Dancing With The Stars: Week 2
(S05E04) The stars are back for week two, and it's what I usually find to be one of my favorite weeks. The nerves and the pressure of the unknown are so hard to overcome in that first appearance, that week two is where much ground can be gained based on nothing more than a little confidence. As we would see tonight, that, as much as anything, is what is still holding a few of our stars back. Tom opened the show with a quick recap of last week, reminding everyone that Josie is no longer in the competition. But with eleven couples to dance, there was no time to dawdle, so on with the show.
Melanie Brown and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Quickstep) - Mel and Maksim are very well matched as partners, as we see again this week in their training clip. They both have a bit of the stubborn gene, so it's fun to watch them butt heads. This week, Maksim brought in an etiquette coach to help transform Scary Spice into Lady Spice. I tend to think it's going to take a little more than that, but then, it's hard to argue with results.
The pair danced their quickstep to "Take On Me" (A-ha). I think it's always tough to be the first team up, and often the scores seem to be a bit lower for no other reason than it's the first performance of the night. They managed to bypass the pressure of the lead off spot, and the scores reflected it. It was a great way to start off the show. Melanie is showing improvement in her ballroom form and Maksim is doing a nice job choreographing for her. Their quickstep lacked some of the intricate footwork that we are sure to see from the dance later in the competition, but this is only week two. Considering that, it was a very well done performance. I'm not ready to list Mel as one of the favorites, but she's easily in the top half and should be staying around for a while.
Len said the B stands for ballroom. He complimented her posture and called the dance beautiful. Bruno compared her to Lena Horne. Carrie Ann also liked the posture and suggested that she watch her shoulders. Drew said they made it look easy and asked Mel about the etiquette coach. She said they both took what they needed from it, getting one last shot in at Maksim. Score: 23 (7,8, 8) Drew finished it off with a Spice Girls quote, which did win him some points from me.
Mark Cuban and Kym Johnson (Mambo) - Mark was excited about his performance last week, but added that being under the red light was horrible. He vowed to work hard this week to make the mambo as good as it can be, and Kym praised him for his work ethic. That scores a lot of points with me as well. Just trying hard isn't enough to win the competition, but it's enough to get through without embarrassing yourself.
On that note, I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with Mark Cuban. When I heard that he was one of the contestants, I had visions of Kenny Mayne, Tucker Carlson, and Billy Ray Cyrus. It had all the makings of a train wreck. So far, after two weeks, he's been a pleasant surprise. I don't think anyone is going to make the claim that he's going to win the whole thing, and there's a chance that he could be going home this week, but it hasn't been bad. He lacks the polish and rhythm of many of his competitors, but you have to admire his enthusiasm and the way he throws himself into the performance. You can tell he's working at it, and that's worth something.
Carrie Ann said that he made her laugh and praised his exuberance, but didn't think it was the proper mambo she was looking for. Len said he would win the prize for hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, he compared Mark's performance to a match. Hot on the top, wooden down below. Bruno said it was like watching a bulldog chasing a squirrel. Drew asked Mark how he was dealing with last weeks failure. He said it was motivation to work harder. Asked why he wants this so bad, he said it's because he loves to compete and doesn't want to let anyone down. Score:18 (6, 6, 6), to a chorus of boos from crowd.
Wayne Newton and Cheryl Burke (Quickstep) - Wayne and Cheryl went over his schedule. It had him doing three concerts in three different states, all while they were learning their quickstep. It's something that continues to puzzle me season after season on DWTS. I can't imagine that there is any shortage of people willing to be on the show, so maybe assuring that people actually have the time to devote to the show wouldn't be such a bad idea during the casting process.
That lack of time may have contributed to what was a rather lackluster quickstep, to the tune of "Viva Las Vegas". Give Wayne credit for going out there and putting on a show, but he is really relying on his showmanship and his fan base to put him through. Certainly, he's not going to be able to do all of the things a younger athlete like Helio can, but that doesn't excuse the lack of technique. At times he looked unsure of what he was supposed to be doing. Cheryl was great, and seems to be doing what she can to work with Wayne's limitations, but it's going to be a tough road.
