So its the first night we get to see the guys and the girls competing together…and aside from a few standout performances, tonight was actually a bit lackluster for me. Too many unmemorable, mediocre routines rounding out the middle of the pack, while those at the top continue to impress and those at the bottom seem to just sink further. Tonight may have set a record for the use of the 6 & 7 paddles, which seems fitting for a night with so many ho-hum routines…
1.) Aaron & Karina – This boy is a natural! I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone cover as much floor in a quickstep on DWTS as he did, and actually manage to keep their topline while doing the signature hops and jumps. Now I’m sure the Donny fans are going to tear me to pieces for not putting Donny first, but I have to say, Aaron edged out Donny both performance-wise and technique-wise this week. That, and he had a secret weapon: Muppets. MUPPETS, PEOPLE! It’s brilliant…such a cute, recognizable theme, and likely the routine that will stick in people’s heads from tonight – who wouldn’t remember Animal rockin’ out in the balcony and Gonzo attacking the judges?
2.) Donny & Kym – While Donny’s jive wasn’t as impressive for me as either of his dances last week, it’s clear that he is still a force to be reckoned with – he seems to do especially well with routines that have a sort of “theme” for him to play into (the Chicago foxtrot last week, the secret agent jive this week), and is actually quite savvy at interacting with the audience while maintaining a connection with Kym. Technique-wise – he was better than I thought. He had some pretty high kicks and some good spins. It seemed to help that they put him in what I like to call the “money spot” – the very last performance of the night, so its fresh in the voters’ minds as they’re dialing in. And the screams from the crowd don’t seem to be dying down at all, so I daresay Donny could probably walk center stage and read the phonebook as a routine and he still wouldn’t get voted off!
3/4.) TIE: Mya & Dmitry and Joanna & Derek – Honestly, this one was too close to call for me. Mya delivered another routine of impeccable technique – for the first time since I started watching the show, I wasn’t thinking of them as “pro” and “celeb”. Mya was certainly keeping up with Dmitry well enough to make it look more like two pros dancing! Her spins were ridiculous, and she nailed the flicks and kicks. And she is starting to come out of her shell a bit – I thought her routine was fun & flirty, and it was also nice to see Dmitry out of his comfort zone (which is bare-chestedness) costume-wise. Joanna & Derek had a fun, high-energy routine, and I am starting to see that Joanna does indeed have some natural talent – she too nailed the flicks & retractions, despite having legs from here to Omaha (which definitely makes it harder). However, they seemed to be at a bit of a disadvantage being the first to perform – I was having a hard time remembering specifics by time the show was over. But, they seem to be popular with viewers (who doesn’t like a good-looking young couple? :-)) which could cancel out their underscoring from the judges tonight. On the other hand, Mya is tied for the highest score – and the judges scores do factor into the equation along with viewer votes to determine who goes and who stays. Hmmm….
5.) Kelly & Louis – Poor Kelly. I really wanted her to knock it out of the park again tonight! And she probably would have, if she hadn’t flubbed in the middle of it – it definitely seemed to throw her off and she never really recovered from it while performing. However, the first half was quite impressive – Kelly was actually good at turning her head in the right direction (this sounds simple enough, but in tango, the figures change so fast that sometimes you end up looking the wrong direction!) and her footwork was pretty clean. Now why did I rank her this high? Because all the media I saw this past week was abuzz with news of Kelly Osbourne’s success on DWTS. For once (are you listening, Heidi? ;-)), I actually saw more Kelly news this week than Donny news! I think Kelly has managed to cement herself in the hearts of a lot of the viewers, so even if she flubs – I don’t see her going home anytime soon.
6.) Louie & Chelsie – Ahhhh, the pocket couple (I think I’ll call them that henceforth). Have to agree with the judges on this one – there wasn’t a whole lot of actual jive steps their routine. They relied heavily on Louis’ extreme athleticism, and peppered in a lot of tricks – which, even if the judges dislike them, always seem to go over well with the viewers. The little bit of actual jive I saw was actually quite good – Louie seemed to nail the “bounce” and the leg retractions. And again – they’re both just cute as can be. All the women in my office could talk about last week was how adorable Louie was! And cuteness is definitely not a disadvantage in this competition…
7.) Mark & Lacey – Mark is, unfortunately, not making as big a splash as I would have expected from him so far. While he’s clearly quite athletic (no one gets as much height on their jumps as he does!), I can’t help but feeling a sort of disconnect when he dances – like he’s so “in his head” that the audience doesn’t seem to exist. He also continues to move rather stiffly – he was more or less walking through the quickstep, rather than gliding. But I do see improvement – he seems to be loosening up his body a bit more, which should aid in movement. I also can’t help but feel like Lacey is maybe losing her “edge”, choreography-wise – her routines have felt increasingly more “Len-friendly” this season, rather than the bold, unconventional ones of the past. And I feel like her edge is what really set her apart from the others in viewer’s minds – I’m crossing my fingers for an exciting, rebellious routine from her at least once this season!
