It’s night two of an interminably long season premiere for ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, and it’s time to watch the guys as they take to the floor for the first time. Of course, they’re only one dance away from elimination. I wonder if Tom Bergeron has that tattooed somewhere…
Please let tonight be the night Lachey gets the boot.
As Drew Lachey’s thin voice gets lost under the roar of the crowd, we’re reminded that Monday night the women kicked off the season with “explosive” performances, but now it’s “testosterone Tuesday,” and time for the men to show us what they can do.
Ya know, the only show that has more reviews and previews is The Bachelor. ABC must assume their target demographic is suffering from Alzheimers. But the endless reviews allow the network to stretch the premiere of one of their few success stories to three nights. It’s 13 minutes in and we’re still seeing “highlights” from the women’s efforts, and suffering through a tacky Marcel Marceau joke from Tom Bergeron. Then Len says the women “literally threw down the gauntlet.” Funny. I never saw any gauntlets being flung. You’d think as proper as he is, Len would know there’s a world of difference between “literally” and “figuratively.”
Replacement host Drew then intros some pros who show us what the Fox Trot and Cha-Cha are supposed to look like, in case we don’t recognize them when performed by the “stars.” When the cameras cut back to our hosts, Drew once again has his hands shoved deeply into his pockets to provide himself with a reminder that, in spite of the pubescent voice, he really is a man.
The roster of “stars” is an interesting mix of lesser-knowns, has-beens, and never-wasses. To whit:
The women, who demonstrated their talents in episode one, are actress Jennie Garth, Josie the Supermodel, Sabrina the Cheetah Girl, Old Spice, entertainer Marie Osmond, and the talented and beautiful Jane Seymore.
The producers put more work into getting an interesting selection of guys: soap star Cameron Mathison, boxer Floyd Mayweather (who, they tell us again and again is, pound for pound, the best boxer in the world,) racer Helio Castroneves, model Albert Reed, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, and Mr. Las Vegas Wayne Newton. Nearly twenty minutes into the show, they finally begin dancing.
Cameron Mathison and Edyta are first. Edyta’s barely there dress is an indicator that Mathison isn’t likely up to the challenge. But first, more precious moments on video to help us get to know the participants. We learn Cameron thinks he’s a “goof-ball” and isn’t above cheap pandering to soap opera fans, as he begs for votes before he’s even danced a step. We also find out he has a bone problem which negatively impacts his flexibility. Can’t really make fun of that, but isn’t it an odd choice to go on a dance show when you can’t bend? It would be like signing up for America’s Next Top Model when you look like this:
Although it isn’t readily apparent in the rehearsal footage, they tell us they’ll be doing the fox trot.
Unfortunately Edyta’s skimpy outfit isn’t enough to cover up the fact that Cameron is awkward and stiff, and he almost misses catching her when she drops backward at the end.
Len begins by making the familiar speech about how hard the fox trot is…trying to soften the blow that’s sure to come. Ultimately, Len likens the performance to a dripping faucet…you know, like a Chinese water torture. Bruno gave it an okay, and Carrie Ann said it started weak, but said Cameron’s posture was good. Stands to reason, since he’s already told us he has trouble bending.
Backstage, Drew asks about what sounds like the Asian version of Mathison’s daytime drama Ah Mah Chuhrrun, then asks for the scores…and, like Monday, with nothing to compare this to, the judges issue the standard 21 points.
Next up, boxer Floyd Mayweather and his partner Karina. For some reason we’re shown Mayweather working out in a suit. I didn’t know there was a Worsted Wool weight class in boxing. He seizes the moment to tell us he’s also training for another fight.
Blood on the Dance Floor
The video footage includes Karina teaching Floyd the cha-cha. First, the all-important counting. Those pesky numbers, one, two, three, cause an early tiff between the pair, but Karina and Floyd make up quickly. Now they’re on the floor for the real thing, and although Floyd is enthusiastic and does fine on some raunchy moves, he’s also flat-footed and weirdly aggressive.
Bruno issues his opinion without much preamble: he’s changing the boxer’s name to September Storm. Sounds like a stripper. He then advises the athlete he could be a great dancer if Floyd learns to “channel the force.” A Star Wars reference would seem natural here, but it’s too easy, and I’ll let it pass. Len also goes with the great potential speech, trotting out a boxing metaphor, saying this was only the first round. Carrie Ann is less complimentary, describing the dance as fast, furious, and full-out, but lacking finesse…and she states Floyd was too rough with Karina; he needs to be tender.
Drewl begins the debriefing with an elongated “Uhhhhhhhhhh.” Brilliant interview skills. He then takes his cue from Len and drags out more tired metaphors…new trainer in you corner, blah, blah, blah. Shut up, Drew.
The score reflects the judges unease with Mayweather. They give the pair 18, causing the audience to boo over the telethon host’s desperate pleas for us to send pledges to help the children…just call the number on your screen. Don’t forget, Wednesday is the first results show, when one couple will be sent home! And, in what sounds like the set-up for a cheap punch line, we’re told Dolly Parton, Savion Glover, and Kenny Maine are the guests.
The champion driver prepares for his entrance, as we suffer though endless racing references, and then are introduced to the star via video. Initially, I thought they were saying Helium, and I wondered what kind of parents would name there child using the table of elements…but his name is Helio. Helio Castroneves is partnered with last season’s champ, Julianne. They begin practicing their fox trot, and they look promising, although by no means perfect. Helio seems to have trouble remembering the steps, a crucial part of performing a complex dance.
The actual performance isn’t bad, and Helio is the first guy of the night to look like he knows he’s supposed to be leading. They’re quite charming, making it more difficult to make fun of them. Darn.
