So we're told by Len at the top of the show that the stars will be coordinating "every little detail." I'm really hoping that doesn't mean they're doing choreography.
Brooke promies us "two bombshell announcements."
Staircase entrances — Sabrina is wearing a dinner napkin that barely comes past her girlybits and Peta's just flat-out gone for lingerie in a see-through teddy and stockings. And Maksim has on a hideous, hideous wig. Oh, and it looks like Bristol can see Russia in her dance partner? What has she done to Mark?
So, they're performing routines from previous shows, but updating them with their own twist. Oh boy. I fail to see how this will be good.
Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya
Cha cha - Season 1, Joey McIntyre & Ashley Del Grosso "Crazy in Love"
Drew's idea is to make the whole thing feel like we're at a show, a rock show. He thinks that means pyrotechnics. Drew wants to bring more sexy to their routine and when Anna compliments him on his hip action, he points out, "I got two babies and they weren't delivered by the stork." Parents across America have some 'splainin' to do to any kids watching tonight.
There's something about sleeveless hoodie sweatshirt under the sleeveless vest that Drew's wearing that make it look like he's hunching his shoulders whether he actually is or not. There's some "b-boy moves" and then a wind machine.
Len liked the concept and their sharpness and their rhythm. Len says overall it was "terrific." Bruno says something about a "power drill" and I cringe. Carrie Ann says it was a really good cha cha with "tight and precise moves."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8
Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd
Tango, Season 10, Erin & Maks
They've rigged Gilles into a flying harness and I'm very very nervous about it. DON'T DROP THE PRETTY. Gilles isn't excited about iconic dance week because he wants to be original. He's choosing to take a dance from someone not on the show this season. Gilles is so considerate.
The routine starts with Gilles being lifted up off a bed, as if he's dreaming, because this dance is set to "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" — seems like a lot of trouble for not much payoff, as he's out of the harness before any actual dancing starts.
It's a very well executed tango, but it doesn't feel like a particularly memorable one, despite the audience going wild. Bruno says the reaction proves Gilles could "fly in and out of any bed he wants." Bruno loved the performance but points out that Gilles lost his footing a few times. Carrie Ann says the performance was "exquisite" but they were out of sync and holding the frame too loosely which is why they had some "wobbles."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len 8.5; Bruno: 8.5
Those are higher scores than Gilles (and I) expected, so they're thrilled.
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani
Samba, Season 13, J.R. Martinez & Karina Smirnoff, "Conga"
Melissa is scared of the double elimination. Melissa wants to put some tricks in that will make the audience go "Whoa." Tony is surprised by how far Melissa wants to push herself in the choreography. Melissa is putting in the risky ending move. ALWAYS DO THE PAMCHENKO.
Their samba rolls are GOOD. Those rolls seem to be a hard thing for a lot of couples to do without looking totally awkward. In the middle of the routine, they do a complicated spin move with everchanging interlocking arms and it looks really cool. They didn't go full on with the risky move but it was still pretty cool.
Carrie Ann says it was "fantastic," with the "samba drops and samba rolls." Len says they had "great technique" and calls it a "knockout." Tony gooses Tom. I love how the pros have that tradition with Tom.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9
I agree with those scores. And think if we were later in the season it might've even gotten a 10 or two.
Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff
Foxtrot, Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke, "Fever"
Apolo wants them to do a "Karina is a statue coming to life" motif. Oh boy. Going artsy fartsy. There are two other dancers on stage dressed as statues. Karina's pants are so ridiculous I have a hard time concentrating on anything else. They're see through tiered sparkly ruffles? Anyway. This routine seems technically good, but I just get NO sexual chemistry off these two and that's what was needed to sell this routine and to make it live up to Gilles' same routine.
Len liked the musicality, but would've liked "cleaner feet" and "more of it in hold." Bruno has notes for Apolo about his hands. Carrie thought it was "stunning" and disagrees with Bruno about Apolo's arms. Carrie Ann also praises Apolo's skills at leading, which is huge for the male stars to hear.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Bruno: 8.5
I think that's fair. I didn't think it was as good as Melissa's.
Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy
Paso Doble, Laila Ali & Maks, Season 4
We see Kelly & Val consulting with a set designer; it's kind of cool to see this really, really behind-the-scenes stuff. We saw a producer with Gilles & Peta earlier during their routine selection process.
This was a smart choice for Kelly; a lot of the paso is about the drama and she's a soap actress, she knows how to do that. It's also interesting to see how the dance looks as done by a tiny little thing like Kelly instead of a fierce Amazon like Laila.
Bruno calls it a "defining performance" for her. Carrie Ann says something so profane they not only silence her they cut to a title card. I guess Kelly's pottymouth is catching. Carrie Ann calls them the "couple to watch." Len says, "Where did that come from?" He compliments her performance and her technique. I think these two may be the "sleeper" couple of the season.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9
Again, I bet those scores would be higher if we were later in the season.
Bombshell Announcement #1: Paula Abdul will be a judge next week. Oh boy. I mean she has dance cred, but I wasn't fond of her stint on "American Idol."
Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Cha cha, Carson Kressley & Anna, "Moves Like Jagger", Season 13
Tom says it best when he says that Maks looks like he's ready for "Rambo: The Musical." LOVE HIM. Kirstie picks this dance because she likes how fun it was. More behind the scenes: we meet the wardrobe people.
So, Maks enters in a Union Jack Mini Cooper (nice ad for them) and, as promised, he's in very low cut, very tight pants. Well, it was better than Carson's. But that's not saying much. Let's see what the judges say.
Carrie Ann says it was fun and "by far her best dance of the season." Len said her footwork was good and the cha cha is her dance. Maks has a moment of gay panic when Bruno compliments his pants. How on Earth can you be in ballroom dancing and not comfortable with gay men? That makes NO sense.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8
That feels a tad overscored to me.
Sabrina Bryan & Louis van Amstel
Paso Doble, Mel B & Maks, Season 5, "Free Your Mind"
Part of what was so impressive about this routine was Mel B's fierce attitude. Sabrina's too cute for that. Her boobs are distractingly jiggly in this outfit. I think she needs outfits where she can wear something like a real bra. Ok, the actual dancing: The moves are sharp and precise and the routine's fun. The judges are going to love this one. And they do.Carrie Ann didn't feel like Sabrina brought anything new in terms of "creative content" even though it was "outstanding."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 8.5; Bruno: 8.5
Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke
Paso Doble, Mario Lopez & Karina, Season 3
More behind-the-scenes stuff as Emmitt meets with a set designer and explains he wants the lighting to be like "dusk." I never noticed before that Emmitt says "Len" with about three syllables. Yep, he's from the South.
Ah, this is a song I love from the Desperado soundtrack, "Canción del Mariachi" ("Morena de Mi Corazón") where it's sung by Antonio Banderas with Los Lobos as his backup band. This was a fun dance with a killer ending where Emmitt charges across the dance floor and slides through Cheryl's legs.
Bruno gives him advice about watching his shoulders, but seems enthusiastic otherwise. Carrie Ann is so enthusiastic she's about to rock out of her chair. While Len's talking, they close-up on Emmitt and you can see every drop of sweat on his shaved head.
Ah, Emmitt explains that the donkey was crowd shy, which explains his non-appearance. His? Hers? I'm not sure about donkeys and gender.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 8; Bruno: 8.5
Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower
Quickstep, Apolo & Julianne, Season 4
It was smart of Helio to pick a quickstep as his own quickstep was so memorable in his original season. Apolo visits them in rehearsal and points out if they did it like he did it in his original season it would only get 5s on this current season. He's not wrong.
