Tom tells us this is the "best of the best" coming back -- if that were true we wouldn't have anybody that finished lower than first or second on here. Hmph.
Staircase introductions -- first impressions -- Sabrina Bryan has what Tom & Lorenzo refer to as "babyheads" coming out of the top of her costume. And Tristan either has really weird chest hair growth patterns or ticked off his waxer.
Tom tells us 11 of these dancers have made the finals -- so who are the also-rans also being allowed to compete? Pamela Anderson and Sabrina Bryan, that's who.
Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson
hese guys were partners before and they now have matching velour track suits and Joey gets a handful of her tush at their first meeting. In rehearsals, he makes fun of his last name asking Kym if she's ready for "The Fat One" to jump over him. I do kind of like how Joey totally throws himself right into the cheesiness of it all -- high heel dancing shoes and sequin jacket and goofy faces. Joey is breathless, it takes a while for the stars to get their cardio back up.
Len and Tom talk about the changing to scores -- they now can give "half" scores and Tom jokes that the people who sell them paddles were happy about that. I hate to tell them that since they always seem to score everybody over a 5, they could avoid using "halfs" by using ALL THE NUMBERS THEY ALREADY HAVE. Math! It's not that hard!
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6.5; Len: 7; Bruno: 7.
Carrie Ann gripes about Tom cutting her off.
Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough
Personally, Shawn I think you've traded up going from Mark to Derek. (There are lovely people out there that are Mark fans. I am not one of them.) That was a good dance technically, but not knowing that song, I wasn't really drawn in. Carrie calls this "American Smooth" which is a different kind of foxtrot, maybe? Len's already being odd man out, saying that it didn't feel like a foxtrot. Surprise, surprise -- I agree with him.
The interview with Brooke actually reveals some useful information: Shawn's got a dodgy knee.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 6.5; Bruno: 7.5.
Sabrina Bryan & Louis van Amstel
Sabrina was voted in as the 13th contestant. And we hear all over again how "shocking" her elimination was. I do love me some Louis, though, so I hope they go far. There's a nice crowd roar as they start. This routine is a strong start for her, I'd say. Carrie Ann says Sabrina is "On fire!" but cautions that she "overdanced" it. Len wanted as much finesse as impact.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7.5
Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower
When Helio sees Chelsie he exclaims, "They gave me another blonde!" Wow, way to make both women feel special, Helio. He explains he came back on the show so his young daughter, born after he won his season, can see her daddy dance. Chelsie calls Helio "the perfect student." He and Chelsie seem to get along really well. Chelsie smartly picks up that it's best to cast Helio as a classic and jovial charmer. He's more Marx Brothers than Farrelly brothers if you get what I mean. Len says it was mostly a joy to watch, but Helio's feet need work. Bruno mentions that Helio had a few missteps which are covered by his stage presence and charisma. Carrie Ann wants more "body contact" to help with his leading.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7
Pamela Anderson & Tristan McManus
First impression: Tristan is going to have to carry all the personality in this couple. And from the start, Pam is just as bad a dancer as I remember her being. Her technique's not great and she makes ZERO connection with the audience. Having her on right after Helio makes it blindingly obvious. Bruno tells her she has to put more work into it if she wants to go all the way. Len compares it to a kid on the bike when the training wheels come off. Pam's got tears shimmering and I'm surprised given her life and the fact that she's faced these judges before that she doesn't have thicker skin.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 5.5; Len: 5.5, Bruno: 6.
There are boos in the ballroom but those scores are appropriate. Stay strong, judges!
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani
These two are reunited and they're both excited. Tony says Melissa is "arguably the best partner [he's] ever had." Looking at a list of his partners/finishes, yeah, he's had some challenges over the years, mostly because they tend to partner him with the "women of a certain age." He tells Melissa that he feels like he could have pushed her more in their first season together and he blames himself for their loss. Humility! From a pro! Fan me!
It starts off with "business" at the beginning which will probably get right up Len's nose. C'mon, Tony, you have to cut that stuff out -- you should know this by now. I'm also betting at least one of the judges, probably Len, will want it to have been more of a traditional foxtrot. The crowd loved it, though. Carrie Ann points out the Fosse roots of the song and the routine. She liked Melissa lines but then harps on wanting more body contact. Len says it was "a little bit theatrical" for him. Told ya. Bruno calls her extensions "vertiginous" -- nice fancy word there, Mr. Tonioli.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7.
Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff
It would be assault, right, if I held Apolo down and got rid of that nastiness on his chin? Apolo and Karina are in neon and have glowstick bracelets on. But if you're doing the cha cha to "Party Rock Anthem" I guess it makes a certain amount of sense. Oooh, was that a lift? Is Carrie Ann going to be on Lift Patrol already? Len says it was more a bronze, than a gold, medal performance; needed more hip action, but he sold the routine. Bruno liked his arm extensions, but needed better placement of the weight on his foot. Carrie Ann has a crush on Apolo, and can mostly only talk about how sexy he is.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7; Bruno: 7.5
Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd
Yay! Gilles! He's probably the one I'm most rooting for, if for no other reason than he's on one of my favorite underrated shows, "Switched at Birth." (Seriously, if you're not watching it, you totally should be. It's terrific.) Even Gilles' boogie moves at the end of his intro make me laugh. Gilles feels like he has amazing chemistry with Peta. Oh, dear. There's a little bit of "business" at the beginning of this one too. Will these pros never learn???
