“Dancing With the Stars” marked this season’s halfway point with a tribute to the U.S.A. on Monday night. For America Week, the ballroom gang pulled out all the patriotic stops with star-spangled costumes, an anthem or two and some sky-high scores.
Sure, those over-the-top judges’ scores weren’t officially part of the theme, but there’s just no denying the impact they made. After all, from the top of the leaderboard to the very bottom, the inconsistently inflated numbers confused the standings.
Take the best dancer of the night. No, not 27-point earner Hines Ward. The charming wide receiver might have swept the judges away with his romantic rumba, but when his moves are compared to those of supposed second-place dancer Chelsea Kane, the Disney star easily comes out on top.
Too bad head judge Len Goodman and his fellow panelists didn’t see it that way. The trio heaped 9s on Ward’s enjoyable but somewhat stiff routine, rather than the 8s it deserved. That left Kane’s hip-shaking samba, which fairly earned 9s — despite one odd 8 from Goodman — trailing behind.
Ward should have been the one sharing second-place honors with Romeo, who put on a presentable but also overscored 26-point foxtrot. As for Chris Jericho, who found himself lumped in with Kane and Romeo instead of Ward, well, he has a likable personality and an easy-on-the-eyes appearance, but his Viennese waltz should have seen him sharing a tie for third place, not second.
That would have put Jericho alongside Kirstie Alley, who for the first time in three weeks actually managed to avoid a single dance-floor mishap — at least a noticeable one. It was hard to see what was going on with Alley’s main moves, what with her distracting (in a bad way), bright periwinkle costume and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s even more distracting (in a good way) lack of costume.
Things were just as mixed up at the back of the pack. While former favorite Ralph Macchio was off his ballroom game during the performance show, his flawed samba (complete with the return of the dreaded “spatula hands”) was comparable to Petra Nemcova’s off-step quickstep. But Macchio’s effort wasn’t nearly as bad as the flow-free foxtrot Kendra Wilkinson delivered. Still, the three routines tied for back-of-the-pack status with just 22 points each.
Did the judges actually believe there was just no difference between Wilkinson’s simple marching moves and the real efforts the other hoofer hopefuls brought to the dance floor? Maybe the 7s and 8s were meant to boost Wilkinson’s confidence after her minor meltdown last week and convince her that she shouldn’t be “a-(expletive)-fraid of elegance.” Either way, it’s unfair for her fellow last-place competitors.
As the weeks go by, it’s bound to become difficult to predict just which ballroom wannabes will get the boot on the results shows — especially when the judges don’t give the viewers much help with their muddy mix of numbers — but not this week. There’s still one obvious cut in the competition, whether the judges are willing to admit it or not.
On the heels of a bad attitude last week and a bad foxtrot this week, Tuesday night’s show should see the end of Wilkinson’s “Dancing” days.
Ree Hines hopes “Dancing” isn’t due for due for a shocking elimination just yet. Follow tell her who you think is ready to waltz out of the competition.