The “Dancing with the Stars” 2011 Fall edition resumed September 26 on ABC with a second week of season 13 action. High-energy was the term of the evening for all eleven hopefuls and their pro partners, as the couples were charged with delivering either the precise Quickstep or the jumpin’ Jive. Here’s a complete recap and review of who rocked, who rolled and who should spring for a bus ticket home right now.
The show opened as always with charming co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet as they welcomed the couples to the ballroom floor, which gave me a little time to snark over their get-ups for the week. Wow, Rob Kardashian went Ace Ventura. And that may’ve been the single-most atrocious dress I’d ever seen on Cheryl Burke. It looked like a bunch of tropical flowers threw up on her. Kristin Cavallari looked like a hot, modern-day Marilyn Monroe. (I’m sure that was accidental. Not.) And it’s totally creepy that J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff wore the same outfit.
Anyway, with the intros done, Tom and Brooke revealed the identity of the first couple to hoof it on “DWTS” 2011 week 2: soccer star Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Hope had a busy week in sports, and called the physical demands of the competition plus her career “difficult” to handle. But she vowed to get it together to “compete for the top spot” with their Jive.
Holy 80s, Batman. I get the whole kitschy-thing Maks was going for with the soccer unis and Hope certainly rocked the socks out of those high-heeled faux-cleats. But the dancing itself was rough. She had trouble keeping up with the choreography and her kicks and flicks weren’t particularly sharp. Points for speed and good energy, but technique? Not so much. Downgrade from their week one Viennese Waltz, if you ask moi. Head judge Len Goodman called it “crisp” and “sharp” but also called her out for losing her timing “here and there”. Very kind of the old Brit. Bruno Tonioli commanded her eyes before telling her that “thighs that can crack a walnut” weren’t enough to get through the competition. He instructed her to “apply yourself”. Carrie Ann Inaba praised the performance element of the Jive, calling her “fun” and “flirtatious”, but told her to work on “the details” and her upper body placement. Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s “Dancing with the Stars” 2011 week 2 scores: 6, 7, 6 = 19.
Next up to dance were reality star Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas, who were assigned the Quickstep. Given the duo’s musical selection (“Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”), Kristin –who was told to come out of her “shell” more following her week 1 Cha Cha– planned to live it up “Hollywood glam” style. Mark worked hard to get the musical Kristin to “hit” all of the beats with more punch, and she hoped to comply in the ballroom.
Okay, so she looked great. She always looks great. (Sometimes I dislike her for looking so great.) She had a perfect smile and really, really played her role to a T. A few technical issues aside, it was filled with great speed and lots of fun. Upgrade! Bruno was overcome, declaring “I have been bedazzled by the blonde bombshell” and claiming that the dance was “twinkling with pleasure”. However, he also cautioned her against losing her frame. Carrie Ann called it “stunning, sophistocated” and dubbed it a “gorgeous” and “complete transformation” from week one. Len brought down the mood a bit when he told Kristin that she looked great but that “it wasn’t as good as you looked”. He gave them grief for breaking hold “a couple of times” but still deemed it “a great improvement on last week”. Guess someone peed in his Cheerios again this morning. Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas “DWTS” week 2 scores: 8, 7, 7 = 22.
Actor David Arquette and partner Kym Johnson followed next in line with their Jive, which the main man called “a little silly but complicated as well”. The pair struggled mightily during rehearsals as Kym encouraged David to “try and stay calm” instead of becoming frenetic. He voted that he would “not let [the Jive] defeat me”.
David looked like a cross between crazy solid-gold disco man and a bear lost in a swamp, to quote Bruno’s evaluation of a Billy Ray Cyrus dance several seasons back. It was whoa thar fast and yes, the bad word: Frenetic. I’m not sure what to make of it. But it was hella hilarious. Carrie Ann called it “a little bit Carson-esque” and appreciated his “incredible enthusiasm”. She went on to say that he went “too loose” at times but said that it was a step in the right direction. Len deemed himself speechless at first, and then quipped “any connection that had with a Jive was a coincidence”. He too appreciated the enthusiasm but called it too “wild” and “frantic”. Bruno called him “a runaway train” but said “you were on the border of derailment all the way through”. He was, however, excited that David was “beginning to find [his] persona”. David Arquette and Kym Johnson’s “Dancing with the Stars” 2011 week 2 scores: 6, 6, 6 = 18. Uh, er, overscore? Was Hope really that bad?
