This hasn’t been an easy year for women on “Dancing With The Stars” (ABC, Mondays/Tuesdays). The first three bootees were women, and Clyde Drexler only broke the pattern last week by being so bad that he even alienated the normally faithful sports fans. It was a return to form this week as “celebrity campaigner” and famous estranged wife Heather Mills became the latest contestant to pack her bags.
Of course, it wasn’t that simple. It’s not easy to make a results show last an hour, and knowing that, the most obvious asset to be exploited on Tuesday is whatever was created on Monday. So when Tuesday night’s “Dancing” opened with everyone wearing their ’40s-inspired outfits from Monday’s group swing, it was pretty obvious where things were going.
Indeed, rather than a repeat of one of Monday’s couple dances as is the usual format, the show repeated the adorable group swing, complete with Billy Ray Cyrus’ conspicuous cluelessness and Apolo Anton Ohno’s infectious charm. For a results show, it was an awfully auspicious beginning.
This was followed, however, by an appearance from singer Joss Stone. Whatever one thinks of Stone, it’s unlikely that very many people listen to her music and think to themselves that what it needs is more ballroom dancing. The professional dancers, performing in two couples, put on a weird show in which prop hats seemed to provide the entire theme of the dance. In fact, without the eternal struggle of “you wear the hat; no, I wear the hat,” it wasn’t clear what the point of the dance would really have been.
When Stone was through, the audience comment segment arrived. It featured some nice remarks from George Wendt, who was Norm to John Ratzenberger’s Cliff for so many years on “Cheers,” as well as one unidentified guy who was very angry at the way the judges were treating Ian Ziering. If that guy is not related to Ian, it would appear that he soon could be invited over for Thanksgiving anyway.
No surprisesThe first sign of what was in store elimination-wise came when two couples were told that they would be staying: Apolo and partner Julianne Hough, and Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Neither was unexpected in the slightest. Because the show usually drops one semi-surprise into this first pair, the fact that there was no surprise hinted that there wasn’t one to give, and that the bottom two would be the totally obvious: John and partner Edyta Sliwinska and Heather Mills and Jonathan Roberts.
A performance by the cast of “Dreamgirls,” while it at least opened with some dancing, seemed oddly cluttered and stilted, and the lip-synching by the performers was utterly disconcerting. The reason for including the number at all was difficult to figure until the commercial break, when we learned that the movie is arriving on DVD. And you thought someone just liked “Dreamgirls” a lot.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a results show without Jimmy Kimmel and the trusty Guillermo, who emerged to provide a lesson in the foxtrot. This segment is beginning to grow in absurdity, this week incorporating the use of hilariously obvious stunt doubles. Cross-promotion for Kimmel’s show though it may be, the segment makes for a nice break, and it’s always mercifully short. Which is more than we can say for the show as a whole.
Joss Stone returned for another number, this time without any dancing at all, making the purpose of including the song a bit suspect. Musical guests usually are at least accompanied by dancers, and the elimination of that aspect underscores even more the fact that “Dancing” simply doesn’t have an hour’s worth of things to say about dancing on results night. Stone is a good singer — substantially better than some of the performers the show has featured in the past — but… “Dancing”? Remember? It’s in the title?
Filler anyone? The next segment concerned stars going “stir-crazy.” This is the part of the season, you see, where everyone is sick of seeing each other. Joey Fatone eases the tension by wearing a black pillowcase over his head; Billy Ray acts up in general; Heather collapses into giggles; Apolo does a little bit of everything; and Ian tells very, very bad jokes and threatens to eat the spiders right off the floor — seriously. While we didn’t learn a lot from this segment, we did learn that being a professional dancer trapped in this environment involves challenges beyond choreography, and some of them seem to call for the use of tranquilizer darts.
The next couple declared safe was Joey and Kym Johnson, another non-surprise. The first couple to be placed in the bottom two was John and Edyta. Not a surprise either, though the studio audience dutifully booed, convinced as always that no one should ever be in the bottom two.
A segment on “stress” was suspiciously similar to the “stir-crazy” segment even though it purportedly focused on preparation for the dances. Apolo claimed to “turn into a different person” before he goes on, much like he does before a race. Joey once again explained how his fundamentally hilarious nature makes him saner than anyone. Billy Ray, of course, said that it’s all about music for him, while Ian likes to give his dad a kiss. Heather has a lucky penny, and she claimed that the one time she forgot was the week she fell. Sounds like airtight proof!
One lady left standingNow, it was time to send the other couple to the bottom two. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the other couple in the bottom two was Heather and Jonathan. There was some hemming and hawing, but ultimately, it was Heather and Jonathan who took their last bows.
This, of course, leaves only one woman — Laila — in the competition.
Continuing to give people who are so inclined plenty of reasons to think poorly of her, Heather had brought a farewell speech with her. She seemed to think it would appear humble, because she knew she would lose. Instead, it looked a bit presumptuous, as it isn’t clear that anyone has asked these people to make speeches when they leave.
So now it’s all down to you, John Ratzenberger. You, and whatever the phenomenon that is Billy Ray Cyrus, and then a bunch of people who can actually dance. I have a feeling the bell tolls for thee, Cliff Clavin.
Linda Holmes is a writer in Bloomington, Minn.