Welcome back, gem hunters, to Week 2 of Dancing With the Stars: Up In Smoke!
Last week it was farewell to new pro Keo and the first stiff of the season, all-weather Olympian Lolo Jones. “She wouldn’t do sexy,” reads her DWTS tombstone — which is surrounded by gems but not gilded/bedazzled itself, due to the devastating choices she made.
Tonight is #MyJamMonday, which means the couples will dance either the jive, rumba, cha cha or foxtrot alongside their jamzzz.
Let's hope new judge Busty doesn't get too jiggly with it.
Discuss the performances here! I'll be back with comments overnight.
"This is a fucking reality show, for crying out loud -- it's not the end of the world."
Ha, right. Tell that to me in 2007-10 when I was a young cave troll stressing about posting Dancing With the Stars recaps by three in the morning, Antonio Sabato Jr.
Cut to now: I just don't give a fuck! I'll post when I want! And I still love this fucking reality show.
New development: Against all odds, I now want LEA THOMPSON to win!
Lea Thompson & Artem Chigvintsev: 35/40 Even if their jive hadn't kicked ass, they would've earned brownie points for 1) black leather/red/leopard print costuming pulled off with flair, and 2) the title of Lea's fave "jam" is “Land of 1000 Dances”. YES, lady, YES.
Everything came rushing back. How much I love underdogs on this show. How often my sister and I watched late-night reruns of Caroline in the City for no reason. The fact that Lea and dreamboat milkshake Artem were sitting steps away from where I lightly jog every other weekday (give or take every weekday): Back to the Beach in Santa Monica! I could have sweated right onto ballroom greatness from my favorite pedestrian walkway! (#MyJamMonday.)
Everything about this couple screams "LOVE US" loud and clear to me, except Lea and Artem themselves -- yet another reason I love them. Lea was 100 Percent Pure Going For It during that jive, all on her own -- and Artem is the perfect pro to casually make her feel sexy/confident and, more importantly, not let her psych herself out.
"You just have to touch me and then I can do it," Lea said during rehearsals. She wasn't even trying to be coy; it just happened! That right there is a DWTS natural.
So no love lost there -- but check out this chilly situation over at the judges' table, where a line has been drawn (by advanced lighting techniques) between Weepy and the Grumpy-Busty-Dopey mega-trio.
Sorry, Carrie Ann. It's almost sad. But it's funny. A lot like Julianne's hair.
Janel Parrish & Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 34/40 A super-intense Janel thought they'd get better scores last week, and now she wants to "make sure everything I do is tidy." WOW. SOUNDS FUN. I'm not sure what was going on thematically in this masked-wedding (?) foxtrot -- and don't tell me to watch the video for “Call Me Maybe” to get a clue, because I'm pretty sure that was about bathing outdoors. And this isn't, like, Utopia or something. This is a glamorous ballroom setting. Anyway, Val's strict training worked -- though I highly doubt Janel, as such a perfectionist, would have him train her any other way.
I see a "loosening up" story arc in Janel's near future. If not -- well, the fierce post-dance hug between Tommy and Val (Chong and Chmong?) will have to last me through the season.
Bethany Mota & Derek Hough: 33/40 "Taylor Swift tweeted our performance AND IT TRENDED!" the YouTube star kicked off the segment -- so right away, you were annoyed. DWTS has never been one to let you decide how you feel all on your own. I agreed with Carrie Ann (the only girl in the world) that Bethany's good at telling stories with her movements, especially in this foxtrot.
But did she have to balance on a wobbly bass with a twisted ankle?!?!?!?!
"Ugh, major anxiety," Derek fibbed when Erin Andrews asked how the pro had felt with his injured partner's life at risk down there in the Rectagon. But hey, Bethany didn't even remember that her ankle hurt... until after the performance.
You know, that's so weird. A similar thing just happened as I was trying to write this recap -- a task no one is forcing me to do. Something was nagging at me: "Go to sleep! No one even cares!"
It hurt, but I ignored it.
In fact, I was so swept up in the splendor of the exercise.... that I didn't realize a large sheath of plastic was poking me in the face!
But as it turned out...
I had been holding the piece of plastic myself.
This is who I am, okay? I was BORN THIS WAY. Gotta just fight through it. The show must go on.
Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson: 32/40 Move over, Janel -- we've got another feelin'-the-pressure monster on our hands. There's something off-putting about Fons' determination to prove himself as the best. I think it's because he's approaching this experience as a trained professional instead of as a student. He must surrender to the magic of the mirrorball with a blank, slightly shimmery slate. As it was, their "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" samba was just a series of Alfonso showing off how well he can perform hip-hop. The judges wanted to see some samba bounce.
Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas: 31/40 Sadie had the entire performance show to mope around switching back and forth from Duck Face to Scowl. By the time she and Mark got around to their "country-style jazz routine," it almost didn't matter how they danced because I was so generally turned off.
“She’s Country," we get it. According to that side-by-side lap dance, though, she's also kind of a slut. Was that wise, Marky Mark? You really want that fowl-natured Dynasty hunting you down for the rest of your life? Well, okay. Up to you. Might wanna start packing up the spats now.
Antonio Sabato Jr. & Cheryl Burke: 31/40 Oh, hey now. I can definitely get down with this. It's hard, smooth work making a rumba believable on Week 2, but Antonio (and obviously Cheryl, queen of incoherent mid-dance sex murmurs that delightfully do not at all match the lyrics of the music) was up to the challenge.
"You've got a very nice butt. Use it even more," Bruno volunteered. Enough said.
Jonathan Bennett & Allison Holker: 30/40 WHY SO AGGRESSIVE? read my notes for this cha cha that looked like a futuristic NC-17 film about sparkle-aliens out to devour the last remaining disco in the Glitter Galaxy with the PUNCTUATION of their ARM MOVEMENTS! It was actually one of the most physically impressive routines we've seen on a small platform at Planet Mirrorballus' core. I liked it for what it was, but the judges called Allison's choreography "flimflam' and wanted more cha cha content.
Well, new pro Allison was brought here in order to innovate, she reminded the judges post-scores. She just wants to learn and accomplish more as a student.
"I'll workshop it," she said, as Jonathan, Karina, and even Erin stiffened and recoiled.
Randy Couture & Karina Smirnoff: 28/40 Aggggh. Did this cha cha even happen? It was so long ago. Recollection (I Can't Get No). However, I do remember that the DWTS Gazette or whatevs their fake newspaper is called forgot to change the headline on the bottom right.
"Brooke Burke CHARVET" forever.
Betsey Johnson & Tony Dovolani: 28/40 From ugly duckling to beautiful swan! Look, I sparklebarfed just as vigorously as anyone when Betsey triumphantly got her leg up for their “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” foxtrot's final twirl. That shit was stunning. But what was even more fascinating, to me, was the way the judges managed to work in critiques of Betsey Johnson's teenybopper-tacky clothing line into their critiques of her dance. Carrie Ann had no idea who Betsey was underneath "all of that fun stuff". "Rebirth and revived glamour," Bruno cooed. And effin' Julianne: "This was a make-under. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful. And... it was timeless." I half-expected Betsey to rip off her mask to reveal heavy blue eye shadow and sparkly wax lips underneath her disguise.
But nope! She's a new person now. Completely remade by Tony, makeup artist to the stars.
Tavis Smiley & Sharna Burgess: 28/40 Eh. Mr. Book Signing didn't have much time to practice the cha cha. So I've got very little time to address him. You wanna make it on Dancing With the Stars, buddy? Abandon the rest of your life. Then we'll talk. Amazing turquoise gown on Sharna, Goddess of Jewel Tones.
Tommy Chong & Peta Murgatroyd: 28/40 The best thing about Chong and his relentless Dancing With the Stars: Up In Smoke agenda is that he actually can dance! He may have opened his bright pink shirt while gazing right up into disco ball heaven (the spotlight-wired glob at the center of the ceiling) like a total cheese ball, but Tommy Chong is not a joke!
"You're a mad man, but also smooth, and you dance right in the pocket of the music," said Carrie Ann. (She was stoned.) "Thank you," beamed the real-life salsa club enthusiast. Yep, mad man's got rhythm. Sometimes -- in addition to getting "Higher" (by Gloria Estefan) as quickly as possible -- that's all you need.
Michael Waltrip & Emma Slater: 24/40 Ha, this guy is the worst! Can Chong give him some of his special medicine? Any strain would work. I feel like even a severe back strain would help ground Michael's "movements", especially during tonight's "samba."
Thank you to Tom Bergeron for -- as always -- voicing the keen viewer's reactions way better than I ever do, right on the spot. "You've been waiting to recite that name for, like, eight seasons now!" he chimed in after Bruno achieved his wildest dreams by name-dropping Pussy Galore.
And on a much more important note: "Great bass retrieval there, by Sasha," Tom chirped following the Trouper's subtle twirl of Derek's giant instrument as the camera cut away during the foxtrot.
Crediting geniuses for the insignificant. It's what Hidden Gem hunting is all about.
See you next week! Unless I abandon my true identity.