The next star to Quickstep her way off the train of hoofers was Italian model Elisabetta Canalis. The model and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy struggled mightily during rehearsals, and Val worried that she wouldn’t be able to master the dance in time. There was plenty of awkward, cringeworthy, Kate Gosselin versus Tony Dovolani style tension between them.
Well smack me silly and call me Sam: It was a genuinely enjoyable performance. Elisabetta looked stunning (which admittedly isn’t much of a feat) in her near boob-baring satiny blue gown. And she seemed to stick with the footwork reasonably well. Was she really the same chick who looked awkward as snot during her week one Cha Cha? Pleasant surprise? Sure thing. Len called it “not great but better than last week”. Bruno said “the Italian exotica is back on track. The gears were grinding, the engine was hot, the pistons were pumping”. He encouraged her to develop her “Lamborghini” lines. Yeah, he’s in colorful-mode. Carrie Ann called the Quickstep Elisabetta’s dance and said she’d “nailed it”. Well that’s quite the mixed bag of nuts. Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy’s “DWTS” season 13 week 2 scores: 7, 7, 7 = 21. In light of those scores, I now feel like Kristin got the screw. Boo.
Reality TV made a comeback next with Rob Kardashian and his partner Cheryl Burke, who were assigned the Jive. Rob admitted during rehearsals that the dance was a toughie for him because of his “man boobs” and his other perceived physical flaws, which probably elicited a wave of sympathetic “awwws” from girls around the country (and a wave of groans from the macho men out there). Still, he vowed to “not care so much about who’s watching” and get into the spirit of the dance. You go boy.
Okay, so their hideous costumes made more sense when “Surfin’ Safari” boomed out from the band area. Rob looked tentative at times, but I never once thought “bear lost in a swamp”. So that’s a success. He’s cute. I want to pinch his cheeks. Bruno declared “you’re starting to blossom” and enjoyed his “rapport with Cheryl”. Carrie Ann sang out “it’s official: Rob Kardashian is a better dancer than Kim Kardashian” and declared “you have the dancing gene”. Len called it “a proper performance” and “a great improvement”. Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke’s “DWTS” week 2 scores: 7, 7, 7 = 21. Really? I think Kristin and Mark need to dance later in the show.
“Dancing with the Stars” 2011 week 1’s most entertaining figure, fashion guru Carson Kressley, was up next with a Quickstep on the arm of partner Anna Trebunskaya. Carson promised during rehearsals that he’d put in as much time as it would take to get the steps down. I think he may need to add some hours to the clock….
Carson absolutely exudes this natural charm that’s totally endearing. You want him to do well. You love him for his entertainment value. But the dance skills? Uh, well. Hmm. Carrie Ann said she “saw improvement” but called Carson “a little wobbly”. Len said “if I held my knife and fork like you held Anna I’d starve to death” and lamented that “the worst dancers on the show are the most fun to watch”. Ouch. But oh so true. Bruno called him “Pee Wee Herman goes to the Prom” and said he looked like he was “dancing on banana skins”. He called the entertainment value “great” but said there was much technical work to be done. Well duh. My cat could’ve told us that. Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya’s “DWTS” week 2 scores: 6, 6, 6 = 18.
Talk show homegirl Ricki Lake and Derek Hough kept thing moving along with a Jive. Derek said during rehearsals that he was “really challenging” his partner with his choreography because he felt like she could handle it. Ricki admitted that the Jive was “exhausting” but promised to do her best to “push through” it.
There was something unsettling about their performance. More than once I wanted to yell “get a room!” but the idea felt so wrong that I bit my tongue and kept watching. I think it was too sexy for a Jive, and Ricki didn’t quite own it as well as she could’ve. Len made a stinky face before confessing “it disturbed me a little bit” and “I didn’t like it”, but he praised their “attack”. Bruno called her the first dancer of the evening to do the kicks and flicks correctly and said “you did incredibly well”. Carrie Ann said it was the “best Jive of the night so far” and echoed Bruno’s praise of her kicks and flicks. Really? I didn’t think it was all that great and it bordered on offensive at times. Hmph. Diff’rent strokes, I guess. Ricki Lake and Derek Hough’s “Dancing with the Stars” week 2 scores: 8, 7, 8 = 23.
Season 13’s most controversial contestant, activist Chaz Bono, was up next with the Quickstep. Lacey Schwimmer said that the first moments of rehearsals were hard, and that “it was like pulling teeth to get him to walk forward”. And Chaz complained to Lacey: “My knees hate you”. Then he grossed her out with his arthritic, cracking joints. She dumbed down their dance to spare him some discomfort.