Bruno thought it was like walking down the red carpet, not quick enough. He said Wayne has to work on the technique. Carrie Ann thought that Wayne brought Las Vegas to the ballroom. Len said this wasn't an improvement, a good job, but not one of his better dances. Score: 15 (5, 5, 5) Drew joked that the three fives were a great hand, and again brought up Wayne's age. He then asked where all Wayne's energy comes from, and Wayne answered with a deadpan, "It's fear."
Marie Osmond and Jonathan Roberts (Mambo) - I've always thought it was a mistake to give away the big trick in the training segment. Those moves have a much bigger impact if you don't know ahead of time that they are coming. So, I was a little disappointed to see Marie and Jonathan working on the death drop in their package. Although, it did fit in with the theme that Marie is still having trouble getting comfortable with the ballroom.
Last week, I kind of had the feeling that Marie might be falling into the same game as Wayne. Playing to the crowd and getting by on her personality more than her dancing. It's an option for her, because she is still a great presence on the stage. I've left that idea behind now though, because this was a nicely danced mambo. As we saw with Heather last season, Jonathan is as good as anybody at designing choreography for his partner, and he gave Marie just enough to do to impress without piling so much on that she was overwhelmed. That is, right up until the death drop. It really should have just been left out. She did it, kind of, but the dance stood well enough on its own.
Len thought it was absolutely great and offered the advice that she should work to her strengths. Bruno called her a hot Latino mama and compared her to Rita Moreno in West Side Story. Carrie Ann called her a hot cougar and praised her for her trust in Jonathan. Drew asked if they were bringing out the tricks to try and prove they are contenders. They said totally. Score: 24 (8, 8, 8).
Albert Reed and Anna Trebunskaya (Quickstep) - After two weeks, I still have no idea who Albert is, or how he got on the show. But that doesn't matter, because he's starting to grow on me. We got a little back story this week about Albert's grandfather, who was a ballroom dancer. He decided to dedicate this week's dance to gramps, and Anna even arranged an inspirational message from Albert's grandmother. It was a nice moment for him.
I do worry about Albert's longevity in the competition, because fan bases and name recognition do play a factor in eliminations. Taken purely on his dancing, he looks like he could have a shot at contending. That's only if he gets to stick around long enough to improve though. This week was another example of that potential. Albert had some really nice moments as they danced to "99 Luftballoons" (Nena), but they were separated out by a few rough patches where he lost the flow of the dance. I think he and Anna look great together and given time could put together a really great performance.
Carrie Ann said he would make his grandfather proud, and she liked his energy. Len said he thinks Albert is going to be the dark horse. He didn't like the skipping but thinks there is a lot of potential. Bruno thought he didn't have control of his energy. Score: 21 (7, 7, 7) Drew asked what the competition means to him. He said it meant a lot to dedicate this performance to his grandfather. Anna was very cute as she went on about how she didn't expect very much from Albert when she met him. They ended with the sprinkler and the chainsaw. That fun loving personality could be just what gets him over the hump with the fans.
Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough (Mambo) - I am so happy that Helio Castroneves is in this competition. I'm a racing fan and I've seen more Helio interviews than I can count, and his personality is perfect for this show. He is such a charismatic guy that you can't help but root for him. He started off this week by comparing week one to the start of a race and said that he is happy that they got out in front of the pack right away. Somewhat surprisingly though, the Brazilian Helio seems to have a problem moving his hips. The training segment with Helio and Julianne was very fun to watch as he struggled with that.
Somewhere along the lines though, it all came together. When the two of them took to the stage it was almost like a different competition had started. They are dancing at a completely different speed, and it really makes all the difference. This is not the stuff of your standard week two performance. It would be hyperbole to say that Helio is dancing at Julianne's level, but he is close enough that it makes the two of them stand out above their competition. Helio and Julianne should cruise through the next few weeks, and if his dancing improves along the way, they could win the whole thing. At this point, I've got them down as the favorites.
