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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 04/26/2011

‘Dancing With the Stars’: Another tumble, on Guilty Pleasure night


Karina Smirnoff and Ralph Macchio dance during “guilty pleasures” performance night. (Adam Taylor - ABC)
It’s Guilty Pleasures Night on “Dancing with the Stars.” We thought just watching “DWTS” every week was the guilty pleasure – 20 million-ish people making up alibis for watching isn’t enough fibbing for one night of TV in America?

Hanson is guest house-band this week. They’re the teen sensations from a Bieber lifetime ago.

Kirstie Alley, now a size 6 in her own mind, is up first, doing the samba to Brit Brit’s “…Baby One More Time.” After much taped discussion in re whether Brazilians think when they samba, Kirstie hits the stage with more energy and confidence than we’ve seen since her first week of competition. That said, they seem to lose their way toward the end, when Maks Chmerkovskiy rotates her arms like a physical therapist.

“Ooh yes, hit me, curse me, one more time!” judge Bruno Tonioli pleads. “You delivered the smoothest and most natural Brazilian north of Rio. Your wiggly bum sent shockwaves through the airwaves.”

The three judges award her 26 out of a possible 30 points. That includes two 9’s from the guys, Bruno and Len Goodman. In the Celebriquarium, hostess Brooke Burke asks Kirstie to rave over Maks. Kirstie gladly complies: “I love Maks. He’s a great choreographer an he’s very hot and he doesn’t treat me as if I’m my age.”

What – like 30?” Maks asks. Smooth operator!

Chris Jericho and partner Cheryl Burke do a tango to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Well, it’s nice to see a woman lead for a change, but this has the look of her stepping and taking charge because he’s falling behind. Like all tangos, they in a kind of lockstep, but it’s an uncomfortable making one, like conjoined twins trying to catch a bus.

Bruno calls the performance “a lump of granite” -- “cold” and “uneventful.” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba agrees. Judge Len Goodman says it lacks intensity.

While we contemplate Host Bergeron’s announcement that previous season winners, including Jennifer Grey and Donny Osmond will be back on Tuesday night’s results show, as will finalists, including Kyle Massey and Bristol Palin, the judges give Chris 22 points.

Romeo and Chelsie Hightower waltz to “My Heart Will Go On and On,” the Celine Dion number from “Titanic.” That’s because, Romeo says, he saw the romantic flick and that was “the day I became Romeo,” though his given first name is Percy, so we’re thinking he was a name change waiting to happen. Anyway, we get his drift: this one has a lot of personal meaning for him. They’re wearing simple costumes, evocative of Leo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet in the film, bucking the usual wacky DWTS costuming trend that should have seen Romeo in some steamship captain getup and his partner with a lifejacket with a plunging neckline. There aren’t many actual waltz moves in their number, but it has a flowing charm to it and Romeo is really taking his dancing seriously.

“Every once in a while in a season magic happens,” Carrie Ann says. “Romeo Di Caprio, your ship will sail on and on,” Bruno adds. Romeo’s given 28 points, including the season’s first 10, from Carrie Ann. “I deserve a kiss,” Romeo tells Celebriquarium hostess Brooke Burke, who’s taken aback at first, but then says “You deserve it” and plants one on his cheek.

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas do a quickstep to “Walking on Sunshine,” the 80’s pop ditty that appeared in the flicks “High Fidelity” and “American Psycho.” Inexplicably, Mark and Chelsea have looked elsewhere for their storyline. We know they’re in character, because they’re both wearing goofy glasses and are carrying backpacks and looking at books. Maybe they’re student tourists who meet in a museum near closing time so they have to hustle past a lot of art? No worries, they drop the backpacks and the story line right away, and it’s another high-energy, highly choreographed piece by Mark in which Chelsea has to remember and execute a whole lot of steps, proving once again that they are the best dancers this season by several laps. But, no one’s going to flat out say that, because the whole creaky edifice of “DWTS” would come crashing down if everybody stopped pretending that heart, and trying your best, count more than technique in dance competition. There, we said it! Now we can go back to rooting for Kirstie because she’s got so much heart and she tries so hard!

“That was so bright and luminous I’m getting a suntan,” Bruno raves about their number. Carrie Ann gives them a 10 too, and their tally hits 28 as well.