About midway through the dance they go to the top of the stairs and get a spotlight for their fancy footwork section. I wonder if that was Helio's idea - it's a very good one. Shortly after that, though, back down on the main dance floor, there's a moment in a dip where Helio steps on Chelsie's skirt and it trips them up for just a moment but they make a decent recovery as far as I can tell.
Carrie Ann calls him "the quickstep king." The dress slip-up gets mentioned. Len calls it "top-notch."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 8.5; Bruno: 8.5
Those are VERY generous. What would they have gotten if there hadn't been the dress issue?
The second bombshell announcement is that tomorrow night the couples will be picking styles for one another to dance next week.
Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas
So, Wednesday morning in rehearsals, Bristol has a meltdown in rehearsal when Mark's trying to give her a pep talk. She tries to challenge Mark saying that she bets he wishes he had a different partner, like Sabrina or Shawn.
He very calmly asks, "What have I done to make you feel that way?" And the best Bristol can come up with is, "It's just in general." Mark reassures her that he's fine with having her as a partner. Bristol brings up that he missed a rehearsal and then essentially accuses him of throwing the competition so he can go home. He scoots closer to try and reassure her and puts his hands on her (bare) legs.
She removes his hands, grabs her bag, and leaves the rehearsal room. Ugh. This type of dramarama is NOT why I watch my dancing show. I want sequins and spray tans and silliness.
Because of all the DRAMA they don't tell us what "iconic" dance this is supposed to recreate. It's got a chessboard theme. She really is just so far below the rest of the remaining dancers in terms of dancing skills.
I mean, we've seen, what three other paso dobles just tonight and this pales in comparison to those. They should have picked a dance that no other couple was doing so there'd be no direct comparison. No one's done the jive, the rhumba, the waltz, the Viennese waltz, or the Argentine tango (although admittedly that last one is probably out of Bristol's reach).
Len says when he was dancing competitively he always had a flare-up with his partner right before performing the paso doble. He goes on to say that this had the "most content" of anything she's danced so far and is her best performance so far. Bruno says her lines were better than ever. Carrie Ann wants her to make her expressions less one-dimensional.
In the interview with Brooke, we find out that dance was originally danced by Derek Hough and Joanna Krupa. Gosh, remember her? I didn't.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7.5
Wildly overscored. I mean, did the judges see the same dance I did? That puts them only 1.5 points behind Drew & Kirstie. Ok, Kirstie I get, but Drew wasn't THAT bad.
Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough
Quickstep, Helio & Julianne, Season 5
Shawn wants to bring in trampolines for their routine. Shawn admits upfront that they're totally going to break the rules during their routine. Derek, rightly I think, assumes that they won't take that much a hit from the judges and they'll more than make up for it by pleasing the audience and getting votes.
They start with each of them doing a gymnastics move onto the floor via trampoline. I count at least two lifts AND they break hold more than you're supposed to. They finish the routine by jumping off the stairs onto crash mats tucked next to the band.
Bruno and Carrie Ann are both giving them a standing ovation. Bruno calls it a classic and says it may be the best dance he's seen in 15 seasons. "You broke the rules, but I'm never going to forget it." Carrie Ann echoes those sentiments. Len points out that last week they docked Bristol for breaking hold in quickstep so they'll have to do the same here. Even if Len really did enjoy it.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Bruno: 9.5.
So, breaking the rules doesn't hurt you that much, huh? Wonder if that will set a precedent in coming weeks.
Melissa & Tony: 27
Shawn & Derek: 26.5
Helio & Chelsie: 25.5
Sabrina & Louis: 25.5
Apolo & Karina: 25.5
Gilles & Peta: 25.5
Emmitt & Cheryl: 25
Drew & Anna: 24
Kirstie & Maks: 24
Bristol & Mark: 22.5
So, if breaking the rules six ways to Sunday gets you second place, I'd break the rules all the time from now on.
Double elimination tomorrow night and my prediction is Drew & Kirstie. Bristol (or Mark) apparently has a fan base and I don't think Drew & Kirstie's scores will keep them safe.