Saturday, March 31, 2018

DWTS S025, Week 3: How Much Did We Love Guilty Pleasures Night?

This from the wacky opening number, choreographed by the ever-amazing Mandy Moore. This show is dedicated to the family and friends of those lost in the horrific Las Vegas shooting, which just happened before this was filmed.

Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, is Guilty Pleasures night. And there will be no eliminations tonight.

Team: Emma and Drew   Guilty Pleasure: Crime dramas

Our Property Brothers contractor kicks off the evening with a wonderful Argentine tango to “Red Right Hand.” (Loved the music.) And it included this incredible overhead lift. Emma Slater’s choreography continues to be stunning.

I really thought this dude couldn't dance. I really liked this number.

I started the season thinking they would be going home early, but by this dance, they have certainly become a couple to watch.

I also loved Emma's outfit so very much.

Len says that Drew is “on a roll.” Carrie Anne: “How amazing was that Argentine tango?”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 23 (out of 30)

Team: Sharna and Derek   Guilty Pleasure: Fresh Prince reruns

 I pretty much hated the music of this. Sharna Burgess can make anything look good, but this cha cha was certainly my least favorite dance of the night.

Len: “One of the secrets of Dancing with the Stars, if you like the music, you perform better. I could see you were right into that dance. You were into the music, it was something you enjoyed, and in turn, I enjoyed.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

Tom, in introducing this segment says: “Yes,  a grown man in a suit just said, ‘Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping.’” (Cracked me up.)

Team: Val and Victoria   Guilty Pleasure: um... Chumbawumba

This song (“Tubthumping”), you either love it or you hate it. Val really hates it. But Victoria’s anthem for this season is what is contained in the lyric: “You get knocked down, and you get up again.” So, Chumbawumba it is.

It is a sign of Val’s dancing/choreography genius that he can make an incredible quickstep out of a song he hates.

My guilty pleasure? “Tumthumping” makes me feel all warm and fuzzy all over.

Len: “Nice amount of content, great amount of entertainment and fun.” Bruno: “I love what you put into it.”

Tom addresses the audience, “If you see a kid who’s different, don’t be an ass.”

22 (out of 30)

Then, there was this really funny bit of “Guilty Pleasures: Host Edition,” where Tom mocks Mark Ballas for his use of hair-care products, and talks about how he has to “go full mime” to fundraise for more. (Envision Tom Bergeron aa mime here.) Damn funny. Sasha was in the video, too.

Erin, after: “Did you make much money?”

Tom: “About $4 and a half bucks.”

Team: Maks and Vanessa (with Alan standing in)  
Guilty Pleasure: Girls Night Out

Sorry, but when Maks isn’t there, the dances just aren’t as good. Alan is great, fine, but he’s no Maks.

Vanessa is a real star, though. She hogs that spotlight. And they danced to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” always a great song. Lovely Jenna (former pro) was among the troupe dancers helping out. 

Len: “In that first section, it would’ve been difficult to know which one was the celebrity. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.”
Bruno: “It had that timeless elegance of a Motown girl band, and yet it was so up-to-date. I absolutely loved it.”

Carrie Anne:  “Girls Night at your house for sure, next time.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 23 (out of 30)

Team: Artem and Nikki   Guilty Pleasure: “Romance novels”

Romance novels like “Fifty Shades of Gray,” she says, winking.

After this steamy Viennese waltz, Tom Bergeron pulls Nikki’s SO out onto the floor to stand next to her during the judging. They try to explain to him the concept of character.

Bruno: “It really worked.” Carrie Anne: “I love that you just go for it.... I wanna see your softness come back.” Len liked some of the turns, but “I wasn’t exactly transported to old Vienna.” (audience laughs)   

 JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

Then, they have “Guilty Pleasures: Judges Edition,” where Carrie Anne goes on about her love of nachos (with pumped cheese). Bruno (sitting next to Sashand being fanned, while Jenna stretches her legs over Sasha):  “I go for hot fashion models, fried food and fast cars.” Len: “My guilty pleasure is sitting in the California sun, eating bacon and eggs. Naked.” As he says this, the camera pulls back to reveal a giant... Mirror Ball over his naughty bits. With a rooster sound...  Oh my.

When they return from break, each judge is eating their Guilty Pleasure. Tom thanks Len “for dressing for dinner.” 

Team: Witney and Frankie    Guilty Pleasure: Boy Bands
Whoever you thought Frankie Muniz was before, he is sure different on this show. So, here he is, in full boy band mode (I love that Sasha is in so many of these things, here,  he's another one of the boy band members). They show him getting advised by Nick Lachey and Joey Fatone.

