After a strong start with the female contestants the night before, Tuesday night featured a mixed showing from the men on “Dancing With the Stars.” As a group, the gents couldn’t match the women’s efforts, but even with the bar set high, at least one standout performance surpassed the ladies.
The first to show the audience what the men could do was “All My Children” star Cameron Mathison. And he must have noticed the support season one winner Kelly Monaco got from “General Hospital” viewers, as he bragged, “Daytime fans are the best fans in the world because they’re so loyal and fantastic.” Okay, Cam. Consider that collective butt kissed.
But then again, he may need all the extra support he can get after his premiere dance. Maybe the problem was that Cameron and partner Edyta Sliwinska weren’t able to get in enough rehearsal time with his schedule. Maintaining his full-time status on “AMC,” he had to fly from New York to L.A. just to get some face time with Edyta.
Whatever the reason, Cameron performed a stilted foxtrot. From the waist up he looked great, but his footwork was sloppy throughout. And he had that “counting the steps” look on his face for the first half of their “Moondance” routine.
The judges, who seem giddier than usual this season, scored the couple generously — sevens all around. Maybe Carrie Ann Inaba and the gang were impressed with his “nice arms for a guy.”
Bring on the champsUndefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Karina Smirnoff teamed up for the most staged training footage ever. Floyd discussed how he wanted to quit at first, then the video cut to a scene of the two arguing, ending with Karina storming off. Then, moments later, she returned to an apologetic Floyd. Right. Actors they ain’t.
After their fake drama, Floyd decided to approach this competition the way he would a championship fight. And in a way, he did. Though they worked the floor and the crowd well, Floyd kept the posture and arm movements of a boxer — head low, arms tight.
Overall it was an energetic cha cha, and Floyd does have some dancing skills. Maybe not ballroom ones, but still. The sixes all around from the judges seemed about right. Hopefully he’ll take Carrie Ann’s advice to heart and remember that, “(Karina) is a woman; she’s not fighting against you.”
The other sports champ of the night showed Floyd and everyone else how it’s done. Two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves didn’t look so sharp during rehearsals, especially with a bum knee from a recent crash, but everything changed once he and last season’s “DWTS” winner Julianne Hough took the stage.
Showing more chemistry than anyone has a right to this early in the competition, Helio and Julianne strolled through a beautiful foxtrot. He almost looked like a pro with perfect lines and posture. And best of all, they both genuinely smiled during the dance — not the typical “remember to smile!” look, either.
The judges gushed over what truthfully looked more like a dance from week six, not week one, leaving Len Goodman waxing hokey with the racing lingo. “It was like you were on cruise control! You were firing on all four cylinders!” Ugh. With a well-deserved 25 out of 30, this is the couple to look for in the end.
Maybe fame is overrated It’s hard not to like Albert Reed. Sure, it’s easy to want to not like him, what with Albert not really being a celebrity and saying things like, “My name is Albert Reed, the model known for big campaigns and my blue steel looks.” But then he goes and softens viewers up with footage of his adorable lop-eared German Shepherd before letting loose his own full-on dorky, cute personality.
By the time he and Anna Trebunskaya left the dance floor, everyone was charmed, even the judges. How is that possible? What he lacked in fame and actual ballroom skills, Albert more than made up for with personality and a sort of endearing cheesiness. Zoolander brought it! Cha cha-ing to “A Little Less Conversation” and wearing an “open down to there” shirt, Albert busted every crazy move he could. High jumps, slides, hip action, he had it all.
Len compared the performance to watching a stripper. “Don’t worry about what they’re doing; just sit back and enjoy it.” And oddly enough, that was apt. Bruno Tonioli said, “The crotch action was like a warp drive. I got a hernia just watching it!” Even though Carrie Ann just seemed confused by it all, she and the others awarded them a total of 21 points.
Significantly less charming, dot-com billionaire, Mavericks owner and self-proclaimed “wild man,” Mark Cuban started things off with one major setback. And it wasn’t his personality. No, it was the fact that just seven weeks before rehearsal began, he had hip replacement surgery.
It showed during training, where despite Kym Johnson’s best efforts, he appeared lumbering, sweaty and in no shape for what lay ahead. Sure enough, come stage time, he just wasn’t up to par. His campy faces and lip-synching distracted from some off his awful moves, but not most of them.
For some reason the judges were way too kind to Mark and Kym in the end, giving them 21 points, which put them right in the middle of the pack. For his part, Mark said he’s never had so much fun in his life. Well, there’s that.
The last performance of the night was, in some ways, the most disappointing. It wasn’t the worst; it’s just that expectations were so high for Wayne Newton. The man’s been on stage longer than most of these other people have been alive. But even with the advantage of two-time “Dancing” winner Cheryl Burke, he just wasn’t that great.
On the plus side, he displayed better footwork than most of the guys, which is especially impressive for a man in his mid-60s. But overall, his moves were stiff and not well suited for the cha cha. In fact, one has to wonder why Cheryl didn’t pick the foxtrot for their first dance. And why she didn’t pick a more flattering dress. (It was a repeat of that horrible hot pink color Jane Seymour sported the night before. Ladies, no one looks good in that color.)
Even with a score of only 19, the judges had mostly kind things to say to the humble stage veteran. They enjoyed his performance and really only faulted him for not “opening his hips up more.” Regardless of how he dances, he’ll stick around for a while. This dance earned him a standing O, and the fans love him.
Now comes the fun part, thinning the herd. Wednesday night’s results show will reveal the first couple to be shown the door. And while the fellas strutted their stuff to varying degrees on the live show, the smart money is still on Josie Maran and poor Alec Mazo for the boot.
Ree Hines lives in Tampa, Fla., and is a regular contributor to MSNBC.com.