8.) Michael & Anna – People just seem to love this guy. And I will admit – he is a joy to watch perform. That big grin, the obvious fun he’s having. But his dancing is still atrocious. He moved tiny tonight – comparing his quickstep to Aaron’s, he barely covers any ground. His shoulders are beyond slouchy. His footwork is messy. But I will hand it to Anna – she definitely gave him more content tonight, and pulled out a proper quickstep. Choreography-aside, I think he’ll be around at least a little while longer because he’s just so likeable.
9.) Natalie & Alec - I’m definitely beginning to agree with whoever commented that Alec is completely unmemorable. Heck, Carrie Ann can’t even remember his name (she called him Alex when giving their scores)! And now I fear that Natalie is starting to blend in as well. Don’t get me wrong – I think her technique is every bit as strong as Kelly & Joanna’s. But, like Alec, you just tend to lose track of her…it was a nice quickstep, it was well-executed, she looked gorgeous – and beyond that, I don’t remember any of it. It would be a shame to see her leave so early because she is actually very good, but unless she & Alec can break away from the pack soon, I think Alec will be back to spending his nights at home with Edyta instead of performing!
10.) Melissa & Mark – Probably slightly (and I do mean very slightly!) more memorable than Natalie & Alec, but not a strong enough execution to really make an impression. Poor Melissa looked like she was about to pass out – she was having a hard time keeping up with Mark, and like last week, she never really got into the rhythm of the dance, either. She dances very “tentatively” – she moves small and soft, so as not to really get fouled up. I also felt like she was almost feigning enthusiasm and energy in this dance – her expressions seemed forced. And overall, the only thing I’m left remembering about the routine is how ridiculous Mark looked in those sparkly socks.
11.) Debi & Maks – Seriously, someone should start a club called COCABM – Coalition of Celebs Abused by Maks. Is it a contest now…how quickly can you make your partner cry? Poor Debi. The way he was screaming at her in the lead-in was uncalled for and just kinda made him look like an [insert inappropriate part of the body of your choice here]. The theme of the dance was cool – “Le Tango De Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge, the week that Baz Luhrmann is guest judging – but the execution of it left me wanting more. If they are going to pick such strong, iconic pieces of music to perform to, they had better bring their A-game – this felt more like C-game, with Debi not closing her feet and holding her arms and neck a bit weird (granted, she did have a rather bad neck injury). She is also still struggling with thinking too much while dancing, which results in very little showmanship. But I think the final nail in the coffin for these two will be Maks behavior – not neccessarily bad dancing by Debi.
12.) Tom & Cheryl – This wasn’t a terrible tango – Tom did move through the steps, and he does exude a certain air of grace when he’s on out the floor. His movements weren’t as staccato as I would have liked – he moved through it more fluidly, like in the foxtrot – and he did nearly drop Cheryl on her head at the end. I think we definitely saw some of the limitations of old age showing through at that moment – he simply didn’t catch her quickly enough, and wasn’t strong enough to stay on balance. But if anything, I think it might garner quite a few sympathy votes – for some reason, people seem fascinated with this guy.
13.) Chuck & Anna – I was really looking forward to seeing Chuck harnass his aggression and strength in his tango. Unfortunately, all I really got from it was another “deer in the headlights” routine. He tends to clod through his steps with heavy feet, and seems to struggle with maintaining his frame. I think he maybe subconsciously is afraid he’ll hurt Anna if he takes her in a proper hold. And he still looks terrified out there – even his “strong” facial expressions seemed to look frightened – and he barely says 10 words while talking to Samantha. But at the same time, he does have this kind of “gentle giant” appeal – I did catch a bit of puppy-dog eyes when he was getting his scores. However, beyond that – I think another married couple (Jonathan & Anna) might be reunited in the near future.
14.) Kathy & Tony – Blah, blah, blah. Not bad, but not good. Definitely not memorable. She still seems uncomfortable with her height and doesn’t really move across the floor. She got through the routine, but that’s all she really did – got through it. It was really rather slow for a quickstep, and nothing really stood out about it. She improved a tiny bit since last week, but I don’t think it’s going to be enough to pull her through again this week. And I still feel like all her responses to questions feel rehearsed and premeditated! Don’t know if I’m the only one that notices it, but I’m fairly certain we won’t be hearing it next week.
Let’s hear your thoughts about tonight’s episode. How would you rank the dancers?
Also, check out the list of music from this episode of Dancing with the Stars.