Kendra Wilkinson and Louis Van Amstel will samba to Ricky Martin tune “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” We’re not buying the whole storyline of Louis having to coax a solid samba out of Kendra, the ex-stripper, who has to overcome her inhibitions to shake her things in public. But, just for the sake of argument, let’s say we’re buying it, because then tonight’s episode in Kendra’s quest for self-acceptance, acceptance of her body, and acceptance that she is indeed a part of the universe and has a right to be here, is both touching and uplifting. And we mean that in the highest sense of those words, not with any kind of naughty interpretation you might want to put on it, because Kendra is, you know, an ex-stripper.

Kendra who, just last week, we thought as actually a force for evil on the show, is turning out to be a force for truth in all things. After Louis urges to shake everything “that God gave her,” she announces, “Well, my boobs aren’t what God gave me.” Kendra, force for good!

Kendra hits the stage, and it is indeed a touching and uplifting performance when you think about how far she’s come. At the same time, seen as a performance by an ex-stripper, it is an admirably restrained “DWTS” version of hot, and one of the high points of the evening.

“The more you gyrated, the more I palpitates. You fulfilled one of my guilty pleasures,” Len enthuses.

“Ladies and gentlemen! Presenting ‘The Revenge of the Stripper.” Part 1: Attack of the Killer Boobs”! screeches Bruno. “Let’s do it now – let’s get it over with, Kendra,” Bruno gasps, climbing up on the judges’ table.

And yet, judges give Kendra just 25 points.

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson will do the Viennese waltz to Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” and this is more dancing than we’ve seen from him before. Hines is really pushing to overcome his natural stiffness and do more dance steps than poses. There’s some kind of major judge-crush going on for Hines this season – the judges seem determined to make this nice guy finish first, always showering praise on him.

“Every dance you do is just great” says Len, who then gives the surprising verdict that “you’re flatfooted, unfortunately,” but quickly moves on to saying that as a performer “you’re second to none.” Bruno also lays it on thick, likening them to “two lovebirds chasing each other in a spring sky.” So it’s shocking when Carrie Ann actually takes a swipe at Hines, saying, “I felt you were thinking too much…we don’t want to see thinking.”

Celebriquarium hostess Brooke Burke will ignore this surprising show of criticism, and stick with some question the DWTS librarian has dug up for her. Seems sports writers have called Ward “The Silent Assassin” and Brooke chooses this moment in the season to ask when we will see the “assassin,” which is weirdly jarring, and Hines fills the moment with some comment about flying under the radar.

Three 9’s bring Hines a total of 27 points.

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff will dance the paso doble to “Everybody Dance Now” -- the C&C Music Factory dance hit from 1990. They start out in a crouch, then jump up to reveal Ralph wearing a long coat like a Cossack. This is where a knowledge of history is critical to understanding “DWTS.” Karina emigrated to the US from Ukraine where they had a lot of historical experience getting chased around by Russian Cossacks. So this is some kind of commentary for sure that Ralph dressed as a Cossack chasing her around the stage in some kind of cutaway outfit to “house” dance music from 1990, which represents, well, we haven’t worked that part out yet. Then -- and how’s this for irony? -- Karina trips and falls on his Cossack coattails! This must be some kind of Ukrainian nightmare, you bet. War may have been declared by now, we haven’t checked the news.

To Ralph’s credit, he gets her up and after a few false steps they’re back in their routine, though Karina has an abashed look on her face which she keeps all the way through the judge’s comments. It’s a real rarity to see a DWTS pro go down in an unforced error without, say, a 200-pound woman landing on the thigh, per Maks and Kirstie a couple weeks ago. It certainly burnishes Ralph’s image as a standup guy and, on top of that, they’re dancing was actually rather good.

The judges rave about their recovery: “I’m not going to castigate you, I’m going to congratulate you,” Len says, for example. “Your pulled Karina up, got her back on her feet, got back into the dance. I’m proud of you; you should be proud of yourself, you just got on with it. Well done.” They award the couple 24 points, despite the error.

Watch the couple take a spill:

Photo Gallery: “Dancing With the Stars”

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 04/26/2011

 
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