Amid cheers from the audience, Carrie Ann calls Helio a debonair natural. Bruno goes to the same list of descriptors I use and deems them charming. Len says it was great, then falls back on clichÃ©s: on cruise control and firing on all four cylinders. At this rate, the writers will be out of sports metaphors by week three. And it will be a relief.
25 points for this talented pair. So far, I like them best.
Lest we forget he once won this thing, Drew continues to reflect on his own experience as the basis for almost every question he asks the contestants. Where’s Joey Fatone when you need him? Hey! A male model. Will Albert Reed be as vapid as Josie Maran?
He tells us he has good rhythm as the video shows him bobbing up and down on top of a storage crate. The crate seems to think Albert has good partnering skills. Will professional dancer, Anna, be of the same mind? Before we find out, we’re shown Albert surfing. The surf board seems impressed by Albert, too, as does Albert’s German shepherd.
Anna notes Reed is still very much a kid, but he does have a sense of humor, spoofing himself with a runway walk. He also acknowledges that, with almost no fan base, he will have a much harder time staying in the competition. Hmmm. Maybe he’s not just a dumb model after all.
Anna starts by ripping off Albert’s outer shirt, but that doesn’t hide the sloppy footwork that follows. Plenty of personality, though, and everyone (even Len) is smiling by the end. Len begins by saying the two gyrated, rotated, and pulsated, and it was great fun. Bruno makes some uncomfortable comment about warp-drive crotch action that completely changes the meaning of the dance being great fun. Carrie Ann doesn’t know how to follow that, except to say it was crowd-pleasing…which I suppose warp-drive crotch action would be. It nets the pair 21 points.
Drew takes a moment to admire Albert’s courage for wearing the open front shirt, noting a shirtless look would garner the model votes from not just women, but a lot of men. Albert smiles, but secretly begins plotting how to slip some slow-acting poison into Drew’s food.
Will and Grace aged very well.
Billionaire Mark Cuban is next. Is it me, or does this guy always look like he’s just this side of throwing a chair? Even when he has that “I smell something bad” look that doubles as a smile on his face, there’s something vaguely menacing lingering behind the eyes. He’s paired with Living Barbie, a.k.a. Kym. His video includes shots of him doing standard drunken wedding reception moves. Witness the whiteness. He explains he just had a hip replaced, so that might explain it. Or not. They even show us a foot long scar along Mark’s hip and buttocks. Thanks. I needed to lose a few pounds before this weekend so I can fit in a fancy dress. Since my appetite may be permanently spoiled, this should do the trick.
Points to Mark, though, for being the first contestant I’ve ever noticed writing things down! That alone earned a tiny bit of respect from me…mainly because I suspect several other past and present stars don’t even know how to write.
In a bid for irony, Kym and Mark dance a tame fox trot to King of the Road. He favors his new hip slightly, and suddenly I’m feeling a little sorry for a man who could buy Rhode Island if he wanted to. Boy, is that annoying.
Bruno describes Mark as a bouncing, bionic, billionaire, obviously searching for a way to critique a guy who, if you offend him, can afford to purchase the network and promptly have you banished. Bruno settles for gently suggesting working on technique. Carrie Ann has no such fears, and tells Mark his posture was off and his foot work was not the best, adding she didn’t like the way his tongue was dancing out of his mouth during the performance. Yeah. Neither did the rest of us. Len straddles the fence, saying it was fine for a guy who isn’t a performer. Mark and Kym score 21 points, tying the previous pair even though they were not nearly as good as Albert and Anna. And let’s not forget, Cameron and Edyta also scored 21. What an arbitrary system these judges use.
Drew begins speaking, and, in an effort to spare myself from pain, I give up and hit the fast-forward button.
Checking in at the final spot, Botox Boy and his perma-smile. Wayne Newton fills the position previously held by John Ratzenberger, Jerry Springer, and George Hamilton: the older, kind gentleman who will act his way through the choreography instead of actually moving. His partner is two-time champion Cheryl, who hates to lose. I wonder how she feels about drawing Wayne, a man well more than twice her age, as her celebrity? Wayne, however, greets her with an enormous bouquet of long-stem red roses, confirming my suspicions he’s a nice guy.
Cheryl explains some of the finer points of the show…it’s live, not taped. If they make a mistake, they will just bluff their way through, and the only way the show cuts to commercial is for an injury. That’s surprising. Blood is good for ratings. In fact, they might want to consider letting ol’ Pound For Pound take a few shots at Drew.
Come on, Wayne, you can take him!
Cheryl and Mr. Newton prep their cha-cha, then it’s time to go onstage. Cheryl does most of the work while over in the band the male singer sweats gallons, having realized he’s singing for one of the world’s best known and most respected entertainers. Wayne doesn’t seem to notice the vocalist, walking his way through the dance as expected, his happy expression never changing. The crowd gives him a standing ovation because he’s Wayne Newton, and that’s enough.
Carrie Ann starts by saying what an honor it is to be in his presence. See? I’m not the only one taken in by this man’s nice demeanor. She’s gentle in her criticism, but sticks her foot in it by mentioning his age. Len compliments the male dancers as a group, and cites Wayne’s use of simple moves (that would be the walking) as smart and well executed. Bruno, too, succumbs to the grin and acknowledges Newton’s legendary status…then tells him to work on the hip action more. Yeah…the world needs more warp-drive crotch action, especially from the geriatric set. Cheryl and Wayne score a 19 for the night.
In case we suffered a head injury and forgot, Tom reminds again that Wednesday they will be sending one couple home. Junior makes one more plea for our phone calls, and that’s it for the evening. The dancers begin to contemplate their fate, and I’m left wondering how I can vote Drew off…