Bruno called them the exhilarating hot rod and the blond bombshell and then praised Helio's technique. Carrie Ann called him the real deal, adding that he is suave and debonair. Len said Helio went into overdrive, very very well done. Drew asked if being Brazilian gave him an advantage. Helio pointed out that, "I'm a race car driver." When he was pressed for who is the big competition, he gave the political answer, saying, "All of them." Score: 27 (9, 9, 9)
Jennie Garth and Derek Hough (Quickstep) - Jennie and Derek had a very funny training segment this week as Jenny struggled with the closeness of the quickstep. When Derek explained that she needed to think of him as a romantic leading man, a George Clooney, she just giggled at the idea. This was the pair I was most looking forward to this week, because I thought that Jenny probably had the most to gain by conquering her nerves. She's beautiful, and showed some potential in week one, but did seem rather nervous with the whole affair.
Unfortunately, she's not quite there yet. Not that this was a bad performance, by any measure. They actually put together a rather nice quickstep, to the tune of "Suddenly I See" (K.T.Tunstall), and there were some very nice bits to their performance, but you can really see that Jennie hasn't stepped fully into the role of dancer yet. She's still working very hard at trying to do everything just right, and that sometimes takes away from the performance aspect of her dancing. That said, it still should be plenty good enough to buy her another week to get more comfortable with the whole idea. I think they may have even done enough to get into the upper range of scores if not for the fall at the end. That was unfortunate, but does serve to show just how amazing it is that we don't see more mistakes like that.
Len liked that they got right to the dance and said he thinks ballroom is going to suit her. Bruno said it was like Leo and Kate in Titanic, started alright, but they found some icebergs along the way. Carrie Ann also pointed out the mistake, and offered the advice that she has to stop thinking about the dance. Score: 21 (7, 7, 7) Drew asked about the mistake and Derek took the blame, saying he slipped on Jennie's dress. He asked what Jennie's daughters had said to her before the competition, "Don't trip. And look what happened."
Cameron Mathison and Edyta Sliwinska (mambo) - I'm not a soap opera person, so I've never actually seen Cameron on All My Children, but I do know him from his hosting gig on SoapNet's reality show. I'm very curious to see how that soap fan base is going to play into things though. It seems like there could be a good deal of crossover between soap fans and DWTS fans. He's in a similar predicament to Wayne, as we saw in the training video. A hectic work schedule is making it hard for him to find the time to work dance practice in. I thought it was a nice scene shared between he and Edyta as she explained that it's never going to be perfect, and that's ok.
I wouldn't mind if the writers over at All My Children could find some way to send Ryan off to a deserted island or something for a month or so, because I would really like to see what he could do if he had all of his time freed up to work on his dancing. He and Edyta might be the best looking couple in the competition and Cameron showed once again this week that he does have a lot of potential. He is just a step below the leaders in the competition, but continues to show moments that tease the idea that he could contend in the end. It's not so much a matter of learning anything more, just a matter of polishing what he already has so he can give a complete performance. If there is a negative for their performance for me it would be the end. I think the male stars need to be wary of falling into the trap where they stop dancing and their partner dances around them. Unless the rest of the performance was spot on, it can come across as trying to take an easy out to simplify the routine. We all know Edyta is fantastic, ultimately we are scoring Cameron.
Carrie Ann said he looks like a Greek god and that he hit some good lines, but he missed the beat. Len thought it started out wooden, but he got into it as it moved along. Bruno said Cameron looked like Superman, but sometimes he dances like Clark Kent. Relax. Score:21 (7,7,7) Drew brought up the workload for All My Children and Cameron said it's tough, but he's so thrilled to be part of the show, it's worth the work. Then, in an uncomfortable moment, Drew complimented Cameron's hips.
Floyd Mayweather and Karina Smirnoff (Quickstep) - Floyd was still a little upset over the scores from week one, and rightly so I think. Rather than dwell on it though, he was determined to make this week even better. For her part Karina was saying all the right things, but you still get the feeling that this is the team that could go off the rails at any moment. Karina is a fabulous dancer, but she's certainly high strung.
I actually preferred the performance last week to this one, and wonder if those low scores didn't change the course of what they did. It seemed that Karina was steering Floyd toward more traditional ballroom moves, and that is what ultimately hurt them here. Floyd is a charismatic guy, with good rhythm and a natural ability to move, but ballroom is still so new to him that he hasn't fully grasped it yet. It shows from time to time as it keeps him from giving the performance that he can. The work it takes for him to get through what he is supposed to be doing stifles that natural exuberance that is so entertaining. I think it's something that he will get eventually, if he gets to stay around for a few more weeks. He just hasn't turned that corner yet.
Bruno said he took on the quickstep, and nearly won. He praised the footwork. Carrie Ann also praised his footwork and told him not to lead with his chest. Len liked the footwork but stressed that he needs to get the hold down. Score: 21 (7,7,7), Drew asked how they felt about the score. Floyd said he liked it because it's blackjack and he lives in Vegas. Karina dodged the question on whether or not she liked the score, which tells us all we really need to know. Tom finished this one off with the zinger of the night as after watching a flirtatious scene between Floyd and Karina he commented that Mario was on the phone.
Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani (Mambo) - When you watch Jane on the show do you find yourself saying, "Holy smokes, she is 56." 56? Good grief, she's still so elegant and beautiful, it's really amazing. As with so many other contestants, Jane also struggled with the hip movements required by the mambo. In one of the strangest training videos we've seen in a while, Tony brought in a snake to show her the seamless mambo hip move. Ok...
In the end, it turned out that they really didn't need to be concerned with Jane's hips at all. She was fine with her movement, what cost her in this performance was her presentation. There were a couple moments where she completely lost the performance aspect of the dance and looked utterly confused. It was very strange to see as she is usually so composed and elegant. Fortunately, those moments were short lived and the rest of their number came off quite well.
Len said what she did was very precise, exact, and neat, but it was an English mambo, not a South American mambo. Bruno said it was like a mambo at a tea party at Wimbledon. Carrie Ann disagreed, saying that the elegance of the performance worked. Drew asked how Jane the English rose feels about the spicy dances. She said she loves it, and that the most difficult thing about the mambo was her back and learning to move her hips. Score: 21 (7,7,7)
Sabrina Bryan and Mark Ballas (Quickstep) - After a fantastic debut in week one, Sabrina is one of the early leaders. The only real criticism the pair got last week was that there was too much hip hop in their choreography, so they have made it a point to lessen that this week. The training package played up that Sabrina is having trouble with picking up the ballroom style, but I wasn't really buying that. This kid is a real dancer and it shows.
They picked up right where they left off last week as they broke into their quickstep. This was probably the most intricate of all of the quicksteps we saw this week, and it was also one of the best executions. Mark is winning me over with his choreography, and Sabrina with her charm and energy. She is just so fun to watch. There's very little to take away from this performance and it puts her right up at the top with Helio. She may even have an edge because if we line up Cheetah Girl fans and IRL fans, I think that first line is going to be quite a bit longer.
Carrie Ann said it was quite amazing and each step is filled with vibrancy that she is addicted. to. Len said she's fast, but in control. He said what they were lacking was balance and shades. Bruno said that whatever shades the dance had, they were all bloody good, adding that she looked like a professional. Drew asked Sabrina if she was nervous about holding on to the top spot. She said that it was a lot of work, but she's happy with what they did. Score: 26 (9, 8, 9)
So there we have it, week two in the books. I have to say that I am very impressed with the season two teams. We certainly have the favorites that are already starting to break away, but there is a decided lack of definite last place contestants like we have seen in past seasons. I'm sure that in a few weeks we'll all find ourselves scratching our heads as the fan vote knocks the order of elimination all out of whack, but it's still going to be a heck of a ride.
My pick for best of the night is Helio and Julianne. They were very impressive and have set the bar for what the competition will be moving forward. Who's going home? I think it's probably going to be Mark Cuban.
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|Mel B & Maksim||43 (3.2%)|
|Mark & Kym||29 (2.1%)|
|Wayne & Cheryl||20 (1.5%)|
|Marie & Jonathan||96 (7.1%)|
|Albert & Anna||23 (1.7%)|
|Helio & Julianne||812 (60.0%)|
|Jennie & Derek||33 (2.4%)|
|Cameron & Edyta||32 (2.4%)|
|Floyd & Karina||19 (1.4%)|
|Jane & Tony||48 (3.5%)|
|Sabrina & Mark||199 (14.7%)|