Bruno says it was "technically so good" and then asks, "Can I see it again?" Carrie Ann says with some heart, "I miss you," and calls it "poetic and gorgeous." Len liked the mix of steps and the sophistication. If this isn't the high score so far, I'll be shocked.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8 ; Len 8; Bruno: 8.
Which Brooke announces as the high score of the evening. I'm psychic.
Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas
It's so handy that they've put my least favorite candidate with my least favorite pro. Can do all my hating in one handy package. Bristol does seem less timid than she did in the clips they showed. She still can't dance for beans, though. I mean, compare her legs to what we saw on Sabrina earlier.
Carrie Ann votes her "most improved" and calls her legs "beautiful" but says she needs more "pop" when she hits her lines. Len talks about her increased confidence, and then criticizes her arms. Bruno wants her to find "power and focus."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6.5; Len: 6.5; Bruno: 6.5
That's fair. Better than Pamela, which she was, but near the bottom, which she also was.
Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya
I'd forgotten that Anna was the female half of the runner-up couple the season Drew won. I like Anna a lot -- she's one of my favorite of the pros. She says she's being tough on Drew because she thinks he's got the talent. This is a very traditional foxtrot, with a lot of moves in hold, which I think will go over very well with the judges. Oh! In one of their apart moments, they kick up their heels and it looks like Drew almost bit it, but he didn't and his smile never faltered. Way to go!
Len complains about the boobirds but goes on to say that it was too hard-hitting, needed softening up. Bruno likes the chemistry with Anna but warns Drew that there were times he did stiffen up. Carrie Ann remarks on his improved posture but cautions that the other judges were right -- he needs to watch out for being too rigid.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7.5
Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy
Val uses the word "impactful" so I'm automatically agin' him. Kelly never had to do the cha-cha in the short first season that was only six weeks long. They have a funny moment discussing her petite frame and her, um, endowments. Whatever word Kelly used to describe them had to be bleeped. Heh. I might end up liking her more than I remember. She misses a step near the end, but recovers nicely. I think she'll be the contestant most likely to get the "improvement over this season" arc. Bruno calls her a "stunner" but whatever advice he gives her about her legs is drowned out by the audience. Carrie Ann compliments their "insane chemistry" and warns her to "straighten her legs." Len compliments Val's choreography and warns Kelly about raising her shoulders.
During the post-dance interview, it's clear they're going to try to make Val and Kelly the "romance" of the season. Lame.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7.5
Commenting on Val hiding behind Kelly during the interview, Tom notes "Anthropologists take note: We may have just seen the first sighting of a shy Chmerkovskiy." And that's why he won the Emmy. Love him.
Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
These two crazy kids seem to work well together. They're at least amusing to watch. I'm also kind of rooting for Kirstie for being older and not super fit/thin like the other female competitors. That being said, I'm not sure dragging her across the floor is the best way to handle her figure, Maks.
Carrie Ann tells her that she tells the story "with her full body." She wants Kirstie to "lift her carriage" just a little bit more. Len says he was going to say a lot of nice things, but since they're short on time he's going straight to the bad stuff. He wants her to lift her rib cage more, "lift it to shift it," refine the quality of movement more. Bruno loves her emotive qualities, but agrees with Len about some of the technical aspects.
Personally, I wish they'd put more of an actual color on her lips. But Tom's probably happy they didn't because she draws him into a loooooong smooch. As Maks drags her away, she calls, "That's for your Emmy" while Tom mimes smoking a cigarette. Again, love him. He's trying to save time, and literally promos tomorrow night's results show with "lots of good stuff, blah blah blah."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6.5; Len: 6; Bruno: 6.5
Kirstie responds to the scores with, "Well, I just need to improve." Right attitude.
Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke
Emmitt cracks me up when he says, "My wife loves seeing me do the cha-cha because of the 'hip action,'" and then gives a little bit of a dirty chuckle. I may also be rooting for him as a dancer who doesn't have the classical dancer shape. Built like a brick wall, is Emmitt. I also love him for wearing green dancing shoes with heels. I hope he gets to keep those. Ol' Twinkletoes still has it, if this routine is anything to go by! He's going to be a hard one to beat -- good technique, loads of charm. He's still my odds on favorite for the mirrorball. The judges all loved it.
Seriously, if we're running short on time, let's cut short the Brooke moments. She's so worthless. If they need to stretch to give the graphics guy time to get the score screen ready, let Tom vamp for a bit. You know, let the EMMY WINNING MUCH LOVED HOST talk more.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8.5; Bruno: 8
So, your scoreboard looks like this:
Emmitt & Cheryl: 24.5
Gilles & Peta: 24
Sabrina & Louis: 22.5
Shawn & Derek and Apolo & Karina: 22
Drew & Anna and Kelly & Val and Helio & Chelsie: 21.5
Melissa & Tony: 21
Joey & Kym: 20.5
Bristol & Mark: 19.5
Kirstie & Maks: 19
Pamela & Tristan: 17
My prediction: Pamela's the first one out tomorrow. Her prior season gave no indication that she has the fanbase to overcome being not just last, but two points behind next-to-last.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun