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TV Column
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 03/29/2011

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Spring 2011: Performance night, take 2


Every celeb came back for the second week of “Dancing with the Stars.” (Adam Larkey - ABC)

After “Dancing with the Stars” producers were shocked and disappointed last fall when David Hasselhoff was sent packing the first week, all of this season’s celebs are getting a second chance to impress judges and viewers Monday night, before one of them gets the hook on Tuesday.

There are loads of boxing references in the taped rehearsal bits with Sugar Ray Leonard, and dance partner Anna Trebunsakaya promises to add some boxing moves to their routine. At the end of the taped bit, we see Ray speed-jumping a rope and looking pretty spry. But the boxing move he seems to be following most closely while dancing to the old-school soul tune “Sweet Soul Music,” would be circling the ring. Our advice to Ray: Next week bring the rope on stage. Judge Len Goodman, for one, thinks Sugar Ray’s performance “lacked any refinement, any true dance quality.” The show’s three judges award him just 17 out of a possible 30 points, for a two-week total of 34.

Meanwhile, the inner torments of Playboy bunnies are just too much reality for this reality show, we think. Can’t anybody just do their jobs with dignity in America any more, with no whining?

“ [Dancer Louis Van Amstel] is on me to be a lady; it is so stressful -- I’m like losing it!” former Hugh Heffner galpal Kendra Wilkinson wails during her taped rehearsal bit.

“Everybody thinks I’m that Playboy sexy girl that’s confident -- and I’m not that, you know!” she continues, wallowing in self-pity.

Anyway, Kendra comes out with her hair piled high on her head, in a sparkly gown, like Eliza Doolittle in the Vegas Strip production of “My Fair Lady.” But all of this buildup is kind of blown when the dance turns out to be — not be a waltz but a quickstep to Amerie’s hard charging R&B song “Gotta Work.” Kendra looks uptight throughout and our advice to her: Next week imagine yourself dancing naked. “Your chesticles got pushing into poor little Louie – that scared him a bit,” Len observes after it’s over. The judges give her 19 pity points, for a two-week total of 37.

When dancer Mark Ballas turns up in sad-mime makeup, we’re on pins and needles remembering his high-concept numbers last fall that nearly did in his partner Bristol Palin. And there must be a story here, because his routine, with new partner/Disney star Chelsea Kane, starts with the two of them emerging from behind doors to the tune, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” -- the bizarre alt-rock song by Panic! At The Disco, about a bizarre wedding or something. Mark clearly is the Nijinsky of the “DWTS” dancer/choreographers. Anyway, this is one high-energy performance.


Petra Nemcova (Adam Taylor - ABC)
“I love choreography like that, but there’ s a time and place for it and I don’t think it was now,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba scolds. “I wanted to see you do the jive – in that choreography it was hard for me to see your jive,” she chides. Len and judge Bruno Tonioli agree. Talking to backstage beauty Brooke Burke in the Celebriquarium, Chelsea plays the “I’m so young, and the judges are so old, and the point of being young is taking risks, being fearless, and scaring the old-timers” card. After that, Mark starts to rattle off the list of jive moves he incorporated in the dance, by way of dissing the judges. But, as show host Tom Bergeron observes, “It’s a little harder to get the whole judges smackdown when he’s wearing that makeup.” The judges punish the duo with just 18 points for a two-week total of 39.

“My wrestling trainers were nothing compared to Cheryl [Burke] I think she could kick all their [heinies],” WWE star Chris Jericho says of his dance partner. His biggest challenge is going to be “holding his frame up” she says, which seems odd for a muscle-bound guy, but we’re not going to argue with Cheryl. They hit the floor for the quickstep to “I Got Rhythm” and she’s definitely shaped him up compared to last week. “I like a man that responds well to strict discipline,” Bruno snarls, giving Cheryl credit for transforming Chris from a “beast into a gazelle.” The judges award him 23 points, for a two-week total of 42.

Supermodel Petra Nemcova has an understandable fear of dance maneuvers that have her hitting the floor, what with her formerly broken pelvis, but dancer Dmitry Chaplin breaks her of that by having her practice on a trampoline-like thinggummy. And, all over Hollywood, producers are now preparing pitches for new reality shows that involve supermodels bouncing on trampolines. Petra and Dmitry jive to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” the Queen standard. It starts with Petra in a sundress which turns out to be a breakaway and, just like that, Petra is in a Victoria’s Secret special, dressed in bra and red spangly miniskirt. This allows us to really see clearly her moves for the rest of the dance. A little mystery might have served her better. Surprisingly, the judges rave about her performance; she showers them with kisses. Too soon, Petra! They were just giving you the Supermodel Pass on their comments, but let’s see their scores. Just as we thought: three 6’s.


Kirstie Alley (Adam Taylor - ABC)
This season’s most entertaining couple, Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy try to gin up some tension in the taped rehearsal bit about whether she’s up to the rigorous training. But after last week with her Fat, Fabulous and 60 performance, we’re not buying the suspense. “Do really skinny girls -- your skinny partners -- has it been hard for them too?” Kirstie asks Maks meekly, like they’re discussing a sex problem, and he reassures her that it was “just as difficult as it is on you.” Yeah, yeah. Sure enough, she’s moving it out on the floor in a quickstep to “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, by KT Tunstall, the alt-Scottish singer (OK, we just made up that music genre. Anyway, it was something fast). But Kirstie kind of poops out toward the end, so, overall, it’s not as impressive as last week. Kirstie says she wants to lose 40 pounds on this show. If she’d weigh in every week , that would be enough tension right there to keep her voted back again and again. But, the judges pronounce her “unstoppable” and award 20 points, for a two-week total of 42.

It’s jive or die time,” “Loveline” co-host Mike Catherwood says; he and partner Lacey Schwimmer finished last week at the bottom of the points heap. He does a pigeon-toed quickstep to Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town,” highlighted by a through-the-legs partner pull that looks like he’s pulling Lacey up from a sinking rowboat. That Lacey is one strong girl – in the taped bit she lifts him up with two arms under the rump, and we think she should do the through-the-leg pulls from now on, assuming Mike isn’t voted off Tuesday night. Mike’s performance reminds Len of a wasp at a picnic, but Bruno thinks it most closely resembles a fly stuck in fly paper. The judges award him just 17 points for a two-week total of 30.

Romeo and Chelsie Hightower are arguably the most interesting couple to watch, as there seems to be zero chemistry between them. Romeo is still struggling with the whole dancing-is-a-threat-to-my-masculinity thing, and compensates by being flirty in uncomfortable-making ways, like insisting Chelsie feel his abs and kiss his bicep. It’s a show in itself and we’d like to see Romeo and Chelsie just rehearse and never actually perform. The judges love his quickstep to “You’re the One that I Want” from “Grease,” and shower him with 23 points for a two-week total of 42. This seems to disarm Romeo who says, backstage in the Celebriquarium, that he’s doing this for the kids: “If Romeo can do ‘Dancing with the Stars’ anything is possible kids!” gushes Romeo – now a total convert.

Every “DWTS” contestant has some inner demon to conquer--it’s a favorite back story of the show. Tonight, we learn Wendy Williams’s: she’s nervous about people watching her breasts bounce. Dance partner Tony Dovolani has to reassure her “they’re not bouncing” in rehearsal but we don’t think that’s the last we’ve heard of Wendy Williams: The Big Breast Crisis. Wendy wins tonight prize for Contestant Most Getting Over Herself; she really gives it her all in a quickstep. Tony has choreographed in a nice bit in which his head bobs instead of her boobs – cute! Just when we think that Wendy is really getting into the “DWTS” swing of things, she reverts to type with a fabulous gesture, rubbing imagined lipstick off her teeth while the judges are giving their critiques. And then again, as Celebriquarium host Brooke Burke attempts to start a recap interview, Wendy asks Tony if the lipstick is still showing on her teeth. We look forward to these hit-and-run attacks of self-involvement from Wendy as one of the highlights of the season. The judges hand her 17 points for a two-week total of 31.


Hines Ward (Adam Taylor - ABC)
In what seems like a calculated bid for sympathy, Ralph Macchio invites his teenage kids to the rehearsal studio. It works! Our heart bleeds for Ralph, who we’re sure gets no respect from these kids at home. We can see the car keys getting talked right out of his pocket on Friday nights. Anyway, he does the jive to The Isley Brothers classic “Nobody But Me” and brings some acting quality and a lot of energy to the dance, though the judges find it too frenzied. Nonetheless, they give Ralph 21 points for a two-week total of 45, keeping him in the lead.

Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward has a problem: injuries and surgeries have left him with shoulders so weak it’s tough for him to hold the traditional ballroom dance-pose for more than a minute, he says. But he’s very good-natured about that and everything else -- anyway, it’s not like a bouncing boobs problem, or something serious. Hines is out on the floor doing the quickstep to Stevie Wonder hit “Part-Time Lover,” looking as relaxed as a big stiff guy can. “More like full-time dancer!” Bruno coos before the judges shower Hines with another 23 points for a two-week total of 44.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 03/29/2011

 
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