You can tell there are still too many people on this season of Dancing With the Stars since it feels like it takes 20 minutes for the introductions. Let's get rid of some more chaff!
Head judge Len Goodman is out tonight, but director Baz Luhrmann (of "Strictly Ballroom" fame) is there in his stead.
The first star tonight is Joanna Krupa. She and Derek Hough are doing the jive, and he says the challenge is to keep it from looking frantic. They jive to "What I Like About You," and it is super fast (even faster than the average jive, I feel like) and mostly succeed at keeping it from looking frantic. They bring out the fun and the joy of the dance and clearly have a lot of chemistry (even though Joanna appears to be wearing about five of Dee Snider's wigs all at the same time). Carrie Ann Inaba likes their gusto and energy, but her footwork was a little out of control. Bruno Tonioli says Joanna doesn't hold back, but with the jive, they have to be precise, and it wasn't exactly that. Baz says they are a great couple, tremendous and exciting, but he would like to see more "actual relationship." Scores: 6-7-7, for a 20/30.
Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo prepare for the quick step. In rehearsal, she is having trouble because she is so used to holding her breath (like she does when she swims) that she is looking kind of stiff, but they work it out. They dance to "I Want You Back," and while they're having fun on stage, she still seems a little uptight -- and her legs don't seem like she's extending as much as she could. Bruno says she needs to relax a little more because when she tenses up, her shoulders go up. "You could be amazing," he closes. Baz says that the quick step is so hard, and that in the first half, they could see her as an athlete thinking about approaching something that is difficult, but in the second half, she was in the moment and in the music. Carrie Ann says Natalie is one of her favorites, that she likes how she moves. Her only note is that Natalie should think of Alec as an extension of herself and not a separate entity. Scores: 7-7-7, 21/30.
Chuck Liddell decides to ignore Len's advice last week about getting in touch with his feminine side since he and Anna Trebunskaya are doing the tango. They decide to add some fighting moves to their choreography to see how it goes. During their performance (to "Seven Nation Army"), Chuck just kind of stalks around the floor -- it really barely even feels like he's dancing. Baz says he thinks Len would rip him to pieces, but he thinks you have to love watching him embrace that dance. Carrie Ann says she was a little frightened, and that sometimes they are just looking for impact, and he had that. Bruno says it was "savage and primeval and always a tango." Um, are the judges afraid to criticize him or something? I thought that was pretty bad. Scores: 6-7-6, 19/30.
Just for the record: Baz has given everyone a 7 so far. I just don't think Chuck was in the same league as the first two.
Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas prepare for the jive. She wants to do lots of tricks, but he's worried she's not quite coordinated enough to pull them off. In the performance, though, they seem to hit all the marks, but it does seem kind of frantic. They crack up when it's over, so clearly they're having a ball. Melissa seems to be trying to evoke a little Lucille Ball vibe with the faces she was pulling, as well. Carrie Ann says she was worried last week that she wouldn't last long (saying she was very "beige," ouch), but this was great. Bruno like they are two glittering lady birds. He says that their tops were so busy that their feet fell apart here and there. Baz says it was a big improvement, but she needs to work on the footwork. Scores: 7-6-6, for a 19/30.
Really? The same score as CHUCK?
Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova are planning to attack the quickstep and add a lot of content after last week's 13/30. They definitely up their difficulty level, and had less of pro-dancing-around-star syndrome. He's just thrilled when they finish. Bruno says they delivered content. "That was a proper quickstep." Baz says he is confronting the challenge before them, and he's a natural performer, though his timing was a little off. Carrie Ann says this is a touchdown compared with last week and that they acted as a team. Scores: 7-7-6, for a 20/30.
Debi Mazar and Maks Chmerkovskiy are hoping to use their love-hate relationship to their advantage in the tango. She cries, he apologizes, they get over it. They dance to the Moulin Rouge version of "Roxanne," and she's definitely more comfortable than last week, when you could see her thinking out every move. And they're working the power and aggression sides of the dance pretty well, too. Baz says he loves the song and that they played out the story very well. Carrie Ann says she is the drama queen and worked it out on the dance floor. Bruno says she should always channel "the feisty ball-breaker ... keep a hold of him!" Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.
Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower prepare for the jive, which Louie says he didn't even know about a week ago. They start out with Louie doing a huge turning jump off the stage (courtesy of his snowboarding background). He's a teensy bit stiff, but during the part where they are side by side doing fast footwork, he manages to keep up with Chelsie pretty well. Carrie Ann says he has so much joy in his dance, but he lost touch with the music a few times. Bruno says he can actually do it, and so he's going to give him a hard time because he has the ability to do better than that. Baz thinks they're a great couple, a great story, but he thought it was tremendous, joyous and what a jive should be. Scores: 6-7-6, for a 19/30.
At this point, with seven of the 14 couples having danced, all the scores fall between 19 and 21. I think there's been a wider scope of goodness and badness than three points, but I'm not a judge.
Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff finished in first last week, so now they feel like they are under a lot of pressure preparing for the quickstep. At the beginning of their performance, Animal from the Muppets is playing the drums, and that's because they're dancing to the Muppets theme song. I LOVE THIS! They've got ridiculous energy, and their costumes (his green-GREEN suit and her fluffy light pink dress) seem meant to evoke Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy without putting masks on them. Afterward, Gonzo is at judges' table playing the trumpet and confusing the heck out of Bruno. Oh, sure, this is all pretty cheesy, but I love the Muppets, so I'm running with it. Bruno: "Spectacular, spectacular! Talk about realizing potential! Mini Fred Astaire, you were." (OK, Yoda. That's not the green guy he's looking like.) He adds that Aaron was in control of the performance, and that's pretty amazing for week two. But now he has to live up to that. Baz says he's already growing, and that it was a real quickstep, a real show. Carrie Ann says that was truly a pleasure and that the contact in his hold was amazing. I think we're finally going to see a score outside the 19-21 range. Scores: 9-9-9, for a 27/30. Wow! That is an amazing score for the second week. Aaron says now the pressure really is on.
Kelly Osbourne was the story of the night (in terms of good dancing, at least) at last week's premiere. She's terrified that their tango won't live up to last week's performance, and the pressure is getting to her during rehearsal with Louis Van Amstel. In performance, she still looks kind of terrified, and she doesn't have that same effervescent smile she had working during last week's waltz. She seems to make a misstep and then can't quite come back after that. Seems like she's apologizing to Louis as they finish. Baz: "Oh, Kelly Osbourne." He says her story of self-revelation is amazing and that though there were mistakes, she kept on fighting and never gave up. Carrie Ann says she is building a technique baseline that is getting her through, even the mistakes. Bruno says when she got it right, it was like looking at Eva Peron, but it went awry with the errors, and her acknowledgment of them with a giggle. Scores: 6-7-6, for a 19/30.
Kathy Ireland and Tony Dovolani want to improve after last week's lackluster performance. She gets very Pollyanna and tells Tony she "loves criticism" and takes it as a gift. (Sorry, but I get the idea of finding it constructive, but loving it? No one loves being told they stunk.) They hope the quickstep will work out better for them. They still seem rather tentative to me, and somehow, their quickstep feels slower than the others'. Carrie Ann liked the full presentation more than last week, but she still finds Kathy reserved and careful and not standing out. Bruno says she is elegant and beautiful to look at, but they have to be engaging. Baz says the quickstep is an exciting dance, and that they need to bring that sense of attack to these performances. Tony kind of talks back to the judges in a way that indicates that he tried to get Kathy to dance closer to him and she wouldn't, but he's vague. Scores: 6-6 -6, for an 18/30.
Mark Dacascos and Lacey Schwimmer take on the quickstep and want to stay in third or higher after their strong start last week. Their quickstep actually lives up to its name and features some amazng moves from both of them. I want it to keep going when it's done, which is a good sign, right? Bruno says it was a great performance, "if you could only get your feet under control ... but you are a good dancer, and you can sell it." Baz says it was an incredible comeback after his first fall and that he could be a great ballroom dancer. Carrie Ann says it was ambitious and clean, but he needs to breathe more. I actually didn't notice the fall, but I see it on second viewing -- their feet weren't on camera when it happened, so it wasn't as obvious. Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.
Mya and Dmitry Chaplin are aiming to never get a 5 ever again. They work and work and work on their technique, and Mya is especially trying to make sure she doesn't mix her tap-dance technique in there accidentally. Their dance is fast, cheeky, precise and energetic. Plus, Dmitry is dressed like a nerd, sporting some of the high high-waters I've ever seen. Baz: "That is the real deal. That is fantastic." He says they have speed and accuracy, claiming the dance and not being overpowered by the dance. Carrie Ann says Len would have hated the beginning, but haha, he isn't here. She loved their jive. Bruno says it was like seeing Josephine Baker and Clark Kent dance together. He liked it. Scores: 9-9-9, for a 27/30.
Tom DeLay and Cheryl Burke have to take on the tango for their second dance. He's having a tough time jerking his head to the music at the right time during rehearsal, and he also injured his foot, getting a pre-stress fracture, news of which actually broke before this season started. So the dance itself: At first, it's not the trainwreck it could have been -- but then at the end, he's looking a mess, and then he almost drops Cheryl in their final move. He's limping afterward and looking in a lot of pain. Carrie Ann says there is something oddly alluring watching them dance together, that he is providing a good frame for her. "You've got a gut, you've got to squeeze them together, sir," she says, and I have no idea what she's talking about. I'm not sure that Tom Bergeron knows what she meant, either, but he says, "I don't think historically that's been his problem." Wait, what is going on?? Bruno says he nearly pulled it out of the bag, looking distinguished and determined, but it fell to pieces at the end. Baz says it was a cliffhanger -- and that he had dignity and grace, which should be celebrated. Scores: 6-6-6, for an 18/30.
Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson are aiming for speed and youth in their jive. They dance to "Secret Agent Man," and nothing says youth like a velour suit! But they are speedy and energetic and ... jivey. Bruno: "Secret Agent Osmond, that was Mission: Accomplished." Baz thought the dance was accurate and thinks it was fantastic that dance knows no age. Carrie Ann says it was an amazing performance and loves Kym's outfit. She adds that they just need to keep it up because they are rocking. Scores: 8-9-8, for a 25/30.
It's going to be interesting tomorrow night: All but three couples got scores between 18 and 21, except for Aaron's 27, Mya's 27 and Donny's 25. I think it's going to be a fight to get out of the bottom three for a lot of people. What do you think?