Finally, Witney and Frankie get their boy band on with a samba. With help from Sasha and the troupe.

Carrie Anne liked his “boy band stuff,” not his samba so much. Len just says: “Frankie, I really like you.” (After telling him he “needed more hip action.”) Bruno (on their double denim): “I never thought I was gonna see thaagain.”   

 JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

We’ve really gone too long without Sasha, so they give us a Cha Cha bumper. And Jenna too! Fun!

Team: Mark and Lindsey   Guilty Pleasure: Staying in Her PJs

Lindsey and her significant other just broke up, so she is sad. Despite that, she does a kickass jive with Mark to “Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go).”

Easily my favorite dance of the night. 

Len: “If I'm dreaming, don’t wake me up, because I thought that was great. Lots of jive content, lots of fun, lots of WHAM and energy. That, so far, the dance of the season.” Bruno: “Apart from the incredibly smart creativity of Mark, this guy can jive. He threw everything at her that he had, she was never outdanced. She was just brilliant.” Carrie Anne: “Every number is always so incredibly creative, but tonight—that’s gonna go down as one of my favorite numbers. Of all time. That was brilliant, Mark. Brilliant choreography.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 27 (out of 30)(the highest score of the season so far)

Team: Gleb and Sasha   Guilty Pleasure: Baking

Sasha and Gleb start out with a great Motown song (“Can’t Help Myself”) and dance jazz (which I think some use as a catchall when they don’t want to get dinged for not enough content).

You know when they use a lot of props, the dance is in trouble.

Bruno: “Great fun.” Carrie Anne: “It was not exactly what you would call jazz.... It was very clean, very well-rehearsed.” Len: “As fun as this was, it didn’t really showcase your ability to dance.”

(SIDE NOTE here: Gleb consistently over seasons gets the note, “You’re not showcasing your partner.” Once again makes me wish they had chosen Sasha instead.)

JUDGES’ SCORES: 19 (out of 30)

We come back from the break, and the judges and Tom and Erin are singing along to the Motown song.

Team: Peta and Nick   Guilty Pleasure: Watching Rom-Coms

Now THAT’s how you choreograph a jazz dance! Peta did a fantastic number to the song “Jump” (from “Love, Actually”). Bonus points for both Sasha and Jenna being in the dance. (Well, bonus points from ME, not from the judges.)

Carrie Anne starts out commenting about Nick’s unitard, “that takes balls.” (Not remembering that he famously had surgery to remove one of his balls.) So Nick says, “Well, what I have left.” OUCH.

Carrie Anne: “It looked great to watch.” Len: “I loved the Concept, the Commitment and the Confidence that you brought out on the dance floor.” Bruno: “Finally, you got your juices flowing.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

Jenna and Keo show us how to do the jive.

Team: Cheryl and Terrell   Guilty Pleasure: Break dancing

Poor Cheryl. She tries so hard. She puts those steps in there, she creates interesting choreography, but her dances never seem to catch fire like others do. I admit, I didn’t like this song at all. (Think it was “The Breaks” by Curtis Blow.)  Doing a salsa to that, ugh.

Len: “It’s not a touchdown, but you’re in the Red Zone.” Bruno: “It wasn’t a traditional salsa.” Carrie Anne has “a meltdown” cause it was “so good.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

Team: Lindsay and Jordan  Guilty Pleasure: Comic books

So they did what Tom calls “a Super Hero Charleston,” but to my eyes, it succeeded the least of their dances. The whole thing just didn’t work. It seemed loud and garish, and didn’t seem to have much Charleston in it (to me, and Charleston is one of my favorite dances here).

Tom whispers to them, “Somewhere Adam West is smiling.”

Bruno likes the “pop art visual flair.” Carrie Anne is dumbfounded, trying to wrap her head around “what I just saw. You’re so amazing. There’s so much going on in that number. You could’ve gotten lost at any point... The fastest Charleston I’ve ever seen in the middle.” Len, however, was dismayed that “it’s a Charleston, and there was virtually no Charleston.” 

JUDGES’ SCORES: 25 (out of 30)

No one was eliminated tonight.

