Tuesday, October 02, 2007

DWTS: Two Much

The most underrated element of “Dancing With the Stars” is the opening Parade of Couples Down the Stairs of Death. For example, last night we learned that Cameron Mathison had, in the past week, managed to squeeze in a few lessons at the Albert Reed school of vote mongering: bare chest equals votes. And we learned, without him even taking the dance floor, that Wayne Newton sucks more than we thought. How? Partner Cheryl Burke’s costume. With its dazzling peacock headdress and feather-boa sleeves and skirt hem, her get-up screamed, “I will do everything in my power to keep your eyes on me and off the stiff.” Good luck with that.

Before we get to the performances, I have to admit that while I adore DWTS, fatigue has already started to set in. Between last week’s triple play and last night’s over-stuffed two-hour extravaganza, I found my attention waning. I know ABC needs the programming, but there’s so much fat in this show—like the obligatory network promo for shows destined to become failures (“Cavemen”)—that I’ve started taking Lipitor. Do we really need yet another segment featuring yet another etiquette coach guiding yet another supposedly graceless celeb in the fine art of walking with a book on her head? Even Drew was skeptical: “Did she actually do anything or just stand around?” And speaking of Drew, we know that Samantha Harris is on maternity leave—let us enjoy the moment and stop threatening us with her return.

On to the couples:

Mel B. and Maksim: I forgot how good Mel was in Round 1 and was surprised how well she adapted to the quick step. I was more surprised by her relatively tasteful costume—I keep forgetting she’s British, which we all know is code for “classy.” But I was positively shocked that for the pair’s musical selection, bandleader Harold Wheeler & Co. attempted A-Ha’s “Take on Me,” which has to feature the highest note ever sung in pop history. They did not reach it.

Mark and Kym: The rehearsal footage showed Mark and Kym practicing in Chicago. My dream of Mr. Cuban purchasing the Cubs edges closer to reality every day. C’mon Mark, baby needs a pair of World Series tickets. Regarding his actual dance, I would have thought Mark and the mambo would be as incompatible as marshmallows and artichokes, but he actually didn’t leave that bad of an aftertaste. The judges were a bit harsh—whenever they start praising you for your hard work, you know you’re Billy Ray Cyrus and they want you gone by Week 4. But I say, put Mark on Season 2 and he’s a semi-finalist and if you don’t agree, I have two words for you—Jerry Rice. I give Mark extra props for losing the goatee—welcome to 2007!—and for smiling through the judges’ criticism. Or was it just a Hillary cackle?

Wayne and Cheryl: Did you know that Wayne is 65? Thanks, Cheryl, for enlightening us. Were you amazed…that he’s not 85? (I’m totally inspired now to head out and buy my dad a pair of camouflage cargo pants.) Of their dance, all I can say is, Wayne, I’ve seen Mark Cuban, and you’re no Mark Cuban. How to describe his final leap as anything other than bizarre. When I saw it in the rehearsal footage, I thought Wayne was jumping for joy that practice was over—I didn’t realize it was part of the routine. Good thing his face is frozen in a perma-smile, as the judges are not of a mind to give him a free pass.

Marie & Jonathan: Donny’s in the house!!! And so is Jimmy!!! Or is it Wayne??? I get it—Marie designs dolls, Jonathan is a wax figure. They make the perfect couple. You know, back in the day, I wanted to be Marie Osmond. Or Valerie Bertinelli. And now they both just sort of annoy me. Which is a shame, because Marie turned in a sweltering mambo, prompting Carrie Ann to comment, “You are one hot cougar. (I don’t know where, when or how women in their 40s who haven’t let themselves completely go to pot became known as cougars, but I want the term banished. Yesterday.)

Albert and Anna: Not content to rest on his supermodel “good looks” (quotations completely mine), Albert pulled out the old “I’m dancing this one for grandpa” trick. He then proceeded to rehearse in Capri pants and a porkpie hat and I have no idea how this routine turned out because I switched the channel to “Chuck.”

Helio and Julianne: The love affair continues. Last week’s message boards kicked up an ant hill of controversy, with some posters expecting Helio’s Brazilian-ness alone to carry him through the Latin dances. I don’t want to get into a whole nature vs. nurture debate, I just know that the dude can dance, no matter the steps required. Where Julianne and last year’s winner, Apolo Ohno, often seemed like a couple of teenagers excited to be staying up past their bedtime, she and Helio look like they stepped out of an old MGM musical. I want them to live happily every after.

Jennie and Derek: “I’m going to look at Derek like he’s a big strapping man,” quoth Jennie, and if she managed to succeed, it has to go down as her greatest acting performance ever. I honestly forgot this pair was competing. Put two bland blondes together and they sort of cancel each other out. Until “the bum incident” as Len kindly termed it. I would call it “falling on your ass.” The slo-mo replay showed Derek was at fault—a ruling that did nothing to loosen Jennie’s facial muscles. Call it the curse of the 90210 overachiever. Like former contestant and castmate Ian Ziering, Jennie seems to be taking this competition waaaaay too seriously, in an “I. Will. Succeed.” kind of way.

Cameron and Edyta: Cameron isn’t that bad. He’s just not that good. His patented move—leg stretched, arm pointed at a Saturday Night Fever-esque angle—looks like it was learned in a bullfighting ring (which, come to think of it, might bode well for the paso doble). But he’s so pretty—even Bruno noted, “You look like Superman”—I want to keep him around for awhile.

Floyd and Karina: Floyd makes a person appreciate Laila Ali, who managed to float like a butterfly, not crouch like a boxer. Still Floyd un-hunched a little vs. Week 1 and the pair turned in a decent quick step. Which, in typical Karina fashion, ended with her landing on the judges’ table with her ass in Len’s face. Because it’s all about her.

Jane and Tony: I hear ya, Jane. I got no hip action. And I don’t think wrapping a snake around my neck would help me much, either. Who dreams up these rehearsal aids? PETA? “You see, snakes make excellent dance partners.” Bruno characterized the pair’s mambo as a “tea party at Wimbledon” and the very proper Len demanded more “raunch.” You know what that means: Time for Tony to show Cameron and Albert who’s the chestiest of them all.

Time out: Over on PBS, some old guy is talking about his rations in the army—roast beef smothered in chocolate pudding. Who said war is hell?

Back to…

Sabrina and Mark: If I was predisposed to hating any one dancer before the competition kicked off, it was Sabrina and her questionable “star” status. But the Cheetah Girl has won me over with her skills and her exuberance and the fact that when the judges said “cut the hip hop” she actually paid attention. (Karina, are you getting this?) Like the judges, I was worried that success in the cha cha wouldn’t translate to the quick step. But our girl proved as Cheetah-tastic with ballroom as she did Latin. Mark gives Julianne a run for the choreography prize and Sabrina has the versatility to carry this team to the finals.


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