Within the first 20 seconds of this show, Bruno Tonioli pulls us in with his “come hither, cabana boy” stare and seductive lulling in of the hands. You see, Bruno wants you to pay attention as he traipses over young people’s dreams on the way to creating a dancing/singing Benneton ad. Because that, my friends, is what a DANCE WAR is all about.
C’mon bitch, I’ll shank you with my nail filer.
After a brief montage showing us what’s to come in this two hour powder keg of awesomeness between Dancing with the Stars judges Bruno Tolioni and Carrie Ann Inaba, we get America’s Sweetheart, Drew Lachey. Well, more like America’s ho for 2 months in the Spring of 2006 during Dancing with the Stars season 2. Either way, Drew is live from Hollywood, CA to introduce Bruno and Carrie Anne’s super ultra talent show groups. And for some reason, he’s acting like a reject from House of Pain.
Wiggidy Wiggidy Wack!
We now focus on Bruno and Carrie Ann with some pre-recorded interviews. Carrie Anne is upset because she constantly has to justify why she’s a judge on the show. Her answer? “I started dancing when I was three, I went to Japan when I was 18 to record records and I was a popstar in Japan for a couple of years.” That wouldn’t even get her on as a contestant with Dancing with the Stars. In Japan (If there is a Japanese version). Bruno just talks about all of the celebrities he’s “worked with”, as if that’s supposed to impress me. I don’t care who you sleep with, Bruno.
Anyways, the way the competition works is like this: People from three cities (New York City, Los Angeles, and Nashville) have to sing and dance on stage for the judges. The judges then give the contestants a callback to Hollywood for the next tryout. After the group of 30 trains for and performs a big song and dance number, Carrie Ann and Bruno select their 14 finalists. Then, each week, the finalists will be separated into teams and the teams will compete in a dance competition, with the losing team having one of its players voted off.
New York City is our first stop, and it looks like tryouts are in Central Park, which’ll be great if anyone wants to buy a beer from a guy carrying a trash bag full of ice and 4 year old Rolling Rocks. Drew Lachey is here for all the fun, and to have an illegally-vended libation from 2002.
“Want to get a beer later? I know a guy around here.”
After our first contestant named Monica, who’s a jappy young thing from Long Island, we meet Quandrell, who looks like he’s filling the mama’s boy quota. Mom’s there, all smiles with a camera in hand, and when Bruno and Carrie Ann ask Quandrell if he’s trained in the art of dance war, he explains that no he isn’t, but he shrewdly diverts attention towards his mom who taught him everything he knows. It is during his performance that Bruno showcases his first crush on a contestant. Quandrell sings “My Girl” and Bruno can’t stop saying, “Look at his face. Look at his face. I love it.”
Maybe, don’t look at his face.
Then he starts shouting “He’s Leroy…He’s Leroy from Fame” during Quandrell’s dance. I think he means that gay bar in London named Fame where he used to hang out with his old cockney boyfriend, Leroy. Just kidding, I know he means the TV show with all the dancing. I suppose it’s safe to assume that’s the vibe they ultimately want to put out there, although what they really need is Debbie Allen pounding her wooden stick on that floor when they screw up. Which, reminds us of that old, but tried and true saying: there are two types of people in this world – People who like Debbie Allen and liars.
And you ain’t no liar, right?
Sorry for the tangent – on to our next contestant. We have a guy who looks like Patrick Swayze’s killer in Ghost and decides to freestyle rap much to the chagrin of Bruno and C.A. He pretty much sets an example for what a desire to be on television and a complete lack of shame can get you, in other words, the way-too-played-out-reality-show-standard, a terrible singers segment.
I wasn’t kidding
After an array of good looking girls who can’t sing to save their lives, we meet Anthony who thinks he has a good shot with Carrie Ann. I think he means it more in a Terri McMillan and her last husband kind of way, but I’m just guessing. Anyways, he comes out and sings and isn’t that great but somehow manages to make Carrie Ann flustered and get Bruno’s praise all at once. To Anthony’s credit he seems to be a pretty good dancer, and Bruno agrees. He walks out from the judges’ chair and Carrie Anne comes right behind him, telling Anthony that he made her cry. She then looks out to the crowd and says, “Look he made me cry…real tears…I promise, they’re real.” Maybe this whole Terri McMillan thing could work out for Anthony after all.
Al Reynolds is my best friend.
Our next contestant is pretty, but something about her says “wet blanket”. Her name is Ashley and she comes out singing a medley of “My Girl” and “Baby Love” with a pretty good voice, I reluctantly say. But then she starts to dance and looks like she learned her moves from a Richard Simmons video. Bruno starts talking to Carrie Ann about how bad Ashley is, but as she’s dancing she gets closer and Bruno gives her the thumbs up. This is genuinely funny. Well done you tight-shirted, shit-talking stud.
“Why thank you, I have my clothes tailored to a European cut.”
Samuel is our Purple Heart story here, as we see him highlighted and dancing quite well in the group setting. But after that performance we get a look at the bottom of his feet and it’s not pretty. Nonetheless, he goes up there to sing and does an ok job with a baritone voice – seems like Bruno and Carrie Ann want him in.
Casualties of Dance War!
After a few more terrible singers and a snooze-inducing moment of Drew Lachey dressing up in a costume and pretending to be a contestant, there’s just no easy way for us to tell who really made it through, but it seems like they let go of everyone except the people who got good comments. We’ll recap our ultimate winners in the end. For now, on to Los Angeles!
We start with our group dance in the west coast and the groups are pretty terrible. People are doing the Carlton dance, stripping, and running into one another. There’s even someone in a chicken suit and a gorilla Bruno and CA pick people to do individual tryouts, and Carrie Anne makes a big deal out of picking a girl with a little weight on her.
Humanitarian of the year.
Ultimately, the big girl is a terrible singer and Carrie-Anne calls her very special, but we don’t get a graphic with her name so I’m guessing she doesn’t move on. After our “very special” girl, we get this adorable 18 year old girl from Corona, California named Kasey. Look even her name and place of origin is adorable – cause of the alliteration. And her voice is squeaky. Awwwww. I hate her.
After sucky Kasey, we meet Zack, a pre-med student who Bruno and CA decide right off the bat is a hearthrob. Bruno keeps calling him a mini-Justin, which is what I figure Justin Timberlake calls his male parts so, way to go Zack, you’re the equivalent of Timberlake’s dick.
“Whiskey makes me flacid!”
Anyways, if Timberlake’s dick, I mean Zack, is heartthrob number one on this dance-a-thon, then Marquis is second-in-command. Even the voiceover refers to him as “ladykiller”. We also quickly run through Chris V., who’s wearing a belly chain (no joke), and Tony, a dance teacher with a heart of gold.
“I’ll take sloppy seconds”
“It’s gonna be bigger than whatever Soulja Boy got.”
Bruno and Carrie Anne discuss the lack of ladies in the house, as we meet Elizabeth from California. She has a great voice and teases Bruno around for a little while during the song, but is clearly not much of a dancer. Nonetheless she’s a flirt and I think she’s got a decent shot solely due to the fact that Lachey’s giving her the eye and he’s gotta have some kind of one-hoe-in-the-show clause in his contract somewhere.
We also quickly run through some other good contestants that made it in including drunk co-ed Corina, “Baby Love” singing “Sales Assistant”/retail queen, Alyssa, and a little powerhouse who just got out of fifth grade, Mariel.
“It’s after 1pm, give me a PBR”
“Welcome to Victoria’s Secret, can I help you with your underwear selection today?”
“My paper fortune teller told me I’d win this thing!”
Our next featured contestant is Angela, who is what I imagine a lot of girls who went to Daytona Beach for Spring Break in 1994 looked like. That being said, we know she’s literate as she carves an “I heart Bruno.” in the sand. Anyways, she kind of jokes around on stage because she claims to be a terrible singer, so they tell her to go do her thing and dance! And does she ever. She does a Jesse-Spano-on-caffeine-pills-crazy and starts running around on stage. But for some reason Bruno and Carrie Ann dig her personality and dance ability.
“I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so excited!”
Our last Los Angeles contestant is a little douchebag named Chris. He’s got a chip on his shoulder because all the kids he knew grew up playing football while he was in the dance studio, so now, it seems he’s looking for vindication. Although I hate to admit it, he does ok and the judges seem to like him but seriously, look at this picture.
“Me? A dbag? maybe a little.”
After Chris, we move on to the Nashville, Tennessee tryout which takes place at the Tennessee State Fair. This being reality television and all, Bruno and Carrie Anne go do something wacky and milk a cow. Bruno asks Carrie-Anne what this has to do with a song and dance show and I have to agree. Luckily, we’re taken away from the milking and to some group dancing tryouts that include a ballroom dance couple and people just shaking in a sad attempt at dancing. So not much of anything, really. The singers aren’t great either. Suddenly, however, comes a glimmer of hope – the super Louisiana friends!
Pictured from left to right and not in order of hotness: Mary Alice (not bad), Kelsey (damn!), and Megan (badonkadonk).
Megan, Kelsey, and Mary Alice are three girls from Louisiana who are best friends, drove 9 hours to be there, and all made it to individual auditions. I have a feeling that in between dance sessions and on 9 hour drives, these are the girls who are getting 7-11 Big gulps and spiking them with Evan Williams Bourbon.
Kelsey is the first up and Bruno notices how much she looks like Debbie Gibson. True, but she doesn’t sing like Deborah G. She manages, however, to dance sexy and look sophisticated doing it and I’m into already a fan. Megan is up after her and she for some reason, sings the same song as Kelsey, “Suddenly I See” because the two of them, for some reason, didn’t hear it enough times when it was EVERYWHERE LAST YEAR. Megan’s got some bright blue hotpants on and she’s got them on for a reason – badonkadonk. She knows she’s not quite as pretty as Kelsey, or even Mary Alice so you have to accentuate your features, that being, Ms. Megan’s rump.
