It’s the second week of competition on “Dancing With the Stars,” and what a difference a week makes. Too bad for some ballroom beginners that difference isn’t always for the better, but more (much more) on that later.
Of course, good or bad, it isn’t always a star’s dance-floor moves that make for a memorable night.
Take Nancy Grace — yes, the same Nancy Grace who delivered a dull and sluggish cha-cha-cha last time around. She really stepped up her ballroom game Monday night with a confident and understated quickstep, but that might not be what fans buzz about around the water cooler Tuesday morning.
Instead, a wardrobe malfunction — the sort that even the slight delay of so-called live TV couldn’t completely conceal — might overshadow talk of her success.
Just after her dance, but before she earned some rare praise from grumpy head judge Len Goodman, Grace suffered a dreaded nip slip. Fast thinking folks behind the scenes cut to a few odd and obviously canned shots of a motion-free audience, but for one brief moment, well, it was out there.
Tom Bergeron, aka the best live host in the biz, handled the problem as he’s done in the past — swiftly and with a blink-and-you’d-miss-it flare for redirection. Thankfully for Grace, the judges’ remarks soon distracted from any residual embarrassment she felt. And oh, what remarks those were.
Bruno Tonioli called her routine “vivacious and lively” before adding an ill-timed “top heavy” criticism. Goodman thought the dance, which earned Grace a score of 21, was a “proper quickstep,” and stated he didn’t care about the lack of razzmatazz.
Yeah, who needs razzmatazz in a glitzy, ballroom bash?! Oh, yeah, everybody — a point Goodman seemed to recall when one of last week’s frontrunners, Chynna Phillips, took the stage.
Following a tasteful, if a bit restrained jive from Phillips that also earned a 21, Goodman grumbled that the dance was “neat and precise,” but didn’t exactly excite him.
One ballroom babe who excited the other judges was the night’s leaderboard topper, Ricki Lake. With three-time champ Derek Hough by her side, Lake offered up a high-impact performance that Carrie Ann Inaba considered “the best jive of the night.”
Still, it wasn’t enough to spare Lake and Hough from Goodman’s bad mood. The negative nitpicker wasn’t happy with the routine and called Hough out for choreographing more of a retro swing than a jive.
“We’re judging the jive here, my sausage,” he said, strangely enough.
Despite the gruff judge’s remarks, Lake easily looks to be one of the early contenders for a finale-night spot, and if anyone is looking for a good bet as to who one of her co-finalists might be, look no farther than war hero and actor J.R. Martinez.
Martinez, who trailed just one point behind Lake with 22, put on a fun kicking, jumping jive that had the audience up and out of their seats.
What did Goodman think of that?
“The problem is what’s on the label wasn’t in the tin,” he complained. “I was looking for a jive and you gave me a Lindy Hop. It wasn’t a jive.”
It seemed Goodman used up all of his good nature on Grace and barely had any left for the rest of the bunch.
Not that many others needed high praise for the dances they delivered, aside from maybe Kristin Cavallari, whose quickstep was as impressive as it was forgettable — an odd combo, but there you go.
Both Rob Kardashian and Elisabetta Canalis saw major improvements over last week, both taking 21 for the night. But given just how bad they were last week, that’s still not saying much.
Then again, that 21 represented a win of sorts for Canalis’ partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, as he beat his pro bro, Maksim, for the first time on the show. The elder Chmerkovskiy and soccer champ Hope Solo scraped by with a 19 for their routine.
As for the reigning fun star, Carson Kressley, his follow-up quickstep didn’t quite pack the entertaining punch his earlier cha-cha-cha did. With 18 points, he tied with actor David Arquette and just escaped the last-place position.
That 17-point problem was Chaz Bono’s. After a strong start with the cha-cha last week, Bono’s body failed him. Aching knees and bad ankles left the moves required for a quality quickstep out of reach. So his oh-so-slow quickstep just didn’t rake in much praise or points from anyone on the panel.
Given that there was no shortage of dance-floor duds on Monday night’s performance show, there’s also no shortage of ballroom baggage that could be cut when Tuesday night rolls around. Last week’s back of the pack picks — Kardashian and Canalis — improved, but when it comes to fan bases (and let’s face it, in these early rounds fan bases really matter), they won’t see much progress.
Will Kardashian or Canalis get the cut this time, or are Kressley, Arquette and Bono in danger? We’ll soon see.
Who do you think is in danger on Tuesday?