After last week’s travesty, when the delightfully goofy and dance floor-adequate Albert Reed was sent home while Wayne Newton and Mark Cuban remained, the stars returned Monday night to give the dance/popularity contest another go. Tangoing and jiving their way through intense routines, the talent gap widened showcasing some greats (like Jane Seymour) and, well, some not-so-greats.
The first couple to perform was “Cheetah Girl” Sabrina Bryan and pro partner Mark Ballas. In the best jive offering of the night, Sabrina showed once again why she’s one of the celebs to look out for in the end. In an energetic number with loads of twirls, kicks and everything that makes the jive what it is, she maintained perfect legwork and nailed it. The judges thought so, too, giving the couple all nines. The only slight criticism came from Len Goodman, who felt Mark’s mid-dance worm (which Len called “the Free Willy thing”) still smacked of hip-hop flavor.
From blah to slightly betterIt was an improved Cameron Mathison who took the dance floor with Edyta Sliwinska in the tango. While Cam may have gone a little too far in saying, “This is my dance,” he didn’t look as blah as he did in the past. The stiffness was still there, as was that look of concentration, but overall the soap star moved with a little more grace and ease. Carrie Ann Inaba declared it a G-rated tango, but that was fine by her. And while Len agreed about the G part, he found the lack of character enough to deduct a point. Still with a total of 23 out of 30, it’s clear the judges aren’t easing up on the generous grading this season.
While Mark Cuban hobbled around on his new hip in rehearsals, his partner Kym Johnson worried his surgeon wouldn’t be happy about Mark taking on the jive. Viewers probably weren’t too happy, either, after watching another round of Mark making hammy faces and lip-synching while clomping through a slowish version of the upbeat routine. The fact that he lost time to the music in several spots didn’t help. For some reason, the judges gave the couple a six and two sevens — inexplicably scoring them even better than last week.
The pity scores kept pouring in with “90210” alum Jennie Garth and Derek Hough. Sure the pair put on a decent tango, which didn’t end with an unfortunate spill, but it also didn’t merit the 26-point gift. Jennie’s emotional reaction to last week’s dive must have tugged at some judicial heartstrings. This tango was a more extreme offering than Cameron and Edyta managed, but Jennie still looked nervous throughout. And, no doubt, in an effort to avoid another slip, it ended with Derek clutching her in a no-way-will-you-fall grip. But Bruno Tonioli ate it up, calling it “sharp and tangy like a pickle.”
Finally, the quality came back with Mel B and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Mel promised to “really nail this jive” and she did. Starting out smooth and cautious, the dance peaked with amazing kicks and complicated bounce steps. Len dubbed it the best dance for the couple and it earned all nines. And in a bonus for some viewers, Maks went shirtless while goofing with Drew Lachey backstage. Surely they deserved an extra point for that.
Working the distraction techniqueWith Wayne Newton, each performance seems worse than the one before, but he tried a new angle this time. If you can’t impress them, distract them! That must have been what he and Cheryl Burke were thinking when they planned his “character.”
Hitting the stage in pink feathered black hat, fake moustache and a ponytail (?!), Mr. Las Vegas brought more of what the audience has come to expect from him — in the worst possible way. But at least the judges weren’t completely thrown off by the frills when giving the slow, confused tango an 18. Though Len did give thanks that Wayne dumped the hat early on, as it reminded him of “that cat from ‘Shrek.’”
Karina Smirnoff claimed that Floyd Mayweather is in love with the jive, but the feeling may not be mutual. Despite numerous comments from the judges, Floyd still couldn’t shake the boxer posture. Head down and chest tight just isn’t the way to approach a jive.
Still Floyd at least brings some charisma to whatever he does, and the in-house audience always loves it. Most of the nitpicks this time concerned his need to control his feet. Obviously, the judges have given up on his upper-body issues. With a set of sevens, the pair was scored fairly.
Best of the nightThe highlight of the night came with Jane Seymour’s return, who missed the last results show following the death of her mother. Given that the British version, “Strictly Come Dancing,” was her mom’s favorite show, Jane decided to keep dancing and dedicate Monday night’s tango to her mom. Good choice, it was Jane and Tony Dovolani’s best routine yet.
Looking positively stunning in a sweeping ruby gown and flapper wig, Jane showed more intensity than she did in the mambo. It was a tight and structured dance, with dramatic looks and head turns worthy of a pro. With a lesser dance, one could have accused the judges of issuing yet another pity score, but in this case Jane deserved the 27 or even a little more.
With a tough act to follow, racer Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough shined again with the jive. They were the big winners last week, but this time the judges were a little more critical of their early darlings. Giving them a 24 for the jump and twirl efforts, the judges might be ignoring one big difference between Helio and the other male celebrities in the competition. He doesn’t leave all the big moves to his pro partner. For every wow from Julianne, Helio delivered one, too.
Marie Osmond and Jonathan Roberts ended the night with a better than expected tango. Jonathan pegged the dance as perfect for Marie, since she’s the “queen of drama.” But it wasn’t just her playful personality that worked. She’s really improved from week-one with an amazing progression in her legwork. When evaluating the performance, Len and the gang focused on her drama, with Bruno calling her the “Meryl Streep of dance,” but in the end they rewarded the moves with a 26.
With the divide between the talented, the mostly okay and the why-are-they-still-here growing, the next elimination should be a cinch. But will Wayne and Mark stick around like so many Master Ps and Billy Ray Cyruses before them? Surely even the strong fan bases of the two-left-footers have to give up some votes to this season’s greats. Or, in last week’s random fashion, it’ll be another coin toss where anyone could go.