And then they were off. With the speed of your most finely-tuned turtle. It was probably the slowest Quickstep I’ve ever seen. It was fine, I guess, but there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of content. Wanna bet the judges lap it up like warm milk? Prolly Molly. But I’m not buying what they’re selling. Bruno said “it was like watching a little Ewok dancing with Princess Leia” but faulted them for not having the required “energetic” and “sporty” delivery. Carrie Ann said she could “see you in pain” and praised Chaz’s “charm”, but said that the score wouldn’t be a great one because it was too slow. Len praised him for getting through the dance, but said “I’ve moved through the car wash faster”. Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer’s “Dancing with the Stars” week 2 scores: 6, 5, 6 = 17.
Week one co-leaderboard topper Chynna Phillips followed with the Jive. The singer and her partner Tony Dovolani worked hard during rehearsals, and the pro noted that she’s often “hard on herself” for not getting the steps right away, and she cutely “fudged” her way through the frustration before declaring “sorry Jesus, I have to curse!” Yeah, it was a little weird.
Yowza. Tony made a frighteningly realisitic nerdy guy at the start of their dance. But then he dumped the geek glasses and returned to his usual suaveness. Thank goodness. Anyway, it was a good offering. Chynna’s very naturally graceful and elegant. She lost her place at the beginning, but she’s just so graceful that it’s easy to overlook the gaffe. Carrie Ann echoed my comments about her natural grace, but said she thought “you played it a little safe”. Len was also disappointed with the performance, calling it “good but not great”. He thought it was too “polite”. Bruno declared that there’s a “sexy siren” trying to come out but called the performance too “muddy”. Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani’s “DWTS” week 2 scores: 7, 7, 7 = 21. Wow. The Big Screw. Chynna is way better than Ricki Lake. What the fudgesicle is going on here? Beats me.
Legal expert Nancy Grace, who found herself the last contestant to be called safe last week, followed with a Quickstep on the arm of partner Tristan MacManus. Nancy struggled during rehearsals with confidence, calling the dancefloor an “alien and different” place and refusing to listen when Tristan asked her to show him what she’d learned. She looked petulant. It wasn’t pretty. But she redeemed herself with a touching apology scene. Well, melt my sugar.
Nancy was charming on the dancefloor. She sang along with the music, flounced in her brown dress, and was mostly on the beat. She needed to relax her shoulders a bit, but hey, it was an improvement over last week. Baby steps. And uh, I think a boob popped out of her dress, given Bruno’s expression. Whoopsie! Len declared “how refreshing” and praised them for staying in hold throughout, calling it “a proper Quickstep”. Bruno called her “vivacious, alive and confident” before quipping “it was a bit top-heavy at times”. Carrie Ann said she “saw improvement” and thought she “managed the height difference” between herself and her partner well. She bemoaned a lack of “raz-ma-tazz”, but appreciated their teamwork. Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus’s “Dancing with the Stars” 2011 week 2 scores: 6, 8, 7 = 21. Aw, she’s so utterly likeable. Who knew?
With eleven dances down, just one couple remained: soap star and war veteran J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff. The week one co-leaderboard toppers were assigned the Jive. During rehearsals, J.R. expressed that he needed to work extra hard because he’s not particularly well known. So what? He’s faboooo!
I officially love J.R., small fan base be darned! Their paperboy themed Jive was so much fun that it sparkled. His footwork was fast and furious without being frenetic (cough… David Arquette), and he clearly had a great time out there. This is one guy who knows how to perform. Wooo! Bruno declared “you’re born to dance” and called it “the most satisfying overall performance of the night”. Carrie Ann began by grunting at the couple and nailed them for including a lift. Yes, she’s the lift police, ladies and gents. But otherwise, she loved it. Len complained “what’s on the label is not what’s in the tin” and called it a Lindy Hop rather than a Jive. J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff’s “Dancing with the Stars” week 2 scores: 7, 7, 8 = 22.
So that’s it for the week 2 performance night. It ends with Ricki Lake on top and Chaz Bono in the basement. Chynna and Kristin were robbed, if you ask me, and Ricki was overscored. But it’s in America’s hands now. And I honestly have no idea who’s going to get the unceremonious boot. It won’t be Chaz; he’s waaaay too popular. It could be David or Carson. Though they’re entertaining performers, they’re not technically sound. And I don’t know how many fans they have. But we shall see soon enough.
Tune in to the “Dancing with the Stars” Fall 2011 week 2 results show Tuesday at 9 PM to see who fails to advance. Or you can just check in with me. You know I’ll be watching.