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A repeat for Indy man and the Cheetah Girl

With Week 1 jitters and the first cut out of the way, the hits — like Helio Castroneves and Sabrina Bryan — got stronger and duds (Mark Cuban and Wayne Newton) maintained their downward spiral.
/ Source: contributor

The unity was back on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ as the male and female contestants faced off on the same night. With Week 1 jitters and the first cut out of the way, the celebs showed what they could do with a little more practice. But how much difference does a week make for this season’s batch of ballroom-wannabes? The standings are nearly the same as the hits get stronger and duds maintain their downward spiral.

The evening started on a high note with Mel B and Maksim Chmerkovskiy taking on the quickstep. In training, Maks claimed the real challenge was to make Mel “look like a lady,” and to that end an etiquette coach was brought in to take Mel “from Scary Spice to Lady Spice.” Or, you know, she might have been brought in just to fill time with a lame skit. Needlessly.

On the dance floor, team M&M tore it up once again. Mel’s footwork in the fast-paced number showed improvement over her already impressive cha-cha-cha from last week. At the end of the routine, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli had nothing but praise for the pair, but Carrie Ann Inaba nitpicked with “watch your shoulders.” That, and her seven in a field of eights, earned Carrie dirty looks from her fellow judges, but no complaints from Mel.

Decline time
Spreading out the talent, next up was last week’s almost losers, Mark Cuban and Kym Johnson. Mark looked better in his mambo rehearsal footage than his previous foxtrot effort, but that may have had more to do with him shaving off the scruffy goatee than any of his moves.

In the live show routine, Mark bounced around and showed plenty of energy, but looked painfully outmatched by Kym (who seriously needs to rethink that ballroom hoochie-wear ensemble). Bruno summed up the performance nicely, saying it was like “watching a bulldog chasing a squirrel.” Earning all sixes (the score of the beast!), look for Mark in the red spot again on the results show.

If there was ever a way to make Mark look good, it was to put Wayne Newton on after him. This time Wayne and Cheryl Burke played up to the Vegas fans, dancing the quickstep in their best flash finery to “Viva Las Vegas.” They’re going to need all the votes from the poker chip crowd they can get after another poor showing. Though the judges offered kind words to the pair, they received the lowest marks so far with a total of 15 out of 30.

But if those last scores had viewers thinking that the judges were ready to get tough, they were wrong. The inflated figures from last week returned with Marie Osmond and Jonathan Roberts. They stepped it up considerably from their so-so foxtrot with a playful mambo, but no matter how much skirt tossing and cheeky faces Marie pulled, they didn’t earn all eights. Hopefully their half-hearted attempt at a death drop wasn’t factored into that. Maybe Bruno and the gang fell for older-brother Donny’s audience pump after the number.

Albert Reed forgot what worked for him in Week 1. Instead of falling back on the goofy charm and outlandish moves, he and partner Anna Trebunskaya went with a more subtle approach. The problem being that subtle allows no distraction from less than perfect steps. And there were plenty of those. Albert lazied Anna around the turns and lost his pace early on. Still, the judges remained generous with a score of 21, and Len went so far as to speculate that Albert could be this year’s dark horse. Really, Len?

Now that’s a mamboOnce again Indy driver Helio Castroneves and partner Julianne Hough brought it. It’s hard to say what’s working the most for this couple. Julianne clearly taught Helio well, but he has a natural gift for dance, and the mambo in particular. And the chemistry between them is still smoking. They go from funny cutups in training, to sweetly sensual on the floor.

Len was back on the cheesy race lingo, going on about Helio’s pit stop and overdrive even when it didn’t really apply. At least Carrie Ann made more sense when she pointed out that unlike most of the male competition, Helio led his partner. With a score of 27, this still looks like the couple to beat.

But don’t expect Jennie Garth and Derek Hough to be the ones to offer Helio and Julianne the stiff competition. Jennie still appeared stiff and nervous during the dance, and while it started off a little better than her last showing, and her flouncy pink dress covered up some of her worst steps, things didn’t end well. In their final move, Jennie went head-to-butt with her partner, leaving both on the floor. Their scores reflected none of this. Really the sevens-all-around would have been a bit much even without the fall.

Lucky number sevensThat’s when the judges hit autopilot. Cameron Mathison and Edyta Sliwinska performed another slightly wooden, mostly non-descript number. Cameron displayed the exact same problems viewers saw last week — good arms, bad legs. Bruno said he looked like Superman, but “sometimes you dance like Clark Kent.” And it was more sevens!

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at least seemed to focus on some of the judges’ complaints from last week, and Karina Smirnoff was jerked around considerably less thanks to those efforts. Overall the rest of his repertoire was the same. He plays to the crowd, but his tight upper body and jerky “in the ring” motions don’t look like ballroom. Len inexplicably referred to his dance as “very light, very fluffy,” and of course the pair ranked seven from each judge.

In retrospect there was really only one couple that really deserved their set of sevens, Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani. On premiere night they pulled eights, but with criticisms of Jane giving them an English mambo, rather than the “raunchy and sizzling” dance Len hoped for, at least the score made sense this time. Still it wasn’t exactly an off night for Tony and Jane.

The seven-frenzy came to an end when last week’s favorites Sabrina Bryan and Mark Ballas hit the floor. The only misstep from the Cheetah Girl was the selection of that eye-burning hot pink hue Jane wore last time. Otherwise it was a near perfect quickstep, which brought Sabrina praises for precision footwork and claims of professional quality dancing. Especially impressive given her four-inch-plus skinny stilettos. But this time, with a 26 out of 30, she didn’t beat the Indy champ.

With the same clear winners this week, the big question is who leaves Tuesday night? It’s a last place horserace between Mr. Las Vegas and the Maverick man, but the billionaire better watch out. Wayne may deserve the boot, but Mark doesn’t have the fan base to compete with the showbiz legend.