katherine was all about getting back on the bike and trying until she got it right – that kind of an attitude can either a deserved winner or a very (literally) sore, sore loser make.
Katherine and Mark’s Viennese Waltz was as lovely and delicate as her dances have been known to be. Not surprisingly, the throwing-floor-spin that troubled the duo so much during rehearsals was a minor slipup in the final performance, though they still pulled it off passably. With the exception of this move (seems kind of a sore spot for everybody, eh?), a beaming Len said the dance “had plenty of content” and was “terrific.” Carrie Ann, however, said Katherine lost her footing, which took her out of the zone of the dance. With an 8 from Carrie Ann (Katherine’s lowest score in 4 weeks) and two 9s from Len and Bruno, Katherine and Mark won 26 points for round 1.
Roshon decided to up and follow some (ahem, ahem) awesome advice and actually act his age for once this week. He did what any freaking adorable youngster should do and brought his two Grandmas to rehearsal with him. While Chelsie was off being annoyed and calling his efforts “terrible” and rehearsing in slippers, Grandma #2 was there to give Roshon some solid dancing advice – have steadier feet. It was hard enough to find fault in the kid who just mentioned his Grandma a couple weeks ago, but seeing the two ladies at rehearsal, and going crazy in the crowd, assured Roshon the Grandma vote nationwide.
Also staying true to his age was the cutesy foxtrot Chelsie put together that highlighted the kind of precise, smooth dancing her partner does best. Where many of his competitors failed this evening, Roshon excelled, hitting all his marks and keeping up with Chelsie effortlessly. Bruno compared the Disney star to a young Mickey Rooney, Len compared him and Chelsie to two little dancing munchkins. But I think Carrie Ann won for best compliment when she said, “You made your Grannies proud and you made us proud.” Awwwww. With 10s from Carrie Ann and Bruno and a 9 from Len, Roshon’s foxtrot earned him his highest score so far, 29.
Closing out round 1 was another foxtrot from Cuban dreamboat William and his pimp partner, Cheryl. To celebrate Cheryl’s cumpleaños, William brought her some flowers – a sweet and sincere gesture, but I think we all know what she really was thinking of. Just kidding! William found himself troubled by all the rules and regulations of ballroom dancing. “I don’t like so much rules, I like freedom,” he explained, and we all no longer wondered why rumors of over 40 infidelities in the span of his 8-year relationship popped up.
William had more luck committing to his routine since it was, by the judges’ standards, a complete knockout. While the judges found the foxtrot to be William’s best display yet, I was entirely underwhelmed. Not trying to be a player hater, but William did not dance as much, or at the same level of complexity as either Donald or Roshon. He must have been doing something right, since Len described the routine as a combination of care and flair – “care in the technique, flair in the movement.” With unanimous 10s, William and Cheryl left round 1 with a perfect 30.
Round Two: Triple Threat
Monday night was the first time that “DWTS” has ventured into precarious trio territory, and it was an experiment with generally positive results. A good challenge to the stars (keep up with not one, but two pros) and a nice way to see eliminated favorites (Hi Karina! Hi Tristan!), and just too easy for Bruno to make those comments...
Donald & Peta & Karina – Pulling in Gavin’s ex-partner extraordinaire, Peta hoped to utilize Karina’s good choreography, and good track record (she won last season) to push Donald through to the semi-finals. While a three way jive sounds confusing and maybe a little bit dirty in theory, the actual performance was fast paced, bouncy, and adorable. Donald’s finale of jumping over both Peta’s and Karina’s heads was a replay worthy moment. Ch-ch-check it out below. Len called the jive “Fun! Fun! Fun!” while Bruno quipped, “it’s hard staying in synch in a threesome.” With a 10 from Carrie Ann and two 9s from the boys, Donald and Peta and Karina got a grand total of 28 for their upbeat jive.