Favorite Guilty Pleasures of the Night

1. Mark and Lindsey (jive)
2. Drew and Emma (Argentine tango)
3. Val and Victoria (quickstep)
4. Alan and Vanessa (jazz)
5. Peta and Nick (jazz) 

Please Go Home
1. Sasha and Gleb
2. Vanessa and Alan/Maks
3. Nick and Peta
4. Derek and Sharna


Sunday, February 4, 2018

DWTS S025, Week 2, Night 2: Latin Night and Getting Used to Our Bodies

These early days (in the first few weeks of Dancing with the Stars), the celebrities/stars are getting used to this concept of dancing, and rehearsal, and perhaps characterization. Latin Night is specifically to get them used to bumping and grinding their partners in the dance assigned. Some, who aren't used to characterization (or portraying someone else in the dance than who you are in real life) have problems with this. Nikki Bella, for example, really struggled with it.

After one rehearsal, she says to Artem, “You’re like a nice Russian.”

To my eyes, though, he didn't quite succeed, and their samba felt awkward. (Though she looks fabulous.) They did dance to the popular  “Despacido” song.

Len didn't like “all the gyrating” at the beginning, although he thought the rest had “quite a bit of samba content.” Bruno thought “the timing was a little bit off, but the look was on.” Carrie Ann noted that “samba is one of the most difficult dances to learn.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 18 (out of 30)

For some reason, they decided to have the stars hit a piñata after their scores. Tom Bergeron: “You know, I hosted AFV (America‘s Funniest Videos) for 15 years. Nothing good comes out of hitting a piñata.”

Our heartthrob Val has a different challenge with Victoria, the one who spent many years unable to move. As he tries to teach her about characterization... “What does a heartbreaker look like to you?” Victoria: “I don’t know.”

As they stand very close, she is laughing. Val: “I don’t know why you’re laughing. You know how many women would love to be in this position? ... and men.” (true dat) She laughs more.

So, they attempt this rumba, this “dance of love” as Val calls it in the package, she, the woman who probably hasn’t experienced much love (if she doesn‘t know what a heartbreaker is) and he, whom men and women all over the country wish they could be near.

And, they have Val’s stunning choreography, and Victoria does much better with characterization than she even did in their tango the day before. Just beautiful.

Bruno thought it ”lost a bit of hip action.” Carrie Ann called it “really authentic.” As Carrie Ann notes how happy she was that Victoria finally “showed her legs,” Val mentions that it’s Victoria’s birthday. Len says that there was “very little recognizable rumba” in the dance. Val mentions that “times have changed.” Len was not having it.

They go up the stairs to the skybox, and they have a cake and a pink crown (pink being her color) for Victoria. They start singing Happy Birthday to her, and Jenna Johnson has wheeled out a table with a huge bouquet of flowers (pink, of course) on it. Erin has Victoria read the card. It’s from Taylor Swift, thanking Victoria for dancing to her song (last night). A special, and amazing, moment.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 20 (out of 30)

Sharna, at least, knows enough to pack her paso doble with plenty of paso content, to say nothing of the fine flamenco outfits. Really fantastic dance.

Len really liked the “knee walks... I used to do them 50 years ago, and I still can’t walk properly.” Then he goes into some story about how important thumbs are to the paso (who knew?). “A hand without a thumb is like a kiss without a moustache.” (HUH?)

Bruno thought he “got so into the character, he lost the artistry.” And that he needs ”more joosh.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 19 (out of 30)

Sasha and Gleb samba against the backdrop of fat-shaming bullying (even though this isn’t Most Memorable Week—when you normally do this kind of stuff). So, they have a lame storyline about prom king and queen, danced to Halle Steinfeld’s “Most Girls.” Sasha wins the crown, and promptly throws it away (supposedly a win for feminism). Which doesn’t make sense at all in the context of the song, or in the context of real life. Winning a crown is a good thing, even for a feminist.

Len’s happy because “there was plenty of samba content in there.” Carrie Ann says that “the best part of being on the show is watching someone like you blossom into yourself.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 22 (out of 30)

It’s a bit awkward when one married couple on the show is dancing with another married couple. Especially when they are dancing sexy songs. This is actually an Argentine tango, but boy was it steamy! Great choreography and concept by Peta, of course. (Former Mirror Ball champions don’t forget what it took to get there.)

That foot thing (don’t know what it’s called) that is notable in the Argentine tango was really well done by Nick.

And the judges pound home the characterization concept here too.