Now we have Mary Alice, the silver fox of the trio at 23. She doesn’t sing “Suddenly I See”, instead going for “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”, which Bruno’s not down with. They like her dancing which is clearly good, but she stumbles towards the end and odds are, Mary Alice is heading home – alone.
I can’t wait to get back to the bright lights of West Monroe, Louisiana!
We now meet Phillip from Nashville who seems to be a pretty charming guy with a stupid hat. He goes out and sings “Amazing Grace” as an ode to his grandmother for more points (cheap, but shrewd, nonetheless). He does a good job with that and the dancing, and starts to get up close to Carrie Ann, giving Anthony in New York City a run for his Terri-McMillan’s-ex-husbanding-tactics money. But Bruno gets jealous and starts to grab at him, causing a little fight between Bruno and Carrie Ann. C.A. finally relents, and Bruno tells Phillip, “You lifted my spirits today.” Well, that and his little Justin.
“Keep your spirits (air quotes) away from me, Bruno”
We next have a quick run through with 20 year old “southern bell” Charity, 22 year old “gospel singer” Lacey, 24 year old “firecracker” Bradley, and 18 year old “dance teacher” Max, who has an odd red mop of hair and a Michael Jackson voice…sooo, yeah.
“Mama gave me this name cause when I was born it got us more money from the gov’ment”
“Holy Spirit in the motherf***in house, haaaayyyy.”
“Lemon face, ooooh. Lion face, aaaaahhh.”
Someone needs to Peanut Butter Solution that hair and make a line of sweaters or rope with it.
Picks are made and we find out that most predictions were correct, particularly the sad fact that Mary-Alice is not going to Hollywood and her two friends are. So, we’re done with all three cities, and we have 30 contestants that they’re going to whittle down to 14. Everyone makes it out to Hollywood for a two day intensive training that will ultimately lead to a performance, LIVE. We come to what looks like a dance studio and Bruno is wearing something that is freaking me out for some reason. It’s like Liza Minelli doing a Flashdance impersonation.
“Are you ready to…….dance uncomfortably in denim?”
As we hit our training sequence, we see that Corina is flirting with Timberlake’s dick, I mean Zack, and Kelsey (as usual) is looking amazing (marry me?). Also, Philip is disappearing into the background, Quandrell is having a good practice, and Angela isn’t confident that her voice is good enough. And she shouldn’t be, because frankly she doesn’t sing so much as she shreiks. Other than that, Corina is crying because she needs her 3pm Jack and Ginger and Bruno keeps telling them they’re doing things “all-full” which I think he means awful but am not entirely sure.
“You’re out of Jack!? How about an Alize?”
Anyways, the performance goes on and it’s kind of a mix between Jailhouse Rock and the Grease finale set to “Dance to the Music” (you’ll have to excuse my musical/broadway references – they’re limited). A few people get some solos and the ones who stand out as being terrible are Quandrell’s and Angela’s. They’re both like bad karaoke. And Chris V. is also just terrible, off key. While the rest were all pretty good one person stood out – yep, the blonde bombshell of this show, Kelsey. I mean look at this girl and tell me she isn’t the star of this show? Well, in episode one anyways, I’m sure she’ll flame out too.
Bruno and Carrie Ann have made their final decisions based on the final performance, and they broke some people’s hearts along the way, but the important thing is, Kelsey is in the final 14. Unfortunately, badonkadonk Megan, screechy voiced Angela, bellychain wearing Chris V., and sweet faced Quandrell got the axe as predicted. I probably feel the worst for Quandrell’s mama. She was so proud.
After our final fourteen was decided upon, a ridiculous freeze-pose photo was taken to show us who’s who. Our final fourteen includes the following
Charity – The 20 year old southern belle from Nashville
Zack – The pre-med who’s a “little Justin”
Phillip – grandma-vote-bating “Amazing Grace” singer from Nashville who “lifted [Bruno's] spirits”
Mariel – 5th grade looking girl with the powerhouse voice
Allysa – the sales assistant from California
Maxx – mop haired dance instructor from Tennessee
Corina – chronic flirter/cryer/drunk co-ed
Lacey – gospel singing girl with a sexy(?) side
Kelsey – the star of the show, the only girl out of the Louisiana trio to make it, and a Debbie Gibson-alike
Tony – Hip hop dance teacher from LA
Marquis – heartthrob number two, willing to take Zack’s sloppies
Chris – California kid looking for vindication over the jocks who beat up on his dancer-ass
Bradley – who is this guy? Barely noticed him throughout the episode.
Elizabeth – flirted with Bruno and Lachey out in LA, potential ho
“You’re the best, around, nothing’s ever gonna bring you down.”
They final 14 dance like crazy to Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud”, with Zack looking like trailer trash in a purple cutoff formal shirt and Lacey, the gospel singer, acting really sexy. For the most part, though – they do a pretty good job. Next week we find out who’s gonna be on Bruno’s team and who’s going to have to put up with Carrie-Anne. In the meantime, I’ll be fantasizing about the Louisiana three. Talk soon, readers.