Maria & Derek & Henry – While Derek’s reasons for choosing Henry out of the “DWTS” troupe are unknown, Maria had her own ideas about him – namely, his physique. The trio decided to bond with a good, old-fashioned ab contest. Henry totally won. Derek wanted to bring Bollywood to the “DWTS” ballroom for the first time, only make it a samba. Okaaaay. The costumes were beautiful (Derek got to wear his favorite dancing shoes – Toms), however, this rendition was only slightly more successful than the Pussycat Dolls half-dressed “Jai Ho” in dishonor of “Slumdog Millionaire.” i.e. – not so much. Len said he would have given it a 10 if it was a Bollywood number, but it was supposed to be a samba. With 9’s from Carrie Ann and Bruno, and 7 (!) from Len, Maria and Derek and Henry’s Bollywood dream totaled 25 points.
Melissa & Maks & Val – No surprise here that the Ukrainian devil chose his little bro to complete their three person samba. Even less surprise that both Chmerkovskiy brothers waited all of 2 seconds into the otherwise lovely routine to strip off their jackets and reveal just way too much body oil (it can’t all be sweat – no way). The song, “Hard to Handle” was so appropriate, I think it caught the judges a little off guard, because they were uncharacteristically generous with points for this late in the season, and especially considering Len slamming M&D&H with a 7. Bruno said it all… and way more than anyone ever wanted to hear with this little drop of wisdom, “it obviously takes two to get the best of you.” Um, ew. With unanimous 9s, M&M&V attained their highest score thus far of 27.
Katherine & Mark & Tristan – now this is a lesson on why not to mess with the UK. We have Irish Tristan, we have Welsh Katherine, we have (sometimes, when he decides to be) British Mark – we have one hell of a Cha cha cha. Katherine played the luckiest ping pong ball in the world in her flirtatious and fun routine. Gotta give the girl major credit for how flawlessly she handled the removable leg of her costume sticking to her foot for a portion of the dance. Katherine kicked it off like nothing was wrong and finished a fun and smooth performance that made Bruno think he was watching Charlize Theron out there. Haha. K&M&T redeemed her earlier waltz mishap with 10s from Carrie Ann and Bruno and a 9 from Len for a beautiful score of 29.
Roshon & Chelsie & Sasha – They were the only other team to pull from the “DWTS” troupe, selecting Sasha for his overall excellent achievements in the art of being masculine. Faced with a three person Paso Doble, it was more important than ever for Roshon to access and unlock that inner Vin Diesel. Between the intense and successful Paso, and the revelation that Roshon is rocking his own Situation-approvable situation (albeit on a smaller scale than Donald or William) this Paso probably helped win him some vital points in the face of Tuesday’s double elimination. The only possible complaint is that third wheel Sasha disappeared for half the dance… where’d you go? Let us love you! Len’s comment that the routine reminded him of “two skinny fries chasing the ketchup” was to hilarious not to include – so there you go. With 9s across the judges table, R&C&S won 27 for their triple paso.
Willam & Cheryl & Tony – I won’t lie, I was hugely surprised when Cheryl selected Tony as their third partner. I was expecting her to go the more … female route, and choose another pretty lady like Kym or Anna to play up William’s sex appeal. Instead, she proved why she has won this competition before and chose Tony to challenge William to hold his own against a professional. William’s tactic was to instruct Tony, “If I do it bad, you do it bad.” Haha. The Paso Doble centered around William’s (Zorro) and Tony’s intense dance off for Cheryl. They stole the beginning of the routine before she burst back in reminding everyone that they were fighting over her and her hip swivels. Storyline aside, this Paso was perfectly choreographed for three. The judges all commended William on his ability to (mostly) keep up with Tony and awarded Cheryl and her two “raging bulls” (Bruno, of course) with three 9s – a total of 27.
With Tuesday night's double stuff Oreo of rejection and sadness looming just hours away, it is more important than ever to vote it up for your favorite team. Semi-finals are next week and sure to bring an interesting twist before this season's Mirrorball champ is crowned. To catch up, watch Week 8 in its full glory here.
The scores this week are:
William & Cheryl: 30 + 27 = 57
Roshon & Chelsie: 29 + 27 = 56
Donald & Peta: 27 + 28 = 55
Katherine & Mark: 26 + 29 = 55
Maria & Derek: 28 + 25 = 53
Melissa & Maks: 24 + 27 = 51