Carrie Ann said that “you don’t have to grind it out on the floor.” (HUH?) And, importantly, “the lifts were appropriate.” Len, who’s been bashing everyone all night, starts out with “Nick, I’m a kind guy...” and I’m already worried. Len said he thought “the steps were there,” but “it’s about a guy, trying to get a girl” and “that was lacking.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 19 (out of 30)

Jordan and Lindsay do a samba, even though Lindsay says she normally doesn’t attempt a samba, because it’s one of the hardest dances. The dance seems like it’s packed with samba content, including samba rolls (my favorite!).

Carrie Ann calls them “an amazing partnership. There’s a vibrancy and a youth and an energy to you that makes me hungry.” Len remarks that Jordan’s Cuban heels are giving him a “peculiar leg action.” Bruno commends Jordan for doing “a totally recognizable samba, but you put your own individual style to it. Top notch.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 24 (out of 30)

On Property Brothers, they always say that the two twins “look so much alike.” I’ve never seen that. I’ve always thought Jonathan was so much sexier than Drew. So when Drew rips his shirt open (after a spray-tan session) and asks America if we “are ready for this?”... well, I had to look away.

Well, Drew must’ve pulled out some of that Scott chemistry, cause here he is doing a great rumba with sexy Emma Slater. Some questionable camerawork notwithstanding, it was pretty darn sexy. And he goes to kiss his fiancée at the end.

Len calls it “his best dance ever.” Bruno says, “you got it together, darling.” As Carrie Ann is commenting about how Drew didn’t have much of a dance background, which causes both Emma and Drew to laugh, Bruno falls off his chair. Then Carrie Ann says that Drew “is still learning his body.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

Debbie Gibson and Alan just do nothing for me. So here’s their Argentine tango.

The best part for me about this dance is that both Jenna and Sasha Farber are in the troupe/background. I do like seeing Alan dance. I just wish it was Sasha as the pro up there... *sigh*

JUDGES’ SCORES: 21 (out of 30)

Interestingly, Maks and Vanessa, the other set of the married couple, do not do a rumba. They opt for a mostly fully clothed samba.

(Oh yay! Sasha’s in this one too...)

This is supposed to portray Vanessa’s early going-out days in NYC with her girlfriends. Pretty hot.

Carrie Ann said they “were so in sync together.” Len says that Vanessa “is 100% a contender for this show.” Bruno said that she “outshone Maks.” Love the little butt pinches between Maks and Tom.

 23 (out of 30)

Ah. Swoon. A little salsa bumper with Sasha Farber (far left) and Jenna Johnson (far right) and the rest of the troupe. Wonderful.

Then Cheryl Burke and Terrell show us how hot it’s getting in here with their samba. More awkward camera mistakes. Nice dance, though.

Oh yes, we missed you, Cheryl Burke.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 19 (out of 30)

The hip-swiveling  and constant shaking of salsa is often unfamiliar to people, and hard to get  accustomed  to. I have a massive butt, and when it shakes you know it. Lindsay Sterling has no butt, so they had to add massive frou-frou behind her. But it was a great salsa and Mark Ballas had his super cool sparkly shoes which gave off a special light as he was dancing.

Mostly, it’s just great to see Mark Ballas back again. We missed him so.

Bruno: “It left me breathless. Well done.”  Carrie Ann: “You ARE the music. You got it all going on.” Len: “There was no larking about. Straight into the routine. No messing, no stressing, full on, flat-out fabulous.”

JUDGES’ SCORES:  24 (out of 30)

I think there is a producing/directing contingent that really loves Witney and Frankie, cause they save the best dancers for last, usually. Their package shows the lengths to which Frankie goes for this competition: Yoga, freezing therapy, working out. He really really really wants this. (Course, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll win.)

For me, a dance always starts out good if Sasha Farber is in it. But this is also a good dance overall. Although for me personally, I don't really like Witney's regular choice of music (rap). This was a James Brown-ish rap thing, but still...

Len then does something he doesn't usually do. He commended all of the contestants for how difficult it was to do two dances on the second week. He stands in honor of that. (Pretty big deal, actually.) Tom Bergeron adds how great “the whole production team” was. Bruno talks about how great the choreography was. Bruno gives them the first 9 of the season.

JUDGES’ SCORES:  25 (out of 30)

Miche’s Favorites of Week 2, Night 2, Latin Night
1. Lindsay and Jordan (samba)
2. Mark and Lindsay (salsa)
3. Maks and Vanessa (salsa)
4. Witney and Frankie (cha cha)
5. Peta and Nick (Argentine tango)
6. Emma and Drew (rumba)

Going home?

Ready for You to Go Home
1. Nikki Bella
2. Terrell
3. Sasha (and Gleb)